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Are You A Caveman, GAPster or WAPFer ???

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I’m a mom of 2 who is seeking to take the best care of my family that I know how. I am currently swimming in a sea of too much head information and not enough application. Could you please help me understand the basic and simple differences between the eating styles of WAPF, GAPS, Standard Process, and Clean Eating.

~ Heather F

Great question, Heather! This is going to take some real ‘splainin, so let’s jump in, shall we?

[The] Price Is Right – No, Really. He Is!

The Basics: Dr. Weston A. Price (1870-1948), a prominent dentist and founder of the Research Institute of the National Dental Association (which later became the American Dental Association), is pretty much the reason we’re chatting here today. Yup, the Real Food Movement was started by a . . . dentist.

What exactly was it that he discovered? Simply put, people who have never even seen a toothbrush have fewer cavities than most of us. But I am getting ahead of myself . .  .

Dr. Price began to suspect that the decay he saw in his patients was the result of modern living: processed foods, sugar and highly processed oils. To prove his theory he set out on a 10 year expedition in search of isolated people groups — sequestered villages in Switzerland, Gaelic communities in the outer Hebrides, Eskimos, African tribes, Australian Aborigines, the Indians of North and South America, Melanesian and Polynesian South Sea Islanders and the Maori of New Zealand — and then  he studied them.

Wherever he went, Dr. Price found that beautiful straight teeth, freedom from decay, stalwart bodies, resistance to disease and fine characters [meaning a low incidence of mental illness] were typical of primitives on their traditional diets, rich in essential food factors. When Dr. Price analyzed the foods used by isolated primitive peoples he found that they provided at least four times the calcium and other minerals, and at least TEN times the fat-soluble vitamins from animal foods such as butter, fish eggs, shellfish and organ meats.

Weston A. Price, DDS

Photo courtesy of Nourishing Our Children

The photos above, taken by Dr. Price, compare  two New Zealand populations. The first are the Maori Indians, whose diet consisted largely of fish and shellfish. They have broad dental arches, perfectly straight teeth and a low rates of cavities.

The New Zealanders  on the right, unfortunately for them, ate modern foods such as white flour, processed sugar and refined oils. Dr. Price believed their cavities, deformed dental arches (which cause crowded, crooked teeth) and general susceptibility to disease were  a sign of physical degeneration resulting from nutritional deficiencies.

Do these photos convince you? They did me! In fact when my daughter began showing signs of tooth decay I put her on a Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) diet excluding grains and her decay reversed. Yes, you bet I took pics!

Primary Foods Emphasized: Grassfed meat (especially organ meats such as liver), Wild-Caught Seafood, Animal Based Fats (butter, ghee, tallow, lard – all from animals raised on pasture), Eggs, Raw Milk Products, Lacto-Fermented Foods, Vegetables, Soaked and Sprouted Grains,  and Fruits

Foods To Avoid: Pasteurized Dairy Products, Modern Soy Foods (Tofu, Soymilk, Isolated Soy Protein, etc.), Highly Refined Oils such as Margarine, Shortening and “Vegetable Oils”, Processed Foods

This Diet Might Be Right For You If . . .

You breathe! Although some people simply cannot tolerate grains and/or dairy and therefore would need to modify this diet, learning it’s principles is foundational to health. Personally, my fave insights are:

  1. Saturated fats are GOOD for you and do not make you fat!
  2. Cultured veggies and fruits should be eaten at least daily. We stopped using these processes when refrigeration became widely available, but these probiotic rich foods are vital to our health! (Plus culturing makes vitamins and minerals more bioavailable, yay!)

Popular Books: Nourishing Traditions (A Cookbook), Nutrition & Physical Degeneration, Eat Fat Lose Fat

Primal/Paleo ~ Nutrition So Easy All The Cavemen Did It

The primal/paleo diet is very similar to the Weston A. Price diet with a few exceptions – most notably the removal of grains from the diet.

Wait, why would anyone want to remove grains? They’re cheap and yummy!

There are several reasons, actually. First, there is nothing you can get from grains that you can’t find in a more easily digestible form somewhere else.

Second, primal eaters claim our bodies have not evolved to catch up with the relatively new invention of agriculture (vs. hunting and gathering).

Personally, I don’t buy the whole caveman thing, but  Marks Daily Apple makes some compelling points regarding lectin and gluten (and phytates, too, but those can be reduced by sprouting grains).

So, if you’re keeping track here: Weston A. Price says grains are okay as long as they’ve been traditionally prepared. Paleo types say never ever ever. What do I think? Hey, way to put me on the spot!

