Minimal effort with maximum results in a short time – this is what a lot of people expect from a diet. We’ll show you why diets are neither sustainable nor necessary. We’ll also present a variety of alternative ways of eating.
The most important thing first: if you want to lose weight, you don’t need to go on a diet. And you don’t need a special nutrition plan, either. You just need to make sure of one thing: that you’re taking in fewer calories than you’re burning off. You control your calorie intake by what you eat. And if you follow the rules of a balanced diet, you’re already on the right track. Your calorie consumption depends on how active you are. Do you move a lot in your daily life? Do you play sport regularly? If so, you’ll automatically burn more calories.
Diets that promise a lot of weight loss in a short time won’t bring you any long-term success and they’re not healthy, either. They often mean that you’ll be eating too few calories. When you go back to eating normally again after being on a diet, the lost kilos usually pile back on again automatically. That’s why it makes much more sense to change how you eat in a sustainable way and to do regular exercise.
Our health consultation advisors are happy to help you. They will answer all of your nutrition-related questions and show you how to enjoy a balanced and nutritious diet.
Alternative ways of eating are those that differ from a standard mixed diet – in other words, a balanced mixture of all types of foods. People normally stick to these ways of eating over the long term. There are various reasons for this. These can be religious, health-based or ethical/moral in nature.
Diets, on the other hand, differ from a “normal” balanced way of eating owing to how the food is prepared and/or their quantities or composition. They are often carried out on a short-term basis. The aim of a diet is usually to lose weight. However, diets are also used to prevent or treat diseases such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
The principle of intermittent fasting is simple: the usual schedule of mealtimes is interrupted by long periods of fasting. There are various methods, such as the 5:2 diet or the 16:8 method. You can find out more information on the various methods in our blog article, as well as the pros and cons of intermittent fasting.
The low-carb diet involves eating very few carbohydrates, or even none at all. This changes the body’s metabolism. The body gets its energy from fats rather than carbohydrates. The resulting fat burn is said to help with weight loss. But is it really advisable to completely give up carbohydrates from a health perspective? Find out more in our blog article.
The ketogenic diet is a type of low-carb diet. This diet is composed mainly of protein and fats. That’s why a lot of these types of diets promise rapid weight loss. You can find out why they’re still not suitable in our blog article.
The paleo diet is also known as the “stone-age diet”: you only eat what would have been on the menu for our ancestors. This automatically results in a diet that is low in carbohydrates and high in protein. But what actual promises does this diet make? We explain in our blog article.
There are many different versions of a vegetarian diet. Veganism is the strictest version. Someone who follows a vegan diet completely avoids any animal-based food products. This means that milk, dairy products, cheese, eggs and honey are off the menu as well as meat and fish. Lacto-vegetarians, on the other hand, consume milk, dairy products and cheese as well as plant-based foods. Ovo-lacto vegetarians go one step further, with eggs on the menu for them as well. And there are other versions too. Someone who eats a pescatarian diet avoids meat but eats fish and seafood. And flexitarians frequently, but not always, avoid meat.
It’s important to note, however, that a predominantly or fully plant-based diet doesn’t always cover your nutritional needs. Someone who removes animal-based food products from their diet should do their research beforehand to work out how to prevent any deficiencies. Otherwise, there’s a risk of becoming deficient in vitamin B12, iron or calcium.
A balanced vegetarian or vegan diet not only provides a good supply of nutrients; it also has additional health benefits over the long term. It can reduce the risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, for example. And vegetarians and vegans also take in fewer saturated fatty acids, cholesterol and purines.
People who eat a raw food diet only eat food that hasn’t been heated prior to consumption. So they don’t eat anything that’s been baked, fried, boiled or pasteurised. This means that the food they eat always has all of its nutrients. Following this way of eating means taking in plenty of dietary fibre, which can help to improve gut function. However, because raw food is relatively low in energy, there is the risk of not getting enough energy when eating normal portions. This is why it’s important not to choose this way of eating over a balanced diet on a long-term basis. Raw food often contains a lot of fibre, acids and other substances that encourage flatulence. A lot of people are only able to tolerate the raw food diet to a limited extent, even after an acclimatisation period.
“Ayurveda” medicine originally comes from India. The concept consists of a particular diet as well as various therapeutic measures such as yoga and meditation. The Ayurvedic diet follows a number of different principles, with balance playing an important role. This means only eating when the body has digested the last meal and when hunger is setting in. It’s important to eat in peace – preferably sitting down rather than standing up. A meal should also fit into two cupped hands. It should ideally consist of sweet, salty, sour, pungent (spicy), bitter and astringent elements. This is said to help achieve a physical and mental balance.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), all meals should be balanced. This allows the life force to flow through the body unobstructed. Foods are divided into five categories: earth, wood, water, fire and metal. Within these groups, foods are again classified as hot, warm, neutral, refreshing and cold. A person who has a Yang personality needs more Yin in their diet, and vice versa. This helps to restore balance in the body.
Fruitarians only eat plant-based foods. They therefore follow the principles of a vegan diet. But this way of eating is stricter than veganism. The only things on the menu are foods that are naturally dead, i.e. foods that can be harvested without killing the plants. These include fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and grains. People who follow this diet often avoid wooden furniture and clothing made from wool, leather or silk. They want to cause as little damage as possible to the environment and are willing to give up a lot in pursuit of this goal.
As with the classic vegan diet, this way of eating does not cover a person’s nutritional needs. After all, the more limited the choice of foods, the greater the risk of deficiencies.
Clean eating is a way of eating that primarily consists of fresh and unprocessed foods. Fast food, ready meals, sugary drinks, alcohol, hydrogenated fats, white flour and products containing artificial ingredients are therefore all off the menu. The concept can be applied to various ways of eating, such as low carb or vegetarianism.
Clean eating is said to help with diabetes, excess weight, high blood pressure, headaches, fatigue and depression. There is not currently any scientific evidence to support this claim.
This way of eating is considered balanced and wholesome, as it contains a sufficient quantity of all important nutrients.
Mona Piller (MA Public Health Sciences) works as a health management specialist at Helsana. She is committed to providing prevention and health promotion services for our customers. Mona Piller provided the editorial team with advice and input for this article.
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