If there’s one thing that most people can agree on when it comes to their diet preferences, it’s that they want to eat healthy foods. According to the 2015 USDA Dietary Guidelines, the American way of eating has shifted towards a diet rich in vegetables and fruits. Within those guidelines, there are six different dietary patterns classified as healthy. One of those patterns, the prudent dietary choice, encourages eating a wide range of vegetables and fruits; it also suggests consuming nuts and seeds as a way of getting essential nutrients. While all six patterns serve as healthy diet options, there are pros and cons to each one.
When choosing a diet, people often forget about the evidence-based research that supports or negates its nutritional health benefits. In this article, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of each diet pattern as it relates to weight loss and overall health.
Prudent Dietary Choice
The USDA recommends that adults follow a diet rich in vegetables and fruits as part of the prudent dietary choice pattern. When it comes to choosing food that’s low in fat and has plenty of fiber, this pattern delivers. These items account for most of the food that falls into this group. Additionally, whole grain products, such as whole wheat bread and pasta, also fit into this category. The key disadvantage to this pattern is that it doesn’t offer many nutrient-dense foods that we need in order to survive. The answer: fruits and vegetables. While we need to eat fruits and vegetables in order to stay healthy, they don’t offer the array of nutrients that we need for the human body. The good news is that most of the foods that fall under this category are also low in calories.
Traditional Dietary Choice
The traditional dietary choice pattern, according to the USDA, offers food that’s grown or raised in the United States. This pattern is associated with a way of life that involves lots of meat, potatoes, and grains. The USDA also notes that dessert items, such as cakes, pies, and ice cream, generally belong in this category. While there are many foods that fit into this category, few of them offer numerous nutrients that we need for health. For that reason, this pattern doesn’t fit into the category of healthy diets.
Modernist Dietary Choice
Modernist dietary choice encourages people to eat food that’s easy to prepare. This pattern is characterized by fast food restaurants, takeaway foods, and frozen meals. The USDA suggests that the modernist dietary choice pattern can be a quick and easy way to satisfy hunger, due mainly to its abundant food variety. There are many foods that one can prepare using this pattern, such as pizza, Chinese food, and burgers. These foods are cheap and easy to get, which is why they’re popular choices when someone is on a budget. The major disadvantage to this pattern is that it doesn’t offer many nutrients that we need for health. Additionally, many of these foods are high in calories, fat, and carbohydrates. When someone is looking for a way to lose weight, this pattern isn’t recommended as a primary option.
Recreative Cultural Choice
The cultural recreative choice pattern, as defined by the USDA, encourages people to engage in social activities, such as eating out, going to the movies, and ordering takeout, in order to recreate social events from their life. This pattern is associated with the lives of people who enjoy an active social life and use food for entertainment. Many Asian countries, such as China and Japan, follow this pattern. This pattern also falls under the prudent dietary choice category because of its focus on eating healthy foods, such as vegetables, that are inexpensive and easy to get. The major disadvantage to this pattern is that it doesn’t offer many nutrients that we need for health. Additionally, due to its focus on recreation, it doesn’t promote weight loss either. Instead, it encourages people to eat what they want when they want it.
Healthy Food Choice
The healthy food choice pattern, as defined by the USDA, encourages people to eat vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, and whole grains. This pattern is associated with well-balanced diet and the way we humans were meant to eat. This pattern is also one of the six healthy dietary choices offered by the USDA. The food items that belong in this category are abundant in fiber, which provides us with the nutrients that we need to stay healthy. Additionally, these foods are low in calories, fat, and carbohydrates. This pattern doesn’t offer many foods that we can’t get in other categories, which makes it easier to follow. The major disadvantage to this pattern is that it doesn’t have any quick and easy ways of preparing food, which can make it more expensive to follow.
Vegetarian Dietary Choice
The vegetarian dietary choice pattern, as defined by the USDA, encourages people to eat only foods that come from plants. This pattern can be difficult to follow because not many foods exist that are high in fiber, contain all of the nutrients we need for health, and don’t have any animal products in them. Additionally, not many animals were designed to eat plant matter. For that reason, not many nutritional supplements are approved for use by persons following a vegetarian diet. The major disadvantage to this pattern is that many foods that are high in fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants don’t taste good. Additionally, it takes a lot of time to search for and find foods that one can eat that are both healthy and vegetarian.
In light of the above, it’s clear that not all diets are created equal. People need to remember that not all foods that fall under a certain category are created equal either. Some foods are better than others when it comes to nutritional value, and it’s important to remember that when making food choices. When a food product has an ingredient list, it usually has an ingredient list quite similar to what you would find in a ‘top shelf’ brand. That said, it’s always a good idea to read the ingredients of any food product before consuming it. Not only will that tell you what you’re putting in your body, but it will also provide you with some idea of what the food is like. Moreover, it should go without saying that if you want to lose weight, you should aim to follow the foods that the USDA has indicated will help you to do that. As always, consult your doctor or dietitian before starting any diet plan.