I’m not 100% sure yet, but at this point our family does not do well on grains. This may just be because our digestive systems are gunked up by our misspent youth (i.e. Taco Bueno days).  Or it may be permanent.  Either way, this leads me to our next diet discussion – GAPS! But first, here are paleo’s picks:

Primary Foods Emphasized: Grassfed Meat, Wild-Caught Seafood, Raw Vegetables, Honey, Raw Fruit and Seeds (used sparingly)

Foods With Secondary Emphasis – Fermented Foods

Foods Avoided: Grains, Sugar, Refined Foods, Starchy Vegetables (potatoes, yams, beets, legumes, etc) are limited but not completely avoided

Controversial Foods: Dairy — some primal eaters say a little dairy is okay (they think hunter-gatherers most likely herded sheep and drank their milk), some say it’s not

Popular Books: The Primal Blueprint, Quick and Easy  Meals You Can Make In Under 30 Minutes

This Diet Might Be Right For You If . . .

You want to lose weight or don’t do well on grains. (BTW, some people who have symptoms associated with gluten intolerance may not realize it. You can check out what to watch for here).

(UPDATE: We are now incorporating some grains with no problem! And also, since this post was written there has been a lot of discussion about going too low carb on grain free diets. Check it out here)

GAPS ~ A Time Machine For Your Gut

Whether you think the ideal diet is best represented by aborigines or cavemen, I think we can all agree on this: We are not either of those.

Most of us have, at one time or another, committed some pretty horrendous crimes against our bodies — avalanches of MSG, GMO’s, excitotoxins, and food coloring. Chicken “flavor” instead of chicken and orange juice “flavor” instead of, ahem, juice! And heck, even when you splurged for the 100% juice it still really wasn’t.

What’s the result? Acne. Adrenal Fatigue. Allergies. Autism. ADD. Diabetes. Dyspraxia. Eczema. Fatigue. Schizophrenia. And a bunch of other stuff, too (there’s a whole list here if you want to take a look).

For many of us, returning to the foods our ancestors ate will cause a drastic improvement in health, but it may not be able to completely right the damage we have done to our internal ecosystems. GAPS is a diet focused on soothing, healing, and balancing the world within us so that one day we can properly thrive.

Primary Foods Emphasized: Bone Broths, Grassfed meat, Wild Caught Seafood, Animal-Based Fats (butter, ghee, tallow, lard), Lacto-Fermented Foods, Vegetables (cooked, fermented, and some raw) and Fruits

Foods to Avoid: Grains, Legumes, Starchy Vegetables and Lots of Other Stuff (listed here)

This Diet Might Be Right For You If . . .

You have allergies, digestive problems, chronic illness or any of the conditions listed above.  Or if you just really like my recipes and are therefore on the Accidental GAPS plan. :)

Popular Books: Gut & Psychology Syndrome, Internal Bliss, What Can I Eat Now?, The GAPS Guide

 SP Cleanse

This is a 3 week diet and not a lifestyle diet, so I’ll just touch on it briefly. Dr. Price observed that many of the cultures he observed had designated periods of fasting for purification for body, mind and spirit. The SP Cleanse is a blend of supplements and dietary recommendations meant to help us achieve that goal.

Popular Books: Uh, mine!

Clean Eating

Okay, this one I don’t know much about, but this is how it breaks down according to the food pyramid I found here. Processed foods are out (a very good thing!) and 5-6 small meals per day are recommended (also good!**). But then things get wonky . . .

Vegetables and legumes are recommended to make up the bulk of the diet (which is very hard on the digestive system), followed by lean meats, fruits, and whole grains. Dairy and healthy fats are to be used sparingly, which is a shame. Remember how the healthy indigenous groups had 10 times more fat soluble vitamins than us? It because we’ve been trained to be afraid of fat!

Foods To Avoid: All Processed Foods, Refined Grains, Sugar, Foods Containing Saturated and Trans Fats and Alcohol.

No book recommendations here. I love that she’s anti-processed foods but saturated fats are too vital to cut out.

Well, there you have it. Within each diet there are LOTS of variations, but these are the basic principles as I understand them. Thanks for your question!!!

** At least I thought so, but now I’m not so sure. Check out Katja’s comment below to find out why!

Weston A. Price Food Pyramid courtesy of Sandrine Hahn of Nourishing Our Children

Do YOU Have A Burning Question About Real Food? Tell Us Below!

Photo credit: Imano Soriano

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86 Responses to Are You A Caveman, GAPster or WAPFer ???

  1. Heather Minear Fisher via FB says:

    Thanks a bunch!

  2. You’re welcome! Loved writing this, so please send any more questions you have my way!

  3. Megan says:

    Wow, this is a GREAT way to explain all these various diets. My good friend and I had been trying to make Venn diagrams for each other & others to explain WAPF vs. Paleo/Primal vs. GAPS. This is far better. Thank you for the visuals as well. I will be sharing this with many!!

  4. heather says:

    Thanks so much for the run down! It really helped allot. I guess all that is left now is taking the plunge and praying my family and budget can survive GAPS. Also that my 5 year old will follow GAPS protocol in Kindergarten.

  5. Stephanie Spaulding Carruth via FB says:

    Perfect timing!

