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By Hilary Sheinbaum
The year 2020 was not what any of us had planned — which shook things up, including the way we consumed food during quarantine and months of social distancing. (Ahem — pancakes for dinner, anyone?) Some of us learned how to cook delicious meals, others explored new takeout menus. And many performed a hybrid of both (perhaps with mixed results).
While doing so, a fair share of us lost track of our 2020 diet and fitness goals. (Relatable.) Admittedly, sticking to a plan — in any way — hasn’t been easy! The good news is, whether you’re a self-taught chef or a Postmatesaw fanatic — everyone could use a fresh start in 2021. That said, the ways to reset and reach our nutrition objectives seem endless! While researching all the newest diets starting to get a buzz, we nailed down five ideas to get you started on a path that works.
Cheers to the New Year and the 5 Hottest Diets of 2021, for a happy and healthy new you!
Lose The Booze for A Month
The Dry Challenge isn’t a diet, per se, but the concept is based on giving up all forms of alcohol: wine, beer, and spirits for one month. Inspired by the Dry January trend, author Hilary Sheinbaum (yes, that’s me!) wrote a guidebook to walk you step-by-step through a sober month. Besides eliminating alcohol, you don’t have to cut out any other food groups or ingredients from your diet. By just cutting out booze, 49% of participants reported losing weight (hey, those margs and wine bottles add up in calories and cash! For example, a glass of wine is 125 calories, and it’s very rare that we stop after just one). Not to mention overwhelming numbers of Dry Jan’ers reported better sleep, clearer skin, a sense of achievement and they drank significantly less in the six months that followed.
Restricting Calories, Eating Certain Foods (Two Phases)
Partially made famous by songstress Adele, the Sirtfood Diet is all about consuming beneficial plant nutrients high in polyphenol. Given polyphenols are not all the same, a small group can mimic the effects of exercise and fasting through activating one’s sirtuin (a.k.a. “skinny”) genes. The foods that yield the highest levels are fittingly called Sirtfoods. While the diet allows guilty pleasures like red wine and chocolate, it also involves kale, onions, strawberries, walnuts, blueberries, and more. In two phases that last a total of 3 weeks: the first three days of phase one limits calories to 1,000/day and the next four days allow 1,500/day. (We have to mention: it’s been said that some participants lose 7 lbs in the first 7 days.) The second phase of the Sirtfood Diet is more about maintenance, and these two phases can be repeated as desired. You can read more about the Sirtfoot Diet here.
Low Calorie, Nutrient-Dense Foods
If feeling full prevents you from reaching for dessert (and therefore eating fewer calories), the Volumetric diet claims to do just that. On this diet, meant for weight loss, people consume nutrient-dense foods that are low in calories and high in water such as soups, veggies, and fruits. It frowns upon calorie-heavy foods like oils, seeds, nuts, and sugary treats. Within the diet, there are four groups of categories based on density. To figure out what category a food is: you divide the number of calories in a serving size by its weight in grams. Foods with higher water content will usually have low-density scores. The diet encourages eating on the low scale, Categories 1 & 2 (0.0 to 1.5) and allows small amounts from Category 3 (1.6-3.9) and very few from Category 4 (4-9), with 1,400 calories/day as a starting point. The diet also suggests 30-60 of daily exercise, so grab your running shoes!
Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension
This diet is rooted in a lifestyle change to prevent or help treat high blood pressure (a.k.a. hypertension). Especially after the stress of 2020, high blood pressure reduction is important to prevent heart attacks, clogged blood vessels, and damaged arteries. The DASH Diet is not a weight loss program at its core, but instead, it guides you to make healthier food choices. By promoting less sodium (up to 2,300 mg) in one’s diet, blood pressure can drop within a mere two weeks. The DASH Diet is also focused on low-fat dairy foods, veggies, fruits, and moderate amounts of nuts, fish, poultry, and whole grains — so, there is still a ton of variety.
Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay
By fusing The DASH Diet and the Meditteranean diet together, you get The MIND diet. Not only does this way of eating lower blood pressure, but it’s focused on brain health and was created to fight dementia as well. The 10 foods recommended on The MIND Diet include green, leafy vegetables, all other vegetables, berries, nuts, olive oil, whole grains, fish, beans, and poultry, and yes, you can even drink up to one glass of wine daily. On the other hand, the diet says “pass” to butter and margarine, cheese, red meat, fried food, pastries, and sweets — so, say bye to these decadent ingredients in December!
With an empty canvas (or plate, for that matter) going into 2021: these five options can help make this year the best one yet for mind and body!
The Dry Challenge: How to Lose the Booze for Dry January, Sober October, and Any Other Alcohol-Free Month
by Hilary Sheinbaum
The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet: Smart, Simple, Science-Based Strategies for Losing Weight and Keeping It Off
by Barbara Rolls PhD
The MIND Diet Plan and Cookbook: Recipes and Lifestyle Guidelines to Help Prevent Alzheimer's and Dementia
by ulie Andrews MS RDN CD