If you're reading this post, by now, you’ve probably realized that low-fat diets are neither sustainable, nor safe. The word “diet” comes from the Greek “dieta” meaning “way of life,” not a temporary weight-loss trick. I’ve reviewed the following books for you to sift through the overwhelming amount of information about a “healthy diet” that's out there. Read the reviews, pick your favorite, and get started!
- Eat Dirt
- The Daniel Plan
- The Maker’s Diet
- The Bulletproof Diet
- It Starts With Food (The Whole 30)
- The Body Ecology Diet
- Trim Healthy Mama
- Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS)
Eat Dirt, by Dr. Josh Axe
We need to reconnect with our food roots and heal our guts with wholesome foods and probiotics. “The gut is not simply a food-processing center—the gut is the center of health itself” (xv). “Just like a boat that’s sprung a leak, no amount of bailing will keep our overall health afloat if we don’t first stop to fix the leak” (12).
- The author emphasizes the importance of soil-health in order that our foods be rich in vitamins and minerals.
- The author finds cleanliness to be important, but oversanitizing to be a problem.
- He encourages readers not just to change their foods, but also their attitudes and lifestyles as needed.
The author comes from a Christian point of view, referencing “creation” (50) and Bible passages regarding essential oils (93). He calls Solomon “the wisest man who ever lived” (84), and calls unborn children “babies” while they are still in the womb (56). The author encourages reading Scripture and praying to help manage stress, but also encourages “meditation and relaxation” which may be more controversial (217).
- Even organic cow dairy is difficult for human digestion. The author recommends raw, fermented goat and sheep’s milk (73).
- Soaked and sprouted non-gluten grains are okay if you have no current health problems (75).
- Consume coconut oil, ghee, and raw olive oil (80).
- Eat no more than 20–40 g of sugar per day from fruit, honey, dates, maple syrup, and stevia (83).
- Filter your water! Leading medical journals have found that fluoride damages intestinal lining (96).
- Other recommendations are made based on the specific symptoms an individual has. Find more information here.
Compare/Contrast with Other Diets
This book focuses on gut health and the importance of probiotics much more than any of the others reviewed here. It’s also the newest of the books with the latest research (March 2016). Compared to the info in Bulletproof, Eat Dirt encourages more consumption of grain and fruit sugar, depending on the type of leaky gut a person may have.
Dr. Axe tends to recommend buying foods that can be made easily, like kefir, fermented foods, and seed crackers. If cost is keeping you from implementing a diet like this, know that so many things can be made at home to keep expenses low. Otherwise, I enjoyed the book. It is very customizable based on your own symptoms. The science was very convincing, up-to-date, and accessible.
The Daniel Plan, by Rick Warren and Daniel Amen
“Your body is holy because God made it, and everything God makes has a purpose. We are to bring glory to God with our bodies, so we can’t compartmentalize our lives and think that we can divorce our bodies and live as if only our spirit matters” (19). Therefore, what we put into our bodies matters, and when we live healthy lives, we can serve God in our own unique ways.
- The book’s focus is around the Five Fs: Faith, Food, Fitness, Focus (Disciplining Thoughts and Habits), Friends
- This pastor preaches, “No more food emergencies,” basically encouraging dieter to always be prepared with food in advance so that if you are hungry, you have something healthy at your fingertips (99).
- Working with an accountability group for better eating habits is emphasized in this book.
The worldview of this book is ostensibly Christian, and it was written primarily by a well-known Christian pastor. Many Scripture passages are quoted throughout. However, non-Evangelical readers may sometimes disagree with the application of some Scripture passages.
- Main food rule: Eat real, whole food (74).
- This is not a low-carb diet. Carbs come in the form of vegetables, fruits, and grains (80).
- This plan permits some fermented soy products (88).
- If you choose grains, choose whole grains, not refined (89).
- Eat good quality protein in every meal; Veganism is allowed as long as you can get enough nutrients (93).
- Choose olives, avocado, and coconut oil (96).
