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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