Diets that leave you un-SAD-isfied

You’ve decided to eat healthier food, shed unwanted pounds, maybe try to lower your blood pressure, stave off diabetes or heart attacks, or possibly resolve some digestive issues. Congratulations!

Question is–which diet to choose? The permutations can be mind-boggling: High-carb or low-carb? High-fat or low-fat? Vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian, omnivore, or carnivore? Mediterranean, Paleo, DASH, gluten-free, alkaline, or macrobiotic? Cooked, raw, juiced, or smoothied?

I have read with interest the arguments of those diets’ respective proponents, and now try to incorporate elements from all of them that make the most sense to me. As a result, I find myself increasingly switching to a whole-food plant-based diet, emphasizing leafy greens and other vegetables as well as an assortment of grains and legumes, fruits, nuts and seeds, and occasional small amounts of fish and dairy. I pursue dietary diversity by trying unusual vegetables, exotic spices, or unfamiliar cuisines and by reducing my culinary dependence on wheat, soy, rice, and corn.

Should you follow my example? Not necessarily. Human physiology is complicated, and we’re still in the early stages of understanding the relationships between diet and health. The best diet for you at this stage in your life might well be some variant of one of the diets listed above. The wisest course might be to choose one that makes sense to you and try it for two or three months, paying close attention to any effects it seems to be having on your health. If i t works for you, stick with it; if not, try a different diet for a while. When it comes to nutrition, an ounce of personal experience is worth a pound of someone else’s theory.

Whichever course you choose, though, I would urge you to abandon as soon as possible the Standard American Diet (SAD), now widely blamed for contributing to obesity, chronic inflammation, and metabolic diseases like diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, and cancer. Ditch the junk food, chips, doughnuts, and sodas. Cook more meals yourself, rather than relying on “convenient” but unhealthy prepared foods loaded with salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats. Eat real food, mostly plants, not too much. And, by choosing recipes from this site and others I’ll point you to, discover that healthy and mostly plant-based dishes don’t have to be bland, boring, or bilious.

Un-SAD-isfying your diet, on the contrary, can be deliciously satisfying, indeed.

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