The 11 Most popular Diets

Prompted by Health Concerns, Vanity, Eating Disorders

by Kelly R. Smith

Healthy food for weight loss
Healthy food for weight loss
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This article was updated on 12/29/20.

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It’s interesting to note that out of all book genres, cook books and diet books rank so high. It seems contradictory, doesn’t it? Yet it makes sense that people want to eat well and stay in shape and be healthy all at the same time. Fair enough.

When following a diet, it is important to keep track of how you are doing. Keeping a log is a good idea. If you use a Garmin GPS sports watch, you already know that the Garmin web app (Garmin Connect) keeps a graph of your weight. But the weight you get from your simple digital bathroom scale isn’t enough; it doesn’t give you the whole picture. You need to also track your BMI (Body Mass Index). You can use a weight/BMI scale or do the math calculation yourself.

Most diets are associated with weight loss but some are more lifestyle, part of a religious faith, or as part of a periodical detox program. Let’s look at 11 of the most popular diets (as of this writing; fad diets pop up all the time).

  • Atkins Diet. This is one of the big ones. In fact, it was the number one diet of 2017. Oddly, when it was first developed it wasn’t even meant to be a weight loss program; it was designed to benefit folks with cardiovascular risk. This diet relies on restricting carbs. The result is controlled insulin levels so that fat is burned for energy rather than carbs.
  • Gluten Free. Gluten is a naturally-occurring protein in grain plants such as wheat. Anyone who bakes homemade bread for example knows that gluten is the “glue” that holds bread together. Unfortunately, many people are sensitive to it. Many others adhere to this diet because they just believe it to be healthier. Some do it because they think they sound like a hipster when they mention it. It can result in weight loss because, like Atkins, it restricts some carbs. It can be expensive though. Marketing likes trendiness.
  • Ketogenic. This is another one that was developed for other purposes. For example, it has been used for decades as a treatment for epilepsy. It’s basically the same at Atkins in that it reduces carbohydrate intake (less than 10% of daily calories) and raising fat intake. Many researchers are looking at using this diet for  diabetes management and general metabolic health.
  • The Volumetrics Diet. This one puts the focus on the energy density in various foods. This is the number of calories in a certain amount of food. Foods that rate a high-energy density have lots of calories per a little amount of food, and low-energy density foods have fewer calories for more food.
  • Whole 30 Diet. This program relies on abstaining from most processed foods (there is a list of permitted items) along with grains, dairy, alcohol, legumes and sweeteners for 30 days. It has been described as a “nutritional reset program that emphasizes whole foods.” Meat, eggs, fruit, and vegetables are allowed as part of the diet. Dairy products, grains, legumes, alcohol, and sugar are not allowed.
  • Intermittent Fasting. Fasting has been used for centuries for different reasons. In the past it was mostly for religious and ceremonial reasons. Today, weight loss and an improvement of the body’s functionality are the focus here in the west. There are several intermittent fasting plans or methods.
  • Vegetarian Diet. This diet comes in many flavors: living food diet, vegetarian, lacto-vegetarian, fruitarian vegetarian, lacto-ovo vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, ovo-vegetarian, and semi-vegetarian just to name more than a few. Whew. Studies have demonstrated that vegetarians suffer less from diseases, enjoy a lower body weight,  and may have a longer life expectancy than people who eat meat.
  • Vegan Diet. Veganism is considered more of a way of life and a philosophical outlook than a diet per se. Vegans will not consume anything that is animal-based, which can be very hard. This includes eggs, dairy, and honey. Vegans don’t always get into veganism simply for health reasons, but in addition for environmental, ethical, and compassionate reasons.
  • Mediterranean Diet. This diet has been around for quite a while and as might be guessed it is modeled after, well, the Mediterranean style of eating. In a nutshell, the fare is high in monounsaturated fats from nuts and oils, vegetables, whole grains, and seafood. It also includes token amounts of fruit, dairy, eggs, and a bit of red meat every now and then. It is thought by many to be one of the most beneficially ways to eat for overall health, especially for the cardiovascular system.
  • The Raw Food Diet. Sometimes referred to as raw foodism, it is defined by consuming food and drink that has not been processed. This diet is completely plant-based, and organic whenever possible. The four basic categories of raw foodists are raw vegetarians, raw vegans, raw omnivores, and raw carnivores. This last one scares me.
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  • The DASH diet. This diet was was developed with the idea of lowering high blood pressure. Its hallmark is consumption of a mix of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy. In addition, it is important to avoid saturated fat, sugary beverages, sweets, full-fat dairy, and some oils, and as might be guessed, less salt overall.


