Diets that fight inflammation are here to stay. Anti-inflammatory diets like the Mediterranean diet and DASH Diet have been around for a while and are legit options for those looking to improve their health with the added benefit of weight loss. In recent years, a new anti-inflammatory diet that was created specifically for women has become very popular—the Galveston Diet.
The Galveston Diet was designed for women in all phases of menopause, including perimenopause, who want to avoid weight gain and may be struggling to lose weight during these stages of life. It can also help with common hormonal symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, and brain fog. Their website boasts 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 used to tell “her patients to eat less and exercise more. It wasn’t until she, too, experienced the changes of menopause and mid-life weight gain that she realized this advice doesn’t work,” 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 distilled the complex concepts from [her] research to easily digestible nuggets and tested them with resounding success.” One of her goals is to help followers leave behind quick fixes and build sustainable habits that will last a lifetime.
Learn more about what the Galveston Diet entails, what you can and can’t eat while on it, and this is the right weight-loss plan for you.
Meet the experts: Roxana Ehsani, RD, CSSD, LDN, is an adjunct professor that teaches sports nutrition at Virginia Tech.
Anya Rosen, RD, is a nutritionist and the 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,” says nutritionist 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 sugar, artificial ingredients, colors and flavorings, white flour, foods with high-fructose corn syrup, alcohol, fried foods, and vegetable oils.”
The diet is trending because more and more middle-aged women are struggling with weight loss, and they are starting to recognize that this is largely due to hormonal changes, says Anya Rosen, RD, the founder of Birchwell, a virtual integrative health clinic.
The Galveston Diet is a self-paced 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 just the program or $99 to also get the additional digital tools (including an online guide, journal, and recipe collection), or you can sign up for a subscription for $49 per month to get everything plus weekly live group coaching sessions, per the website.
Dr. Haver is also set to release her book about the Galveston Diet with the same name in January 2023, which will include 40 recipes and six weeks of meal plans.
Is the Galveston Diet the same as the keto diet?
The Galveston Diet and the keto diet share a lot of 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 carbs,” explains Ehsani. “This is the low-carbohydrate phase of the diet. The duration looks different for each person and is based on how much weight a person wants to lose.”
Your carb intake is increased to a moderate level after some time on the Galveston Diet, which is different from the keto diet, where you stay low carb long-term to remain ketosis, where your body burns fat instead of carbs for energy.
The Galveston Diet is also different from keto in that it specifies what kinds of fat you should consume. It includes healthy fats (e.g., olive oil, nuts, and seeds) and excludes inflammatory ones (e.g., butter and red meat), says Rosen.
All in all, the Galveston Diet may be a healthier option between the two. “Since it recognizes that the quality of the food matters just as much 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 lots of delicious foods you can incorporate into the Galveston Diet, including the following.
- Fruits (lower in sugar): Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries
- Vegetables (low in starch): Greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, zucchini, broccoli
- Lean proteins: Chicken, salmon, tuna, turkey, eggs
- Legumes: Beans (chickpeas, black beans), lentils, nuts and seeds (walnuts, almonds, chia seeds)
- Whole grains: Whole 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, says Ehsani. You’re probably already familiar with at least some of these.
- White flour: White bread, baked goods like muffins, cookies, cakes, crackers, pretzels
- Foods with high fruit corn syrup: sodas, desserts, syrups
- Alcohol: Beer, wine, liquor
- Fried foods: French fries, fried chicken sandwiches
- Vegetable oils: Canola or vegetable oil
- Foods that contain added sugar: Sweetened yogurts, sugary cereals, cookies, candies
- 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 provided by Ehsani and Rosen that you can check out.
- Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with veggies like tomato, spinach, and mushrooms cooked in olive oil, and a cup of berries
- Lunch: Grilled chicken breast cooked in olive oil over a bed of mixed greens and avocado
- Dinner: Shrimp with zucchini noodles
- Snacks: Cashews and strawberries
- Breakfast: Greek yogurt bowl with berries and almond butter and chia seeds
- Lunch: Portobello mushrooms filled with ground beef
- Dinner: Spaghetti squash made with ground beef and veggie marinara sauce
- Snacks: Hummus with celery
- Breakfast: Blueberry smoothie with collagen and spinach leaves
- Lunch: Beef burger without the bun, served over grilled veggies like eggplant, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, and onion
- Dinner: Roasted 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, cucumbers, tomatoes, feta, vinegar, and olive oil
- Dinner: Baked salmon with roasted asparagus
- Snack: Two hard-boiled eggs with everything-but-the-bagel seasoning
- Breakfast: Veggie omelet cooked in avocado oil with a side of berries
- Lunch: Bell peppers baked with lean ground turkey, and zucchini topped with diced avocado
- Dinner: Spaghetti squash with lean ground turkey and crushed tomatoes
- Snack: Baby carrots dipped in Greek yogurt-based tzatziki
- Breakfast: Chia seed pudding with crushed almonds and blueberries
- Lunch: Salad with spring mix, grilled shrimp, red onions, avocado, and olive oil drizzle
- Dinner: Cauliflower rice taco bowl with lean ground beef, peppers, and guacamole
- Snack: 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 success in the long run rather than restricting and crash dieting.
If you’re new to the 16:8 diet, it may prevent late-night eating or snacking. On the flip side, it may cause some people to overeat during the feeding window to prevent feelings of hunger later when they’re not supposed to eat.
Also, you can tweak the Galveston Diet so that it works for plant-based eaters. “It can be made vegetarian- or vegan-friendly, but the diet itself does not eliminate animal-based foods,” says Rosen.
The one downside is that there has been no clinical trials or research done on this diet, so it’s hard to say for sure that it’s effective at cutting down on inflammation, reducing menopause symptoms, or aiding weight loss (unlike Mediterranean diet, which research has shown can lower inflammation). But if the reviews are any indication, many women who tried this diet achieved their weight-loss goals and felt healthier and more confident than before.
And TBH, the diet is pretty safe to try. Just make sure to check in with your doc before diving in, especially if you’re immunosuppressed or have diabetes or a history of disordered eating because intermittent fasting is not recommended if any of these applies to you.
Emily Shiffer is a freelance health and wellness writer living in Pennsylvania.