The holidays are now in the rearview mirror. The holiday season is so focused on big meals, which can leave you with eater’s remorse. But don’t worry. You’re not the only one who may have eaten a slice of leftover apple pie for breakfast. Now that you have no more leftovers in the refrigerator, it’s time to get back on track. Go for a healthy diet plan that makes it easy to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
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Christmas: The Easiest Time of Year to Divert from Your Healthy Diet Plan
This may sound familiar.
It’s the days after the holidays. You step on the scale, and you’re definitely exceeding your ideal weight. It’s to be expected, right? It’s taxing to muster up the will power to turn down that extra helping of mashed potatoes.
You decide right then and there it’s time to make a change. But then you realize you have no idea what changes you should make.
For the most part, no one likes to diet. It’s restrictive, tedious, and often causes a lot of unnecessary stress. So, why subject yourself to some new trendy diet to lose weight?
That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of diets designed to help you lose weight that actually do work. From Keto to Paleo, Atkins to Weight Watchers, the market is bursting with different options.
The downside is you are always counting calories, adding up points, and trying to determine what you can and cannot eat. In the beginning, this probably won’t bother you. You’ll be motivated by the initial results of your effort. But what about when you start to plateau, and it gets harder to see any differences in the mirror?
Regardless of whether you are at a point in your life in which you need to lose weight, how you eat is a lifestyle choice. “Diet” comes from the Greek word dìata, meaning “lifestyle”. So how did that somehow turn into “low calories” and the restrictions used today?
Diets often work for a short time but are then difficult to keep applying every day. Instead, map out a healthy diet plan that leads you down the right path to make smart choices.
This strategy may not lead you to shed the pounds you want right away. But down the line, since these kinds of diets are easier to maintain, you will see how good you feel.
You are what you eat…it’s cheesy but true!
Certainly, that should be reason enough to look for a sustained habit that leads you to smart choices. Once you get the hang of it, it shouldn’t even take much effort.
In this article, you can find out about three options for a healthy diet plan that aren’t completely focused on losing weight. The Mayo Clinic Diet, the Vegetarian Diet, and the Mediterranean Diet are often highly rated as lifestyle diets. Whether you choose just one or mix the principles of all three, they’ll give you the tools to head down an intelligent path.
Nutritionist Approved Golden Rules to Boost Your Healthy Diet Plan
Besides incorporating a healthy diet plan into your lifestyle, there are a handful of tips to keep in mind that will help you stay on track.
Mind your Macronutrients in Your Healthy Diet Plan and Stay Physically Active
Regardless of the healthy diet plan you choose, it’s important to keep track of your macronutrients. In this group are carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids. According to Healthline:
- 45-65% of daily calories from carbs
- 20-35% of daily calories from fats (lipids)
- 10-35% of daily calories from proteins
The exact percentage to apply will vary based on the person. Combining this principle with physical activity is the best way to preserve good muscle mass. For example, the proportion of carbs and proteins will vary if you are more sedentary or active. Independently of this, however, vegetables should always be present in every main meal.
It’s important to note that starting in your 30’s, you start to lose muscle mass at a physiological level. This will cause your metabolism to slow down. So at that point in your life, it’s even more necessary to start watching what you eat and maintaining physical activity.
Try to avoid getting into ruts with your meals. Eating the same thing day after day can slow down your metabolism.
And if you ever hear about a diet that promises to boost your metabolism, don’t believe it. The only way to work to increase your metabolism is with physical activity, increasing your muscle mass.
Taste the Rainbow May Actually Be Good Advice
Everyone knows it’s important to eat your fruits and vegetables. It’s a major component of every healthy diet plan. But what’s even better to keep in mind, is to fill your plate with fruits and vegetables of all colors.
Firstly, the variety of colors is a sign that you’re consuming a meal containing a myriad of vitamins and minerals. This helps round out your nutrition.
Secondly, from a mental perspective, your meal is more attractive. Therefore, you’ll be more inclined to eat it.
Tailor Your Nutrition To You
Keep a lookout for intolerances.
Headaches, cramps, dermatitis, intestinal issues, etc. are all symptoms that could point to an intolerance. Of course, there are the more obvious ones like gluten. But it’s possible to have one of these intolerances even if you aren’t a celiac.
