Living a quality life is all about striking a balance.
For example, it’s important that you work as hard as you play. And what about resting after being productive? We all need to cry, just like we need to laugh. And we all need to pay attention to our mental health as much as we need to maintain our physical health.
The same principle applies to your chosen diet.
While there will never be a lack of dietary options, it is very important to keep your overall health in mind before you make the commitment.
Is the diet going to cater to all your specific needs? Or does it only focus on certain areas of your well-being? Because if this is the case, then you might want to look at your other options. Which is exactly why this in-depth guide has been compiled.
Not only will it give more perspective and insight into what a healthy diet is based on. But it will also cover the top diets for overall health with extra detail.
Defining Overall Health: Picking the Right Diet for You
Overall health can mean many things to many people. But what does it mean to you? Hopefully, you’ll say something like you want to maintain a healthy weight and heart. You might also say you want to keep your mind sharp and your memory fresh. Because what is the body without the head?
It’s only for your own best interest to meditate on this topic when you get a chance. And try to take everything into consideration, from your blood-sugar levels to how well you sleep at night. All the habits that help you to function efficiently and keep a smile on your face can be thought of as “overall health”.
So, in light of covering several bases at once, here are some tips on how to approach any type of diet. And from there, we’ll get into the top diets for overall health as promised.
Define Your Own Success
The first tip is to define your own success about your target weight. Don’t fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others, because then you are comparing two very different situations.
What’s important is that you feel good when you look in the mirror – that’s it. If you are not losing weight as fast as the next person, so what? Always remember that dieting is a marathon, not a sprint.
Keep Realistic Expectations
Never put all your hopes and dreams in a diet. Why? Because a diet is just a tool. Granted, it needs to fit your lifestyle and situation. But it remains a tool you have to turn into a success. So if you are going to put all your hopes into something, put it in yourself.
Slipping up Does Not Mean Total Failure
The rules of a healthy diet will never consist of total failure. Instead, it will promote getting back on track without putting too much strain on your body. Keep in mind that a diet can mean some big changes in what you eat. And while you might not feel it the first few days, you will eventually sense the change.
But if you slip and deviate from the diet for one wild night, there is no reason to go on a guilt-trip. It’s much more productive to savor the moment and get back to what’s important – your overall health.
Learn to Listen to Your Body
It cannot be stressed enough how important listening to your body can be. For instance, when you feel sluggish and tired as soon as you wake up in the morning, something is wrong. You are either too active or not active enough.
Or you might have bad eating habits that influence your sleep patterns. Do yourself a favor and try to pick up on when your body is sending signals for certain minerals, nutrients, or even rest.
Follow the Research
While overall health may vary from person to person, the list below is based on other people’s research. They’ve been recommended by doctors and medical practitioners as one way to possibly improves one’s health.
That doesn’t mean they’re the end all and be all – while one may work great for one person, it may not be the best option for the next.
To help figure out the best diet for your overall health, you should…
Consult Your Doctor to Find the Best Program for You
Ultimately, if you want to improve your health, you first course of action should be consulting with your doctor.
Chances are, they probably know your health better than almost anyone, and they may even end up recommend one of the diets on our list.
At the end of the day, though, they’ll be able to pinpoint the best diet for you and your health.
Our Top 5 Diets for Overall Health
In this section of the guide, you learn about some of the most popular diets. The basic meals and fundamentals are shared to help you decide whether they have the potential you are looking for. A
nd without wasting any more time, let’s start with the Mediterranean diet.
However, this is not a strict vegetable diet with a narrow approach. Instead, it is a versatile eating plan based mostly on vegetables and fruits. Which means the Mediterranean diet is not so much a diet as it is an eating plan with many options.
Observations made during the 1960s revealed that countries in the Mediterranean didn’t have nearly as many heart disease fatalities as the United States or the northern part of Europe. And when researchers dug deeper, they discovered the answer in traditional Mediterranean dishes.
Day to Day
The diet suggests a limited intake of red meat, while dairy products should also be used in moderation. And as mentioned, this is not a strict diet you’ll be following. Seeing as the menu for a Mediterranean diet can be chopped and changed, it is considered a very versatile eating plan.
Important Notes on the Mediterranean Diet
This particular eating plan is very good for your cardiovascular system, as well as your health in general. And it even inspires you to regularly enjoy meals with family and friends, along with a glass of red wine.
Plus, meat can still be on the menu even though it is dominantly a fruits and vegetable plan. But you will need to cut back if you are used to red meat every day.
Research that started in 2015 seems to show that it can be associated with slowing cognitive decline. Because the research was based on how food ultimately reacts with our brain function.
These scientists wanted to find out whether certain food would be able to stop certain brain diseases, like Alzheimer’s. Their findings led to the creation of the MIND diet, a hybrid between the DASH (discussed later) and the Mediterranean diet.
But even though it brings two very respected eating plans together, there are some differences. A good example would be how the MIND diet prioritizes berries and the antioxidants they bring with them. It’s also a diet that encourages both leafy and other vegetables.
The result is a healthier mind, heart, and lower risk for diabetes.
Just like the Mediterranean diet, this eating plan is not complex or complicated. On the contrary, it is narrowed down to 10 foods you should be eating. As well as 5 foods you want to stay away from. In no particular order, they are:
10 Foods to Eat
Vegetables in general
Not more than one glass of red one a night
5 Foods To Stay Away From:
Food that has been deep-fried
Butter and/or margarine
With these fundamentals in place, you can have a customized MIND diet. But it should not be regarded as the cure for any mental disease.
It is simply meant to aid your natural ability to stay sharp. And if you want the diet to be effective, take a good look at other habits in your life. For example, do you smoke? Because this is a habit that will not be helping.
