Lifestyle Diets

March 12, 2016

Introduction to Lifestyle Diets

Lifestyle diets are directed at transforming eating patterns over the long term, rather than fast short-term weight loss, which ultimately just doesn’t work. Lifestyle diets are meant to restore healthy attitudes towards foods, as well as healthy habits, and have the added benefit of more gradual weight loss for people who are overweight, or even obese.They have been widely used, so there are lots of online groups to consult, and chat rooms where you can see how others are doing. Most diets work best with the support of others in some form of community.

The lifestyle diets we summarize include:

  • Paleolithic (Paleo) Diet
  • Mediterranean Diet
  • South Beach Diet
  • Atkins Diet

The diets we review all have certain benefits—some more than others—but each of them has been around for awhile, and so some of the successes and problems associated with each of them are well known. They are all still popular to some degree. If there are clinical controlled studies conducted over time, we will describe some of them so you can get a good idea of whether or not they will work for you in ways that might last. Not all diets have been carefully studied in an unbiased way though. Some diets that claim to be well supported by research either rely on anecdotal information or include a heavy dose of self-interest, or even an apparent conflict of interest on the part of the researchers. We avoid citing those studies that are not controlled, or were conducted by people who have a financial/professional interest in promoting them.

There are many variants of each of these diets that ‘tweak’ them to emphasize one aspect or another. So if you are mainly interested in anti-inflammatory properties of the Paleo Diet or the Mediterranean Diet, for example, you can focus on that. If lowering triglycerides and dealing with insulin resistance is important, then another part of the diet may prove most beneficial. Our descriptions are just places to begin.

leafy lettuceAfter reviewing the diets, you might find one that suits your own special goals, and then start investigating it further. You should ask yourself :

  • how difficult (or easy) will it be to stick to a particular diet?
  • How much will it cost?
  • How accessible are the foods?
  • Do you actually like them?
  • Can you prepare the foods yourself?
  • Can you find them when you go out to dinner?
  • Can you purchase them from outlets in prepared form?

After all, you don’t want to make things worse in the end because you can’t find the food, or afford it, and just don’t like it.


Accessibility is not always just a matter of going to a supermarket. If you can join a ‘farm to table’ purchase cooperative, you might be able to save a lot of money on seasonal vegetables that would make a diet with lots of fresh vegetables both accessible and affordable. Maybe you can get them delivered right to your home. If you have a friend or relative who fishes or is a hunter, then perhaps the Paleo diet wouldn’t actually cost you so very much. The main point is to do some thinking about these things before you start.

This site does not deal with illness related diets such as those for persons with serious food allergies, acute illnesses, or for those undergoing drug treatments like chemotherapy, or recovery from surgery or injury. Such diets are best worked out in partnership with health care specialists who deal with these highly specific areas.