Are Any of These “Fad” Diets Right For You?

Anyone familiar with dieting has likely heard of a few of the new diets put out. Some are best as medical and have no health benefits outside of those who need them (Gluten free for example) and others can boost your overall energy and wellbeing, while helping figure out if you need to avoid any foods or not (Whole30)
Some fit the bill perfectly if you have combinations of medical issues that have recommended diets (Paleo can easily fit the bill if you have a mix of medical issues)

This is the first post dealing with the different dietary options. These are some of the more well known- some lifestyle, some best bets for medical and others can help with weightloss.


Plant based– This diet involves eating mostly fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, seeds and nuts- anything found planted and very little meat or animal products.Some people take it to vegetarian levels, but many do continue eating meat and sea food.

In this diet, you eat mostly grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes. The reasoning behind taking most animal products out and eating mostly grown foods is focused on sustainability and the concept that our ancestors ate very little meat- they had to kill the animals themselves, so their diets weren’t high in meat. It is thought that they didn’t have the lifestyle diseases like we have now- diabetes or obesity especially and this is a very low artificially processed diet.


Vegan is typically a lifestyle change than just a “diet”- where they not only avoid eating meat, eggs or anything like honey (anything that comes from animals), they avoid using any products, clothes or cosmetics that use animal products at all. This is not a diet, it’s a lifestyle choice- based typically on morals. This is a wonderful way to live, if you’re healthy and can handle taking all animal foods out of your diet- it’s not for everyone, though. Vegan isn’t a fad diet, it’s a lifestyle based on ethics and morals. The only problem is that some people get sick when taking all animal products out. Other people don’t get sick and swear by that diet being the “magic pill” but like all diets, it’s not going to work for everyone.

If you’re not ready to take the full steps to become a vegan, you have the options of full or partial vegetarian. There are some vegetarians that consume no meat and others that only consume seafood.

Many vegans started as vegetarians and it can be a huge step towards full veganism. Other options are to find non cruelty cosmetic, skin and hair care brands and start reading ingredients in everything you purchase to make sure no animal by-products are listed. There is also a one month Vegan challenge- Veganuary that helps you make the switch.

Gluten-Free– this is a very beneficial diet if you’re Celiac, intolerant, have certain autoimmunity issues or a few other medical problems BUT it’s not beneficial at all for people in good health. This diet eliminates wheat, rye, barley and anything with any form of those three grains. Gluten is the protein that adds to the flavor and texture of bread and other baked foods. There is nothing inherently wrong with it and a diet rich in whole grains (which the GF misses) is one of the best. Whole grains are much healthier than white (bleached and enriched). If you eat gluten free, have no medical issues and choose to use substitutes you may find yourself gaining weight. You’ll likely gain because gluten free foods have much more sugar added than normal grains to make up for taste and texture differences. If you do see a dramatic difference (positive), you may want to speak to a doctor because it could be something wrong- either something like an intolerance or as severe as Celiac. Gluten is out of your system within a month, so one month gluten free should be a decent indicator if you actually have issues with it. Common symptoms of an intolerance are bloating, nausea, diarrhea, gas, heartburn and some people even say joint and head pain goes away on the gluten free diet. It should really only be followed if you have a medical problem and going gluten free helps eliminate the symptoms.

Paleo- This is almost the polar opposite of Vegan. You do eat a lot of fruits, vegetables but it’s higher in protein and animal products, like eggs and no grains, legumes. The Paleo diet helps avoid foods that are highly processed and not natural to our bodies. The whole point of the Paleo is to try to take you to what our ancestors used to eat, before obesity and Diabetes became epidemic but even if it’s not the best way for everyone to eat, I found with the food recommendations people made to me based on Reactive Hypoglycemia, Gluten and Lactose triggered IBS and a few other issues, Paleo is a good fit.


