Who's interested in a little clarification in the diet terminology department? There are so many buzz words and diets in the world of health, it's hard to keep up! Now you don't have to, because I am about to explain it all.
Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free, Paleo, No Refined Sugar, IQS, Whole 30, Dairy-Free, Casein-Free, Lactose-Free, Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw Vegan, 80/10/10, Paleo, Low Histamine, FODMAP, Anti-Histamine Diet, Candida Diet…so many buzz words, so many diets. It can be exhausting trying to figure it all out!
Lately it's been a whirlwind of terms and trends all over the health scene. These terms are consuming social media featuring buzz words like Real Food, Organic, Healthy or Clean Eating in addition to all the Ani-Inflammatory diets listed above - But what does it all mean? Are these diets fads? Do they work? Aren't they just for weightloss? Is it just hype? Are there any health benefits to changing your diet? Will these diets help heal my body, my disease? Help me loose weight? Help me feel better? Does food really heal anyways?
What's going on? Why is our scene suddenly advertising healthy living? Why are there so many websites dedicated to the teaching us how to be healthy? And why now? The answer is simple. Obesity and Autoimmune Disease have risen dramatically in the last few decades. Sugar is in everything we eat, and sugar kills. Sugar is just as addictive as Cocaine and Heroin believe it or not! It's so addictive it can also kill us if we don't slow down our consumption. It can lead to Diabetes Type II, cause weight gain, high cholesterol, Candida and so much more. Eating meat with hormones and antibiotics makes us sick. Choosing to eat GMO foods (Genetically Modified Organisms) a.k.a. produce made in a science lab rather then the field) are not healthy options and consuming fake foods harm our bodies. While Organic produce and meats are the favorable option, most people opt for food options with Pesticides. Pesticides are sprayed on our food source to keep away bugs and insects, yet we digest and voluntarily eat pesticides meant to KILL bugs. We put that in our bodies, and it aids in our sickness rather then our health. For reals! The way we eat creates how we live, how we feel, how sick we can get and how much energy we are capable of having.
10 years ago the gluten-free diet was on the rise, and most people knew nothing about it. What's Celiac Disease was the question I often got at restaurants. And now the health scene is flooding with anti-inflammatory diets that serve a purpose of healing with whole REAL FOODS as well as serve a purpose towards healthy weight loss, yet no one wants to change their diets. We are so used to prescriptions that involve medication over mind/body treatments and diet changes. While I think that is really sad, I also think people don't know enough about the benefits of these diets and what they do, and who they serve.
So, I have decided to answer all of your bubbling questions right now.
Yes, the right food for your body can heal. Yes, the right diet for your body can help you heal. Yes, the right diet for your body can help you lose weight! But, No! These diets are NOT just for weight loss, unless you want them to be. And for most people that actually have medical issues, inflammatory conditions, and Autoimmune Diseases, these diets are NOT just hype. Food can be a blessing to your body or your worst nightmare. One-size-fits-all-diets do not work, and therefore finding a diet that is workable for your body is really important. This is the work you WANT to do, because you want to live a long, happy and healthy life, right?
What's hard for us these days is that a lot of the information online is misleading. The term "healthy", "clean eating" "organic" and "all natural" has been thrown around like confetti and stamped on every box of food in the supermarket for marketing purposes, but did you know that not everything that is marketed healthy, organic or natural is actually healthy, organic or natural? Consumers pay more attention to the marketing on the boxes of products, then flipping the box over and reading the actual ingredients. After a while, it becomes hard to decipher what IS healthy and what isn't. If we can accept that the words "healthy", "organic" and "all natural" are everywhere on processed products, we can focus on what's more important, the right lifestyle and the right diet for each of us. That cake mix you are holding, telling your friends it's healthy because it says it's Organic, does not make it healthy. Turn the box over, and take a look at the ingredient list. How many sugars are listed? Are the ingredients readable and understandable? Are the ingredients something you would want to put in your body? Since we are all different, what's healthy for one, may not be healthy for another. Makes sense right?
When choosing the right diet/lifestyle for your body here are a few factors to consider:
- Do you have food sensitivities?
- Do you have food allergies?
- Do you have an autoimmune disease?
- How is your digestion?
- Do you have acid reflux? Pain in your chest? Burning? Bloating?
- Do you have any stomach pains?
- How are your bowels?
- Are you constipated?
- Do you experience diarrhea often enough that it is a problem?
- What climate do you live in?
- Do you have vitamin deficiencies?
- Do you have a Yeast Overgrowth or Candida?
- Do you have a bacterial Overgrowth?
- Do you have high cholesterol?
- Do you have any medical issues that would effect your diet, and if so what are they?
