Diets that fight inflammation are here to stay. Anti-inflammatory diets such as the Mediterranean diet and the DASH Diet have been around for a long time and are a valid option for those looking to improve their health with the added benefit of weight loss. In recent years, a new anti-inflammatory diet created specifically for women has become very popular—the Galveston Diet.
The Galveston Diet is designed for women in all phases of menopause, including perimenopause, who want to avoid weight gain and may struggle to lose weight during this stage of life. It can also help with common hormonal symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats and brain fog. Their website has a community of 100,000 members.
So, where did this diet come from? It was developed by Mary Claire Haver, MD, a Texas-based ob-gyn, in 2017. Dr. Haver once told “his patients to eat less and exercise more. It wasn’t until she also experienced menopausal changes and midlife weight gain that she realized this advice wasn’t working,” and that led her to create the Galveston Diet, according to the diet’s website.
The Galveston Diet consists of three main components: intermittent fasting, an anti-inflammatory approach to nutrition, and shifting your nutritional intake to fuel your body, according to the diet’s website. Dr. Haver “carefully distills complex concepts from [her] researching into digestible nuggets and testing them with overwhelming success.” One of his goals is to help followers abandon quick fixes and build sustainable habits that will last a lifetime.
Learn more about what the Galveston Diet includes, what you can and can’t eat while on it, and which weight loss plan is right for you.
Meet the experts: Roxana EhsaniRD, CSSD, LDN, is an adjunct professor teaching sports nutrition at Virginia Tech.
Anya Rosen, RD, is a nutritionist and founder of Birchwell.
What is the Galveston Diet?
“The diet is said to be an anti-inflammatory diet similar to the Mediterranean diet but also includes 16:8 intermittent fasting,” the nutritionist said. Roxana Ehsani, RD, CSSD, LDN. (FYI: That’s when you eat during an eight-hour window, then abstain from food for the remaining 16 hours of the day.) “The diet limits processed foods that contain added sugars, artificial ingredients, colors and flavors, white flour, foods with high-fructose corn syrup high, alcohol, fried food and vegetable oil.”
Diets are trending because more and more middle-aged women are struggling with weight loss, and they’re starting to realize that this is largely due to hormonal changes, says Anya Rosen, RD, founder Birchwella virtual integrative health clinic.
The Galveston Diet is a standalone program, which you have to pay for, and comes with a set of recipes, exercises, and motivational reflections. You can pay a one-time fee of $59 for the program alone or $99 to also get additional digital tools (including an online guide, journal and recipe collection), or you can sign up for a $49 per month subscription to get everything plus weekly live group coaching sessions, according to the website.
Dr. Haver is also set to release his book on the Galveston Diet of the same name in January 2023, which will include 40 recipes and a six-week meal plan.
Is the Galveston Diet the same as the keto diet?
The Galveston diet and the keto diet share many similarities. “The Galveston diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet, where about 70 percent of your calories come from fat, 20 percent from protein, and nine percent from carbohydrates,” explains Ehsani. “This is the low carb diet phase. The duration looks different for each person and is based on how much weight a person wants to lose.”
Your carb intake increases to a moderate level after a while on the Galveston Diet, which is different from the keto diet, where you stay low-carb long-term to stay in ketosis, where your body burns fat instead of carbs for energy.
The Galveston diet also differs from keto in that it dictates the type of fat you should eat. It includes healthy fats (eg, olive oil, nuts, and seeds) and excludes inflammatory ones (eg, butter and red meat), says Rosen.
Overall, the Galveston Diet is probably the healthier choice of the two. “Since it recognizes that the quality of food is as important as the quantity of macronutrients, it supports better health than the traditional keto diet,” says Rosen.
What are you allowed to eat on the Galveston Diet?
There are many delicious foods that you can include in the Galveston Diet, including the following.
- Fruits (less sugar): Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries
- Vegetables (low starch): Greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, zucchini, broccoli
- Lean protein: Chicken, salmon, tuna, turkey, eggs
- Legumes: Nuts (chickpeas, black beans), lentils, nuts and seeds (walnuts, almonds, chia seeds)
- Whole grains: Wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, barley, oats, buckwheat
- dairy: Milk, yogurt, cheese
- Healthy fats: Olive oil, avocado oil
What foods are not allowed on the Galveston Diet?