- Have dairy if you can tolerate it. Most people don’t digest it well. Fermented dairy is preferable (120).
- Whole stevia is a good choice for sweetner.
- Be cautious about any sugar. But there are no hard and fast rules (108).
- An initial 10- to 40-day detox diet is encouraged. Exclude alcohol, caffeine, fast food, artifical sweeteners, sugar, dairy, and gluten.
Compare/Contrast with Other Diets
The Daniel Plan emphasizes lean, grass-fed meat, and discourages consumption of red meat (93). Most of the other books would disagree with this stance. The Daniel Plan seems to miss the importance of fat in nourishing the body. Even the Bible promises “fat” to be in the banqueting table in Heaven (Isaiah 25:6, a passage which the one-year historic Lutheran lectionary assigns to both All Saints Day and the Second Sunday after Trinity).
I was surprised that I mostly like this book. Before I read it, my impression was that it encouraged a vegetarian diet. It doesn’t. It shares a lot of natural law food ideas that I find agreeable. However, there isn’t much about the importance of probiotics or the dangers of gluten. I also think the authors get it wrong when it comes to encouraging whole grain consumption.
As a former sugar/carb addict, I find the nuanced recommendations about sugar to be difficult to traverse. The Daniel Plan allows for natural sugars to be used as an occasional treat, but “occasional” is very vague and can easily be abused. Also, it’s extremely difficult to remain nourished without consuming animal products. There are also some finer details in the food recommendations that could have been clarified. Yes, raw nuts are a healthful food, but the book doesn’t mention that they should be soaked first to deactivate the phytates. Also, olive oil is a healthful choice, so long as it isn’t heated.
I sincerely believe anyone could benefit from following this diet coming off of the standard American diet. However, after an initial healing period, there’s a lot more a “sick” person could do to tweak his or her own eating habits and increase personal health by going above and beyond the Daniel Plan recommendations.
The Maker’s Diet, by Jordan Ruben
This book is a testimony to God’s healing for one man who reversed Crohn’s disease. Through his personal journey and diet recommendations, readers can implement healing protocol and improve their health.
- Jordan Rubin recommends following the dietary advice of the Bible and following hygenic practices found there.
- Chapter Six is unique in that it takes an in-depth look at several other “diets” on the market and critiques their advantages and disadvantages from The Maker’s Diet perspective. The book is useful for this chapter alone, if nothing else.
- There are many interesting recommendations for herbs and oils used for healing in the Bible.
- Negativity impairs healing; reverse negativity by giving glory to God and thanking Him.
The author is a Messianic Jew. He believes in the Bible and Jesus for salvation. Throughout the book he specifically prays to God of the Apostle’s Creed, thanking Him for food and asking for healing.
- Eat as the Jews in the Old Testament would have eaten, which includes many meats, fats, fruits and vegetables, and a small amount of natural grains.
- Dairy, if not pasteurized or homogenized, can be healthful. However, fermentation is recommended.
- Beyond just food, practice other Biblical recommendations, like resting one day a week, occasionally fasting, and exercising.
Compare/Contrast with Other Diets
This book is similar to Eat Dirt, with its focus on a healthy gut needed for full-body health. The two books share an emphasis on therapeutic-strength probiotics and fermented foods. The Maker's Diet also shares a Biblical worldview with The Daniel Plan, though the two disagree somewhat in their specific food recommendations.
It’s a challenge to sift through the Biblical recommendations in the book. Are these items prescribed by God for all times, or merely given to the Israelites? If we say we follow “Biblical” teaching about food, like abstaining from pork, where does that leave Peter’s New Testament vision of all foods becoming clean? However, the point remains that Rubin’s recommendations are vastly different than the standard American diet, and regardless of one’s convictions regarding an Old Testament diet, there is much good in his recommendations. The Maker’s Diet is vastly superior to a typical diet in America today and anyone can find benefits in following the plan.
The Bulletproof Diet, by Dave Asprey
Replete with computer software and superhero analogies, this book’s focus is fat. Good, old, naturally sustaining, calorie-laden, energizing fat.
