What are all these diets with crazy names and acronyms?

Not that it’s any surprise, but our family obviously follows a “real food” diet. And I don’t even really think of it as a “diet,” at least in the sense that we are restricting ourselves from certain foods, because my husband and I honestly don’t even want highly processed food anymore. All those packaged foods that contain artificial flavoring taste, well, artificial to us now. And since we’re a little more particular about what we put in our mouths thanks to our “new and improved” taste buds, it’s actually pretty easy to avoid that kind of stuff. Now my kids are a completely different story and while they eat mostly “real food” at home, they’d be happy to indulge in bright blue packaged cupcakes tomorrow if someone offered them up (and just for the record – we would let them participate, within reason).

But let me get back to the topic at hand. While eating “real food” is somewhat self explanatory, I am finding there are a lot of other other diets out there that don’t tell you much by just the name.  Some of these I was already familiar with and some are fairly new to me, so I did some research.  For everyone’s reference you’ll find a list with some general explanations below. And if I left anything pertinent off the list please feel free to share with us in the comments below.

Note: Just to be clear I am not necessarily promoting or demoting any of these diets…I was simply curious and wanted to share my findings.  Think of this as a vocabulary lesson!

  • Paleo a.k.a. Caveman Diet:
    According to Wikipedia, “The paleolithic diet (abbreviated paleo diet or paleodiet), also popularly referred to as the caveman diet, Stone Age diet and hunter-gatherer diet, is a modern nutritional plan based on the presumed ancient diet of wild plants and animals that various hominid species habitually consumed during the Paleolithic era—a period of about 2.5 million years duration that ended around 10,000 years ago with the development of agriculture …Centered on commonly available modern foods, the ‘contemporary’ Paleolithic diet consists mainly of fish, grass-fed pasture raised meats, vegetables, fruit, roots, and nuts, and excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, salt, refined sugar, and processed oils.”
  • Feingold Diet:
    Developed a few decades ago by Dr. Feingold, a pediatrician and allergist, the Feingold Diet actually exhibits some overlap with our “real food” diet. Here’s an explanation from the Feingold Association website, “Numerous studies show that certain synthetic food additives can have serious learning, behavior, and/or health effects for sensitive people. The Feingold Program (also known as the Feingold Diet) is a test to determine if certain foods or food additives are triggering particular symptoms. It is basically the way people used to eat before ‘hyperactivity’ and ‘ADHD’ became household words, and before asthma and chronic ear infections became so very common. “
  • GAPS diet:
    An acronym for “Gut and Psychology Syndrome,” this diet is a bit more complex than some of the others because you avoid certain foods for a period of time then slowly reintroduce them later after your gut has had a chance to “heal.” From what I understand you can eat most of the same foods as the Paleo diet (listed above), with the addition of certain dairy products. Here’s another explanation from Nourished Kitchen, ” The GAPS diet is a comprehensive healing protocol developed by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, a neurologist and nutritionist who specializes in healing of issues like autism spectrum disorders, ADD/ADHD, dyspraxia, dyslexia and schizophrenia by treating the root cause of many of these disorders: compromised gut health.”
  • Vegetarian and Vegan:
    These terms are obviously used more frequently, but just to make sure we are on the same page vegetarians do not eat meat (and in some cases avoid fish as well) and vegans avoid all animal products including meat, eggs, milk, and even honey.
  • Gluten-free:
    Ahhh, the hot topic of the moment, which I addressed in my “food misconception” post earlier this week. According to Wikipedia, “Gluten (from Latin gluten, “glue”) is a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related grain species, including barley and rye. It gives elasticity to dough, helping it to rise and to keep its shape, and often giving the final product a chewy texture.” So in short it’s a diet that does not include wheat or any other gluten containing grains.
  • Grain-free:
    This takes the gluten-free diet a step further by avoiding all grains including wheat, corn, and rice. This approach has some overlap with two of the other diets mentioned, Paleo and GAPS.
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  • Comments

    1. Hugh Ososki |

      The Caveman Power Diet increases energy, the ability to burn fat, and gets you in touch with your natural instincts. It’s not just a way to lose weight, it’s a healthy approach to making your body indestructable.Doing the the Caveman Power Diet is a very natural state for your body to be in, and you will feel the results immediately. Embrace it for what it is; animal motivation. It is a very open do-it-yourself diet, that encourages you to feel content in a way that suits you personally..

      My favorite blog page

    2. Amy |

      One thing I always note is that all of these diets (except maybe vegetarian) eliminate processed foods. They all can be successful in making us healthier, and that seems to be the common thread. Personally I considered Paleo but more meat doesn’t feel good to me, and wheat/grains don’t seem to have any negative effects on me. So I follow a balanced Real Food diet with some modifications to support my weight loss goals. Some people are more sensitive to grains and feel better when eliminating them. I think its necessary to really understand what balance works for your body, but the bottom line is that the fake stuff probably doesn’t really work well for anyone.

    3. Mar |

      Feingold was a FODSEND for us back in 1986. Our first grade daughter was out of control, so I was willing to try anything. The BIGGEST surprise when we stuck with it was after the first week she no longer suffered from constipation. She had NEVER had a normal bowel movement since food was introduced at 6 months old. Turns out she was highly sensitive to apples, or anything with even the slightest amount of apple, apple juice or apple pectin. Till this day (she is 34) I can tell if she has anything with apple (and she avoids it all like the plague!). I helped several other families through the initial Feingold period, and found one boy who reacted to cucumbers, one to raisins (grapes) and one to oranges. And, yes, your real food eating is the closest thing I have found to Feingold!

    4. Mar |

      oh geezzz…. a major typo. That should be a GODSEND

    5. Jennie Pease |

      Just to be clear, there is no diet which “cures” autism. There are diets which claim to do so but cannot. Some people find dietary changes helpful in managing certain issues but does not change the autism itself.

    6. Melanie |

      I follow a much stricter diet than any listed here: AIP – Autoimmune Protocol. I heard about it through a naturopath doctor but blogger Sarah Ballantyne at thepaleomom.com has a ton of resources and a book about how to follow it. I follow this due to having an autoimmune disease. I had found your site about two years ago before I was diagnosed with my disease and started trying to eat a real food diet, which was a good transition to start to be prepared for AIP. I have noticed over the years of following that sometimes this site can have a critical tone to people who cut out whole groups and advocate that isn’t necessary. Please remember that while your family is blessed to be healthy and took this journey into real food by choice, many of us get into this journey because we have health problems and we do have to restrict entire food groups to heal from them. I love this site and all the resources you all provide so this is not a criticism, just a gentle reminder from a kind place.

    7. Cathrine |

      TRIM HEALTHY MAMA!!!!! Did you hear me? TRIM HEALTHY MAMA! It’s an excellent way to eat good nutritious food and lose weight. I lost 20 lb. of baby weight. Men and women family members of mine lost their share of weight too. THM is the way to go! Enjoy carbs, enjoy fat, enjoy protein… just prepare your meals according to the 3 meal types. So worth it! I lost weight without being deprived! Lots of great information out there to get you started on THM, and an excellent support group on Facebook.

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