Another day, another new diet book hits the shelves. No wonder we are all suffering from confusion. But, it's just a case of finding what eating plan works for you, and tweaking it to suit your lifestyle.
The Mediterranean diet
What is it? An eating plan based on plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts, olive oil and fish; a moderate amount of wine, cheese and yoghurt and only a small amount of red meat. One of the few diets backed by strong scientific evidence that it benefits health and longevity.
Pros: It's not overly restrictive and traditional Mediterranean dishes are tasty so it will not feel like a diet.
Cons: Does require time for food preparation to get this volume of fresh food in your diet.
Try: Using more extra virgin olive oil with your salad and vegetables; snack on nuts and focus on 10-13 serves of vegies every day.
What is it? The best known version of intermittent fasting is the 5:2 diet, where you drastically reduce kilojoule consumption on two days of the week, while eating normally for the other five days. Studies have shown intermittent fasting in humans helps reduce obesity, hypertension, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Pros: Can suit busy people who find it difficult to fit in regular meal times. Also good for desk-bound workers who don't have high energy needs.
Cons: Can fuel food obsession on fasting days, which permit only 2400 kilojoules a day for men and 2000 kilojoules a day for women. May not suit very active people who need sustained energy throughout the day.
Try: a light day of eating each week with plenty of soup, salad and fish
What is it? A regime defined by the absence of gluten, a protein found in wheat and related grains such as barley and rye. People who have coeliac disease (about one in 70 Australians) are intolerant to gluten.
Pros: A gluten-free regime is imperative for anyone with coeliac disease.
Cons: A number of people believe they are gluten intolerant and follow a gluten-free diet unnecessarily, when the actual problem may be caused by a gut parasite or other more specific dietary factors. Cutting out wholegrains means missing out on beneficial fibre. And gluten-free breads, cereals and pasta are usually more expensive than regular, wheat-based products.
Try: Getting an assessment from a gut specialist or dietitian before you choose a gluten free diet to see if it's actually necessary.
What is it? Varying regimes have the aim of cutting out sugar and other sweeteners for better health and weight loss. Fructose sugar in particular is blamed for the rising obesity rate.
Pros: Encourages cutting out processed food.
Cons: Conflicting theories about which sugars are OK. Some diets permit some sugars including those found in dried fruit and syrups such as rice malt syrup, while other more extreme regimes cut out fruit.
Try: Simply ditching processed snack foods to get similar health benefits.
What is it? Returning to the hunter-gatherer eating style of our ancestors with a focus on vegies, game meats, nuts and seeds. Excludes dairy, grain, legumes, sugar and alcohol.
Pros: Promotes fresh, unprocessed, home-prepared food.
Cons: Extremely low in calcium and fibre which can have implications for bone health and gut-health long term.
Try: A modified Paleo approach which retains the emphasis on good quality protein and plenty of vegies, but also includes some dairy, legumes and wholegrains.
What is it: Also known as juice cleansing, it's based on a theory that a period of abstaining from food and only drinking fresh juice will support weight loss and reset the metabolism. Juice fasts can last from a few days to several weeks.
Pros: Hard to think of any.
Cons: Extended juice fasts are dangerous, leading to muscle loss, headaches and weakness.
Try: Simply adding a vegetable juice into your daily food routine.
What is it? Eliminates all animal based foods including dairy, eggs, fish, chicken and meat.
Pros: Can be an exceptionally healthy diet. It's low kilojoule, high fibre with lots of fruit and vegetables.
Cons: It can be difficult to get adequate protein through nuts, seeds, grains and vegetables. Iron, zinc and Vitamin B12 can also suffer if enough attention is not paid to food preparation.
Try: Being vegan is a personal choice but it may be worth having a dietitian review your food intake to ensure no nutritional deficiencies exist.
What is it? A dietary regime developed for sufferers of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, who react to the sugars found in some types of carbohydrate-based foods. FODMAPS stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols.
Pros: May relieve the ongoing gut symptoms for people who suffer gas and bloating after eating.
Cons: Identifying which FODMAPS are the problem can be an intense process. It can also be very difficult to eat out on this diet.
Try: Using the resources developed by specialist dietitian Dr Sue Shepherd (shepherdworks.com.au) who is an expert in this area.