  6. Love your blog so much. Essentially, hubby and I eat some 70% dark chocolate and the occasional glass of wine, and I do some raw dairy- so we are Primal while we keep the family meals GAPS because the kids don’t do well on sugar at all. The two diets are very similar. Most primal recipes are GAPS friendly. :-)

  7. Jenny says:

    AWESOME round up, Heather. I’m going to share it. I think each can convey some significant benefits.

  8. Brittany says:

    Wow, thanks! This helps so much! It’s still very overwhelming to me, and but I’m working on it. I tend to be an all or nothing kind of person, but jumping right in to “all” is not conducive to my family right now. Convincing my sweet husband has not been too difficult, it’s just finding the time (and money!) to make a total switch…as well as training our brains and taste buds to think differently. We’ve cut WAY back on the fast food/eating out (once a week or less) and I’ve cut out processed/packaged foods from our diet at home. We’ll be doing the SP cleanse in October (we’re traveling a lot until then) and I’m really hoping that it resets our bodies and our cravings so that we feel better and WANT to eat better. =)

    • Heather says:

      You’re doing great, Brittany! And wow, where are you traveling to? I barely made it to the grocery store when Katie was your son’s age!

      • Brittany says:

        Wow, we’ve been so many places, J is a traveling pro! When he was six weeks, we flew to MI for two weeks, went to Kansas at 3 months, just spent another week in MI last month, will be going to Alabama for two weeks on Sunday and then heading to FL for a week in October. Haha, it is a lot, that’s for sure. Most of this traveling is due to missionary training. The travel won’t be stopping for awhile. It’s SOOO hard to eat well when traveling so much, though!

        • Heather says:

          Yes, it is! I actually plan our vacations around the availability of health food stores because I don’t want to feel worse instead of better after a week “off”! And yes, I know that makes me sound like a lunatic. I’m okay with that :)

  9. Heather says:

    An excellent post! I’ve been trending toward Paleo/Primal, although I do drink raw dairy. I have found that I do terrible with grains, even the sprouted and/or soaked ones.

    One teeny bit of criticism–the Maori are NOT Indians; they are the aboriginal people of New Zealand.

    • Heather says:

      Thanks for the correction, Heather It actually reminds me of this time I went to the mall and this woman had her skirt tucked into her underwear and NO ONE told her. That is just awful! So of course I told her . . . and I’m glad you told me when something was off! Correction made!

  10. Alexis Dunigan via FB says:

    Excellent post!

  11. Kristin says:

    This is a great rundown of these different options! I fall somewhere in between Paleo and WAPF myself. Just one small correction, though: Paleo/Primal eaters do not necessarily emphasize *raw* fruits and vegetables. Most consider cooking those foods to be just fine.

  12. @Carrie – Yep! I love how much overlap their is . . . so many recipe options!

  13. Shara Linke Wood via FB says:

    Great post! Thanks!!

  14. Elizabeth says:

    Great post. I’m glad you included an analysis of the Clean Diet, which I I have stumbled across in browsing, and quickly figured rejected once I read a summary of it somewhere.

    I’m a WAPFer trying to moderate and reduce the grains I eat, and still trying to completely eliminate SAD food. I have considered GAPS, but feel that I really need to get the WAPF down first. Then if I feel I need to I can start cutting back on things until I am on the GAPS diet.

  15. oops – wait:
    “and 5-6 small meals per day are recommended (also good!). But then things get wonky . . .”

    5-6 small meals a day is BAD BAD BAD. you do NOT want to do this.
    if you are in my generation (born in the 70s), you probably heard your parents say not to eat in between meals. there’s a reason for that!

    when we eat, our body produces insulin to unload and store away all the nutrients. good! this job takes about 90 minutes in a healthy person eating an appropriate, low carbohydrate diet, up to 3 hours if we add in more carbs, etc, and up to 4 or 5 hours in an insulin resistant person.

    when insulin is finished with its clean-up, growth hormone takes over, and uses all those great nutrient-materials to build muscle, bone, repair damage, etc. also good!

    insulin and growth hormone cannot function at the same time. (key point!)

    so if you are full of insulin, you can’t grow anything* or repair anything. bad! not to mention that excess insulin causes a lot of inflammation, and uses up your cortisol reserves (cortisol is a hormone used to deal with stress in the body). you want to give your body plenty of time in between meals do WORK with all those good nutrients you gave yourself. also, eating before bed causes trouble, because you need to have an extended period of growth hormone over night to do the major repairs, but if you eat a bedtime snack, you’ve got 90minutes-3 hours of insulin to get rid of before growth hormone can get started, severely decreasing the time it has to work.

    the folks telling you to eat 5-6 meals a day are likely the ones telling you you should buy all the new-fangled “snack foods” (or the dieticians/nutritionists who are also telling you to eat lowfat, etc.). look back through historical accounts – no one snacked.

