Ordering meals at a restaurant has, quite honestly, never been harder than it is now. Between the buddy with gluten-free preferences and the bestie with the Non-GMO preference, causing unintentional blasphemy by placing an order that does not fulfill the dietary requirements, is a very real possibility. Or not, because life's too short to worry about stepping on anyone's toes.
As with all things related to fitness, dietary preferences are thought to be hip. Trendy. Cool. And since appearances must be upheld to fit in with society's many “fit fams”, many wannabes tend to throw in an assortment of words in an attempt to come across as being eloquent in health-speak.
While we do not discount the seriousness of paying heed to these dietary requirements for health reasons, we cannot help but shake our heads with pitying amusement when Aunty Pamela proudly declares herself a vegan while chomping on a large, well done steak with garlic butter.
So obviously, in the name of research, we dove headfirst into uncharted territory in an attempt to discern between the complicated health-speak / jargon. Without further ado, and in the name of social service, we’ve compiled a list of the more popular ones so you can successfully flit between fad diets to your heart's desire without being called out for being the fraud that you are. You’re welcome.
Organic: Thanks to the Good Market as well as the various home based sellers and major supermarkets hopping on the organic bandwagon, it is safe to say that this “fad” is one that pretty much all of us get right.
Vegan: The more radical sibling of Vegetarianism, veganism means no animal based or related foods or products. The list includes milk, eggs, honey, silk and leather based items. So if you identify as vegan, you may have to get rid of your prized collection of Italian leather footwear. Makes visiting restaurants a breeze noh? Not! As Anthony Bourdain eloquently put it "Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter-faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn". On behalf of those of us who have attempted to host vegans for a meal at home, I say - same Anthony, same.
Gluten-free: If you’re gluten-free, prepare to bid adieu to, among other things, bread, pasta, the occasional salad dressing and even cupcakes! Gluten is a protein composite found in wheat, barley and rye. The diet is endorsed by tongue wagging wise-woman Miley Cyrus as well as a spate of athletes who believe a gluten free diet improves energy and health.
Low Carb: As the name implies, this diet means you have to skimp on the carbs. And substitute with proteins. Seems kind of mellow, compared to the other fad diets on this list. Although, saying adios to mashed potatoes and sugary drinks may seem like an earth shattering decision, but at least you substitute your cravings and eat chicken (protein)!!
Paleo: I know what you’re thinking. And you’re not that far off. Paleo diets follow the principle that if a food item wasn’t eaten thousands of years ago, pre-agriculture, don’t eat it. This automatically crosses out all the tasty but supremely unhealthy processed foods like sausages. (We’re pretty sure cavemen would have been gluttons for sausages. But you know, perils of being born a “couple” years too early). Also not allowed are legumes, grains and sugars! What a paleo diet does include are veggies, grass-fed and pastured meats, sustainable seafood, nuts and seeds, fruit and grass-fed dairy.
Raw: Are you one of those folks who tells anyone that would listen that cooking destroys nutrients? That's the premise of the raw food diet. This diet is made up of fresh, whole, unrefined, living, plant-based foods: fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, and seeds, which are consumed in their natural state. This is all in its uncooked or steamed form. There are also apparently subgroups like “fruitarians”, “juicearians”, and “sproutarians”.
Non-GMO: This means you eat non genetically modified organisms, which is kinda tough nowadays considering the fact that almost everything we eat is genetically modified or engineered in labs. This lifestyle requires a lot of reading. Of labels. But whatever floats your boat, ya know?