Consult your physician, if you believe you may have a food intolerance to address the issue.
The Holidays Don’t Equal Sabotaging a Healthy Diet Plan
It stands to reason that during the holidays you’re eating more and including higher-calorie foods than usual. And guess what? That’s okay!
Don’t freak out if you weigh 1-2 kg more the day after a big indulgent meal. It’s just water. You’re not going to get fat in 2 days!
Just make sure to get back to a good balance of physical activity like walking or sports. Drink lots of water, eat lean proteins and vegetables, and avoid simple carbohydrates in the form of sugars.
Most importantly, don’t let holiday eating practices extend past the holidays. Avoid the processed foods you may have allowed yourself. They’re full of hydrogenated and/or trans fats.
Healthy Diet Plan #1: The Mayo Clinic Diet
The Mayo Clinic is a healthcare company from the U.S. that conducts research and provides education about integrated patient care. They are often one of the leading organizations to offer dynamic solutions.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that their team of doctors devised a two-phase healthy diet plan to:
- Firstly, help you lose weight.
- Secondly, help you develop the strategies to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.
It’s consistently ranked in different categories in the U.S. News & World Reports study of the healthy diet plan options.
Its popularity can be attributed to how easy it is to follow, eliminating calorie counting and not setting whole food groups as off-limits in the long term.
The Mayo Clinic Diet: How Does this Healthy Diet Plan Work?
The Mayo Clinic Diet establishes two phases in their healthy diet plan. The first more restrictive phase is called “Lose It!” and the second maintenance phase is called “Live It!”.
Yes, it’s a bummer that there is a stricter part of this diet. But the consolation is that it only lasts for two weeks. If your goals aren’t focused on losing weight, you can implement a looser version of the first phase adapting it to your lifestyle.
According to the Everyday Health Blog, you learn how to add 5 healthy habits, abandon 5 questionable ones, plus 5 more as a bonus. To learn all of them, you can consult the Mayo Clinic Diet book that came out in 2017. However, here are the most important takeaways.
The 5 questionable habits to move away from during this period include:
- Drinking alcohol
- Watching TV during meals
- Eating out in restaurants
- Consuming added sugar from sources that don’t have it naturally (so stick to fruit if you have a sweet tooth)
- Including processed foods in your diet (i.e. junk food like chips and factory produced foods like industrial desserts)
In terms of what to eat, they establish guidelines:
- Make sure to eat a healthy, well-balanced breakfast
- Include lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats in your daily healthy diet plan
- Add lean protein and diary
- Snacks should be limited, but you can include fruits and vegetables
The most important healthy habit to adopt is including physical activity daily. The Mayo Clinic recommends at least 30 minutes a day, but there is some flexibility.
Besides regular exercise, they suggest to include physical activity whenever possible. So, take the stairs instead of the elevator.
During the first two weeks, using these strategies can help you lose weight. The amount will vary based on certain things you can control like, how much, and how vigorously you exercise, and how many hours of sleep you get.
But it can also depend on other factors like your age, your family history, your level of stress, your sex, etc. Because unfortunately, there are certain factors that we can’t change that will make it easier or harder to lose weight.
After completing the initial 2 weeks, you move on to the lifelong strategy. This phase will teach you how to focus on portion sizes for what foods to keep you feeling satiated. You reimagine the composition of your meals and snacks, enabling you to make healthy choices.
The Mayo Clinic Diet examines the classic distribution in the diet pyramid, replacing carbohydrates at the bottom with fruits and vegetables. The idea is that they are lower-calorie, dense foods that are high in water content. So, if you include more of them in your daily diet, you will feel fuller.
When choosing which types of carbs to include in your diet, they emphasize whole grains. Not only is it helpful for a healthy diet plan, but it can also help reduce the risk of cancer. This can include whole grain pasta, brown rice, whole-grain bread, etc.
When choosing a protein, as a general rule, it’s good to limit red meat, and instead, go for more lean proteins like chicken and fish. And the portion of protein doesn’t have to be so big. It shouldn’t be larger than the size of a fist.