Whole30 is the Paleo on steroids. It’s a very strict elimination diet made to last 30-60 days to reset your old eating habits and has a re-introduction plan to help determine any intolerance or other food issues you may have. There are several books and it’s recommended to read “It Starts with Food” prior to starting so you get the rules down. This diet is also made to make you think about your eating habits. The rules are fairly simple-
1. Don’t snack (unless you have to due to medical issues like Hypoglycemia) or are genuinely hungry
2. Eat 3 larger meals and make sure to follow their guidelines on the right amount of protein and fats. That part is important to avoid cravings and keep from getting deficiencies.
3. No desert or make shift sweets, no “Paleo” or “whole30 compliant” pasta, breads or breakfast foods like
4. (Not so much a written rule but very strong guideline)- read the books before attempting Whole30. It Starts with Food explains the plan, the journal is great to go through as you’re on Whole30. It gives a day by day play out of how you may be feeling and gives you space to write things down. The cookbook is a godsend when you’re at a loss for good, flavorful recipes or when you’re burning out. It even gives recipes for condiments but be careful if you try using the butter. They have a recipe for “clarified” butter but it still is dairy- even melted down and if you have issues with dairy, it will give you diarrhea.
5. No “cheats” and no “slips.” If you have one slip, even on accident, you have to start over from day one. That’s not for any morality reason, it’s because the diet is set to reset your digestive system and if you mess up, it can set you back.

I made it 22 days in and ended up accidentally eating something steamed in butter, so I had to start over. This 1-2 month diet helps find trouble foods, as long as you put things back in the right way (one thing at a time over the course of 2-3 days instead of everything at once)


I will come back with another post similar to this with another four diets and I will post further going more in depth with each diet. This is a basics- the basics of what you can and can’t eat with each. Each do have benefits but they also can be bad- no 2 bodies are the same. I can do extremely well on the Paleo diet, but other people won’t. I couldn’t last 2 weeks Vegan before I ended up on supplements and others feel great.



So, I want to start the Paleo but have no idea where to start

In all the research and studying I have done on my road to working on getting on the full Paleo diet, I have seen so many people “debunking” the claims of the fad. That can easily be said for people just falling into the fad of the diet or the people interested in trying to lose weight, but for the group of medical issues I have, it works and I look for structure.

If you’re interested in starting down the paleo, you may have questions. Is this ok? Is that permitted? Why is it so restrictive? Can I have a cupcake?

Well, it’s not as restrictive as it seems. The majority of the foods are not needed (no one actually needs candy, Oreos or packaged foods). Grains can be an exception, but they can also cause inflammation. On the Paleo, all grains are on the “no” list, even quinoa and amaranth, rice or corn. Corn can be a very problematic grain.

Soy is another problem. It feels like it’s in every dairy or gluten free product but it’s one of the top three foods to avoid. (dairy, soy and gluten are the big 3 in a lot of diet plans), not to mention soy can harm your thyroid.

Here is a break down of what you need to do, what you and and can’t have and some end tips.

Foods You Can Eat

I’ll start with the most positive sounding first.

You can have meats- deer, pork, cow, chicken, turkey, fish, shellfish- all that’s good. Wild caught and grassfed are best, but others are good for people with lower budgets.

You can have vegetables- basically all vegetables are permitted.

You can have fruits- once again, fruit is permitted on the diet.

Nuts, with the exception of peanuts are permitted. Peanuts are NOT included.

Herbs, spices- just about all are approved, just watch out for mixes. If they have preservatives and other

There is a whole line of frozen dinners that are specifically Paleo friendly, but they are pricier than normal TV dinners.


Foods not included

Grains- even the gluten free grains, none are included on this diet and that includes corn.

Legumes (including soy and peas, lentils, beans, etc)

Processed junk foods- this one goes without saying but the “foods” with tons of ingredients are not included in this diet. If it’s in a box but you’re able to identify every ingredient as a whole food (like TV dinners), they might be included.


What is the best way to start?

The best way to start is to start cooking everything at home. Not everyone has time to fully cook breakfast, lunch and dinner every day- that’s where batch cooking on your days off comes in. Slow cookers are also your best friend.

If you take all your meat for a week and cook it on your day off, portion everything out and freeze each thing in separate microwavable friendly tupperware, it saves time and the days you’re too tired or don’t have time to cook you just toss one in the microwave and cook it like a tv dinner.