Important Notes on the MIND Diet
The MIND diet is not as versatile as the Mediterranean option, but it still allows for a wide variety of tasty meals. There are no strict rules as long as you can go without red meat and cheese, which can be difficult for some.
3. Flexitarian Diet
As you have probably noticed by now, diets tend to cut down on the meat as much as possible. And if you are more concerned with maintaining your overall health than building big muscles, meatless diets start to make sense. In this case, the aim is to reduce meat intake as much as possible. But you don’t have to do it right away.
Dawn Jackson Blatner is the name behind the Flexitarian Diet (read our review), and she tries to make the transition easier by systematically reducing meat. But what exactly are you allowed to eat and how much? Well, she explains all these things in more detail when you read her book.
How it Works
But the basic idea is that no foods are really off-limits. It’s a matter of increasing plant-based food intake while lowering meat intake at your own pace.
After a short assessment, you are guided to a comfortable starting point. For instance, you might feel comfortable eating meat only three times a week. Then after a few weeks, you drop another day. Essentially, you take baby steps towards becoming a vegetarian.
Other than the book with the recipes, there is nothing special you to buy. There are no specially packaged food or an exclusive online store. You’ll be using fresh food to prepare all the meals, which means you save money while getting healthy.
4. DASH Diet
This is another impressive diet, which is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. And as you know already, some fundamentals of the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet (read our review) has been used for the MIND diet. But the main priority for this diet is to control the amount of sodium you take in on a daily basis.
Of course, there are food and portion suggestions to help keep your sodium levels low, seeing as it leads to high blood pressure.
It should be noted that the DASH diet does more than control high blood pressure. According to research, DASH is effective in preventing heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and reduces the risk of having a stroke. But what types of food do you need to give up in order to live a healthier life? Well, you don’t really have to give up anything. But you need to make some changes though.
Most Important Foods
Low-fat dairy products
Optional Foods in Small Amounts
Important Notes on the DASH Diet
The DASH diet was created with a strong purpose towards maintaining overall health. And given the life-long approach used for the structure of the diet, you can trust it will help your body to fight off several issues that come with aging.
You still get a wide variety of options, but you have to pay more attention to your sodium levels.
5. Mayo Clinic Diet
For those who are serious about losing weight while adopting a healthier lifestyle in general, the Mayo Clinic diet (read our review) should definitely be considered. In fact, it even takes a look at your daily habits, like the triggers that make you eat when you aren’t really hungry.
A good example would be sitting in front of the television while you snack. This is a habit that needs to change and be disrupted, which is exactly what the Mayo Clinic diet aims to do.
At the same time, it provides a guideline for healthy food choices that can be adjusted for the rest of your life. And what about one of the toughest elements of dieting, namely motivation? Well, the diet includes some tips for that too.
So when you think about it, you are looking at a well-rounded diet you can implement for the rest of your life.
The diet is broken up in two parts. The first part is appropriately called “Lose It”, and it consists of a two-week plan for jump-starting your weight loss. More importantly, it’s a healthy way to get a boost, as supposed to rushing and putting unnecessary strain on your body.
The second part is “Live It”. And as you can probably guess, it will help you make permanent changes in your life. Everything from your eating habits and general behavior come into play, ultimately helping you to stay focused on maintaining your new target weight.
Typical Meal Plan
Breakfast: Oatmeal with milk, raisins, mango, and a calorie-free beverage
Lunch: Salad with fat-free dressing, sweet potato cakes, Quinoa, and a calorie-free beverage
Dinner: Mixed fruit, pita pizza, and a calorie-free beverage
Snack: Bell peppers and hummus
Important Notes on Mayo Clinic Diet
If you are serious about reaching a target weight and sticking to it, give this diet a deeper look. The food is great, the approach is very creative and motivational, and it is created by a very reputable name in health.
As you reach the end of the guide, it’s time to make some tough decisions. Are you going to live healthy now and enjoy getting old? Or do you want to gamble with your health and see what happens down the line?
Or maybe the stigma that diets don’t work is getting to you. Because you’ve probably heard so many people tell you how they ultimately fail.
If nothing else, remember that one diet is not going to work for every person that tries it. Weight and health problem have different origins. And it is because of these differences that several great dietary options are available. And not even the best overall health diets in the world, like those mentioned above, can be successful on their own.
It should also be noted that the above-mentioned diets are very different. Apart from the research and backing from respected institutions, they are focused on implementing life-long changes. And to put this in perspective, all these diets have the following in common:
The Diets Are Versatile
You are not being tied down to any strict rules regarding the food you can and cannot eat. In other words, you have several interesting options to work with and to make your menu exiting.
Focus On Losing Weight And Overall Health
One of the biggest issues with modern diets is the focus point. More specifically, all they seem to care about is reaching your target weight as quickly as possible.
What they don’t take into consideration is how to maintain this target weight, much less the damage losing rapid weight can do. So, if strict and flash diets haven’t been delivering on their empty promises, it’s very clear why.
Support Your Diet With Exercise And Good Habits
Finally, if you really want to live a healthier life at a target weight you are comfortable with, support your diet with enough exercise and good habits. As mentioned earlier, don’t put all your hopes on the fundamentals of an eating plan.
Remember, it’s just a tool you have to work with. And the better you approach it, the more successful you are bound to be.
Now is the time for you to make a valuable decision. Do you want to be healthy and happy? Or do you want to settle for aches and pains?
Ben Corbin brings nearly 20 years of experience as a health and wellness author and writer. He holds a master’s degree, has a passion for health and fitness, and is driven to provide readers with accurate and honest diet reviews. Learn more about Ben and the DadQuarters mission at our About page.