    * but did you notice that astrisk up there? cause there’s one more little jinx in the works. insulin has a friend, we call him IGF-1 (insulin-like growth hormone). IGF-1 causes a very small number of things to grow in a very specific way:
    eyeballs – grow long but NOT wide, which leads to myopia. all of us wearing glasses? we eat too many carbs, and too many meals.
    bones – grow long but NOT dense. all of us who are several inches taller than our parents – it’s not because of “good nutrition”, it’s because we ate too many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, too often.
    skin – the keratin on our pores can overgrow and block pores, causing chronic acne. fewer carbs, and fewer meals!
    but most dreadfully: TUMORS. IGF-1 feeds tumors. sugar (including bread, etc) intake is the number one risk factor for any cancer, because it drastically increases insulin levels.

    SO. don’t graze! eat two or three real meals a day, and be done with it. try to keep your carbs in check, whether you sprout them or not: remember that grains are poverty food. if you’re feeling carby, reach for a sweet potato instead! satisfying, and look at all that color (which equals bioflavinoids!) eat instead the things that our ancestors STRIVED to achieve, not the things they had to prepare for days and days to make them less toxic and sorta-digestible. these things will help you keep your insulin levels down and your body able to grow and repair well!


    • Heather says:

      Katja, I always learn so much from you! Here’s my question: As a nursing mom I eat many, many, many times a day. Right after I’ve nursed my son I head to the kitchen for a snack and this seems normal, and right, for my stage of life. Thoughts?

      • Heather says:

        Either way, I’m including a reference in the post to this comment. Thanks!

      • Marija says:

        I’d also love to hear Katja’s answer to your follow up question, Heather. I was also wondering how the insulin and growth factors may be different at different stages for a baby, who obviously nurses all day and night, through toddlerhood, where while hopefully still breastfeeding, usually needing (healthy) snacks a couple of times a day until their stomachs are big enough to only eat three times. On the other hand, I have also heard that indigenous American natives would *not* eat only three meals, but at anytime throughout the day when they were hungry, and that the three-meals custom in North America was developed as a result of food scarcity of the European settlers. This is such an interesting topic and would love to hear more details.

        • Hi, Marija!

          I’ve heard both things too, with regard to culture, but what I know is how insulin works, and that indigenous cultures don’t always do healthy things (ahem, corn, ahem.) And there’s so much other historical/anthropological/etc evidence too, with regard to traditional fasting, etc. It’s fascinating. I should probably not have started this reply right before I have to see a client! :-)

          But one thing – never ever restrict nursing. I totally believe in on-demand nursing. And the same with growing little ones – it’s not good to stuff a kid, and it is good for them to be ok with a little hunger, but don’t let them really be hungry.

      • Well, here are my thoughts. These are my thoughts, and I don’t have the science to back them up like I do for the insulin resistance stuff, mostly because they don’t really study people like kids and nursing moms. But here’s what I think:

        Kids should eat whenever they’re hungry. Except not always. Children need to know hunger. They need to be OK with it, not panic. So most of the time, I don’t have a problem with “hey mama, I want an apple”. But sometimes I do say “don’t spoil your dinner”. In most cultures, children got more food, historically. And we know their little bodies run a lot faster. So I feel like, don’t teach a kid to graze, but don’t tell a kid no-snacking-ever, either. Make sure they eat a REAL meal, and if sometimes there are apples or carrots (or better yet, a leftover meatball!) in between, fine. If it starts to get to be all the time, or if they can’t eat a real meal and have to graze it, I personally would crack down on the eating habits there. And hey, great time to introduce mindful eating, right?

        I kinda feel the same for nursing moms. If you’re hungry, eat. You’re making food! Sure, I’d rather see you eat some monster meals and less snacks, but I just have to believe that your insulin (and everything else) is working differently. So as long as you’re not influenced by sugar (ie, it’s your addiction talking, and not actually hunger), then eat. Same with kids on that one – don’t feed them sugar and they graze less!

        So, yeah. No science there, just that I nursed for four years and I have a kid, and oh also, brainpower. :-)

        • Heather says:

          Thanks, Katja. And um, it is so awesome that you nursed for four years.

        • Renee K says:

          Thank you so much for these comments Katja! We’re grazers in this house… because I’m a recovering sugar addict (we’re on GAPS now) and I just seem to keep feeding myself and the kids all. day. long. I have a TCM friend who told me a while ago that we should be having 2 hours between meals and children shouldn’t snack. At the time it seemed extreme to me and I did wonder how that factored in a young active toddler. Everything you said makes so much sense and I think it’s time for us to knuckle down. (Said 3 hours after my mega-breakfast and I’m still not hungry… but I would have snacked out of habit had I not just read this).

    • Coupon Ninja says:

      There are some days where I actually will only have two meals in a day (such as an off-work day, where I wake up at 11am and go to bed around 11pm). But there are other days — such as my literal 18+ hour work day — where I will consume small portions of food throughout the day, only eating when I’m hungry of course. I think the best answer to “how many times a day should one eat?” is to listen to your body. Feed yourself when you get the stomach growls; don’t eat when bored or any other times. I’ve been eating a Paleo/Primal “diet” for a month now and lost 10 pounds and gained more energy at the same time. Loving it!