You and your doctor can use the above questions to help you figure out what diet is best for you. It can take some time to figure it all out. But, we cannot just jump into a diet and automatically assume it's healthy because someone else said it worked for them. It is very easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing, but you have to remember that what is magically healing for one, may not be magically healing for you. At the end of the day, we have to listen to our own bodies, and use our Intuition to guide us as well as our smarts to make these types of decisions. If you are on a diet that isn't working for you, then you have to speak up to your health care professional. You have to remember that you know your body, and it is always important to be a partner in your healing with your doctor. Communication is key.
With specific diets, some people can get off their medications, reduce their medications, or help aid in healing with their medications. With the right diet for you, your skin can clear up, you can lose weight, you can decrease inflammation, heal your gut, this list is long in the healing department. Just remember to work with your doctor, and do not voluntarily take yourself off medication without consulting your health practitioner.
So, now that we have covered the odds and ends, the nooks and crannies, I decided to create a very handy and detailed list of the diets that are currently trending right now, and all in one place. But before I do, I just want to explain that these diets DO have a purpose. The purpose is to heal from within. But understand, that diet alone cannot grant radical shifts. It is diet along with self-care practices (yoga, meditation, deep breathing, massage, Reiki (Energy Healing), sleep, salt baths, even FUN…etc) and the right medical testing if needed that can create a beautiful concoction of healthy healing. These diets dramatically reduce inflammation, which means a better quality of life long term.
Remember that Inflammation takes time to build. And chronic inflammation causes disease, sickness and chronic medical problems that are not easy to tackle. Sometimes inflammation is not recognizable, or it's so small that you don't notice it. Then one day, years from now or months you wake up and wonder how shit hit the fan so badly. Don't wait until the inflammation is so bad, that your whole body is affected. Start taking care of the only vessel you have NOW. YOU are worth it!
Diets & Their Definitions
Paleo Diet: The Paleo Diet is a lifestyle based on the idea that for optimal health, modern humans should go back to eating real, whole unprocessed foods. Prioritize grass fed and pastured meats and eggs, wild-caught seafood, vegetables and in moderation fruit, nuts and seeds. Avoid foods that will harm you by causing chronic systemic inflammation that destroy our guts and metabolic systems. Eliminate and avoid all soy products, dairy products (with the exception of clarified butter and ghee), ADDED SUGAR, legumes (except green beans, snow peas, and sugar snap peas), ALL grains including gluten-free grains, and all processed/packaged foods you find in your local supermarket aisles. Recently white potatoes have been added back to this diet, when they were originally prohibited.
***This diet can be used to treat Candida, if high glycemic fruits, starchy veggies, white potatoes and all added sugar except stevia is eliminated.
Whole 30 Paleo Diet: The Whole 30 Plan is a very strict version of the Paleo diet, that is meant to last for 30 days, and is treated as a cleanse. The idea behind it, is that there is a belief that certain food groups like sugar, grains, dairy, and legumes could be having a negative impact on our health and fitness without even realizing it. Unexplained ailments, skin issues, candida overgrowth, hair loss, nutrient malabsorption, poor energy levels, aches and pains that can't be explained, where medication does not help can be related to the food you eat. The premise of this diet is to immediately cut them all out. Take everything out that is psychologically unhealthy, hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory food food groups for a full 30 days. Let your body heal and recover from whatever effects those foods may be causing, giving your body a chance to reset. Learn once and for all how the foods you've been eating are actually affecting your day to day life, and your long term health.
The rules of the program are simple. Eat real food. For 30 days eat meat, seafood, eggs, tons of vegetables, some fruit, and plenty of good fats from fruits, oils, nuts and seeds. Eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients because they are totally natural and unprocessed.
For 30 days eliminate all added sugar of any kind, real or artificial including honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, maple syrup, Xylitol, Stevia etc.. Eliminate wine for drinking and cooking, tobacco products, ALL grains including gluten-free grains and their counterparts like germ, bran, and starch, legumes (except green beans, snow peas and sugar snap peas), peanuts, soy, peanut butter, dairy except clarified butter, soy lecithin, carrageenan, MSG or sulfites. Do not try and recreate baked goods or junk foods while doing the Whole 30. Fruit juice is allowed as a sweetener. Vinegars with added sugars are not allowed, nor is malt-vinegar because it uses gluten. This program is more then weight loss. The idea is to focus on cleansing your body in a healthy way. And lastly, you are not allowed to step on the scale for 30 days if this plan is used for weight-loss.