The best way to get started when starting down the Paleo path, is to grab a couple Paleo cookbooks and meal plan your first 2 weeks grocery list and your next 2 weeks grocery list. Write down the recipes, go through the ingredients and for fresh produce, buy only what you will need for the 1-2 weeks (depending on if you shop weekly, bi weekly or monthly)

Don’t forget to add in deserts or snacks. There are tons of Paleo recipes for desserts.

Ending Tips

– don’t stress if you “slip up”

-remember, this diet path isn’t for everyone but it can really help your overall well being if you have medical conditions that respond to food

-you may want to talk to your doctor to see what you need to supplement before starting any strict diet

-don’t treat this as a diet, pretend it’s a lifestyle you’re choosing

-don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by the “do not eat” list

-keep in mind that not all diets work for everyone- your best friend could feel amazing but you could end up on prescription supplements, we all need different foods.

-this is great as an elimination diet if you’re dealing with food intolerance

-there are tons of websites, books and cookbooks- the food doesn’t have to be boring.


*This is the second in a series I’m working on dealing with starting and going on the Paleo diet. I’m also in the process of putting together a “shopping” list of sorts to get started walking down this dietary path.*

If you have any suggestions for anything I missed, feel free to leave it in the comments.





Simple Steps to Starting Paleo On A Budget

The Paleo is a “fad” diet, short for Paleolithic. The concept, they say, is to “eat what your ancestors ate” but that could easily backfire and has been shown to be in error.

For me, I do best when I have a set of rules sat out in front of me and the Paleo diet is the best standard for all the foods I’ve been told to leave out or reduce due to medical issues.

If you’ve read many of my blogs from my other site, you know I’ve been gluten free for a while now.

The other suggestions I’ve had:

Limit foods high on the glucose scale (basically similar to the diabetic diet but since I’m not diabetic, I don’t have to take them out completely. I have had issues with eating white potatoes- they will crash my sugar.)

The foods that means to eliminate or use extremely sparingly-

  1. white sugar
  2. white flour
  3. white potatoes
  4. everything else white/enriched
  5. pop
  6. limit some fruits
  7. fruit juice

Those were the foods I was told specifically, especially since I’ll have a sugar seizure if my sugar gets too low.

For other random issues, I’ve been advised by either others with the same issues or doctors to avoid

  1. gluten
  2. dairy
  3. soy
  4. red40 (actual allergy)

and we all know processed junk food isn’t good either- it’s high in bad and a lot has hidden dairy or gluten.

Looking at the list of restrictions, my best bet is to work towards trying to go on the Paleo diet since it eliminates everything I am told to either limit or avoid. I’ve been studying it for a while but since I am also shopping and cooking for 2 kids and shopping for my husband, I have to be realistic about price and how much I spend on everything for myself. I already eat primarily whole foods, so here is how I save money while still eating healthy.

What is permitted on the Paleo Diet

  1. vegetables of near any kind
  2. Fruit of any kind
  3. Normal, (preferably grass fed, antibiotic free) meat
  4. Nuts (except peanuts)
  5. Seeds
  6. Just about any ground spice (watch out for spice mixes but any regualr ground spices are safe)
  7. All natural, normal herbs

What is not permitted on the Paleo Diet

  1. Grains- including gluten free. Even rice isn’t allowed.
  2. Peanuts
  3. Most dairy
  4. Soy/legumes
  5. Unnatural sugar (white sugar)
  6. Pretty much all over processed foods (boxed, etc)

Good rule of thumb, if you read the ingredients and can’t pronounce it, don’t buy it. There are recipes for Paleo friendly mayo, dressings and other condiments.

Ways to save at the store

Find the foods you all eat first

Just because you’re on a somewhat restrictive diet doesn’t mean you have to have a totally different shopping list. Usually the whole family eats meat- if you go to the grocery store at the right time, you should be able to find the marked down meats. You can typically also find vegetables on mark down. Meat, you can freeze and hold out the lifespan but you will need to use the vegetables quickly.