    • April says:

      I realize your comment is several years old, but if you are still around, I have some questions. First of all, super fascinating. I’ve never read most of this information before. I do have a question though. We are basically on full GAPS, so lots of organic, local meats, fats, broth, no diary or grains. I have severe adrenal fatigue, and I’m hypoglycemic. One of my symptoms has been insomnia, from not being able to go to sleep, to waking for hours in the night, to waking super early, or any combination of the 3. I started carb cycling (basically no starches during the day and then about a cup of starch at dinner), and having a snack at bed time (usually an apple with almond butter). I’m sleeping so much better! The carb cycling is helping to reset my cortisol rhythm. I was making almost none. I recently learned that the early morning or middle of the night wakings were bc of blood sugar drops. If I eat a snack around 9 (I go to bed around 9:30 or 10), then I will sleep soundly until 6:30. If I skip that snack, I am awake at 3, and awake for good at 5:00. How does hypoglycemia factor in to what you wrote? Because for years I didn’t eat after dinner at 6:00, and I have been very sleep deprived until recently. The 9:00pm snack and carb cycling have changed my life. I would love to hear from you, or anyone who has input, on this. Thanks!

  16. Great post Heather! We have WAPF, Paleo and GAPS components to our diet/lifestyle and eat intuitively to know what’s right for our individual bodies. Thanks for posting this, I’m also going to share it!

  17. Thank you for taking the time to write this Heather – I bet you had to read and re-read it a few times! Super information which I will be sharing as an interesting follow up to my recent ‘Why I choose to be vegetarian’ post – so, other than the no-meat part for us, we do stick to staying off the gluten grains (but having made good friends with quinoa, buckwheat and millet) and any kind of processed dairy, meat and other non-food…
    Thanks again!

  18. I don’t know who created that Paleo Pyramid but it’s a recipe for disaster. And I don’t think it is correct. Eating mostly lean meats and fish and not eating fat is a very bad idea. There is no fat on this pyramid!

    • Heather says:

      Great point, Ann Marie! I didn’t notice that when I uploaded it late last night, but it’s corrected now!

    • Coupon Ninja says:

      Actually most Paleo/Primal/Whathaveyou people (from what I have seen) advocate eating fats, especially from grass-fed animals. I think it is a misconception from those “not in the know” about Paleo, and they just attribute the “low fat” thing must apply to Paleo as well.

  19. Liz Joiner says:

    Great post! One thing I want to mention, though, is the Paleo diet does not only consider “raw” vegetables and fruits. I rarely eat raw vegetables, 99% of the time they are cooked. Paleo is not to be confused with the “raw” movement. We also limit the consumption of legumes because of their high carb content and the antinutrients that are in them. Dairy is one of those things that if it works for you (and you have no reaction) there is no reason not to. We drink raw milk in our house, but we also eat Paleo.

    I stopped eating grains in March. I had no particular reason for doing so (had not noticed any adverse reactions to eat it), just doing a 30 day Primal challenge. What I didn’t expect was how GOOD I felt after cutting it out (also cut out sugar). And when I did give in and have a cheeseburger with the bun, how sick I was! I will never make that mistake ever again. I honestly believe that not enough time has evolved for our bodies to adapt to eating grains. There is a fabulous book that explains the evolution part of it in “Primal diet, Primal Mind” by Nora Gedgaudas. It is also a fascinating book that goes into the biology of it all.

  20. Rebekah says:

    I’m somewhere between Primal and WAPF. Lots of good fats, including saturated– fresh fruits and vegetables– the best-quality dairy I can afford– but no grains. They make me feel gross. I don’t miss them, surprisingly. Okay, there are very few times when I really want some, and I eat a little bit. But if I overdo it, I get a stomachache the next day.

    I would like to try sourdough soon, and see how that sits with me.

  21. Thank you so much for this! We are SLOWLY making changes in our dietary lifestyle and this helps clarify some things for me!

  22. Betsy T says:

    Beyond great as usual – as for me – I am Cave’woman’ – the Primal works great for me.

  23. Chelsea says:


    I’ve seen on your blog in a few places that you reference Dr. Christopher. Thoughts on the mucusless diet?? We were doing this for a few months until I got pregnant again and I can’t stand the sight of veggies–SHAME, I know! But we were both feeling so much better and had both lost the baby weight that we’d gained! (Yes, we! haha) It was a lifestyle change, we weren’t doing it to lose weight, that was just an added bonus.

    • Heather says:

      Hi Chelsea! I think he may sell a tooth powder that I’ve tried but otherwise I don’t know much about him. Took a look at his website, though, and it is very contrary to Weston A. Price/ Paleo/GAPS principles. I hate to sound close minded, but I’ve looked at enough diets to know if they contain the essential components people need to thrive, and in my humble opinion that one would not work long term. If I may ask, what did you begin craving while pregnant? Meat? Cheese? Bread? I’m curious!

