GOOD AND CLEAN, but maybe not so fun: Each January, millions of people vow to shed pounds and become virtuous eaters. Many will start to eat like cave men or go gluten-free. Others may take a more drastic approach and fast two days a week or detox their systems by cutting out all but the basics. To help you master the new year cleanse, here’s our breakdown of four of the most popular healthy food movements you’re likely to embrace in 2015.
The Big Idea: Eat the way our hunter-gatherer forebears did in the Paleolithic Era, surviving on hormone- and antibiotic-free meat and fish, as well as fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds.
The Promise: Fat loss, muscle gain, more energy, smoother skin, better digestion and a stronger immune system.
What You’ll Be Eating a Lot of: Wild-caught fish, cage-free eggs, chicken, turkey, bison, fruits and vegetables, nuts, and good fats such as olive oil and avocado.
What You’ll Be Cutting Out: All cereal grains and legumes, including wheat, oats, corn, brown rice, soy and kidney beans; dairy products such as milk and cheese; and processed or sugary foods such as soda, candy bars or chips.
Almost as Good as the Real Thing: If you like spaghetti and meatballs, try meatballs and marinara over spaghetti squash.
The Drawbacks: Organic food can be expensive. David Katz of Yale’s Prevention Research Center warns: “The Paleo banner is often flown as an excuse to eat modern, domesticated, grain-fed, fatty meat utterly unlike the meat our ancestors ate.”
The Poster Children: Lucy the cave woman, NBA star LeBron James, actor Matthew McConaughey and the entire Melbourne Football Club.
The Resources: Books // The original “The Paleo Diet Cookbook” (£13); Tom Parker Bowles’s new “Let’s Eat Meat” (£17); Australian celebrity chef Pete Evans’s “Paleo Every Day” (£19), released this month. App // Paleo Central (70 pence) contains 4,000 items in its database so you can see what is and is not Paleo and find alternatives.
The Place to Try It: At Sea Containers at the Mondrian London, Seamus Mullen has created a virtually carb-free menu. “The Paleo way of eating is really about embracing seasonal produce and healthy, natural, saturated fats,” he says.
The Big Idea: Developed by Alejandro Junger, the Clean Program is a 21-day diet that allows one solid meal a day (lunch), two liquid meals and supplements. The diet cuts out foods that cause allergies and digestive problems.
The Promise: The diet claims to depuff and detoxify the body, improve skin, sleep, digestion and energy, and reduce bloating, constipation and joint pain. Post-cleanse, dieters should be more aware of how their body reacts to certain foods.
What You’ll Be Eating a Lot of: Wild fish, chicken and turkey, brown rice, quinoa, legumes and beans, vegetables, whole fruits, nuts, avocado, good oils such as coconut and olive, green tea, stevia—and a lot of nutrient shakes and juices.
What You’ll Be Cutting Out: Soy, dairy, gluten, eggs, pork, beef, corn, tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes, peppers, bananas, grapes, straw-berries, caffeine, alcohol and processed sugars.
Almost as Good as the Real Thing: Instead of french fries, try root vegetable fries made from carrots and parsnips.
The Drawbacks: The 21-day program kit, which includes supplements and recipes, costs $425 (£280). Some Clean dieters complain of headaches and low energy. Plus, it’s difficult to have a social life when your dinner is a shake.
The Poster Children: Actresses Demi Moore and Gwyneth Paltrow, and fashion designer Donna Karan.
The Resources: Books // Dr. Junger’s “Clean” (£10) and “Clean Eats” (£13); Gwyneth Paltrow’s “It’s All Good” (£16). Online // The Clean Program includes a support community, with tips, recipes, videos and a members’ chat room; my.cleanprogram.com
The Place to Try It: Bruno Loubet, chef-owner of Grain Store in London, has created a veg-heavy menu. His creativity shines with dishes such as leek and butternut squash “cannelloni” where leeks replace noodles.
The Big Idea: Gluten causes inflammation in the small intestines of people with celiac disease. In “Wheat Belly,” cardiologist William Davis says the protein is also the cause of health problems such as arthritis, hypertension and obesity.
The Promise: By cutting out gluten-loaded pastas and breads for wheat-free foods, you’ll lose weight, have more energy and lose the bloated “wheat belly.”
What You’ll Be Eating a Lot of: Buckwheat, quinoa, flax, millet, rice, gluten-free flours (rice, soy, corn), eggs, fruits, vegetables, meat, fish and poultry.
What You’ll Be Cutting Out: Bread, pasta, beer, cereal, cookies, flour tortillas, couscous, muffins, some oats, gravy and some salad dressings.
Almost as Good as the Real Thing: Luckily, gluten-free products are popping up in supermarkets around the world. For beer drinkers, Spain’s Estrella Damm Daura is made with barley malt. Pasta lovers can try Andean Dream Quinoa Spaghetti.
The Drawbacks: You can’t eat bread, and who doesn’t love bread?
The Poster Children: Designer Victoria Beckham, tennis player Novak Djokovic, actress Rachel Weisz,Bill Clinton (mostly).
The Resources: Books // “Gluten is my Bitch” (£12); “Wheat Belly” (£9). Apps // Gluten Free Restaurant Items (£2) locates restaurants within a 30-mile radius and shows which dishes are gluten-free. Scan bar codes with Coeliac UK (free) to see which products are gluten-free when shopping.
The Place to Try It: Anna Hansen became gluten intolerant when pregnant and now has gluten-free dishes on her menu at London’s the Modern Pantry, such as coriander and curry leaf besan chips with tahini lemon cream.
THE 5:2 FAST
The Big Idea: Five days of normal eating, and two days of eating one quarter of your recommended calorie quota (about 500 calories for women and 600 for men).
The Promise: A loss of about half a kilo a week if you don’t overeat on your normal days, plus health benefits such as an improvement in blood pressure and lower cholesterol. It also helps people become more in touch with their hunger cues.
What You’ll Be Eating a Lot of: On fast days, you’ll eat high-protein, high-fiber foods, because these are more satiating. Think chicken and fish, and leafy green vegetables and legumes.
What You’ll Be Cutting Out: On fast days, avoid refined carbs such as pasta, rice and potatoes, and sugar-laden sweets such as doughnuts and other pastries.
Almost as Good as the Real Thing: On non-fast days, eat whatever you like, from a double bacon cheeseburger to a slice of pecan pie. But you might pay for it when you’re fasting again.
The Drawbacks: On fasting days, you may experience lower energy and mood swings. “This is impossible to share with family and turn into a lifestyle,” says Dr. Katz.
The Poster Children: Model Miranda Kerr, singer Jennifer Lopez, actress Jennifer Aniston, TV presenter Phillip Schofield.
The Resources: Books // “400 Calorie Fix” (£2); “The Fast Diet” (£6). App // The 5:2 Diet Complete Meal Planner (£2) shares 100-calorie breakfast ideas and recipes for 200-calorie dinners. Online // Chat with other fasters on the Fast Diet forums; thefastdiet.co.uk/forums
The Place to Try It: Sam’s Brasserie & Bar in Chiswick introduced low-calorie dishes specifically for 5:2 dieters. “A personal favorite of mine is the minced pork lo-lo meatballs,” says executive chef Mark Baines. “Guests couldn’t believe it was a diet dish.”