The purpose of diet is to feed and nourish the mind and body (32). Any diet should accomplish at least these five things: provide energy for brain, supply fuel for body, give nutrients to cells, limit exposure to toxins, and satisfy the eater (23). A diet high in healthful fats, and low in mold and other toxins, does just this. The Bulletproof Diet is not just about losing weight; the number one reason BPD is so effective is that it gives you back your willpower instead of sapping it (24), through satiating healthy fats.
- Ketosis—burning fat as fuel instead of carbs—is the Bulletproof goal. Ketosis reduces inflammation in the body and jump-starts autophagy, the recycling of junk out of the cells (86).
- After spending a few weeks exclusively on the BPD, the author recommends trying your old diet to see how you feel (274). You’re going to feel so bad that you’ll never want to go back!
- Surprisingly, Bulletproof is not just some weird coffee guru diet. It’s probably the most biologically in-depth book reviewed in this blog. It includes many informative (and at times provocative) claims, such as:
- all diseases have inflammation in common;
- polyphenols feed good bacteria, and coffee is by far the richest source of polyphenols in the American diet (18);
- bile is necessary to detoxification, and more bile can only be produced by increasing one’s fat consumption.
- Compared to the other books review here, The Bulletproof Diet has the largest section regarding specifics to women. The author appreciates that fertility is a sign of good health in women (137). Women may need to tweak the diet to reap its full benefits and keep their menstrual cycles going. Bulletproof may be a great place to start for infertile women. Decaf is recommended for pregnant women.
- This book is unique in that it offers an individual analysis of a wide variety of foods in each food group, with commentary on each food listed. For instance, within the category of fruit, berries and lemons/limes are considered “Bulletproof” because they don’t spike insulin and are high in antioxidants. Apples and oranges are considered “Suspect” because although they are high in vitamins, they are also high in sugar. They also can cause reactions in certain individuals. Bananas and dried fruit are “Kryptonite” because their concentrated sugar content makes them likely to abuse your insulin—so use with caution. I found this to be extremely unique and helpful.
I’m not sure whether author Dave Asprey ascribes to a specific religion, but if he does, it isn’t Christianity. He discusses the evolution of the brain (x, 79). He’s a zen master and advocates yoga, deep-breathing, and meditation (112). He mentions some of the practices of other religions, such as Jainsim and Islam. For all of the importance of fasting in the Bulletproof Diet, the Bible’s prescription for fasting in the Old Testament is never mentioned.
- Keep to under 25 g of fructose per day (53).
- Avoid sugar, processed foods, GMOs, vegetable oil, grains, and cheese/other inherently moldy foods. These are “kryptonite” to everyone’s bodies.
- Butter from grass-fed cows is awesome. Experiment to see if raw milk, kefir, and yogurt agree with you.
- Pasteurization lowers the vitamin content of milk and it changes the sugar (lactose) into the kind that make insulin spike most easily. It also changes milk so the calcium in it cannot be absorbed (64).
- The diet consists of breakfast coffee with grass-fed butter and coconut oil, which lengthens the overnight fast until lunch, kicking body into ketosis. Lunch is protein and fat with veggies. Dinner is protein and fat, with a few carbs like fruit or squash to aid in sleep and so the body doesn’t become insulin resistant.
- If you choose to eat nuts, soaking them is ideal (183, 184). However, most nuts are moldy and cause the eater to feel fatigued and foggy.
- Wheat is not “bulletproof” because the starch (both whole grain and refined) causes a larger spike in blood sugar than glucose or sucrose. Wheat proteins in general are metabolized into gluteomorphins—an opioid—which causes addition. Gluten lowers cerebral blood flow. All of this damage will happen to anyone who eats wheat over time, not just those who are sensitive to it, like celiacs.
- As for brown rice and other non-gluten grains, the fiber, phytates, and lectins in them cause gut damage (191).