      • Alexis D says:

        Sorry to chime in on conversation about cravings while pregnant but I just had to tell you that I craved steak and potatoes with LOTS of butter :)

  24. Lyn Booth says:

    I love it! We all have our differenet versions but do what works for you and stay away from the Standard American Diet and go whole foods!

    Have your heard what Jordan Rubin, author of The Maker’s Diet, is doing?
    World’s Healthiest Food to your Door!
    Green Fed Beef, Raw Cheese, Dairy and more!

    “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” ~ Hippocrates
    “Most people don’t realize obesity and illness are a symptom of nutritional deficiencies.” ~ S. Fallon

  25. Kelly says:

    Love these explanations – very helpful!

    Wondering if you might know the answer to this – I am starting out on GAPS but have a lot of difficulty finding grass-fed meat; also, raw dairy is illegal where I live. In those cases, I feel all I can do is stick with organic & hormone/antibiotic free, but still mainly grain-fed meat/pasteurized dairy. Is that OK, or does it just defeat my purpose? Appreciate any insight!

    • Heather says:

      Ugh, the phrase “raw dairy is illegal” just makes me so mad. Is a cow sharing arrangement an option? Either way, no fear on that . . . you can do GAPS without dairy. Personally, if all that was available was pasteurized I’d skip it . . . except for pastured ghee and butter (I’ll eat those pasteurized). Now regarding meat, you’re going to need bones to make stock, and grassfed is the way to go on that. Have you checked Maybe you could contact La Cense Beef ( or U.S. Wellness Meats (

      Other than that, I’m at a loss. Cara at might know. She’s the GAPS expert!

      • Kelly says:

        It is quite frustrating! I am actually in Canada and it’s illegal across the entire country with the exception of Quebec. There’s a farmer named Michael Schmidt who’s been trying to get it legalized for years, and has tried many ways of getting around the law (like cow sharing) but has thus far been unable to succeed.

        Now, the butcher I go to (that is mainly awesome) does have some grass fed meat but it’s pretty limited; they’ve told me you can really only get it in the summer here because the cows have to be given feed during the super long winters. But looking through that eatwild site, it looks like there may be a few other options – I will definitely be checking them out. Thanks! :)

  26. Genevieve Pazdan via FB says:

    Awesome post, Heather!!!!

  27. Erin says:

    Hi Heather,

    I just recently reread Nutrition & Physical Degeneration and I remember Dr. Price speaking with a member of one of the traditional cultures who hadn’t started eating “white man’s food” about grains. When Dr. Price asked if the grain could be kept for more than *1 DAY* after grinding, the man said it wouldn’t be good – it needed to be used immediately after grinding.
    We’re Primal eaters so no grains here, but it got me thinking. There were cultures studied by Price who ate grains regularly and had very little decay (though the groups with zero decay ate no grains) – but did they all eat (or ferment) them immediately after grinding?
    I can’t think of any ready-to-eat grain-based product on the shelves that would be considered a “good” food by this particular culture.

    Sorry for the lack of detail, the book is upstairs and the baby is nursing. :)

    • Heather says:

      Good question, Erin! If the grain was sprouted that would happen prior to grinding. If it was fermented (or “soaked”) in kefir or yogurt or whatever that would happen immediately after (like sourdoughs) and be ready in 1-3 days.Some ready-to-eat products, like true sourdoughs, are theoretically okay if they are properly prepared. But most stuff, like crackers and breads made with regular flour, are not.

  28. Thank you Tiffany, Shara and Genevieve!

  29. Betsy T says:

    Not so sure on the thumbs down for grazing. I think that eating the meals may be an ideal, but in getting to that place with your body may take some time. I have done tons better on the ‘listen to my body – it needs something’ idea. And the longer I do that, the easier it is to intuitively know – carbs now? protein now? or fats now? Our culture tends to overeat on 3 meals a day and I have found that just ‘satisfying’ my hunger works better for me. Again, Katja’s information is sound and I think an ideal goal to work towards.

  30. Betsy T says:

    Responding to Chelsea regarding Dr. Christopher. I have taken some of their classes from their online school. My opinion on the mucusless diet is that at that time Dr. Christopher made the best recommendations ‘at that time.’ The food they used was mostly home-grown – so was much healthier and cleaner that what most of us have available to us today. He was a big proponent of soaking the grains overnight before use also. A huge factor here, they used natural, clean herbs on a daily basis. From what I understand from my research and learning, this would have a balancing effect on the acidic ash from the grains, therefore alkalinizing the system. Dr. Christopher had some very interesting ideas on health and how the body works which I believe will someday be more recognized. Many of you on here would get what he was sharing when he stated that ‘bad’ foods caused mucus build-up in our bodies (for protection) until the system was overloaded with toxins and ‘rebeled’ with disease and sickness. His theory on why babies that are teething have a fever was fascinating to me. Hope this helps. Note: I advocate that each find their own ‘diet’ that works for them and their families.

