What is the Paleo Diet? What is Paleo and What is Not?
What is the Paleo Diet?
First of all, Paleo is short for paleolithic. If something was food during the days of the “hunter-gatherer,” then it is a food today.
Paleo eating is more than a diet, it is a lifestyle. People choose to “go paleo” for a number of different reasons, but once they make that decision, the first thing they want to know is “what are the rules?” In other words, what food should or shouldn’t you include in a paleo “diet.” A “Paleo Diet” should be high in good fats (fat is not your enemy), moderate in animal proteins and moderate to low in any sorts of carbohydrates.
The short version, is very simply cutting out the junk that our body doesn’t need, or that our body doesn’t process well. Paleo focuses on foods that are fresh and real.
The great thing about Paleo? You never count calories, and you don’t track macro nutrients, like you do with keto. Keto is another low-carb sort of “diet” that some people choose. It puts your body in a state of ketosis to lose weight. Personally I don’t like that balance, and think it could be dangerous. Toss in the fact that you have to track calories, macro and micro nutrients (and a few other factors) it was not for me. Frankly, who has time for all that?!
What Foods are Not Paleo?
Very simply, the paleo way of eating (w.o.e. for short) cuts out two things. The first is C.R.A.P.
If a food is or contains ingredients that have artificial preservatives, chemical sweeteners or anything that is refined or processed, it is not paleo. When you start reading ingredient labels, you will be shocked at some of the ingredients that are in foods. You will be especially shocked at how much hidden sugar is in your foods…even savory ones!
Additionally, when following the paleo w.o.e. eliminates foods that would not have been readily available back in the day.
Grains (and grain products, including oils)
Legumes (beans, soy, etc. and including products made from them)
Artificial or Processed Sweeteners (including sugar)
Now there is a variation of paleo that is referred to as “primal.” Those who follow the primal guidelines, do everything the same as the Paleo version, except they still include dairy. I will be honest, I have not and will not give up my organic half and half for my morning coffee. I have tried every approved “milk” out there (nut milks, etc) and I just. don’t. like. them.
The rule for “primal” and dairy, is to keep it to a minimum, and always choose whole fat, real dairy.
Know Your Food
In addition to following the “eat this, not that” guidelines, paleo is about choosing foods that were grown or sourced as naturally as possible as well. Ideally, everything you eat would be non-GMO and organic. Realistically I know that that is not something that everyone can afford, or easily access. Very simply, buy the best quality that you can.
For instance, cheap eggs from the store might not seem like that big of a deal. But for just a couple dollars more, you can have eggs that are much better for you, and come from much healthier, happier chickens. Tests have been done that prove, yes indeed, pastured chick eggs are higher in nutritional value than traditional “cage-free” eggs. Not to mention the flavor.
I have people who purchase eggs from me. My chickens are the ones on the right in the graphic below. The first time they eat our eggs, they all say the exact same thing. “Those are the best eggs I have ever had!” Yep. And probably the healthiest, too!
This little chart below is a short cut to getting started.
To learn more about the PALEO lifestyle and way of eating, I highly recommend this book. It explains paleo in an easy to understand way and makes it much less intimidating.
This post was updated with additional information Dec 29, 2018.