Compare/Contrast with Other Diets
Both Bulletproof and Whole 30 emphasize individuality and seeing what works for you after the initial dietary changes. Bulletproof is somewhat more strict in its protein recommendations, stating that chicken is inferior to beef and lamb, due to a lower iron content and a higher omega-6 ratio.
I feel generally undereducated about ketosis and underqualified to analyze Dave Asprey’s take on it. But, if he’s right, there’s a lot of good that could come out of occasional fasting. He recommends a certain variety of coconut oil that is derived from processing and concentrating. I’m not sure how that fits with my personal philosophy about eating whole, natural foods. I appreciate the research and clarification of how to meld coffee into a healthy lifestyle. I also treasure the explanation of how eating fat can help a person lose fat and become healthier. That has been essential in my own journey.
It Starts With Food (a.k.a. The Whole 30), by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig
“We eat real food—fresh, natural food, like meat, vegetables, and fruit. We choose foods that are nutrient-dense, with lots of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, over foods that have more calories but less nutrition. And food quality is important—we are careful about where our meat, seafood, and eggs come from, and we buy organic, local produce as often as possible. We eat as much as we need to maintain strength, energy, and a healthy body weight. We aim for well-balanced nutrition, so we eat both plants and animals. We get all the carbohydrates we need from vegetables and fruits, while healthy fats like avocado, coconut, and olive oil provide us with another excellent source of energy. Eating like this allows us to maintain a healthy metabolism and keeps our immune system in balance. It’s good for body composition, energy levels, sleep quality, mood, attention span, and quality of life. It helps eliminate sugar cravings and reestablishes a healthy relationship with food. It also works to minimize our risk for most lifestyle-related diseases and conditions, like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and autoimmune conditions” (9). This philosophy of eating is based on Loren Cordain’s The Paleo Diet. The main difference is that the Hartwigs don’t really care about the history of what our ancestors ate. They care about health, research, and clinical experience (19).
The Whole 30 (meaning 30 days) revolves around the Four Good Food Standards. Food should:
- invoke a healthy psychological response;
- invoke a healthy hormonal response;
- support a healthy gut; and,
- support immune function/minimize inflammation (87).
- The authors welcome the reader to skip the “how” (science and biology) and go to the “what” (food recommendations).
- There’s a fascinating section on food addiction. The section entitled “Pleasure, Reward, Emotion, and Habit” explains what happens in the brain, why we often feel helpless to conquer cravings, and how The Whole 30 helps to minimize that stress (35).
The authors state that Creationists are welcome. You don’t have to believe in evolution to make The Whole 30 work (20). There wasn’t much else in the book that was controversial, either pro- or anti-Christianity.
- All nutrients found in grains can be found in other foods(108). So get them from other sources.
- Because of anti-nutrients in grains, eating a them doesn’t necessarily mean your body can use the nutrient anyway (112).
- Dairy is inflammatory for most people. The U.S. has one of the highest rates of calcium consumption, but also one of the highest rates of osteoporosis (130). Something isn’t right. So eliminate all dairy for 30 days, and if you really miss it, try adding it back in and see how you feel.
- The kind of meat you eat is important (145). The meat from grass-fed, grazing animals is much less inflammatory to the human body than the flesh of factory-farmed animals.
- Yes, there is sugar in fruit, but not that much. However, fruit consumption may trigger a sugar-addiction weakness in some people, so eat with caution (161).
Compare/Contrast with Other Diets
The authors recommend against juicing. Most of the other books also oppose juicing fruit, but several think that juicing veggies is a great way to maximize nutrients (162). The Whole 30 also is concerned that overconsumption of protein can be just as bad as underconsumption (164). This was a new concept to me, one that I haven’t read in any of the other books. The authors urge readers to eat a fat- and protein rich-breakfast within one hour of rising in order to keep their hormones in check. This is at odds with the Bulletproof recommendation to consume only fat in the morning to extend your overnight fast, keeping you in ketosis. Both Bulletproof and The Whole 30 emphasize making initial dietary changes and then becoming your own experiment, listening to your body and implementing positive changes according to how you feel.
