The Middle Ground Approach

Does the best diet fall somewhere in the middle?

It’s all-or-nothing in most diet theories – but, is that the best diet for you? From keto to veganism, many nutritional theories exist in which include extreme dietary shifts. Yet, to achieve this is daunting, frustrating, and many who try fall back into their old eating habits. Would a middle-ground approach, a place between extremes allow you to achieve wellness and sustain it? Is the best diet somewhere in the middle? Dare to individualize your eating style – it might be the healthiest thing you ever do.

All-or-Nothing Diets Don’t Work

Over 60% of American adults access health information online, particularly on social media, where all-or-nothing trends can come without helpful nutritional information. Despite the fact that all-or-nothing fad diets, such as gluten-free, keto, or paleo may appeal as a simple way to lose weight, in the long term these diets are unsustainable and can bring adverse side effects to health, notes researchers.

Restrictive Diets are Losing Popularity

Lately, there’s been a shift in popularity away from restrictive diets. It has sparked greater compassion for our body’s with society becoming more weight inclusive. People feel supported and accepted. It’s important for us all to remember that bodies come in all shapes and sizes. There is no “healthy” size for all. However, how far should the pendulum swing? Is there a middle ground between these diets where you can achieve wellness?

Veganism: A Middle Ground Approach

Veganism is growing in popularity on two fronts. The push to eat more plants is fuelled by scientific data showing it is beneficial for our health and the planet. Meat consumption has steadily increased since the 1960s, while researchers note eating it is linked to a higher risk of certain diseases. Livestock is a source of water pollution and a major player in greenhouse gas emissions (12-18% of total global emissions), more than the total combined exhaust from all transportation according to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization. Red meat, in particular is estimated to be responsible for 41% of livestock emissions. Calorie for calorie of production, beans are 20x more sustainable to grow than beef. But, the difference between eating vegan and choosing to replace one burger meal a week with a plant-based alternative is big. The all-or-nothing approach may be too big for some people. Would taking a middle-ground approach feel less daunting, and thus be more easily achieved by the average person? Looking to find a middle ground, here’s what experts say.

  • Canadian researchers suggest if we ate 25% less red meat, in line with medical recommendations, it would be helpful for us and the earth.
  • Per week, one serving of beef is what the Lancet’s Planetary Health Diet, suggests.
  • When asked if it would be sustainable to eat a diet heavy on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and other plants, while low in animal protein and dairy, Robert Waite of the World Research Institute agreed.

The Middle Ground Approach to Eating

Could finding a middle ground approach, instead of the all-or-nothing trends be what you need? In the case of eating more plants, the all-or-nothing approach of suddenly trying to eliminate all animal-based foods from your diet isn’t going to work for everyone. What does work is small changes. It’s a proven way to make sustainable lifestyle changes – use smaller steps. For example, swap tofu in for chicken in your stir-fry, or use a sweet potatoblack bean patty in exchange for a beef burger.

Finding the Best Diet for You

There’s somewhere in the middle, between extreme dieting and the old, unhealthy eating habits that have led to health concerns, where you may find the best diet for you. The middle ground is individualized – you can use your unique health needs to create meals that not just nourish and fuel your body, but ignite your soul. It’s not a new trendy diet – it’s actually a strategy that has been used for decades to successfully help people manage their weight, reduce illness, and achieve optimal health. It’s the approach used by Registered Holistic Nutritionists.

What’s the Best Way to Lose Weight, Naturally?

Remember, being healthy is not just about what you eat, but how you eat it. Other factors in your lifestyle influence weight: hormones, stress levels, sleep, physical activity, underlying health conditions, and certain medications. Working with a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, you can identify areas in your lifestyle that may be preventing you from reaching your health goals, help you find sustainable changes you can make to be successful, and find an individualized middle-ground approach that will work for you.

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Meat consumption: which are the current global risks? A review of recent (2010-2020) evidences. Food Res Int 2020 Nov; 137: 109341.

Insufficient sleep undermines dietary efforts to reduce adiposity. Ann Intern Med 2010 Oct 5; 153(7): 435-441.

Impact of a stress management program on weight loss, mental health and lifestyle in adults with obesity: a randomized controlled trial. J Mol Biochem 2018; 7(2): 78-84.

Contributed by Allison Tannis

Known for her deliciously geeky words, Allison’s articles and books are read around the world by those curious about where to find the most delicious (and nutritious) places to stick their forks. More at Follow @deliciouslygeeky.