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?

  • Victoria

    You forgot the two autism diets: GFCF and SCD.

  • CJ

    Off topic but wanted to share this.
    http://www.rodale.com/gross-food?page=14
    http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/11/tests-show-most-store-honey-isnt-honey/
    Thought you’d be interested in these 2 sites/articles The 1st is 15 gross things in store bought food including things labeled as natural. The second is an article about honey. I also would recc. the documentary “The Vanishing Bees.” Because you are looking to honey as the “real” choice I figured this would be interesting. I enjoy your blog!

  • Steph

    My brother & his family are all on the Paleo diet. Christmas with them was interesting, to say the least. He freely admits that he cheats on the diet on a weekly basis. I’d much prefer not to restrict myself on the grains side and just eat in moderation. I have to admit that the Paleo cookbook I received for Christmas has some great recipes in it though! Thanks for sharing the other diets – very interesting.

    • Fromscratchmom

      I’ve been finding really good stuff through cookbooks for various “special diets” as well. I think a lot of what I can add into my personal eating from several of these plans and even from raw-food folks is better for me than bottles, cans, boxes and packets from the grocery store.

  • Sarah

    SCD is saving my life after being diagnosed with Crohn’s earlier this month! Love it.

  • I find this so very interesting. We cut out most processed food at the beginning of the year and there has been very little sickness in our home since then. My children are less hyper than before and we have all changed the way we think processed foods taste….GROSS! It was alot easier making the switch to real food, than I thought it would be and I truly think all the junk we were eating was working against us in so many ways. We are sticking to real food now! Thanks so much for your blog! It is my go to place when I make my menus each week.

  • Colleen

    CJ,
    Thank you for the links….and yes, those ‘gross’ ingredients are absolutely disgusting!!! I’m such a picky eater to begin with and now, this just adds to it!! If I ever needed a ‘kick in the pants’ to eat real food, this would certainly be it!!! ha!ha!

    Lisa,
    I love this website – thank you for making eating real seem so easy, so natural and so do-able!! :)

  • Stacie

    Lisa,
    Thanks for sharing all of this in a concise post. I’m glad to hear your kids will still happily eat the blue food. My oldest can tell a difference but my younger is still happy with all the processed stuff. Hopefully time and our continued real foods at home will work with her as well. My husband happily reminds me how I’ve “ruined” his taste buds (with a smile on his face though) and I always respond how thrilled I am about that.

  • Mandy

    We cut out processed food awhile back. I started the Paleo diet a month ago when I started Crossfit training at my gym. I love the diet and I don’t think I’ll ever go back. I haven’t missed whole grains and the best part is that I’ve lost my desire to snack. That feeling I used to get in the middle of the day (“I’m hungry for something, but I don’t know what, I guess I’ll have some triscuts”) is gone. Paleo has made me more in tune with my hunger signals. I eat when I’m hungry, stop when I’m full. I might add brown rice or oats back in at some point in time, but for now, I feel great!

    Another thing to note, Paleo isn’t necessarily a weight loss diet. It is easily modifiable to the individual whether you want to lose, gain, or maintain weight.

  • Cori

    Thanks for all the wonderful information you have shared. We are slowly switching our diets over to whole foods. For the most part we eat mostly whole foods, but we aren’t strict if we go out/over to a friends house for dinner. The challenge for me has been to shop economically with a different mindset now, but we are slowly getting there. :-)

  • Tiffany

    CJ…thanks for sharing those links…makes me glad I only buy local honey!

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