Jane - About.com User
If you don't have any of these conditions, then you don't need to avoid entire food groups. If you're looking at a diet that tells you to avoid these foods, you're just looking at another fad diet, and you're probably wasting your time.
Fad diets (like the Paleolithic diet or alkaline diet) usually require you to avoid specific food groups like grains or dairy products. Or they may claim that specific foods that contain certain components like gluten or phytic acid are bad (they may refer to them as anti-nutrients). These diets aren't based on credible research studies for weight loss or for other health claim, but they may try to sound scientific. Taking a few minutes to review their sources reveals a lack of evidence beyond opinion and conjecture.
Most fad diets come and go quickly - probably because they're difficult to follow long-term and they don't help you lose or maintain your weight.
The best way to watch your weight and provide your body with all the nutrition you need is to follow a healthful balanced diet. Choose a variety of foods from each food group to ensure a sufficient intake of macronutrients, fiber, vitamins and minerals:
- Fruits and vegetables: two or three cups of fruits and vegetables each day.
- Grains and cereals: at least half your grains should be whole grains.
- Protein sources: choose low-fat protein sources like lean meat, poultry, seafood, fish or legumes.
- Dairy foods: you need two or three servings of dairy or other calcium-rich foods every day.
- Fats and oils: get a little bit of healthful fat like omega-3 and monounsaturated fats.
What About Low-Fat, Low-Sodium, or Low-Carb Diets?Any diet that allows you to select a variety of healthful foods from all food groups (with an adequate number of calories) can be safe and effective. These types of diets have a number of research studies behind them, and although they seem to disagree, there are many foods that are good for both low-carb and low-fat diets.
Are Vegetarian or Vegan Diets Balanced?You can follow a vegetarian diet and still choose foods from all the food groups. If you're interested in following one, our Vegetarian Cooking Guide has some great tips and recipes.
Following a vegan diet is difficult and you can become deficient in nutrients because a vegan diet eliminates foods from the diary group and all other animal products, which makes it difficult to get enough calcium or vitamin B-12. If you're interested in becoming vegan, I think it's a good idea to consult a dietitian or nutritionist who can help you make the healthiest choices while avoiding animal products.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "Total Diet Approach to Healthy Eating." Accessed February 9, 2013. http://www.eatright.org/About/Content.aspx?id=8356.