It’s a new year, which means attempting new diets are at their all-time high. And with lists and lists of diets to choose from, a new report has been able to narrow down some of the best and worst options.
According to recent findings from U.S. News and World Report, the best diets of 2018 include the DASH diet and Mediterranean diet (both tied at #1). This year’s worst diets included the Keto diet, Dukan diet and Whole30 (all tied at #39).
The DASH diet (or the dietary approaches to stop hypertension diet), focuses on preventing and lowering high blood pressure — hypertension. The diet focuses on eating lean poultry and fish in moderation, whole grains, and vegetables and fruit. The diet urges people to cut back on salt, red meat and too much alcohol.
“While it may be difficult to give up your favourite fatty, sugary and salty fare, DASH doesn’t restrict entire food groups, upping your chances of sticking with it long-term,” the report notes.
Other diets that stick out
The Flexitarian diet, which ranked #3, includes eating fruits, veggies, whole grains and plant-based protein. The MIND diet, in at #5, focuses on eating brain-healthy foods to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
The top 10 list also included a vegetarian diet, the Weight Watchers diet and the TLC diet which promotes cardiovascular health.
The rankings were evaluated by a panel of health experts in diet, nutrition, obesity and other health conditions. Each diet was rated in seven categories: “how easy it is to follow, its ability to produce short-term and long-term weight loss, its nutritional completeness, its safety and its potential for preventing and managing diabetes and heart disease,” the site notes.
And while lists are a good starting point, it’s important to take a step back and not drown in the hype surrounding New Year’s diets, says registered dietitian Shahzadi Devje.
“To me, a diet is synonym to way of life, an eating approach that’s sustainable, fluid and easy to follow,” she tells Global News. “The best diets are the ones that focus on balance and variety. They incorporate whole foods; plenty of vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts and seeds, healthy whole grains, fish and don’t ban any foods. Total elimination of any foods can pose a risk psychologically for vulnerable groups and lead to an unhealthy relationship with food.”
And if you had to choose one from this list, Devje recommends the Mediterranean diet. “It’s easy to follow, backed by science, and has stood the test of time. Its principles can also be applied to different cultural cuisines because it doesn’t exclude or ban any food groups.”
How to take on a diet
Devje says before you start a new diet, figure out what your end goal is. “Knowing the reasons why you want to go on a diet and how this aligns with your purpose will fuel your commitment. You need to go beyond ‘because I want to lose XX pounds.'”
She also recommends consulting with a doctor or health professional before committing and starting small.
“Focus on an area to change first, that’s the easiest to do. Small successes will boost your motivation and keep you going.”
She also recommends being flexible. “If it doesn’t work out one day, don’t fret. Setbacks are normal and you can learn from them to move forward.”
Next, go into prepping mode. Stock the fridge and pantry, plan out your meals and fill your space with healthy food.
“Develop your cooking skills and learn new recipes to add variety to your diet.”
Do your homework
And not all diets are perfect, in fact, some can be extremely unhealthy — especially if they make you give up food groups, do cleanses or replace your meals with supplements and shakes.
“The worst diet is one that promises a quick fix solution, is not backed by science and forces you to eliminate an entire food group,” she says.
READ MORE: 9 weight-loss tips that actually work
“You want to steer clear of any fear-mongering tactics that certain diets may use; eating is a way to fuel and nourish our bodies and also to enjoy fully.