  31. Abbey Byrd says:

    So, you’re a fan of GAPS…perhaps I’ll give that a try.
    This may seem like a RIDICULOUS question…but, please have mercy on me…you’re talking to a girl who dreams of becoming a Real foodie one day, BUT sadly, I was raised and fed fast food (atleast 5 times a week) anything from a box/bag..and anything that could be microwaved.

    Now that I’m living on my own and starting my own family, I want to do a 180, but I dont know where to start!

    Would you be able to recommend a book or resource on phasing out the bad and building up on the good?

    I shop for everything at vons, I’m almost positive ALL of my dairy is pasteurized, I have no idea WHAT hormones are put in the meat I eat (SAVE ME!), and so far in my marriage the ONLY thing I’ve made from scratch besides grilled foods were…..biscuits.

    So what are a few small steps I can take, or a few things I can start replacing that would make a big impact and get me on the road to “recovery”?

    Thanks!! You’re a lifesaver!……literally ;)

    I have all of the recommended GAPS books in my amazon cart as I type this.

    • Kelly says:

      Abbey – I had to chime in because I was in exactly the same situation growing up – lots of fast food, processed food, and the only ‘vegetables’ I would eat were corn and potatoes!

      It has been a long journey to moving towards real food and I still slip back often – but taking those little steps and forgiving yourself along the way are the things that will move you forward.

      Next time you go to the grocery store, don’t buy one processed food that you normally would – and replace it with a vegetable you’ve never heard of. Bring it home and google a fun recipe. Start doing a little research about how truly awful fast food/processed food is – watch a documentary or read some blogs – the more you learn, the more motivation you’ll have to make the switch to real food. Start making a few things from scratch that you might normally buy canned or bagged – like bread or soup stock or beans, etc. Pretty soon the fake stuff won’t even taste good to you anymore!

      Those are just a few of the things I’ve done that have really helped – I’m sure Heather will have many great suggestions for you, but just wanted to offer encouragement as someone who has been right there with you. :) It’s not easy, but you really can do it and it’s so worth it!

      • Abbey Byrd says:

        Thank you so much! My MIL just gave me her recipe for Whole wheat bread, it seems a bit overwhelming but homemade bread beats store bought any day as far as I’m concerned!
        I’ll definitely start some of your “Phasing out” tips :)

    • Rebekkah Smith says:

      I was the exact same as you! I grew up on hamburger helper, “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter”, and lots of McDonalds. I thought making cookies from a box was making them from scratch!

      I think “Real Food” by Nina Planck in a GREAT place to start, and the Nourishing Traditions cookbook. I’m WAPFer, but I’m not doing it 100% yet, probably about 70%. Just starting to experiment with fermenting!

      • Abbey Byrd says:

        Thank you for the resources! I’ll certainly be looking into those! (I have 100 dollars in Amazon credit waiting to be spent!)
        Sounds like you and I could have grown up in the same house!

        I’m especially interested in the WAPF diet because of Heather’s post about her daughters teeth, the difference was amazing!! My husbands teeth are pretty bad. Hopefully it can help his a bit….if not….save whats left!

        Fermenting is something Im still totally oblivious too. Do either of the books you’ve suggested mention anything about it?
        When I think fermented I think….wine….and wilted veggies. LOL Hopefully it’s something different than that. I’ve heard numerous praises about the health benefits, but nothing really as far as how to go about fermenting properly.

        Thank you so much again! :D

        • Heather says:

          Hi Abbey – Sorry I’m so late in replying, but you got great advice anyway, so yay! I have a series called Real Food For Busy Moms (under the food tab) that is simply a collection of fast meals made with real food ingredients. I think it’s really important to keep things simple when you’re getting started and that series just might help. Also, fermenting is really important! I know it’s intimidating, but not all fermented foods are created equal. Some are complicated and tedious . . . and some are ridiculously easy! I will be sharing a recipe for water kefir in the next few weeks that I highly recommend you give a try. It’s the easiest thing I do in the kitchen! Thanks for your comment. You are a sweetheart!

  32. Chelsea says:

    At first I craved nothing, I actually had no appetite at all, which happened with my first pregnancy as well. Now I don’t crave anything, just an aversion to veggies and meat most of the time as well as my own cooking–which I hear is pretty common! But I do try to get them in some how.

