Monthly diet dissection
This month’s diet to be analyzed is “the zone” diet.
The basic outline
This diet gives you a plate guideline and how to fill it. You get 1/3 of a plate of protein and the rest of your plate is packed with vegetables and fruit (avoiding the high sugar/ starch options). You get a “dash” of healthy fats too.
They have a strong emphasis on “anti-inflammatory” nutrients being the core principal of the diets effectiveness.
They also promote some supplements to “optimize the diet”, these being fish oils and polyphenols.
What they do well
The emphasis on whole foods.
The emphasis on using food to reduce markers of inflammation and blood glucose levels is entirely possible and achievable.
They state that following “the zone diet” will help to balance hormones and I’m inclined to agree, seeing as how they are whole food based … lots of ticks so far.
The plate portion guide is easy to understand and follow.
“The bare bones of this diet are something I could personally get behind”
Things got dodgy here
I was initially loving ‘the zone diet” for all of the reasons stated above, the initial strategy is very similar to a food model I would be happy prescribing…. So I kept browsing around the webpage ..
I found the “products” section .. cue intense suspicion.
There are many “complementary” products that you can purchase to increase your range of options on this diet, so I pulled a few nutrient and ingredient panels. Here is a classic one for “breakfast cereal ”
Oh dear. First ingredient is soy grits, let me assure you that if you are a post-menopausal woman, these may be useful for you, but regarding any other age of human, I would classify soy as a hormone disruptor rather than a hormone balancer. We then have soy protein isolate .. Actual gluten in its pure form and a few slightly less offensive ingredients before launching into no less that 5 different types of sugar from different sources.
Anti-inflammatory? Nope. Blood sugar stabilizing? Nope. Hormone stabilizing? Nope.
Graphic from www.zonediet.com 2017
Room for improvement
The bare bones of this diet are something I could personally get behind. I love the basic principles. I would probably increase the levels of fats on the plate. The zone guys have given a nod to this by recommending an additional fish oil supplement. While I agree that fish oils can be super helpful for some people, I also think that eating oily fish will do a fine job of supporting essential fatty acid intake.
I think “the Zone diet” Is somewhat victim to money making and marketing gone wild. The base advice is sound but the “add on” products make it so much less credible. The irony of it is that you probably could achieve better hormone balance, blood sugar control and improved anti-inflammatory status, so long as you don’t fall victim to the “convenience foods” that this institution promotes.
Far better to adopt the healthy principles and practice mindful eating of some properly delicious regular treats on occasion!
If you have been on every diet going and want some help hitting re-set. You can contact me now for coaching on how to adopt healthy eating patterns for life. https://www.brainfoodhealth.com/book-now/