My reaction to this book is that it is the simplest, most “do-able” of all of the reviewed books for anyone wanting to make positive changes. I personally agree with nearly all of the food recommendations. However, the authors state that “sugar=sugar=sugar” (92). In some ways, this is true in how insulin reacts, but on a chemical level, it is false. There’s a difference in how the body breaks down mono- and di-saccharides. While the topic is too technical to dissect in this blog, I feel the need to exonerate honey. I believe it is superior to table sugar because it is unprocessed and breaks down in a positive way in the body. I also feel a little disappointed that so little attention is given to the benefits of broth and probiotics in the diet. Only about half a page mentions them in the back of the book (256). However, I prefer the recipes and flavor ideas in The Whole 30 compared the suggestions in any of the other reviewed books.
Trim Healthy Mama, by Serene Allison and Pearl Barrett
Sisters Serene and Pearl encourage mothers to lose weight, gain energy, and feel great by eating from every food group, but separating fat and carbs into different meals so the body only has one “fuel” to burn at a time.
- This book is written specifically for women by women. It is a treasure trove of health information, including chapters on hormones, sex drive, exercise, and tweaks for pregnancy and breastfeeding.
- The sister authors disagree somewhat on food “philosophy,” one of them being a “purist” and the other a “pragmatist.” This leads to some humorous “conversation” in the book, giving their readers the “best of both worlds” by appealing to two very different kinds of audiences.
- Many of the recipes in the book can be tweaked to be used for either the carb meals (“E” for energy) or the fat meals (“S” for satisfying).
- The text stresses that this is not a “low-carb” diet because they encourage eating grains, fruits, and starchy veggies. However, even with the “carb-rich” meals, total carb intake is not to exceed 40g. So, it still seems like a very low-carb diet compared with the standard American diet.
Both sisters are Bible-believing Christians, and daughters of Nancy Campbell. They specifically include every food group in their diet plan because God made every food group. While they themselves personally follow Old Testament food laws, they don’t bind the consciences of their readers.
- Stevia (or Stevia/Erythritol combinations) are the only sweeteners allowed on plan.
- Have protein with each meal or snack, whether combining it with fat or carbs.
- Milk itself is not “on plan” because it is a combination of fat, protein, and carb, so it will stall weight-loss. But, it can be made into kefir, which renders the sugars harmless.
- One of the sisters encourages store-bought, packaged foods as short-cuts (including greek yogurt, wasa crackers, pita bread, Tyson’s chicken strips, Reddi Whip, and zero-calorie dressings). She’s not worried so much about the quality of the food, but the practicality of the weight-loss. The author thinks that if you lose weight, you will overall be healthier, so use them as needed.
- Juice and pop are not allowed on the plan because they spike insulin and consist of empty calories.
- The authors encourage readers to step out of their comfort zones and try new foods, such as salmon, flax milk, dahl, palm oil, and new vegetables. Just be sure to combine them properly for aiding in weight-loss.
Compare/Contrast with Other Diets
THM encourages consumption of grains far more than any of the other diets, except for maybe The Daniel Plan. If a woman chooses to follow THM, she should do so knowing what the research is showing about the concerns of modern grain consumption, including leaky gut, feeding bad bacteria, and the risk of cavities.
I have been on the THM diet twice for about a year. I was following it very closely for several months when I had a health crisis in the spring of 2015. There are many good things about THM, including the emphasis on whole foods and clean eating. One concern I have with the THM diet has to do with stevia/erythritol. The authors cite a lot of research regarding its safety, needing to exonerate it since it’s nearly impossible for the plan to work without it. (Who wants to live permanently without sweets?) But I personally still felt an addiction to sweets while using it. I never really got satisfied. I also feel that using stevia everyday contributed to my adrenal fatigue. I can’t really blame this on THM, because the diet doesn’t “require” a person to consume the stevia. Also, the emphasis on separating fats and carbs was something I really had to work at to obtain weight-loss on THM. After getting the hang of it, it isn’t too hard. However, I didn’t need to separate my fats and carbs one bit while doing GAPS, and the extra pounds just melted off. I wonder if a person could lose weight without all of the fuss of separating the fats and the carbs, so long as they stuck to the main THM food list? Someone coming off of the standard American diet will find a lot of good with THM.
