It's January, which means many of us who spent 2017 glowering over our beer bellies at the growing number on the bathroom scale are trying to keep our New Year's resolutions to shed a few pounds and get back in shape.
In 2018, dieting trends range from the sensible to the downright bizarre (bugs, anyone?) and have attracted true-blue believers as well as skeptical critics. In the end, it's up to you to choose what might work for you, so let's take a look at the buffet of options that claim they'll keep you away from the actual buffet in the new year.
One of the most popular diets continues to be the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH diet.
As its name indicates, DASH has its origins as a diet designed to help battle growing rates of heart- and blood pressure-related conditions. The diet was actually developed through research by the National Institutes of Health with the aim of creating a "flexible and balanced eating plan that helps create a heart-healthy eating style for life."
DASH doesn't necessarily restrict or mandate any specific foods. Instead, it lays out a series of daily and weekly nutritional goals based on food group types and servings.
The popularity of the diet, which touts itself as more of a long-term lifestyle change than a fad or craze, has expanded beyond people looking to manage their high cholesterol or hypertension. In January, U.S. News and World Report ranked DASH as "best overall diet" for the eighth year in a row.
An oldie but a goodie, Weight Watchers has been around for more than 50 years and is currently the go-to program for more than 1.1 million active members looking to find their slimmer selves.
The company kicked off 2018 by rolling out its newest weight loss plan, called WW Freestyle. The new plan is based on its previous SmartPoints system, which assigned points to various foods and a specific budgeted amount of points participants must stick to in order to meet their weight loss goals. The new system still uses points but now includes a category of more than 200 "zero points" foods and boasts "rollover" points, which can be transferred to another day to keep the program "flexible and livable."
Unlike other diets, however, people looking to participate in Weight Watchers will have to pony up some cash. According to the company's website, that could run you between $3.07 to $8.46 per week, depending on the type of bells and whistles you want.
It wouldn't be a New Times story if we didn't mention pot, would it? With recreational marijuana now legal in California, health-conscious stoners across the state will likely be flocking to pick up a copy of author Art Glass' 2013 book, The Marijuana Diet.
Glass claims that that there's solid science behind the marijuana diet and says his book includes more than 100 testimonials of people who lost between 20 and 100 pounds.
"In fact, it might be the best and simplest solution that there is for fast and permanent weight loss," Glass writes.
Based on the book's chapters, the diet stresses healthy eating, juice and detox cleanses, and some intermittent fasting. The book also includes a handy chapter titled, "How to handle the munchies."
Obviously, this diet doesn't have any rave reviews from U.S. News and World Report or the stamp of approval from the Mayo Clinic, so dieters beware. The diet has its critics, including those who question the science behind it, but that's just, like, their opinion, man.
The truly adventurous dieter may want to make 2018 the year they dive headfirst into entomophagy, a fancy term that simply means "eating bugs."
Yes bugs. Worms, crickets, ants, and even larvae and eggs. While the prospect may seem stomach churning to many Americans, some 2 billion people all around the world already include insects as part of their regular diets, according to a 2013 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. The report states that insects not only have "exceptional nutritional benefits," but could even be farmed on a mass scale to feed the earth's growing population and cut down on waste and environmental degradation caused by meat production.
While there's no set bug diet, an American student named Carmen Brantly-Rios spent 30 days in 2015 eating an insect-based diet, which included dishes like "mealworm fried rice," "bug burgers with cheese," and "Creole crickets." Brantly-Rios didn't say if he lost any weight, but it's probably safe to assume it's possible to accomplish if one subbed out Big Macs for bug burgers (hold the cheese just to be safe). While it seems out there and the weight loss potential is iffy, who wouldn't want to be the first bug diet weight loss success story? Δ
Staff Writer Chris McGuinness hasn't eaten any bugs ... yet. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.