WHAT'S IN A NAME?
Wether you're new to the "foodie" world or a seasoned vet, it can be difficult to navigate through the differences between diets. Paleo? Vegan? What IS gluten anyways? Which one would best fit your lifestyle or dietary needs? How do you find out?
As I've mentioned before, I am NOT a healthcare professional, and I can't pretend I know everything or that I have all of the answers, but I can share the research I have done and what I've learned as a Fitness Nutrition Specialist.
If you're having dietary issues an elimination diet might be a good place to start. This type of diet is used to help identify possible food intolerances, sensitivities or allergies. This is a temporary tactic, not designed or meant to last forever, to determine which foods could be at the root of your symptoms. The first step is eliminating those foods you suspect activate your symptoms (for about 2-3 weeks), then slowly and one at a time you can start to reincorporate them back into your routine to see which ones are the troublemakers. If your problems persist even after the 2-3 week period, you should consult with your doctor.
Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. However gluten isn't strictly limited to BREAD. Gluten can also be found in things like beer, pasta, soy sauce, salad dressings, etc., so it's important to read the ingredients labels on your products! People can have sensitivities or allergies to this protein, which is called Celiac Disease. According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, Celiac Disease is described as "a serious autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine,". You don't necessarily have to have Celiac to unfortunately experience issues with gluten. If you're like me, you can experience severe abdominal pain, bloating, itchy red hives, and various other symptoms.
High in fats (i.e. salmon, cheese, avocados, oils, nuts and seeds, etc.).
Low in carbohydrates (elimination of pastas, breads, rice, potatoes, legumes etc.)
Consumption of vegetables low in carbohydrates (i.e. broccoli, kale, spinach, cauliflower, etc.).
Carbohydrates produce glucose in the human body, which it then uses as energy to function. By eliminating carbohydrates from your diet, you limit your body’s production of glucose and ultimately starve the body of its energy source. As a result, your body starts to look for other sources of fuel in order to function. When blood insulin levels are low (due to lack of glucose in the body), your body uses its reserves of ketone bodies which are produced by the liver automatically by breaking down fat. This process is called ketosis. You're basically training your body to look for fat sources to use as energy instead of it's go-to: carbohydrates.
The Paleo diet is focused around the idea of eliminating processed foods altogether and only consuming foods that you could "hunt" and "gather", as our prehistoric ancestors did.
Foods like meats, fish, nuts, seeds, and vegetables, are acceptable where as grains, cheese, breads, and other foods that weren't available back in the day of the caveman are not. (Hense why the Paleo diet is also known as the "Caveman Diet".)
Eliminate the consumption of ALL meat, including fish, and their byproducts such as butter, eggs, cheese and honey.
Focus on the consumption of plants (vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, seeds, etc.)
There are many reasons people decide to go vegan (environmental, ethical, agricultural, etc.), but I am going to solely focus on the dietary outlines for this particular article. Following a plant-based, vegan diet has shown to help lower blood pressure and cholesterol in the body as well as decrease risks of certain diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
No consumption of animal meat
Animal products such as butter, eggs and cheese are acceptable
A semi-vegetarian diet, mostly plant-based
Occasional consumption of animal meat is allowed
No land animal consumption, however anything that comes from the sea is allowed.
No added sugar (real, raw or artificial)
No alcohol whatsoever
No grains (i.e. wheat, buckwheat, barley, corn, rice, oats, millet, quinoa, bulgur, etc.)
No legumes (i.e. beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, peanuts, etc.)
No MSG, carrageenan, or sulfites
No baked goods, junk foods, or foods with “approved” ingredients.
Whole 30 is a type of elimination diet. The idea is to eliminate the food groups that have been known to cause various dietary issues for a total of 30 days. This diet is used to allow your body time to "reset" and recover from the consumption of these foods. As you begin to reincorporate them back into your diet, you can determine which foods you should continue to stay away from.