The Body Ecology Diet, by Donna Gates with Linda Schatz
An estimated 1 in 3 people has a problem with candida overgrowth. It affects 80% of individuals with Crohn’s disease. Here are the main eating principles suggested by Donna Gates to effectively combat candida and support good health:
- Balancing Expansion and Contraction. Some foods expand the body’s systems, some contract it. Balancing these forces helps the body to heal.
- Alkaline/Acid. Prefer alkaline foods for healing, not acidic.
- The Principle of Uniqueness. Each of us is different and will heal in unique ways.
- Cleansing. Cleansing is necessary for healing, even though it usually makes symptoms worse temporarily.
- Food Combination. Eating non-compatible foods together leads to poor digestion.
- The 80/20 Rule. Two tips:
- Eat only until you are 80% full.
- Fill up your plate with 80% non-starchy veggies.
- Step-by-Step. Healing takes time. Be patient with yourself.
- Juicing is allowed on this diet, but only veggies or sour fruits. Don’t juice too soon after starting the diet, or else the sugars will simply feed the candida. Drinking green smoothies is preferred to juicing.
- There is a section which discusses the connection between alcoholism and bulimia and candida (150).
- Even the reader without candida will find interesting information, including the benefits of enemas (159), healing the liver (195), and blood-type theory (227).
- The author states that if you have a gut imbalance due to pathogenic bacteria, you can’t trust your own cravings and need to rely on a list of healthful foods you know to be nourishing.
- The author states, “You are the creator of your own body” (47). This sounds controversial, even idolotrous, but the scandal is somewhat lessened when placed in the context of creating and nourishing your own gut’s biome. Your daily food choices can and do change this ecosystem.
- The book’s emphasis on cleansing includes not only the body, but also the emotions, namely giving up anger and resentment and replacing them with (Biblical) emotions such as joy and forgiveness.
- Various references are made to some eastern religions, including Taoism (173).
- Also, there are some questionable statements about the nature of men and women that isn’t necessarily at odds with our revealed nature stated in Genesis. However, the text uses language that is unusual for someone from a Western background (178).
- Only sour fruits are allowed. Eat them on an empty stomach, as they don't combine well with any other food group. Eat protein separately from starches because they require different enzymes to digest.
- Healthful oils include unrefined coconut, butter, and unheated nut oils.
- No added sugar whatsoever is allowed, as this is the main fuel for candida.
- Load up on fermented vegetables.
- Milk is allowed only as fermented kefir.
Compare/Contrast with Other Diets
A particular chapter in the Body Ecology Diet critiques a variety of others diets—Low-Carb, Macrobiotic, Raw Food, and Vegetarian. BED is similar to Trim Healthy Mama in that it recommends eating food groups separately, but it disagrees about which groups and also the purpose of separation. (BED separates to aid digestion; THM separates to aid weight-loss.) BED has a section that compares and contrasts itself to D’Adamo’s Eat Right for Your Type (227). GAPS, BED, and Eat Dirt all share the importance of fermented foods as a commonality.
Food separation based on digestion is a new concept to me and I found myself frequently questioning the statements of fact in the text. BED is by far the most “far out” of the books reviewed in this blog; it is difficult to understand unless you already have a background in Eastern or Ayruvedic medicine. The author frequently refers to her own line of foods and supplements, which I find annoying. However, even with these frustrations, there is much to be gained from the book, including an emphasis on whole, natural foods and veggies, in particular, as well as the importance of fermented foods in the diet. There is also a host of information about women’s health issues. This book would be a great place to start for a woman suffering from frequent yeast infections or menstrual issues.
Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS), by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride
The gut and the brain are directly connected. Any misbalance happening with digestion can manifest itself in the neurological system. When you heal the gut with diet and supplements, healing can happen for many other diseases, including ADHD, Autism, Anorexia/Bulimia, Schizophrenia, Depression, and more.
- The author goes into detail regarding the benefits of good bacteria and the challenges of bad bacteria. Good bacteria release vitamins, such as B12, into a person’s system that are readily bioavailable. Bad bacteria latch onto and eat nutrients like iron so that they can’t benefit the eater.
- Detoxification for healing is also a big part of this book. It needs to be done, but it also needs to be done slowly and carefully so the patient doesn’t become more sick from the release of toxins. Some modalities for detoxification include non-toxic soaps and personal care products, juicing, enemas, eating sea vegetables, and “grounding” to recover from electromagnetic field exposure.
- There is an informative section on setting up a newborn for digestive success, including the encouragement to breastfeed, and instructions on introducing solid food.
“Mother Nature” is referenced and given credit throughout the book. The author may have thought of this terms as a compromise between evolution and monotheism, but Christians rightly will be bothered by its use. Otherwise, the majority of the book focuses on biology, with which Christians can readily agree, rather than history, where we might disagree.
- Broth, broth, and more broth! Meat stock is recommend to be consumed each day on the GAPS diet. It is soothing and contains the amino acids needed to repair the gut lining. Organ meats are also encouraged.
- Healthy fats, meats, and vegetables are the main staples of the GAPS diet. Fruits, starchy veggies, and properly prepared nuts may also be consumed.
- Honey is the sweetener of choice.
- No grains of any kind are permitted. The fiber in them can irritate the gut lining and feed bad bacteria.
- How you cook your food is as important as what you cook. Cook veggies as needed to better digest them. Don’t heat unstable fats like olive oil or nut oils.
- An “Intro” to the GAPS diet is encouraged for some patients to “jump-start” healing. It begins with spending a couple of days eating only homemade meat and veggie soups with fats and probiotics stirred in. New foods are added to the diet one at a time, watching for reactions, until the “full” GAPS diet is reached.
Compare/Contrast with Other Diets
This book is the most biologically technical of the books reviewed here, but still accessible to an average reader who is highly motivated and willing to reread sections as needed. Also, many of the other diets are life-long. The GAPS diet is designed to be followed carefully for one to several years, but once healing has occurred, the patient may slowly introduce healthful non-GAPS whole foods.
I have a special place in my heart for GAPS because this is my current diet! That being said, I recognize that it is an intense diet specifically for sick people who need to heal (though almost anyone at all would benefit from eating this way). The intensity of it is not needed for everyone. However, I do believe that more and more people in the coming decades are going to look to GAPS for guidance in using food to heal a variety of health problems. If you’re interested in our GAPS journey, read more here.
Diet isn’t all cut and dry. Do your research, read some books, talk to others about their experiences, and discuss ideas with your health care practitioner. Make a plan and and adjust it based on how you feel. Here are some overarching similarities among all of the reviewed natural diets:
- Fill up on healthful fats.
- Eat more vegetables.
- Quality of meat is important—aim for local, grass-fed as much as possible.
- Ditch dairy, at least for a time.
- Minimize or eliminate grain, sugar, and packaged foods.
- Maximize probiotics and probiotic-rich foods.
- Eating whole foods can and will affect your health for the better.
- Some people notice the effects within a few days, but all of the plans recommend following them judiciously for 30–40 days before trying any tweaks. So be patient with yourself and plan to implement lifetime changes.
Mrs. Marie K. MacPherson, vice president of Into Your Hands LLC, lives in Casper, Wyoming, with her husband Ryan and their children, whom she homeschools. She is a certified Classical Lutheran Educator (Consortium for Classical Lutheran Educators), author of Meditations on the Vocation of Motherhood (Old Testament vol., 2018; New Testament vol., 2023), and editor of Mothering Many: Sanity-Saving Strategies from Moms of Four or More (2016).