At the beginning of every
single year, we go through the same routine — like déjà vu. The holiday high
eventually wears off, and with a calendar clear of seasonal festivities, you
suddenly have plenty of time to notice that your jeans are fitting a bit
snugger than usual. But before you beat yourself up for overindulging on a few
too many pieces of holiday pie, know that you’re not alone.
According to the U.S. National
Library of Medicine, the average American gains five or more pounds during the
period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, making January the perfect time
to dust your shoulder off, hit the reset button and get back on track. So in
the spirit of a healthier year (whether it’s January or September, it’s never
too late), we chatted up several nutritional experts to get the low-down on the
plans we should all have on our radar this year. Spoiler alert: no crazy crash
diets on this list.

A 30-day challenge designed to
rid processed food from your life, Whole 30 has become quite popular among
dieters over the past couple of years — getting coverage in health pubs like
Shape and Runner’s World. And according to Michelle Hoover, a nutritional
therapy practitioner at Unbound Wellness, this diet is here to stay — mostly
because it works. “The 30 days focus on eating a diet filled with
vegetables, properly raised meats, healthy fats like coconut oil, nuts and
seeds, and fruits in moderation, and omits grains, dairy, and processed foods
and oils,” she told me in an interview. “Though strict, Whole 30
varies in sustainability for everyone and I believe that it’s a great place to
start if you’re looking to fine tune your health in 2017.”
If you’ve already gotten on
board with the idea of Meatless Monday, why not take it a step further and try
a plant-based diet in 2017? “Produce, whole grains, nuts and seeds are no
longer just for side dishes,” Kathy Siegel, a registered dietitian and
nutrition communication consultant for Triad to Wellness, told me. She explains
that as more millennials become interested in consuming sustainable foods, many
are jumping on the trend to eat vegan or vegetarian. “They’re filling up
with plant-based dishes, and feel good nourishing their bodies with nutrient
dense foods,” she said.
Worried you won’t get enough
protein when you ditch meat? Pam Nisevich Bede, registered dietitian with EAS
Sports Nutrition, assures us there are plenty of plant-based proteins to choose
from, including soy and pea protein. What’s more, these proteins have less
saturated fat and cholesterol than meat.
Flexitarian Diet

If the idea of completely
cutting out meat makes you a little nervous (it’s okay, I’m with you), the
Flexitarian Diet might provide the best of both worlds. “We are seeing a
trend in ‘flexible vegetarians,’ which means you eat things like tofu, quinoa,
tons of produce and vegetables, but you occasionally fuel up with meat protein,”
explains Bede. The major advantage, she says, is that you don’t have to be
pigeon-holed into one way of eating or another. “Some diets can be way too
restrictive,” she says. “But the more flexibility you can introduce
while on a diet regimen, the better.” The drawback, if there is one:
cutting down on meat means having to be more strategic in planning out your
day’s meals in order to prevent energy drops or a constant feeling of hunger.
“Active women should aim for about 30 grams of protein per meal ,”
Bede suggests.
Taking the top spot on U.S.
News & World Report’s 2017 list of “Best Diets,” DASH stands for
the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension. “This is the seventh time that
the diet is number one on the World Report’s list,” says Gisela Bouvier, a
registered dietician and the face behind B Nutrition & Wellness. “This
is due to the diet not only focusing on low sodium foods, but also focusing on
healthy foods from all food groups.” With a strong focus on lean meats,
whole grains, fruits, veggies and healthy fat, Bouvier explains, this plan
provides a lot of options.

Taking the number two spot on
U.S. News & World Report’s list was the Mediterranean Diet — one that
Bouvier often recommends to her clients. “The Mediterranean Diet has been
around for centuries,” she says. “The diet focuses on limiting red
meat, sugar and saturated fat, while increasing healthy fats from fish and
olive oil, and including whole grains, fruits and vegetables.” One thing
to keep in mind, Bouvier advises: good fat is still fat, and portions are still


FODMAPS are short-chain
carbohydrates that, if not properly digested, can ferment in the bowel and
result in major digestive stress. The theory: by lowering your FODMAPS, you’ll
essentially lower your digestive trouble. “This diet is geared to quell
digestive symptoms in the 1 in 5 (25-45 million) Americans that suffer
digestive woes, specifically IBS,” said Kate Scarlata, a Boston-based
dietician with over 30 years of experience helping take control of their
nutrition. “The diet modifies certain poorly absorbed carbs and is
effective in managing symptoms in 75 percent of IBS sufferers,” she said.