***The Whole 30 diet plan can also be used to treat Candida and yeast overgrowth.
Gluten-Free Diet: The Gluten-Free diet is a diet that excludes the protein Gluten. Gluten is found in grains such as wheat (all forms including Kamut, Semolina, Spelt, and Durum), Rye (also Triticale which is a cross between rye and wheat), Barley (including malt), Brewer's Yeast and Oats (unless certified or labeled Gluten-Free). A Gluten-Free diet is primarily used to treat those with Celiac Disease or a Gluten-Sensitivity. Gluten causes inflammation in the small intestines of people with Celiac Disease. The tricky part of this diet, is that it's not just about eliminating the carb source. Gluten is in everything from vinegar, to salad dressings, to candy, to chocolate, to tea, to sauces, to mixed nuts, dried fruit, potato chips and even vitamins, makeup, medications, toothpaste, face washes, lotions, lipstick and MORE! This diet geared for people with CD, can often be used to treat other autoimmune diseases and inflammatory medical issues, but is generally not used for weight loss.
The Sugar-Free diet is a very general diet term. Under the umbrella of the Sugar-Free diet, is an array of different diets that concentrate on reducing or eliminating different types of sugars. They are as follows:
The Sugar-Free Diet: is a diet that simply eliminates ALL forms of added sugar, both refined and natural except for un-cut stevia and fruit juice used as a sweetener, and only concentrates on sugars from fruits, vegetables and grains.
No Refined Sugar-Free Diet: This diet is about eliminating Added Refined Sugar from the diet which consists of sugar-substitutes and artificial sweeteners (Agave Nectar, Equal, Sweet n Low, Splenda and others), brown sugar, white sugar, cane sugar, and white cane sugars both organic and non-organic, while still allowing natural sugars like honey, maple syrup, maple sugar, date sugar, brown rice malt syrup, coconut sugar plus other natural sugar and sugars found in fruits.
IQS Diet by Sarah Wilson: I Quit Sugar also known as the IQS diet is an 8 week program that goes in weekly phases. The IQS program focuses on Fructose as the main sugar to eliminate. The program is filled with recipes, weekly meal plans, shopping lists, support in the IQS forums, weekly motivational videos from Sarah, weekly emails to keep you on track, exclusive member only recipes, access to nutritionists, naturopaths, psychologists, life coaches, GP's and more. Sarah also has published a variety of Ebooks and books to help you along the way. You can do the program online or read her book I Quit Sugar that is published nationwide and internationally. This diet is NOT suitable for those with a Candida Overgrowth or Bacteria Overgrowth.
Candida Diet: There are many forms of the Candida diet, depending on who's diet you choose to follow. There are versions that are extremely strict otherwise known as the fast track plan that cuts out certain food groups all at once like: all grains including gluten-free grains, all sugar (both added and natural), all fruit and fruit juice, chocolate, and all starchy veggies for a certain amount of time and in conjunction supplement with herbs (while under the care of a doctor). Then there are more flexible versions of the Candida diet allowing some gluten-free grains, some starchy vegetables, sometimes dark chocolate and some low glycemic fruit. The fast track version of this diet is done for a few weeks, where as the more flexible version of this diet would be done for a few months, and in phases. Both versions of this diet do not allow any form of alcohol or wine, because sugar feeds yeast. Both versions of this diet in conjunction with the diet use herbs to heal the yeast. The purpose of this diet is to starve the yeast by removing it's food source which is sugar.
There are temporary side affects of reducing and eliminating sugar such as headaches, flu like symptoms, muscle pains, fatigue and other medical symptoms, which is why it is important to work with a medical professional before beginning this diet. **There are times when the yeast has not healed, so sometimes the diet is done a few times through the year, and other times some do this diet as a lifestyle.
Body Ecology Diet: The Body Ecology diet is a gluten-free, sugar-free and initially casein-free diet with a unique focus on probiotic-rich foods that help create and maintain a healthy inner ecosystem. However, Body Ecology is more then a "diet". There is a focus on the 7 Universal Principles that relate to nutrition. The Principle of Uniqueness confirms that one-size-fits-all-diets do not work. This diet falls under the Candida Diet with a unique approach to starving the yeast.
Dairy-Free Diet: The Dairy-Free diet removes all forms of dairy, including all proteins. As a fact, dairy is extremely inflammatory to the body that can cause disruption in hormones, hormonal imbalance, cystic acne and creates added inflammation in the body. Many anti-inflammatory diets restrict dairy to decrease chronic inflammation. There are also many people that are intolerant to different proteins found in dairy, therefore causing an allergy to dairy. Depending on the severity of the issue, will determine how it is added or eliminated from the diet.
Lactose-Free Diet: Lactose is the main sugar found in milk and other dairy products. If you have a Lactose Intolerance, you cannot digest it well. If you cannot digest Lactose it is because your small intestine doesn't make enough lactase the enzyme that digests Lactose. The Lactose that isn't digested makes gas in your colon and causes symptoms and further medical problems if not recognized. Depending on your sensitivity or allergy to Lactose, will determine how Dairy fits into your diet, or if it should be eliminated. There are some products that have less Lactose then others, and some people are able to get away with smaller servings of the dairy products that do not contain a lot of Lactose. It depends on the person. Some people eliminate dairy from their diet completely because it makes their bodies feel better.
