If you gain nothing else from this post, please gain this– eliminate processed grain products.
“Fad. It’s all just a fad.”
You calling my diet a fad?
You call relying on fruits, vegetables, meats, seafood, eggs, nuts, and minimally processed oils/fats a fad? Very interesting. Very discouraging, actually.
Gluten-free, dairy-free processed food products? Yes. Fads. They’ll pass the same way as all the low-fat products we used to buy.
The “diets” I’m about to discuss today bring REAL food to the forefront: Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS), Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), Paleolithic (Paleo), Primal and Whole30 (not presented in that order). There may be other “diets” out there with these same underlying principles, but I, as of yet, have only tackled reading about these.
Please don’t confuse these diets with low-carbohydrate or ketogenic diets; these diets are not meant to be the Atkin’s diet. Beets, butternut squash, carrots, nuts, and fruits provide plenty of carbohydrates.
Sadly, but necessarily for some of us, grains aren’t invited to the party. Neither are things like food dyes, food preservatives, MSG, carrageenan, agar, sugar, artificial sweeteners, legumes, potatoes, and highly processed oils/fats. Substances like coffee, tea, and alcohol are asked to be eliminated or highly scrutinized. Dairy is just a lovable troublemaker for all concerned: do you or don’t you?
Explaining each diet thoroughly in one post is not possible. All I hope to do is lay out some of the big grain-free movements out there with some of their slants.
Whole30/Whole9 (It Starts with Food : Discover the Whole 30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways): I find this book and program the most approachable. Very common sense. Dallas and Melissa Hartwig’s writing is upbeat, very informative, humorous, and honest. They want you to give this a try because they KNOW you’ll feel better. There’s enough science to prove their points, but it’s provided in an understandable manner.
“Whole 30” refers to the 30 day challenge the Hartwigs ask you to undertake after reading their book (or website). Whole9 refers to the holistic 9 factors Dallas and Melissa believe promote optimal health–not just food. Hopefully after trying the plan for 30 days, you’ll choose it for a lifetime.
For the person who wants to lose weight, get “healthier”, and see food in a whole new way, this book can’t be beat. For people with deeper health issues or significant food intolerances, the book only touches briefly on an autoimmune protocol. If you are sensitive to eggs, nuts, or even clarified butter, you may not find the relief you need.
On the dairy issue: Everything dairy is removed for the initial 30 days except clarified butter (ghee—the stuff they serve you with your seafood). After that, they ask you to honestly assess whether your body processes dairy well and benefits your body.
Paleolithic/Paleo (several versions exist): A Paleo diet arrives at the door saying that its included foods have been consumed by humans since, well, the dawn of humans–before the advent of agriculturally induced chronic health issues like osteoporosis, cavities, diabetes, and heart disease. Since we “grew up” on these foods, we are adapted really well to eat them. Paleo’s strict definition is going to vary from expert to expert, but the underlying food groundwork remains the same, including the foods I’ve already outlined above. Opinions differ on salt intake, fat intake, protein intake, and even dairy, but a wise, discerning individual won’t get hung up on the details.
Dairy is usually not considered “Paleo”, but sometimes butter, ghee, and cream are encouraged. Sometimes not. Depends on who you ask.
Paleo seems to be a good all-around program for many, those seeking weight reduction, a cure, or just to be “healthier.” There is a protocol, called Autoimmune Paleo, which removes even more foods with known allergenic/inflammatory-producing properties (eggs, nuts/seed, nightshades—obviously grains and dairy have already been removed by going “Paleo.”). If a person is tackling a health issue that doesn’t respond to Paleo, they may step it up to Autoimmune Paleo.
Here is Robb Wolf’s Paleo website.
Primal (The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson): Although all of these “interventions” I describe here encourage complete lifestyle evaluation, The Primal Blueprint really explores incorporating “Paleolithic” type ideas into everyday life (sleep, exercise, etc.), not just food. It’s a lifestyle, not a “diet.”
As a lifestyle, keeping things “do-able” is condoned, so Sisson comes up with an 80%/20% philosophy, allowing some deviation from the recommendations, including the diet. This is great for someone looking for weight loss, health guidance, and taking life to the next level, but if you have a refractory health problem, strict dietary adherence to diet will be mandatory. Primal Blueprint has a nicely done website: Mark’s Daily Apple.
SCD (Breaking the Vicious Cycle by Elaine Gottschall): Although mostly designed to “heal”/treat gastrointestinal issues, the SCD is beginning to appeal to people with other issues as well (autism, chronic fatigue, and more). It doesn’t take an evolutionary approach, but SCD still comes up with basically the same foods to include and exclude as Paleo does, by evaluating the carbohydrate composition and removing processed food substances. There is a detailed list of foods which are legal and illegal on the diet.
SCD has an introduction diet, but it was not in my book. I don’ t know if it’s in later editions or not! The introduction diet can be found on-line. If I remember right, it introduces eggs right away–so if you’re like me and have issues with eggs–you may say, “Hey! This diet doesn’t work for me!” Really, it would have worked had the egg intolerance been known.
Dairy is allowed, but only in certain forms. Particularly encouraged is homemade yogurt. Other unique features off the top of my head include exclusion of sweet potatoes. And exclusion of chocolate. Wonder why I remember that.
SCD is not meant to be a “forever diet.” It is meant to “heal the gut” by putting in nutrient-dense stuff the body needs and taking out detrimental stuff it suffers from. Maybe a couple of years, more or less.
GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Natasha Campbell-McBride): GAPS was built on the SCD. Except it includes chocolate.
Campbell-McBride feels lots and lots and lots of health issues can be treated with her approach (from inflammatory bowel disease to depression). I do GAPS for my constipation issues, but I fixed a whole lot of other stuff. In addition to most of the Paleo foods, GAPS mandates homemade broths and some source of probiotic, whether it be from a supplement or from homemade sauerkraut, yogurt, pickles, etc. Organ meats are stressed, and certain supplements are recommended to be phased in, if needed, as you progress along.
There is a very strict introduction diet which conveniently functions as an elimination diet (to uncover food intolerances) if you follow it as stated. It is difficult to follow as stated, although one can always do the introduction later after getting familiar with the full diet.
GAPS also intends to “heal and seal the gut” so a person may introduce food categories that had been excluded while on the diet. A person may need 6 months to 2-3 years supposedly.
Dairy is excluded initially and then allowed in the form of ghee, progressing from there, if the person tolerates it.
Aside from keeping it whole, I don’t believe there is a “best diet” for anybody. However, lots and lots of people are experiencing myriad symptom relief from the grain-free diets listed above, but there may need to be tweaks. Remove eggs. Remove dairy. Eliminate FODMAP or oxalate foods. Add in a potato. Add in quinoa. Nip and tuck.
Personally, I’d like to be able to have a piece of refined flour birthday cake every now and then, kind of Primal like–so I’m bettin’ on the GAPS/SCD right now!
Heal and seal, I say!
If that doesn’t work out, I may just have to call it Paleo.
Whole foods equal whole health. Have a good day.