There’s no need to cut sweets and your vices (think alcohol) out of your diet altogether. You can still include the occasional baked good. But, go for homemade rather than industrial to avoid unhealthy molecules.
The Mayo Clinic diet allots 75 calories a day to this category. You can distribute those calories however you like. You can indulge daily or accumulate those calories to spend on one or a couple of days.
Don’t go crazy, though…whenever you can, opt for healthier sweets like dark chocolate.
If you struggle with portion control, it can help to use a smaller plate. Psychologically it’s normal to want to finish everything on your plate. So if you start with a smaller plate, you’re less likely to overeat.
And there’s no need to rush while you’re eating. If you take your time, your brain has time to send a signal to your stomach, letting you know you’re full. When you rush through your meal, you wind up not allowing for this to happen.
Upsides and Downsides of the Mayo Clinic Diet
Every diet will have positives and negatives. As well rounded as the Mayo Clinic Diet is, it is no exception.
- Helps you lose weight.
- No severe calorie restrictions.
- You even get to include sweets in your diet.
- Can reduce the risk of health problems caused by weight like diabetes and heart disease.
- The increased level of fruits and vegetables can cause digestion issues such as gas.
- You could experience a temporary increase in blood sugar due to extra fruit in your diet.
Before choosing any healthy diet plan, it’s helpful to weigh the pluses and minuses. Experts have concluded that there is no major health risk involved with this diet. As long as you’re open to redistributing the proportions in your meals, this is a good option.
If you’re not sure how to implement the Mayo Clinic Diet, consult a physician.
Great, It’s a Healthy Diet Plan, But What Can You Eat on the Mayo Clinic Diet?
The TripMedic chefs and nutritionists can help you devise the perfect day of eating on the Mayo Clinic Diet.
Breakfast: Egg white omelette with sautéed spinach and mushrooms, a handful of strawberries on the side, and a cup of black tea.
Pro tip: Don’t like spinach or mushrooms? Substitute for vegetables you like better. Peppers, tomatoes, kale, and swiss chard are all good additions.
Make sure to add flavor builders like onions and garlic. You can also add salsas (preferably homemade) or hot sauce to spice it up.
Lunch: Cobb salad with hard-boiled egg, grilled chicken breast, feta cheese, tomatoes, red onions, and avocado with a lemon and olive oil vinaigrette.
Pro tip: Don’t be afraid to personalize the salad with the ingredients you like best. Don’t like hard-boiled eggs? Substitute for a poached egg or eliminate it. Add a couple of pieces of fruit into your salad dressing to give it more character.
Dinner: Oven roasted sea bass with sautéed cherry tomatoes and roasted peppers and eggplant relish.
Pro tip: Feel free to substitute sea bass with a different lean protein (like other white fish such as halibut or cod).
You can easily make your lean proteins more interesting by adding a sauce or a condiment. For example, roast eggplant and peppers until soft and combine with a splash of olive oil and vinegar as a condiment.
And if you don’t feel like adding meat at all, roast a larger vegetable to ensure you feel full.
Snack: Crudité with seasoning dip.
Pro tip: Everyone knows about the standard raw vegetable snack. You can make it more fun and interesting by customizing your seasoning to dip the vegetables in. Go for a zesty vibe with lemon zest and herbs. Or maybe make it more original with some garam masala.
Healthy Diet Plan #2: The Vegetarian Diet
As time goes on, the vegetarian diet becomes increasingly popular.
It’s not a new trend. However, awareness is growing about the damage done to the planet just to raise animals for consumption. In response, more people are deciding to limit or eliminate meat from their diet.
There are a variety of reasons people may decide to choose vegetarianism as the right healthy diet plan for them:
A small percentage of people went for the vegetarian diet due to it being trendy. Hence, it’s safe to say that vegetarianism isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
It’s also common all over the world:
Vegetarianism is so prevalent in different parts of the world that their cuisines include many vegetable dishes. For example, in some parts of India, you will notice the substantial reliance on legumes instead of animals for protein.
Not All Vegetarians Are Created Equal: Exploring the Kinds of Vegetarian Diets
According to Well and Good, within the classification of vegetarianism, there are 8 subgroups:
- Vegetarian- refers to the general classification of people who exclude meat, fish, and poultry from their diet. Depending on the person, they will be more or less strict about what they include.
