The zodiac diet is a bizarre dieting trend that seems to have popped up into the mainstream recently. Its advocates recommend eating according to your zodiac sign, and that doing so can result in avoiding a whole range of afflictions, from headaches and nausea to more serious conditions.
Now, I’m no astrologist, but I am a nutritionist, and I can say confidently that any diet based on the apparent movement of the stars is likely to be complete nonsense from a nutritional standpoint. That said, it’s still worth going through the zodiac diet in detail to see what its followers claim and whether it follows any nutritional principles at all.
What is the zodiac diet?
If you’re familiar with horoscopes, zodiac diets work in much the same way. Different planets rule different herbs and different star signs are linked to different parts of body, so the theory goes.
One problem with the zodiac diet is there appears to be no consensus among astrologers on what it actually is. I’ve looked through various online sources, and they all differ in various ways. Some set broad guidelines for each star sign while others match star signs with already well-established eating plans, which feels like cheating to me. If you didn’t know any better, you might think it was all made up.
For the sake of this article, I’m going to use the guidelines set out by Astrology Answers. They categorise individual star signs into four elements, each with unique (and seemingly arbitrary) guidelines:
- Water (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces): balanced diet of cooked and raw foods to maintain their health.
- Earth (Capricorn, Virgo, Taurus): generally advised to stick to raw foods and avoid comfort eating.
- Air (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius): thrive on cooked foods with plenty of colour and should eat “earthy” foods to stay grounded.
- Fire (Leo, Aries, Sagittarius): have fast metabolisms and should stick to lean protein sources and have plenty of carbohydrates.
And in case these guidelines aren’t specific enough, each star sign also has further dietary recommendations. You can criticise astrologers all you want, but you can’t deny they’re thorough.
Aries (Ram): March 21–April 19
The paleo diet is advised for members of Team Aries, as it offers a “high amount of protein” (true) and “clean sources of fuel” (not true). It also provides cheat days, which apparently suits Aries’ “impulsive” nature. Aries must also beware of irritability, so refined sugars are out.
A weekly or monthly fast is also recommended, bafflingly, to give the “organs a reset and cleanse [the] system of sugar”. This is dangerous nonsense and should not be listened to.
Taurus (Bull): April 20–May 20
To be fair, the guidance for the “practical, grounded” Taurus is not as bad. People with this star sign are recommended to prioritise protein, healthy fats and nutrient-dense foods throughout the day. (This is generally sound advice, but I’m not sure why it should apply only to people born between 20th April and 20th May). Otherwise, the advice again falls into “clean” eating territory, with suggestions that carbohydrates, particularly starches and sugars, are somehow bad.
Gemini (Twins): May 21–June 21
Advice for Geminis is based less on what to eat and more on remembering to eat at all. To account for their forgetful nature, Geminis should carry with them plenty of snacks. They should also eat “fun” foods like fondue and Korean barbecue, which is nice but not really proper dietary advice. Geminis are also permitted to indulge in both comfort foods and gourmet health foods (the two food groups?!) because they are “known to have two sides”. I’ll leave it there …
Cancer (Crab): June 22–July 22
You’re a seasonally oriented kind of crab. You crave raw fruits and veggies in the summer but hearty soups and curries in the winter. Go with your little crabby gut because your superpower is intuition.
But that little crab gut is sensitive so be sure to (totally not arbitrarily) avoid gluten, processed foods, red meat and dairy. You’ll be a lot less crabby if you focus on a diet of “superfoods” and “clean, cooked veggies” with minimal carbs.
If you find yourself emotionally eating (“Cancers can be emotional”, apparently) then you can turn to a protein bar or a salad rather than seek professional support because you’re just a sad crab. (I’m being facetious — you absolutely should seek out support for any form of disordered behaviour).
Leo (Lion): July 23–August 22
Astrology experts suggest that Leos will thrive on their diet journeys only when they are driven to do so. For that reason, it’s recommended they start some sort of competition with friends or family, limiting all things enjoyable for the sake of saying “I won”. Leos are also advised to only purchase supplements “exclusively sold at health stores” so they can share the benefits with their social circles.
