What are all these diets with crazy names and acronyms?

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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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46 comments to What are all these diets with crazy names and acronyms?

  • AnnieC

    I’ve tried every way of eating mentioned here (except GAPS and Feingold). I enjoy studying nutrition very much and have been doing so since my early 20s (over 25 years ago). My body loved being raw vegan the best, but I found it so challenging to eat that way long term. It was too restrictive when socializing, and I never felt warm in the winter time. However, it was amazing in the summer. My least favorite was Paleo. My body did not like the meat, which I had to eat more frequently than I like.

    Now I occasionally eat grass-fed meat and wild-caught fish, along with raw dairy. I became a member of the Weston A. Price foundation a few years back. I still continue to read books on nutrition for fun. All I know is that you have to listen to your body. It’s unique and won’t respond to a program the way another person’s body will.

  • Kelli

    We did the Feingold plan FAITHFULLY with NO cheating for a year about 3 years ago. Our second child had anger and other behavioral issues that this totally fixed. But after a year of no eating out, not even at friends homes, because we couldn’t be sure that their food was “clean” we did some modifying. We started slowly adding back things one a time that were forbidden…just like starting a baby on baby food…until we found his trigger foods. Now we still follow the Feingold-which is very similar to a real food lifestyle- at home but know we can go somewhere and as long as we don’t eat “color with a number” that our child won’t have the horrible side effects. We also find that if we are staying on plan 99.5% of the time and someone gives him a few m&m’s or gummy bears that he will likely be ok….he is also learning to say no to “feisty foods” because he doesn’t like how they make him feel (he is only 6) and for myself they have lost all appeal to me. Plus this was another healthy winter with no serious illness apart from a few runny noses. And our oldest child who has always needed allergy meds in the spring didn’t take a single one this year. There is power in the food we put in our body….it can literally make us or break us. After all, we are what we eat, right? :)

  • Neely

    My husband and I just started this week with gradually adding organic produce to our diet. We have also switched to whole milk and took our first trip to Whole Foods, a 45 min drive from where we live but seeing how beautiful the organic produce looks and the large selection compared to what little our grocery store has makes it worth the trip. Switching to the grass-fed meat is going to be a challenge because of the cost hike so we’ll have to see about working that in. We are both overweight and I have PCOS so our goal is to not only get healthy within but to lose weight and look good on the outside too and get pregnant! We felt out of place at Whole Foods so I hope that feeling will subside.

    • Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Neely. Best of luck to you and your husband with your health and pursuit of a family. Stick with it, you’ll quickly start to feel the benefits and you’ll be a pro in no time at Whole Foods :-)))!! Jill

  • Jacque

    In the last month my family has cut out A LOT of processed foods and we have noticed a huge change in our boys (ages 4 and 15 months) behavior. Our 4 yr old is much calmer and is not having the anxiety he was having before. We aren’t 100% real food but we are close to 85% real food and even that is making a huge difference.

  • Elwood Bublitz

    The good thing about the caveman diet is that it results into a leaner body. ^

    Newly released blog post provided by our blog page
    http://www.foodsupplementdigest.com/ashwagandha-benefits/

  • 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
    <,http://www.foodsupplementdigest.com/glutamine-side-effects/

  • […] An explanation on what all the different type of “real-food diets” mean from “100 Days of Real Food”:  here […]

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