- Lacto-vegetarian- defined as someone who excludes meat, fish, poultry, and eggs from their diet but includes dairy products.
- Ovo-vegetarian- this diet excludes meat, fish, poultry, and dairy but includes eggs.
- Lacto-ovo vegetarian- a person that doesn’t eat meat, fish, and poultry but includes dairy and eggs in their diet.
- Pescatarian- a diet that excludes meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs, but includes fish.
- Flexitarian- also referred to as a semi-vegetarian diet. Someone who eats mostly plant-based foods, but will include meat, dairy, eggs, poultry, and fish occasionally. This diet consistently ranks high on the list of the U.S. News Report.
- Vegan- a strict diet that excludes meat, fish, poultry, eggs, all dairy products, and anything made by an animal (like honey).
- Raw vegan- an even stricter diet, in which you only eat plant-based foods that have not been heated past 115° F/46° C.
Depending on the type of vegetarian you are, you will obviously exclude different foods. However, most vegetarians include a variety of ingredients belonging to specific food groups:
- Fruits: many kinds depending on the season like apples, pears, mangoes, berries, bananas, etc.
- Vegetables: leafy (spinach, kale), cruciferous (broccoli, Brussel sprouts), allium (onion, garlic), root (potatoes, beets), etc.
- Grains: quinoa, barley, rice, oats, millet, etc.
- Legumes: lentils, chickpeas, beans, peas, etc.
- Nuts: walnuts, almonds, peanuts, cashews, etc.
- Protein Source: nuts, tofu, seitan, tempeh, etc.
Pros and Cons of the Vegetarian Healthy Diet Plan
Just like the Mayo Clinic Diet, Vegetarianism is certainly a healthy diet plan but has some advantages and disadvantages.
- This healthy diet plan can reduce the risk of health problems like some cancers and heart disease.
- Can cause weight loss or help keep you at a healthy weight.
- It will eventually stabilize your blood sugar (therefore helping diabetes).
- Depending on the classification of vegetarian diets, there may be a heavy reliance on processed foods.
- Requires extra planning to ensure that you include all of the necessary nutrients in the appropriate quantities.
- Can increase nutritional deficiencies.
Perhaps the most inconvenient disadvantage is that depending on how restrictive your diet is, the higher the risk you may be lacking nutrients from your diet. Of course, there are ways to get around it.
Nutrients to Watch as a Vegetarian
According to the Mayo Clinic, Vegetarians should keep an eye on the following nutrients:
- Calcium: Necessary to promote strong teeth and bones. It’s most prevalent in dairy products. Alternatively, there is also calcium in dark green vegetables and is often added to foods like juices and tofu.
- Vitamin D: Also essential to the health of your bones. It is added to milk (animal and non-animal origin), but you can also get it from sun exposure. Just don’t go overboard with the sun, or you can be increasing your risk of getting cancer.
- Vitamin B-12: Helps to produce red blood cells and avoid anemia. It’s found almost exclusively in animal products. If you are Vegan, your diet will be high in the vitamin called folate (found in many vegetables). This vitamin can cover up a Vitamin B-12 deficiency long enough that apparent signs won’t arise until it’s serious. Therefore, include a B-12 supplement or foods enriched with B- 12.
- Protein: Keeps your skin, bones, muscles, and organs healthy and contributes to making you feel sustained satiation after a meal. Protein can be found in eggs and dairy products. However, you can find protein in other sources like nuts, legumes, whole grains, and some vegetables (like asparagus, broccoli, etc.).
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Essential to keep your heart healthy, it’s found in fish and eggs. You can find Omega- 3 in canola oil, walnuts, soybeans, etc. However, it’s difficult for the body to convert plant-based Omega- 3 to a usable form. So, include an Omega- 3 supplement or products fortified with Omega- 3 to cover all your bases.
- Iron: Fundamental for your red blood cells, it’s often found in animal products. It is also in some plant sources such as beans, lentils, whole grains, and dark leafy green vegetables. Similar to Omega- 3, it’s hard for the body to absorb plant-based iron. To compensate, double the amount of iron you include in your diet and eat foods rich in Vitamin C, which helps iron absorption.