There’s certainly a lot of options to choose from, which is a good thing. Certain lifestyles are palatable to one person and not to another. In many cases it is possible to mix and match. The important thing when taking on one of these popular diets is dedication.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.


Liver Detox – Fact or Fiction?

Liver Detoxification or Liver Cleansing is a Profitable Industry

bu Kelly R. Smith


Phase 1 and 2 liver detoxification and cleanse
Phase 1 and 2 liver detoxification and cleanse
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This article was updated on 01/10/21.

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Liver detoxification, or liver cleanse as it is sometimes called, has become a huge industry worth billions of dollars each year. And why not? When something appeals to both the health-focused folks and hipsters, you have a winning combination. But how much of the hype is fact and how much is fiction?

Liver Detox Myths

The liver is the body’s primary filtration system and it’s job is to convert toxins into waste products as well as cleansing the blood and metabolizing nutrients and medications to make available to the body some of its most important proteins.

To get a good idea about which claims have a real basis and which are anecdotal, it pays dividends to put aside the infomercials and spam emails and look at the research.

  • Liver cleanses are a cure-all for daily liver health and overindulgence. Not true. They explain, “these products are not regulated by the FDA, and thus are not uniform and have not been adequately tested in clinical trials.”
  • Cleanses are effective for weight loss. Again, no clinical evidence has upheld this claim and logically, it is difficult to see any connection. For real weight loss, look to eating properly and taking up an aerobic exercise program such as running.
  • Liver detox will prevent liver disease. No, but there are proven things you can do to this end. These include avoiding drug use and unprotected sex, not drinking alcohol in excess, and avoiding weight gain. Better still, make it a priority lo lose weight.
  • Some dietary supplements may help with liver health. There is some evidence that taking a milk thistle supplement will optimize your liver function. Why not give that a shot?
  • Detoxification can repair existing liver damage. This in itself is not a cure-all however there are several things that will help. Lose weight. Eat healthy. Stop or minimize alcohol consumption.
  • Obesity does not increase your risk of liver disease. False! Part of the liver’s function is to eliminate toxins but being overloaded with fat can can cause inflammation, which may lead to the development of fibrosis and cirrhosis.


Alternatives to Commercial Liver Detox Concoctions

Many commercial cleanses are nothing but expensive snake oil or combined supplements. They are not regulated by the FDA and the ingredients are not typically vetted by an independent laboratory.

There are more frugal approaches that will aid liver function. For example, vitamins C, E, and beta-carotene are powerful antioxidants. B-vitamins assist in alcohol metabolism.  There is some evidence that milk thistle, dandelion root, and schizandra help protect liver cells while ridding the body of poisons.

So is a commercial liver detox product worth the money? Each person has to become informed make that decision.

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Panamanian-Style Ceviche Recipe

by Kelly R. Smith

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Panamanian-style ceviche and tortilla chips
Panamanian-style ceviche and tortilla chips

This article was updated on 10/05/20.

Ceviche (alternatively known to a lesser extent as cebiche, seviche or sebiche) is a seafood dish popular in most Latin American countries. The exact preparation location dictates the exact ingredient list but the one we will consider here is the Panamanian-style ceviche recipe since that’s what I grew up on.

This dish can be eaten as an appetizer before your homemade pizza or other main dish although I don’t see any reason not to just go ahead and make a meal of it. Although some people have have characterized it as raw fish like sushi, nothing could be further from the truth. The fish undergoes chemical cooking (from the acid in the lime juice) rather than thermal cooking. Just your basic science.

For the purpose of this article I’ll give the ingredients for a small batch, as pictured above. If you’re making more just keep the ratios the same, to your liking. Try to use organic ingredients where possible. If you like it hot but your family/guests do not, divide the ceviche into two containers and then put the hot peppers in one.

Ceviche Ingredient List

  • 1 filet of fish, approximately 8″ long, cut in 1/4″ – 1/2″ cubes. Use any white-flesh, non-oily species. In Panama corvina is used but I can’t get it here so this time I used cod. I used shark once. Only the hot pepper bit back.
  • 1/2 large onion, diced. Any type will do; I use red onions because they taste superior and they add color to the dish.
  • 3 sticks of celery, sliced about 1/4″.
  • Kosher or Himilayan (pink) salt as desired; I leave it out because of blood pressure.
  • 2 carrots, cubed or sliced thinly.
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2″ chunks.
  • 1 large tomato, diced.
  • 2 large serrano or jalapeno peppers, finely diced. Habanero pepper is traditional if you dare; one of these will do fine.
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro.
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley.
  • Sufficient lime juice to cover ingredients. (Lemon juice can be used in a pinch.) Save yourself some work by buying a bottle at the store rather than squeezing them yourself.

