How to Pick a Diet

How to Pick a Diet that Works for You

Publish Date April 26, 2023 5 Minute Read
Author Kroger Health Registered Dietitians

Ready to take on a new way of eating? We have options for you! Selecting a diet to follow can be overwhelming, especially when there are so many options out there. It’s important to ask yourself exactly what your nutrition and health goals are to see how they align with a particular eating style. Maybe you have other mouths to feed in the household, are on the go, enjoy cooking, or trying to manage a chronic condition. Let’s look at some of the most common diets and recipe inspiration!


A plant-based diet, or plant-forward eating, focuses on consuming mostly plants. On a plant-based plan, most of your diet should include fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, oils, and grains. Meat, fish, and dairy are typically consumed in smaller amounts or used as garnish instead of representing the center of the plate. One rule of thumb to get started on this diet is to fill half of your plate with produce. Typical proteins that are consumed instead of meat include soy, beans, lentils, tempeh, tofu, and plant-based meat alternatives like plant-based patties made of pea protein.

Some things to consider:

  • Flexibility – Since plant-based eating is a trendy diet that’s here to stay, now more than ever, brands are developing products that are plant-based, nutrient-dense and convenient for on-the-go. There are more fresh and frozen products to choose from and fun recipes that you can experiment with to learn which food swaps work best for you!
  • Work/life balance – One can smoothly transition to a plant based diet while still balancing a busy schedule by simply eating more plants! Plant-based eating also provides plenty of energy for your busy lifestyle, as you are consuming more nutrient-dense foods.
  • Preferences/likability – There’s definitely no lack of flavor with a plant-based diet. Spices and fresh herbs are used quite often to bring out flavors similar to meat and dairy in produce items that provide umami flavor (tomatoes, mushrooms) and dairy flavor (nutritional yeast). Experiment with different spices and ingredients to find the perfect match for your preferences.
  • What works for your body – Consuming more fiber at once can cause some gastric distress. Pay attention to the fiber content of foods and gradually increase intake to avoid unwanted bloating and constipation.
  • Impact on health – Consuming more plant-based foods may increase your intake of dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, all of which can be helpful in reducing risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.



A gluten-free diet is an eating plan that excludes foods containing gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye). When following a gluten-free diet, these grains are avoided. A gluten-free diet is typically recommended to individuals diagnosed with celiac disease, as it can help manage symptoms. Other instances when a gluten-free diet is encouraged are for those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity or gluten ataxia. There are also those who have not been diagnosed with a gluten-related condition but choose to follow a gluten-free diet because it helps them feel their best. Following a gluten-free diet requires paying careful attention to the foods you eat and the ingredients found in them. A good understanding of foods that contain gluten is crucial to completely eliminating gluten from your diet.

Some things to consider:

  • Flexibility – Following a strict gluten-free diet is a lifelong recommendation for those with celiac disease. Individuals with a gluten sensitivity may only need to follow a gluten-free diet for a set period.
  • Work/life balance – Over the last few years more gluten-free products have hit the grocery store shelves, making it easier to adhere to the diet. However, gluten-free food does not always have a tag on it, so you must read the label to be sure. Fortunately, there are a lot of naturally gluten-free foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds, eggs, and most dairy products you can enjoy.
  • Preference/likability - Most individuals struggle to follow a gluten-free diet as many of their favorite foods contain gluten in some form or they are unable to eat at some of their favorite restaurants. Gluten-free products tend to be on the more expensive side and tough for those on a tight budget. Taste and textures of gluten-free products may also differ compared to the original gluten-containing product.
  • What works for your body – If newly diagnosed with celiac disease or adopting a gluten-free diet pattern, beginning a gluten-free diet can be challenging. It’s important to ensure you’re listening to your body’s needs and getting enough nutrients from gluten-free items while you adopt this eating pattern.
  • Impact on health – Those following a gluten-free diet may find digestive relief, reduced inflammation, and changes in energy levels. However, you may also run into issues regarding constipation and nutrient deficiencies as gluten-free products can be lower in protein and fiber.



Keto, formally known as the Ketogenic diet, is a high-fat, moderate-protein diet that is low in carbohydrates. When carbohydrate consumption is low, the body goes into ketosis, which breaks down stored fat for energy. This diet was originally designed for those with epilepsy, but today it has become a trendy diet geared towards weight loss. A typical ketogenic diet contains only about 5% intake of carbohydrates, although the more “modern keto” diet strives for carbohydrate intake shifting between 10% and 15%. On a keto diet, fat makes up most of the daily calories, however, not all fats are the same. Opting for monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in fish, avocado, nuts, and seeds is key to protecting your health.

Some things to consider:

  • Flexibility – When starting a keto eating plan, it can be a bit of an adjustment as your grains, bread, fruits, and pasta are either eliminated or consumed in very small amounts. Once a goal is reached in terms of nutrition, weight or energy, many people are more flexible with their carbohydrate choices.
  • Work/life balance – There are many convenient products that can help you stick to keto while juggling your job and home life.
  • Preference/likability – Most people who follow keto enjoy the diet because it is high in fat, which in turn is typically higher in flavor.
  • What works for your body – Starting the keto diet can be a bit overwhelming, as you make a large shift to consuming fewer carbohydrates and more fat. If you are active or exercise regularly, following a keto diet may prevent optimal performance as carbohydrates are the body's main fuel source.
  • Impact on health – Adopting a keto eating plan has been shown to lower blood sugar levels and aid weight loss. However, there are potential risks and side effects you should be aware of prior to starting. When beginning a keto diet, we recommend consulting a healthcare provider to discuss potential side effects.



The Paleo diet, formally called the Paleolithic diet, is based on the concept of eating foods that were readily available to our ancient ancestors. The core of this eating style encompasses whole foods like vegetables, meat, fish, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Quite simply, the premise of eating this way is said to optimize foods for your body that have been programmed into your DNA. The theory is that if our ancestors ate this way, our modern bodies would respond better to the same foods. Some foods that are not a part of the diet include whole grains, dairy, legumes, refined sugars and oils, salt, potatoes, and processed foods. Paleo followers believe that these foods are inflammatory, causing stress on the body. This is not, however, a statement supported by science. It comes down to whether you personally prefer to eat this way or not.

Some things to consider:

  • Flexibility – Paleo is a bit more of a hands-on diet, typically requiring more cooking than other eating styles.
  • Work/life balance – Produce, nuts and seeds are easy foods to grab and go. You may have to carve out more time in your day to plan and prep meals and snacks to ensure adequate nutrient intake.
  • Preference/likability – Many traditional recipes will need to be swapped with almond flour, coconut or almond milk, cauliflower rice or almond butter to meet the expectations of the diet.
  • What works for your body – While trying out this new eating style, pay attention to how your body reacts by assessing your hunger level, energy, and overall physical tolerance. You may experience lower energy levels due to the removal of grains and protein-rich dairy.
  • Impact on health – Consuming more unsaturated fats and less added sugar can help reduce inflammation and risk for chronic conditions like heart disease and cancer. However, when omitting certain food groups, like grains and dairy, you may miss key nutrients the body needs to function optimally.

It’s important to choose a diet that aligns with your lifestyle and health goals. Jumping into a diet prior to doing your research may lead to added stressors and further health complications. It’s also important to discuss any major dietary changes with your doctor or registered dietitian to help you choose the most appropriate diet for you. For more information on various diets and recipe inspiration, visit our Dietary Lifestyles page.

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and is not meant to provide healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.

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