Have you ever thought of the sheer number of diet choices there are? I don’t mean ‘diet’ in the sense of losing weight, but the diet people choose on a daily basis.

There are a whole list of vegetarian diets and semi-vegetarian diets, a long list of belief-based diets, different diets for medical reasons, diets based on some specific premise like the blood type diet (also a long list) and then we haven’t touched upon the general diets followed in specific geographical areas, like the Mediterranean or the Japanese diets.

The latest trend being promoted by health experts is a plant-based diet of whole foods. This is not the same as a vegetarian diet as it can include small amounts of meat, fish and poultry.

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) refers to the plant-based diet as one “that emphasizes vegetables, cooked dry beans and peas, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds,” reports Today’s Dietician, the magazine for Nutrition professionals.  It’s a manner of eating that favors plant food sources over animal food sources, but does not exclude the latter.

The important point to understand here is that we are talking about a diet of whole foods. So exactly what are whole foods? Why is this yet another diet with another name? What makes it different?

Whole foods are unprocessed food. It is food that is closest to its original state. In other words it’s lemon juice from a freshly cut lemon, not from a bottle; it’s cooked pasta with a sauce made from fresh vegetables or meat, not sauce from a packet; it’s home-made tomato sauce, not ketchup; it’s cooked or roasted potatoes, not a bag of chips. You get the picture.

A whole food shopping list doesn’t have to include seeds and grains with exotic-sounding names.

It can simply be good quality fresh vegetables and fruit and should include nuts, dried beans and whole grains. Don’t groan, it’s not so bad. If you have ever enjoyed a properly cooked chilli con carne bean stew, or curried lentils you know what I mean.

Interest in diets that move away from predominantly meat intake is growing.

“More people are interested in plant-based diets. There are more cookbooks focusing on locally grown vegetables and fruits, and I see more interest in local foods, farmers’ markets, community-supported agriculture, and the health problems from eating a meat-based diet,” nutrition advisor  for the Vegetarian Resource Group told Today’s Dietician.

Registered dietician and author Cher Pastore says a whole food plant-based diet is one of the healthiest diets you can follow, referring to clinical research studies that have shown that adopting a low-fat, plant-derived diet can aid in weight loss, improve insulin sensitivity, reduce blood sugar and cholesterol and reverse a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.

She writes that she has seen staggering results from clients who have adopted a plant-based diet. The clients experienced a significant drop in blood sugar levels in a short time, they didn’t feel hungry, had more energy, were able to think more clearly and lost weight more easily.

Of all the eating programs I have ever come across, this one sounds the most obvious and sensible to me. What do you think?

If you’re interested in finding out more about a plant based diet, we recommend contacting two Ideapod users: Dr. Rhea Mehta and Christy von Aspern. Click on their profiles and respond to their ideas on Ideapod. They are incredible experts on plant based diets.

And if you’re looking at trying a new diet that Hack Spirit writer Lachlan tried that worked for him, check out the Tom Brady TB 12 Diet

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