Here’s our Paleo Do’s and Don’ts.
The Paleo Diet solution mimics our hunter and gatherer ancestors. So if you can find or kill it in nature, you can eat it…essentially. For those of you that would like the hard core rules ironed out, so here we go with our Paleo Do’s and Don’ts.
Eat Your Vegetables: Eat as many and as much fresh or frozen vegetables as you want. Go organic and live it up. And don’t be shy, these can be eaten raw or cooked, any way you like! If you are interested in weight loss, you will want to limit your intake of tubers because of the high starch content. If you plan to eat these (see below), try to make sure that you shoot for earlier in the day or prior to working out.
No Dairy: Nope. Did you know that humans are the only species to continue to drink milk after infancy? Did you know that dairy is an immune system stressor and everyone is allergic to cow dairy to some extent? The Bottom Line? Avoid all Dairy – this includes milk, butter, cream, yogurt, ice cream, cheese, etc. etc.
Go Carnivore: Try to focus on moderate to high animal protein. Your body craves it and your wasteline will thank you. I used to be vegetarian and I must tell you, after 20 years of not eating beef or pork, I feel better now than I ever did as a vegetarian. If you don’t have serious PETA morals, go back to meat. And yes, that means even fattier cuts like bacon and ribs. We eat a variety of poultry, seafood, red meats and eggs – all wild caught or grass fed (as the hormones will mess up your system…have you seen how big kids are today??? Not. Natural.)
Avoid Most Starches: No corn products, no potatoes (except sweet potatoes), no rice, no breads. If you feel you need rice, try cauliflower. You can food process it and spice it up to help you get over the hump…its surprisingly good! The exception here is tubers like sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, rutabagas, turnips and plantains (among others) – these are OK. Try to think “Can I Eat It Raw?” and if the answer is YES, then you can eat it on the Paleo diet. See our recipes for other ways to mimic the foods you may miss (including cookies!).
No Processed Foods: If it comes in the freezer section or in a box, you probably can’t eat it. It is most important that you avoid nitrates. So watch out for those (especially in things like bacon and sausage, as they make some that is grass fed and without nitrates like Applegate Farms).
Yes to Oils: Good oils to use (and use them plenty) include coconut (our favorite for cooking), palm, avocado, sesame, grape seed, and olive oil. Avoid corn, cottonseed, peanut, soybean, rice bran, and wheat germ oils. Avoid any foods made with these oils (yes, that means in foods like chips and mayo…whether it is organic or not).
No Grains: None. Nada. Not even corn (yes, corn is a grain). And I’ll tell you why. Wheat has gluten and all grains have a very high glycemic index – which means that these foods carry sugar too rapidly into the bloodstream. For more details, read “The Paleo Solution” by Robb Wolf. He details the internal effects of going Paleo in length and it’s really a fantastic read.
Legumes (Beans, Peas, Peanuts): You might be thinking these are ok, but consider: even though I can find it in nature, can I eat them raw? And the answer to legumes (in most scenarios) is no. Go ahead, eat a raw kidney bean and tell me if it’s tasty. Prior to agriculture, legumes were very rare and were not a staple in our diets. They contain lectins, saponins or protease inhibitors that are bad news for our hormonal and immune system. There are pseudo-exceptions – peas and green beans. They contain much lower levels of lectins, so if you don’t have autoimmune or digestion issues, you could eat these sparingly. See Rob’s book again for more info.
Fruits & Fruit Juices: We eat all the fruits we want, but again, if you are trying to lose a vast amount of weight, I would limit your intake, as fruits contain a lot of sugar. Remember, the sugar is natural, but its still sugar! Go organic. If you are drinking juices, go for organic, not from concentrate, non-blends. If you are in for the weight loss, see our Glycemic Index to see which foods are higher and lower in sugar.
Nuts: If you can find it in nature, you can eat it. So cashews, pecans, almonds, walnuts, etc. are ok. They have essential oils, fats and proteins that are good for you, but keep it to a minimum. The logic behind this is that nuts contain phytic acid (commonly found in grains and legumes), which interferes with enzymes we need to digest our food. Moderation is OK, but if you eat a lot, it can lead to mineral deficiencies like osteoporosis. Think Caveman: How many nuts could you find in nature, crack, and eat before you gave up? …about a handful I’m assuming, which is about right (1-2 ounces a day).
Salt: Do not use iodized salt, go for sea salt instead if you need it. I say this based on the fact that sea salt requires less processing, not because of the iodine. You can have a little salt, but as salt was not common in the Paleo era, it should not be common in your diet.
Booze: Let’s be honest. It’s hard to give up the booze. If you’re after finding the best health benefits you can obtain, cut it out…but if you can’t give it up, you can do it Paleo-style. We drink wine (as it is gluten free) that is organically grown and beer that is gluten free or hard ciders. Rob Wolf also recommends what he calls the “Nor-Cal” Margarita. Its soda water, lime and 100% agave tequila. This is also something that we drink occasionally. If you have severe auto-immune disease or allergies, we have an alcohol guide that details the contents of each type of alcohol, so you can make the best choices for your body. For more information, see our Paleo Alcohol Guide.
Nix the Sugars: No soft drinks, no koolaids, no processed fruit snacks, etc. Remember, if it comes ready made, you probably shouldn’t eat it. We do have Paleo friendly dessert recipes for cookies and more, but they should be treats, eaten rarely.
Portion Control: Eat as much of these foods as you want! If you need to seriously lose some pounds, you may want to consider limiting you intake of fruits and nuts, but otherwise, go wild!
Supplements: Are not entirely necessary, but if you have questions regarding this topic, drop us a note and we’ll give you a recommendation list.
Eating Schedule: Don’t keep a schedule. Eat when you are hungry, don’t eat when you aren’t. You will have days where you go all day with no food and others where you eat every few hours. This is normal. Just do what feels natural.
Cheating: It is normal and OK to have a cheat every now and again. Just remember that cheating doesn’t mean go out and eat 4 pizzas, drink a gallon of soda and 6 packs of French fries. You can eat non-Paleo foods from time to time, but keep it under control. We like to reserve these moments for when we have parties or holidays, special occasions, and at times, a little great, grass fed cheese.