With vegetables your kids won’t eat, buy just enough for your week

Produce doesn’t have to weigh your budget down. If you’re buying for yourself only and it’s something you know your children won’t eat, make sure to just get enough for your week. If you’re just starting the Paleo, make a menu plan and write down the exact amount you’ll need. Make sure to keep the list on you and don’t deviate from the list.

When you can, buy frozen

You’ll get a full meal worth of veggies for your kids, you and your spouse and frozen typically costs between 89 and 1.00. A huge plus is that with a lot of frozen veggies, all you have to do is toss the bag in the microwave for 5-7 minutes and serve. I always make sure I’m stocked with all the veggies my kids eat and I eat.

List, list, list

A shopping list is one of the most important things I can stress. If you stick with the list, you won’t spend near as much. If you have several grocery stores within a few miles of your home, there is an app called Flipp. It gives you the sales of the week near you. Some places price match but a lot don’t anymore. If you’re lucky enough to live near a store that still does, you can usually show the app to get the lower price. Otherwise, it’s good to note the sales so you know which stores to buy. Organize the list by item and write the cheapest store beside it.

Be careful with coupons

There are places that will send you really good coupons for products but a lot of times if you look at the amount on the coupon and what the price of the generic costs, you’ll find the generic is lower than the coupon for the name brand. In most cases, it’s just the same but cheaper so coupons are not always great deals- but make sure you use any instant savings coupons or grab coupons for name brand items you love.

Skip the specialty foods

There are foods specially labeled “paleo” (similar to the “gluten free.” MOst of those foods aren’t near as healthy and will be overpriced. It’s best to find recipes for things you like that are Paleo friendly and make those instead. It will have you spending more time in the kitchen, but if you can find a few spare minutes, a lot can be frozen.

Ways to save at home

Make your own broth

There are tons of recipes online or in books for bone broth. It’s easy to make, just put several cups of water, bones from whatever meat you just cooked, garlic, onion, celery and carrots into a slow cooker. Cook between 12 hours and 2 days- then strain the broth through cheese cloth and pour in a jar. Bone broth is a nice hot drink when you’re not feeling well or good as a soup base.

If you want just regular broth, cook meat in a slow cooker, add extra water after the meat is cooked and continue cooking for a couple hours then take the meat out and strain the broth.

Make your own salad dressing

All you really need to do is mix olive oil and lemon and put it on your salad. Vinegar and olive oil can also work.

Batch cook

It saves time and can prolong life spans. Pick a day you’re off work and spend it in the kitchen. Take all the meals and freeze them in single portion size tupperwares. All you have to do is take one out, heat it up like a microwave dinner and you won’t have the waste from produce going bad. It’s also good for days you’re too tired to cook


Plan meals out by the week, 2 weeks or month

Depending on how often you go shopping. Plan the meals out in advance, write down everything you need and head to the store with a list, or use the option a lot of stores are giving now for online pickup- just order through the apps and go in to pick the food up.


What a typical shopping list looks like for me

  1. eggs
  2. Manager special steak/beef/chicken/turkey- it goes straight into the freezer when I get home
  3. Peppers (1 of each color along with 1-2 green
  4. salad mix
  5. carrots
  6. almond milk or coconut milk
  7. apples
  8. kiwi
  9. clementines
  10. Random things for the kids that they like
  11. Whatever my husband asks me to get

My normal twice a month shopping trip is between 100 and 130, depending on some things. We buy a lot of almond milk, Silk almond vanilla yogurt and I don’t waste money on dairy products any more, except a half gallon of whole milk for my husband.

That’s a general picture. My two year old loves fruit, so I make sure to buy extra fruit. She also likes to eat raw carrots and occasional raw peppers. I keep stocked on frozen broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, peas and occasionally corn (corn and peas aren’t permitted on the Paleo) because my kids love them and it’s a great fast side.

We do once a week for the stuff we always eat and once a week costs between 1 and 120, for the main shopping week and around 50-60 in the off weeks. I’m currently working on bringing the number down, but we have 2 growing kids and a cat.

I’ll come back and work further on more guides similar to this one later.