Casein-Free Diet: Casein is a protein found in all dairy products and other foods containing lactose or dairy. Many soy products and imitation dairy products also contain Casein, and therefore if one is following a strict Casein-Free diet, reading labels is really important. Depending on the severity of your sensitivity or allergy, will determine how Casein can be incorporated into your diet.
FODMAP Diet: This diet has been proven to help those with IBS. FODMAP stands for:
O=Oligosaccharides (e.g. Fructans and Galacto-Oligosaccharides (GOS)
D=Disaccharides (e.g. Lactose)
M=Monosaccharides (excess Fructose)
A and P=Polyols (Sorbitol, Mannitol, Maltitol, Xylitol, and Isomalt)
There are two phases to the diet. Phase one rigorously restricts all high FODMAP foods, thereby, cleaning the individual's digestive system. Phase two is an individualized plan that cuts out all FODMAP foods that cause IBS in that particular person. Since each body is different, phase 2 of this plan is more customized. As a general guide, your Paleo low FODMAP diet will include mostly non-starchy veggies, low fructose fruits, protein along with recommended fats, seasonings and some natural sugars.
Vegetarian Diet: Simply put, a Vegetarian does not eat meat. But under the umbrella of the Vegetarian diet are other diets that have different types of flexibility.
Lacto-Ovo Vegetarians eat milk products and eggs, but no meat, poultry, seafood or fish. "Lacto" means milk. "Ovo" means eggs.
Lacto-Vegetarians eat milk products, but no eggs, meat, poultry, seafood or fish.
Vegan Diet: A Vegan diet is one that consists of ONLY plant based foods. Vegans do not consume or use animals or animal products including flesh (land or sea animals), milk, eggs, or honey. On a standard Vegan diet, cooking food is not restricted.
Raw Vegan Diet: A Raw Vegan Diet consists of raw leafy green veggies, veggies, fruits, nuts and nut-butters, seeds and seed butters, grain and legume sprouts, plant oils, sea veggies, herbs, mushrooms and fresh juices. Altering the food using any heat cooking method is not permitted. The raw food diet draws most of its calories from fruits, liberal amounts of vegetables, and uses small amounts of nuts and seeds. Animal sources and grains are not permitted on this diet.
Raw Till Four Diet: is a Vegan program that allows only raw plant-based foods till 4pm and then the option to cook the food oil free after 4pm. Raw Till Four focuses on A LOT of raw fruits (especially bananas), vegetables, no animal products and little to no fats and seeds.
80/10/10 Diet: is a low-fat, raw vegan diet where 80 percent of your calories come from carbohydrates, which in this diet which is Fruit, 10 percent of your calories come from fat in raw nuts and seeds and the other 10 percent of your calories comes from protein, which in this case is vegetables. People who eat this diet are encouraged to eat over 3,000 calories per day to maintain the diet and to get enough nutrients into their bodies. Altering the food and using any heat cooking method is not permitted.
The Anti-Histamine Diet: is a diet comprised of foods that ae very low in histamine to prevent a histamine response from the body. This diet is suitable for those who have a histamine intolerance or an overactive histamine response or even disorders like Mast Cell Activation Disorder and other related disorders. This diet is used in conjunction with antihistamine allergy medications.
Low-Histamine Diet: Under the umbrella of the Anti-Histamine Diet, is another perspective by Yasmina Ykelenstam, founder of the Low Histamine Chef. Her lifestyle and diet approach focuses not on food elimination, but a high nutrient dense gluten-free histamine BALANCED FLEXITARIAN diet and mind/body techniques to reduce inflammation. Since stress fuels a histamine response, it is important to add mind/body techniques in conjunction with diet. Yasmina believes it is important to try and add back foods that one is sensitive to (depending on the sensitivity but not if the sensitivity is moderate or anaphylaxis ), rather then eliminate it completely for life. By eliminating all foods one is sensitive to, one can develop Orthorexia and can also develop nutritional deficiencies. This version of the Low-Histamine diet should always be worked on under the care of your health practitioner, and should not be considered if one has moderate histamine reactions or anaphylaxis. Yasmina has coined the term the Inflammation bucket, which means that every day can be different depending on the daily amount of inflammation. Yasmina believes it is important to challenge the body to accept healthy foods back into rotation.
I have added this diet theory to the list of diets because there are a lot of people out there dealing with food sensitivities and mystery symptoms, and this version of the Low-Histamine diet can be something to consider, and if not consider, at least educate because Histamine reactions reported are dose dependent.
Remember it is important to use the diets that work for you. And remember since everyone is different you may need to cater these diets to your, which means that certain things that are allowed, you may need to eliminate and certain things that are not allowed, you may need to add back in. Remember! The purpose is to heal your body rather then label yourself with a particular diet. It is always important to do what's best for your body.
In good health!