The Galveston Diet encourages you to stay away from foods that are pro-inflammatory and lack nutritional value, which can cause weight gain and offer little benefit to your overall health, Ehsani says. You are probably familiar with at least some of these.
- White flour: White bread, baked goods such as muffins, cookies, cakes, crackers, pretzels
- Foods with high fruit corn syrup: soda, dessert, syrup
- Alcohol: Beer, wine, spirits
- Fried food: French fries, fried chicken sandwich
- Vegetable oil: Canola or vegetable oil
- Foods that contain added sugar: Sweetened yogurt, sweetened cereals, cookies, sweets
- Processed meats: Salami, bacon, sausage
What does a sample meal plan for the Galveston Diet look like?
If you’re curious about this diet, here’s a six-day meal plan prepared by Ehsani and Rosen that you can check out.
- Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with vegetables like tomatoes, spinach and mushrooms cooked in olive oil and a cup of berries
- Lunch: Grilled chicken breast cooked in olive oil on a bed of mixed greens and avocado
- Dinner: Shrimp with zucchini noodles
- Snacks: Cashews and strawberries
- Breakfast: A bowl of Greek yogurt with berries and almond butter and chia seeds
- Lunch: Portobello mushrooms stuffed with ground beef
- Dinner: Spaghetti squash is made with ground beef and a vegetable marinara sauce
- Snacks: Hummus with celery
- Breakfast: Blueberry smoothie with collagen and spinach leaves
- Lunch: A bunless beef burger, served on top of grilled vegetables such as eggplant, lettuce, tomato, avocado and onion
- Dinner: Grilled salmon with asparagus and cauliflower rice
- Snacks: Cheese slices and sugar snap peas
- Breakfast: Plain Greek yogurt with chia seeds, chopped walnuts and raspberries
- Lunch: Salad with spinach, grilled chicken, cucumber, tomato, feta, vinegar and olive oil
- Dinner: Grilled salmon with grilled asparagus
- Snacks: Two hard-boiled eggs with everything but bagel seasoning
- Breakfast: A vegetable omelette cooked in avocado oil with a side of berries
- Lunch: Roasted bell peppers with lean ground turkey, and zucchini topped with diced avocado
- dinner: Spaghetti squash with lean ground turkey and crushed tomatoes
- Snacks: Baby carrots are dipped in Greek yogurt-based tzatziki
- Breakfast: Chia seed pudding with crushed almonds and blueberries
- Lunch: Salad with spring mix, grilled shrimp, shallots, avocado and a drizzle of olive oil
- dinner: Cauliflower rice taco bowl with lean ground beef, peppers and guacamole
- Snacks: Celery sticks with almond butter
What are the pros and cons of the Galveston Diet?
The Galveston Diet doesn’t require you to count calories, which may work better for some people. And the diet focuses on helping you develop healthy eating and exercise habits that will set you up for long-term success rather than restricting and restricting diets.
If you are new to the 16:8 diet, this may prevent late night eating or snacking. On the other hand, it may cause some people to overeat during the feeding window to avoid feeling hungry later when they shouldn’t be eating.
Also, you can modify the Galveston Diet so it works for plant-based eaters. “It can be made vegetarian or vegan-friendly, but the diet itself doesn’t eliminate animal-based foods,” Rosen says.
The downside is that there are no clinical trials or research done on this diet, so it’s hard to say for sure that it effectively reduces inflammation, reduces menopausal symptoms or helps with weight loss (unlike the Mediterranean diet, which research has shown can reduce inflammation). But if reviews are any indication, many women who try this diet achieve their weight loss goals and feel healthier and more confident than ever.
And TBH, the diet is pretty safe to try. Just be sure to check with your doc before diving in, especially if you are immunosuppressed or have diabetes or a history of disordered eating as intermittent fasting is not recommended if any of these apply to you.
Emily Shiffer is a freelance health and wellness writer living in Pennsylvania.