Ceviche Preparation

Panamanian-style ceviche ingredients
Panamanian-style ceviche ingredients

Cut up all ingredients and combine in a Pyrex container. Never metal! It doesn’t play well with the acidity of the lime juice. Keep in mind that the fish is much easier to work with if it is frozen. Add the lime juice until it just covers the mixture.

Cover the container with plastic wrap or a lid and store it in the refrigerator for a minimum of 24 hours. This will give the fish and vegetables in the ceviche time to cook and combine flavors. It is OK to stir it periodically.

One of the best things about Panamanian-style ceviche is that it is so versatile. The list of vegetables is up to your taste and imagination.  Some areas of Mexico substitute scallops for the fish; Colombians prefer shrimp.

Enjoy your Panamanian-style cevice with a spoon or over homemade oatmeal flax seed bread or scoop it with tortilla chips! Have you experimented with any interesting twists to this recipe? Share them with our readers in the comment section below.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.


Delicious Pizza Margherita Recipe

by Kelly R. Smith

This Classic Pizza Boasts Minimal Ingredients and Classic Taste

A homemade pizza Margherita baked and ready
A homemade pizza Margherita baked and ready
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This article was updated on 01/14/21.

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The pizza Margherita is something of a minimalist pizza pie (in my opinion). That doesn’t mean you can’t tweak it by adding anything that floats your boat.  Word has it that in June of 1889 Neapolitan pizzamaker Raffaele Esposito created it to honor the Queen consort of Italy, Margherita of Savoy. He garnished it with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil to represent Italy’s national colors as they are on the Italian flag. In case you wanted that bit of trivia.

Despite the simplicity of the recipe, there are a number of variations. For example, some recipes call for the basil to be added after the pie is done. I prefer to put it under the cheese before baking so the herbs flavor cooks into the cheese and sauce. Your option; no judgement here.

Optional Pizza Making Equipment

If you really get into making your own pizzas, I recommend:

My well-used pizza stone
My well-used pizza stone
  • A pizza stone. This is essential if you want top-notch pizza. A good pizza stone does wonders for your crust development because, unlike a baking sheet, it’s completely heated before the pizza is placed upon it. and that, my friend, is how you achieve a crisp and chewy crust that you can’t get out of a box. As you can see above, mine has some serious mileage on it.
  • A pizza peal. This is one of your best friends when using a stone. The one in the image below is typical. You build the pie on it, you transport the pie on it, and you can cut the pie on it. No muss, no fuss.
My pizza peal
My pizza peal

Pizza Crust Considerations

You basically have two choices. If you have the time and inclination, make your own. Check out this pizza crust recipe. If you are pressed for time, simply buy a crust in the grocery store. Don’t go for the really cheap ones. You get what you pay for.

The good thing about making your own crust is that you can add in just about anything—herbs, flax seeds, you name it. Use organic ingredients whenever possible. If you don’t have issues with glutin, toss in a teaspoon. Glutin is a wheat protein that holds breads together.

Pizza Topping Ingredients

  • 7 roma tomatoes. You can use the big slicers but the romas are much more economical. Slice ’em or dice ’em, or blend ’em.
  • Mozzarella cheese. How much you use is up to you. Slice it about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick and place it randomly (see the video in the link below under Preparation to see what I like).
  • 1/2 cup chopped basil.

That’s pretty much it for the basic ingredient list. Have fun with it and throw on anything that suits your fancy.

Preparation

This is very easy. Spread the tomatoes out evenly leaving about 1/2 inch around the edge “naked.” Add the basil. Add the cheese randomly. Watch the video. Have patience; it takes a while to load.

Bake that Baby

Preheat your oven (with the pizza stone on an oven rack) to 500 degrees. Bake it until the dough is crisp and browned and the cheese is golden and bubbling in spots. This will usually be from 13 to 16 minutes; just keep an eye on it.  Slide your pie off the peal onto the stone. Let it rest about 5 minutes and then slice and enjoy!

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.