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Finding the Best Diet For You


Meaning of the word diet differs for each of us

The word diet is used by everyone but rarely means the same thing to any two people. So when the news came out that there was a new list of the "best diets," I couldn't wait to see what that meant. After taking a closer look at the U.S. News and World Report story and coverage here at HealthGoesStrong, this is what I found. 

The award for Best Diet Overall went to "The DASH Diet." This was a surprise to me because DASH is not a diet. DASH stands for Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension. It is an "Eating Plan" that was developed by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to prevent high blood pressure and help lower it if you have it. 

The NHLBI chose to call it an eating plan instead of a diet to avoid the stigma associated with that four letter word. That meaning of diet appears to have been lost on the distinguished panel of experts selecting this year's best. 

If you didn't read past the headlines you may have also missed that this second annual diet ranking from U.S. News actually included six different types of diets in addition to their vote for best overall. The other diets ranked in the report included the best:

  • Commercial Diet Plans
  • Weight Loss Diet
  • Diabetes Diets
  • Heart-Healthy Diets
  • Diets for Healthy Eating
  • Easiest Diets to Follow 

What makes a diet the best in its category? That was based on the following criteria, plus any caveats the expert reviewers chose to add of their own:

  • How easy it is to follow
  • Its ability to produce short-term and long-term weight loss
  • Its nutritional completeness
  • Its safety
  • Its potential for preventing and managing diabetes and heart disease 

Since there are no definitions - even among experts - for the diets in the different categories, such as "short-term weight loss" or "managing diabetes," the criteria had to be agreed upon in advance. Once that was done the experts rated all 25 diets, their ratings were converted into scores and the scores were translated into 5-star through 1-star rankings.  

What you won't see unless you read the entire report are the experts' comments. Choice tidbits like "Not exactly cheap," "Lots of grunt work" and "Tedious point-tallying" are things most people really want to know, yet are concealed behind those glowing 4 and 5 star ratings. 

At the end of the day, no matter what you call it, your diet is defined by what you eat day in and day out. If you're not on one of the top ranked diets, don't dismay. Diet means something different to each of us, and there's no one diet that's right for us all.