- Zinc: Plays a part in many crucial bodily functions such as making DNA and helping your immune system. It’s found in cheese, but you can also find it in plant sources like legumes and nuts if you don’t eat dairy. It’s not as easily absorbed from these sources, so add a supplement to your regiment.
- Iodine: Used by your thyroid, so if you have a deficiency, it can cause a goiter in the more serious cases. It’s found in seafood and dairy products, but you can also find it in iodized salt. It’s also in cruciferous vegetables and some root vegetables like sweet potatoes. But the most efficient source is iodized salt, requiring only ¼ teaspoon a day.
Consult a physician if you feel your diet is not providing you with all the necessary nutrients.
You can even use a video consultation from TripMedic to order lab tests to check if this healthy diet plan is for you.
A Day of Vegetarian Eating
Breakfast: Oatmeal cooked with almond milk and a dash of cinnamon, sweetened with agave nectar. Topped with a handful of strawberries and half of a banana.
Pro tip: If you like chocolate, you can add a spoonful of cocoa powder along with the cinnamon. If you don’t like cinnamon, you can eliminate it and add something else like vanilla. If you’re a fan of peanut butter, add a spoonful (of the natural kind) and thoroughly mix before you cook it.
Or even add a couple of spoonfuls of mashed sweet potato or butternut squash.
If you don’t like sweet breakfasts, you can make your oatmeal savory. Flavor it with nutritional yeast or your favorite spices (garlic powder, mustard powder, paprika, etc.). Then top it with sautéed vegetables and nuts for protein. You can also add a poached or fried egg (in olive oil) if your diet allows it.
Lunch: Kale salad with lentils, almonds, artichokes, and ciabatta croutons.
Pro tip: Lentils can be subbed for any other legume like chickpeas or beans. Similarly, use any nuts you like and include the vegetables you enjoy eating. Marinated artichokes are a smart option because the oil in the jar contributes a lot of flavor.
Always make your croutons…the bagged stuff will never compare! It gives an extra opportunity to add flavor. Cook them in olive oil infused with whatever you like (garlic, herbs, spices, etc.)
Dinner: Brown rice stir fry with tofu and mixed vegetables.
Pro tip: Make sure you add flavor builders like ginger, garlic, and scallions.
The great thing about stir-fries is that they are easily customizable. If you don’t want to have brown rice, you can substitute for cauliflower rice or quinoa. You can add any vegetables your heart desires. And the sauces you include, such as soy sauce, black vinegar, sriracha, etc., will personalize the flavor.
Snack: Cucumber slices or celery sticks dipped in tzatziki. If you don’t eat dairy, sub for hummus or baba ganoush.
Pro tip: You don’t have to keep your hummus basic. Making it at home allows you to add any flavorings you want. Use spices like paprika or cumin. Add extra flavor with roasted garlic or charred red peppers. Add zing and heat with pickled chilis. The possibilities are endless.
Healthy Diet Plan #3: The Mediterranean Diet
When you think of the Mediterranean, it’s easy to be transported to another place. You can envision the white and blue towns of Greece, the hilly villages in Italy, or even the beautiful coastal towns of Spain.
But those aren’t the only countries located in the Mediterranean, following the Mediterranean diet. The flavorings and spices may differ from country to country. But these countries follow similar basic principles:
- Southern France (such as the region of Provence)
- Northern Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya)
Like the Mayo Clinic Diet and the Vegetarian Diet, the Mediterranean Diet ranks high as a popular healthy diet plan.
The Mediterranean Diet: How Does this Healthy Diet Plan Work?
Many countries across the Mediterranean have an extensively developed food culture. It’s often the excuse people use to get together, creating cultural traditions around meals. You would think that if people spend so much time eating, they would be a lot heavier. But that’s not the case!
By the 1960s, other parts of the world started noticing that in the Mediterranean, heart disease wasn’t as prevalent. According to studies run by The New England Journal of Medicine, compared to a control diet similar to the American diet:
This shows that the Mediterranean diet led to fewer cases of cardiovascular problems.
Since the flavors are quite diverse depending on the country, there is no real right or wrong way to use this healthy diet plan. Just try to apply the basic principles, and you can modify it based on your taste.
