Everything in moderation
The findings Out of all countries, France was the least likely to diet, with half claiming they had not dieted in the last five years. The French take an ‘everything in moderation’ approach. They tend not to diet, but will simply eat less.
The expert says: “The perspective taken by the French is an appealing one because this isn’t a ‘diet’ in the truest sense of the word, it’s simply about eating less and not making a big lifestyle change,” says Doctor Søren, head of clinic operations at Bupa Global (bupaglobal. com). “The best way to lose weight is to consume less energy than your body expends throughout the day. By reducing your calorie intake but maintaining your levels of activity, you’re likely to lose weight.”
Influenced by friends
The findings Juicing is the most popular diet in the UK, with many people being inspired by their friends’ dieting habits to try it. Over half of Brits have tried the juice diet to improve their health, with 34 percent feeling inspired to try it after seeing friends’ results.
The expert says: “Communicating with a friend who is going through the same thing as you can help motivate you to stay on track, set realistic goals and encourage you to combine healthy eating with fun exercise,” advises Dr Søren. “Juicing can be a great way to get more fruit and vegetables into your diet, but it’s worth remembering that the real value of fruit and vegetables is in the fibre they contain, so make sure to invest in a blender that breaks down the fibres so you can drink those, too. Removing them will leave behind the juice only, which can be high in sugar and low on genuine nutrients.”
Back to basics
The findings In Egypt, people mainly stay in top form by making healthy homemade food and eating more fruits and vegetables. They go back to basics by cutting out processed food and upping the home-cooked meals, as they can control what goes into them.
The expert says: “Having healthy, home cooking, as opposed to lots of processed foods, is a good approach to a balanced diet,” explains Dr Søren. “Processed foods tend to be high in calories, sugars, fats, salt and carbohydrates, which can make you lethargic, as well as lead to weight gain. Cooking healthy meals at home means you can avoid processed ingredients and you have control over portion sizes, whereas some preprepared meals encourage you to eat more than you need to feel full. There is also an important social element in home cooking, where the family can get together, meaning that family recipes and tips can be shared with future generations.”
United Arab Emirates
The findings In the UAE, people may exclude certain foods from their diet in order to be healthier. The UAE was the most likely country to limit dairy intake, with 26 percent doing so and 31 percent switching to vegetarian meals.
The expert says: “Unless it’s for a specific medical reason, eliminating an entire food group doesn’t have health benefits,” says Dr Søren. “We need a variety of nutrients to function properly, and each food group can be a vital source of fuel for. For instance, your brain needs glucose (from carbohydrates) to function. Cutting out food groups can also make you have a restrictive attitude towards food, which affects your mentality towards eating.”
The findings Americans are most likely to reach for supplements to improve their health and wellbeing, in addition to cutting back or changing what they eat and drink. Out of all the countries surveyed, the US respondents were most likely to take vitamins, with 58 percent admitting to doing so to stay healthy, and least likely to eat more fruit and veg.
The expert says: “While supplements can be beneficial – for example, vegetarians and vegans can find it difficult to get sufficient Vitamin B12 from their diet – in general it’s far better to get nutrients through whole foods, as the body is better able to absorb them,” recommends Dr Søren. “While they’re convenient, vitamin supplements cannot replace a balanced diet and active lifestyle, and anyone looking to lose weight or improve their health should instead look to reduce the calories they consume overall and eat more natural foods such as fresh (unsweetened and unprocessed) fruit and vegetables.”
Have a detox
The findings In China, the health conscious may go on a detox diet to improve their wellbeing. Research shows that this was the most popular diet in China, with 34 percent of respondents having done a detox that lasted between one to four weeks.
The expert says: “Drinking lots of water is a popular theme when talking about weight loss, as not only does more liquid keep you hydrated, but it can also make you feel less hungry and therefore reduce the number of calories you’re likely to consume,” explains Dr Søren. “In China, puerh tea is a type of black tea that devotees claim aids weight loss, as well as lowering blood sugar and blood triglycerides. While detox products have enjoyed a surge in popularity, it can be dangerous to suddenly and dramatically alter what you consume, and anyone considering a detox approach should consult a health professional to ensure they’re not putting themselves at risk.”
3 top tips
Learn to cook
Avoid processed and ready meals, instead opt for home-cooked meals so you can keep an eye on exactly what goes into them.
Don’t rely on supps
Aim to get your RDA of vitamins and minerals from food, where possible. However, those on a vegan or vegetarian diet may need support.
Buy a juicer
If you want to try juicing, opt for vegetable-based smoothies to gain the benefits of fibre. Fruit can be high in naturally occurring sugars.