What you could expect to cut
out on the Low FODMAPS diet: wheat, rye, lactose (found in many cheeses and
yogurt), honey, certain fruits like apples, onions, legumes and artificial
sweetners. But it’s not all bad news. According to U.S. News and World Report,
while on the program, you’re free to indulge on meat, poultry, fish, eggs and
cold cuts, as well as lactose-free dairy, hard cheeses, nuts, seeds and
wheat-free grains like oats and quinoa.

We’ve all heard of juice
cleanses. But if you’re anything like me, 24-plus hours of consuming nothing
but light liquids is bound to turn you into a ravenous monster straight out of
an episode of The Walking Dead. Luckily, LA-based celebrity holistic
nutritionist and cleanse expert Elissa Goodman told me that juicing is out and
souping is in. “For lasting results, if you’re looking to cleanse, I
always recommend a whole food cleanse program, and soup just happens to be a
great way to pack in a ton of nutrients — including the fiber and protein that
is often missing from juices — while keeping sugar content low and taking it
easy on your digestive system,” says Goodman. “For consistent weight
loss that sticks, it is essential that your vitamins, minerals, and food groups
are all touched upon, and souping makes that part easy.”

She also explains that soups
can simultaneously detoxify and nourish the body. They’re also extremely
satiating, warm and comforting — all essential for long term success, according
to Goodman. “I see soup programs pop up all over the place, as well as many
online DIY versions that are easy to follow along at home.”
Meal Replacer

If you’re feeling a little
lethargic, Goodman recommends trying a matcha meal replacer to boost your
energy. “Drinking matcha has been shown to increase metabolism and help
the body burn fat 3-4 times faster than average, without the negative side
effects that coffee carries with it,” she says. “No raise in heart
rate or blood pressure, and not taxing on the adrenal system.” Another
weight maintenance benefit is matcha’s high level of chlorophyll, which makes
it a powerful detoxifier, capable of removing toxins and heavy metals in our
system. “Both which make you hang on to stubborn weight,” says


If you’ve got baby-making on
the brain for 2017, Bouvier recommends the Fertility Diet, which snagged the
number eight spot on this year’s Best Diets list. “It focuses on dietary
changes, weight loss, and increasing activity to help increase ovulation and
aid in fertility,” she tells us. ” It focuses on healthy fats, whole
grains, plant-based proteins, and full-fat dairy.” While many may question
how this diet affects cholesterol levels (since it allows full-fat dairy),
Bouvier notes that if portions are controlled, then effects on cholesterol can
be minimal.


Can learning more about our
genetic makeup actually help us lose weight? According to one company, it
might. “Looking at DNA results and genetic predisposition tests can
provide answers to questions about one’s weight, metabolism, eating habits and
food intolerances,” says Carlo L. Chapelle of EasyDNA, a UK-based DNA
testing company that offers diet and nutrition DNA testing, as well as wellness
and lifestyle testing. “We know that there are certain genes which
potentially affect how we view certain foods, which then influence our
behavior.” According to Chapelle, being in tune with your genetic makeup
could help you better understand your own relationship with food and work
toward making mindful changes.

secret ingredient to healthier living

There you have it — these are
the diets that, according to the experts, will get you one step closer to your
wellness goals.

But there’s one more important
ingredient that’s key in any wellness plan — water. “Water is the single
most important thing we can put in our bodies,” Rothenberg told
me.”We need water for energy. We need water to metabolize water soluble
vitamins (B + C).” So whether you decide to sip on soup, cut the carbs or
load up on more greens, always remember to stay hydrated.
Cheers to healthier living,
Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.