The way that people eat in this region has evolved. Things change here and there as new ingredients are introduced. But the basic principles have been consistent for some time:
- Heavy focus on fruits and vegetables
- Legumes, whole grains, and nuts are key protein sources
- Olive oil is a predominant ingredient, as well as the fat, used most often to cook
- Includes seafood (at least twice a week) more often than meat
- Eat poultry, dairy, and eggs in moderation
- Red meat is eaten less frequently
- Emphasizes including physical activity along with your diet to promote a healthy lifestyle
Like most sound diets, you try to limit or eliminate certain foods, although that is not the main priority:
- Added sugars
- Trans fats (found in processed foods)
- Highly processed foods in general
If you live in the Mediterranean region, you know that there is a tendency to have bread alongside your meals. Eating bread is okay. But it’s helpful to be aware of how much bread you’re eating. Otherwise, it can add more calories to your meals.
Dinner tends to be a lighter meal than dinner. This will help your body fully digest before you go to sleep. Otherwise, it’s easier to put on weight.
The Mediterranean Diet also includes drinking the appropriate amount of water. It is the default beverage throughout the day. Besides that, it doesn’t shy away from the benefits of red wine but limits it to one glass a day.
The Mediterranean Diet: Pluses and Minuses
Similar to the Mayo Clinic Diet and the Vegetarian Diet, the Mediterranean Diet is a lifestyle. It focuses on instilling healthy practices, helping you make intelligent choices about what to eat. This is the focus instead of avoiding foods.
Even so, there are some advantages and disadvantages to this healthy diet plan.
- Promotes a healthy heart
- The balance of vegetables, fruits, legumes, seafood, and meat keep you satiated
- Can easily be personalized to fit different dietary restrictions such as vegetarian and gluten-free
- The abundance of fish ensures having enough Omega- 3 fatty acids in your diet
- The variety of foods makes it easy to maintain over a long time
- There is a risk to exceed the appropriate calorie intake per day
- Depending on where you live, buying produce and seafood can be expensive
A Day in the Life of a Mediterranean
Breakfast: Greek yogurt served with seasonal fruit and a couple of pieces of cheese for extra protein.
Pro Tip: Greek yogurt already has protein, so the cheese may not be necessary depending on your appetite. If you don’t want to keep a lot of fresh fruit on hand, try cooking down seasonal fruit to make a jam. You can swirl it into your yogurt or spread it on a slice of whole-grain toast.
You can try marinating the cheese with olive oil and spices (like dried oregano) or drizzling it with honey.
Lunch: Shakshuka served with a slice of toasted bread.
Pro Tip: Shakshuka can be customized in many different ways. You can play with the ingredients in the sauce, depending on your mood. Use a tomato base with peppers and zucchini, or make it green with spinach and coconut milk.
Clearly, the best part is breaking into the eggs and mixing them all together.
Dinner: Grilled tuna steak with a cold salad with potatoes, olives, red onions, and green beans
Pro Tip: Dinner is the perfect time to simply prepare the fish of your choice. You can grill, roast, cook in papillote (a fancy way to steam), or even eat raw, depending on the fish. Just make sure you pick the fish that looks the freshest in the market. Look for clear eyes, red gills, firm flesh, and a fresh, but not overly fishy smell.
The salad is a play on the Nicoise salad from France. Having a hot piece of fish with a cold or room temperature salad often leaves you feeling satisfied without overindulging. Swap the ingredients and customize, adding a vinaigrette.
Snack: Crunchy chickpeas
Pro Tip: Take some jarred chickpeas and toss them in some olive oil and spices. Then dry them in the oven at a low temperature until crunchy. They’re highly addictive and good for you. You can do the same thing with sturdy leafy greens like kale or swiss chard.
There will be many factors that intervene when you are deciding what diet is best for you. What is most important to remember is to pick something that you can maintain long term.
To do that, there are diets on the market that teach you healthy choices instead of weight loss hacks. The Mayo Clinic Diet, the Vegetarian Diet, and the Mediterranean Diet are viable options for a healthy diet plan. Mix and match or stick to the one that is most compatible with your lifestyle.