    When we read about his diet, it made sense to us, and from our religious standpoint, it clicked as well. Using organic fruits and veggies, legumes, etc as well as herbs on a regular basis is what seems to work for us. He cuts out all processed foods too. But we don’t eat meat often, especially red meat, and just for personal (not religious) reasons we don’t really eat any pork. I read the nourishing traditions book, which I am not sure if that is a take on Dr. Price’s diet, or is the same thing, and some things do make sense (when eating dairy to eat raw, etc), but there was a lot that didn’t. I tend to agree with Dr. Christopher in that our bodies need certain amounts of vitamins, minerals, etc, but that you can get all that your body needs by eating fresh, raw food, for the most part and then sometimes having fish or chicken. I also think it depends on where you live in the world and what is available throughout the year. But…in the Nourishing Traditions book, she says that babies should start having an egg yolk at 4 months with raw liver shaved on top, which, to me, sounds wrong. But right now we do give our 14 month son raw goats milk since he weened on his own earlier than I wanted–so we are not totally following the mucusless diet.

    Anyway, I was glad to see this post to read more about these different diets. All the women around me seem to be trying something along these lines so I’m glad to have the basic idea of each of them to know what they’re talking about. Thanks!

  33. I loved this! Thanks for sharing your wealth of knowledge. Bit by bit we have been changing our lifestyle and eating habits and it is beginning to show in our health. This body that God created is awesome we just have to treat it right!

  34. That’s great news, Margo! You will be so grateful when Maddie gets older that you made changes now . . . so much easier!

  35. Hunter Mills says:

    Thanks for such a great, informative post. I learned so much; we’ve been slowly changing our diet one step at a time, and it’s nice to have an idea of how these diets work. I’m still very hesitant about eating anywhere near as much meat/meat stocks as described, but I love all of the information :)

  36. […] In other words, we should be focused on getting our kids to eat BUTTER with a side of broccoli instead of the other way around!* Not only will this increase vitamin/mineral absorption from the veggies they actually do eat, it will provide the kind of fat soluble vitamins that help develop beautiful straight teeth, strong bodies and good dispositions. […]

  37. Meryl says:

    Hi, just read this.
    As a half-Maori New Zealander I just wanted to point out, that Maori are not Indians in any shape or form. Nor, as Weston-Price said, are we a “primitive” people, but I can understand why you used his quote. I follow a lot of his principles myself – guess my diet has really gone full circle! :)

  38. […] Dr. Weston A. Price has firmly established the benefits of consuming fat soluble vitamins A, D, E , and K. Unlike D3 drops which isolate one component, fermented cod liver oil is a delicate balance of beneficial co-factors, enzymes, essential fatty acids, antioxidants and micronutrients. Specifically, Vitamin D works with Vitamin A to utilize calcium in the phosphorous in the body. Contrary to what we have heard carrots contain betacarotene, not Vitamin A, so it is very likely that using D drops alone only gives us part of what we need for calcium transports. That’s why I take fermented cod liver oil in the winter months when Vitamin D when production from skin is low. […]

  39. […] Thanks to the work of Dr. Weston A. Price, we know that they were spot on! (Pssst! If you’re not familiar with the story of how a brilliant and curious dentist started the real food movement, check it the cliff notes here!) […]

  40. Is it ok to start GAPS while I am nursing?

  41. Yes, Kelsey Beason! Intro is not recommended for nursing mothers because when the mom detoxifies too quickly the toxins go into the breastmilk. Full GAPS is perfectly safe, though, just make sure to get enough carbs

  42. theresa gianna says:

    great post! however, paleo/primal (MDA, at any rate) don’t emphasize raw fruits and vegetables. there are hundreds of recipes for deliciously cooked vegetables on the site. they’re simply recommended in abundance. (but not raw!)

  43. Melissa Yancer via FB says:

    Thank you for this… I’ve been trying to wrap my head around a few of these…. Now what to do. What to do…

  44. I do mostly Primal – there are some differences between Primal and Paleo, though the premise is very similar –

  45. I personally believe that to pick one for your main focus then choose bits and pieces of others works best – I am strong on Primal, pH balance, and blood type, then bits and pieces of the others mentioned here.

  46. Awesome! Excellent post! Thanks for laying it all out.

  47. […] The Basics: Dr. Weston A. Price (1870-1948), a prominent dentist and founder of the Research Institute of the National Dental Association (which later became the American Dental Association), is pretty much the reason we’re chatting here today. Yup, the Real Food Movement was started by a . . . dentist. (Read more) […]

  48. Sara says:

    Hi Heather,
    I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate all that you’re doing here. Way to go, girl! My family isn’t the healthiest in the world, but I’m trying to do better and hoping they’ll follow my example. (My older brother is a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy, so it’s a bit of a challenge:) Actually, I cut out all store-bought bread from my diet and lost 25 pounds!
    I love to bake, but I try to limit my carb and sugar intake. However, I’m hypoglycemic and suffer from chronic migraines, so it isn’t always easy to say “no.” I have to have some carbs, so (if you absolutely had to have them, too) what would you reccomend? I discovered quinoa and according to Rebecca Wood’s The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia, quinoa is, like, the best grain you can possibly eat. Some rice is okay too, she says. What do you think?
    Thanks for blazing the trail, keep up the good work!

  49. […] addition to my own explanation, I mentioned this article that spells out the differences between the various diets and gives resources to better understand […]

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