Virgo (Virgin): August 23–September 22
Virgos, you’re in luck. Your recommendations make some sort of sense. You should use your organisation skills and plan your routine and meals in advance so that you’re in control of your nutrition.
Shopping for the week, preparing meals in advance, keeping a food journal, tracking calories and setting budgets are all useful recommendations for following a rounded diet. But why wouldn’t this advice apply to people with different star signs?
Libra (Balance): September 23–October 23
Another star sign seemingly cursed with the “forget-to-eat” gene. I’d never encountered such an idea prior to this.
Otherwise, this is one of my favourite recommendations so far, purely for its accidental “Mean Girls” vibe. (Remember “Is butter a carb?” Well apparently nut and seed butters are “slow carbs”).
Aside from these “slow carbs”, it’s advised you eat more plants, less processed foods and generally consume a balanced diet … when you remember to eat, that is.
Scorpio (Scorpion): October 24–November 21
Team Scorpio … beware the cookie! The constellations are telling us you can’t handle just one cookie. Treats and other fun foods must be kept out of the house as you live your life in an “all or nothing way”. You cannot be trusted not to “poison” yourself so must have only “healthy” snacks on hand. Additionally, you’re a deep thinker (congrats) who wants to “connect emotionally” with your food.
Sagittarius (Archer): November 22–December 21
As a fully signed-up member of Team Sagittarius myself, I can completely relate to the recommendations here. I cannot be tamed, half horse, half dude thing that I am. No diet can hold me down. I’m a nutrition stallion roaming free across the culinary countryside, exploring whatever cuisine I wish.
But I can’t have processed foods because that upsets the horse half of me, so I must avoid them. Plants, herbs and spices it is then. Some free-roaming beast I am.
Capricorn (Goat): December 22–January 19
Sea goats are “not the type to eat trendy foods”. They are purely functional eaters, who eat only to sustain their hard work ethic. It’s recommended that sea goats opt for a low-carb, high-protein diet with plenty of veggies for good health and digestion. And they must be vigilant: their goat-like work rate may on occasion cause them to forget to eat.
Aquarius (Water Bearer): January 20–February 18
Aquarians are “independent souls” who may wish to explore recipes and foods from other cultures. Because of their “streak of leadership” and tendency towards cultural revolution(?), they are permitted to relentlessly expand their palate and always be on the hunt for new foods to try. OK then.
Pisces (Fish): February 19–March 20
Pisces, you’re essentially a forgetful fish that goes with the flow, and you need to be wary of possible malnutrition. Try setting loose rules for yourself, like eating “at least one green veggie each day”. That should do the trick.
I really wish I had something positive to say about this diet but I’m afraid nearly all of it’s nonsense. The parts that make some nutritional sense do so only incidentally.
It shouldn’t need saying but issuing dietary guidelines according to birth dates is completely absurd.
It bypasses the unique requirements of the individual. Your body’s needs are not affected by what month you were born in or what an astrological chart says.
My opinion? Don’t follow this diet or anything that works on similar lines.
What is a “healthy” diet?
A healthy diet should be based on the following principles:
- It should empower you
- It should meet your nutritional needs
- It should be both practical and sustainable
- From a nutrition perspective there are fundamental concepts attributed to longevity, health and performance:
- Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day
- Maintain a balanced diet that is predominantly nutritious but also includes foods for the soul
- Have a palm-sized portion of protein with each main meal and aim for at least 1.2-1.4g of protein per kg of body weight each day (you’ll need more if you’re training intensely several times a week)
- Ensure your dietary fats come predominantly from plants and oily fish
- Consume starches and sugars near exercise and stick to whole grains and harder-to-digest carbohydrates (ie those rich in fibre, protein, etc) at other times
- Consume fluids regularly to stay hydrated
- Embrace social experiences and the enjoyment of food
You could easily expand upon this list, but I can guarantee following this advice is far more likely to lead to improved wellbeing than advice based on your star sign.
Take home message
While horoscopes can sometimes be harmless fun, basing your diet according to your birth chart is not a sensible approach to food and nutrition. Astrologers have no expertise when it comes to telling other people what to eat, so do not listen to them.
Instead, follow the principles and guidelines that I have outlined above. Trust me, it’s infinitely better advice than anything you’re likely to find on the zodiac diet.