Defining Diets: What Your Family Needs to Know About Popular DietsThe start of the new year marks a start to lifestyle changes for many resolution-setters. One of the most popular resolutions is to eat healthier and perhaps embark on a new diet. If you are in this boat and considering a new diet for you or your family, below is what you need to know about each of the most popular diets before you decide.

As a registered dietitian, I get the pleasure of helping families live healthier lives. Through my blog, I share simple, healthy recipes that the whole family will enjoy, along with practical nutrition advice.


  • The paleo diet mimics the diet from the Paleolithic era. It’s a modern approach to the hunter-gatherers diet that was common during this time.
  • Foods that are emphasized on this diet include meat, fish, nuts and seeds, vegetables, tubers, fruits and healthy fats.
  • Foods to avoid are processed foods, sugar, artificial sweeteners, vegetable oils, trans fats, most dairy, legumes and grains.

Gluten Free

  • Eliminates grains containing the protein gluten. This includes wheat, barley, rye and triticale.
  • This diet is primarily used to treat celiac disease since gluten can cause inflammation in the small intestine for these individuals.


  • Vegan diet consists of only plant-derived foods.
  • Vegetarians primarily have a plant-based diet but they may include animal by products such as milk, eggs, cheese and yogurt in their diet.


  • Emphasis on a primary plant-based diet.
  • Replace animal fats such as butter with healthy fats such as olive oil.
  • Limit red meat consumption to a few times a month and instead incorporate proteins such as fish and poultry a few times a week.
  • Drink red wine in moderation (for adults) and get plenty of physical activity.

Raw Food

  • Promotes eating mainly uncooked, unprocessed, organic foods.
  • One primarily eats raw fruits, raw vegetables, nuts, seeds and sprouted grains.
  • Some even eat unpasteurized dairy foods, raw eggs, raw meat and fish.

Low Carb/Atkins

  • A high protein and fat diet low in carbohydrates aimed primarily at weight loss
  • Primarily eat meat, fatty fish and seafood, eggs, low-carb fruits and veggies, full fat dairy, nuts and seeds and healthy fats
  • Minimize starches, grains, high-carb fruits and veggies, vegetable oils and sugar

Juice Diet

  • Usually done in week long intervals but some people may follow a juice plan for many weeks.
  • A combination of fruit and vegetables juiced and consumed at regular times during the day.

I highly recommend checking with your family doctor before making any drastic nutrition changes. And, if none of these diets work for you, I’d suggest making it your priority to improve the diet you already have. Find ways to modify instead of eliminate to reach your health goals. Tweet with me at @momnutrition!