The paleo diet is a whole-food diet which attempts to return our body to balance by returning us to a diet which early mankind once all followed. Whole-food diets lead to far lower rates of disease, obesity, and even conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.
By following a paleo eating plan you’re not only giving your body the exact sustenance which it needs to thrive but you’re reducing your long-term risk of a range of conditions. From higher energy levels throughout the day to healthy weight loss, the paleo diet works.
We’ll be taking you through a look at what foods you can eat on the paleo diet so that you can put together a wholesome meal without needing to consider which foods are paleo friendly first.
However, if you want a point of reference to guide you through each aspect of the paleo diet, you have to get The PaleoHacks Cookbook. Between its over 200 recipes and other key advice, you’ll never be stuck wondering while following a paleo diet.
What Foods You Can’t Eat on the Paleo Diet
You want to avoid processed food, sugars and grain as far as possible. Here’s a more complete list of the foods which you need to stay away from at all costs.
- Whole wheat, gluten, and gluten-free pasta
- All rice
- Rolled oats
- All grains
- All legumes (beans, lentils)
- Refined/hydrogenated vegetable oils
- Refined sugars
- All processed food
- Full-fat dairy
- Artificial sweeteners
Almost all meats are paleo-friendly other than highly processed meats such as spam, hotdogs, and other lunch meat. Here’s a complete list of all the types of meat which you can eat while following a paleo diet.
In a similar sense to meat, most seafood is paleo friendly. As long as you stay away from mock-seafood and highly processed pre-packaged meals, all seafood should be safe, healthy and nutritious. Here’s a look at the various types of seafood which you can eat on the paleo diet.
- All fish
- All shellfish
- Clams and mussels
- Crabs, crayfish and lobster
- Octopus and squid
Most vegetables are perfectly suited to the paleo diet. Just don’t process them extensively or they’ll become a hindrance to your health, diet and lifestyle. There are some discrepancies regarding certain vegetables and the paleo diet. Tubers are typically avoided, so this puts regular potatoes, radishes, turnips and carrots out of reach. Some paleo followers even protest sweet potato but in the majority, it is accepted. Here is a more complete list of paleo vegetables, but the total list covering all options can be found in The PaleoHacks Cookbook.
- Sweet potato
- Winter squash
- Swiss Chard
- All Herbs
- Green onions
- Summer squash
- Gem squash
- Acorn squash
- Butternut squash
- Pak Choi
- Collard greens
Fruits are high in sugar and should therefore be consumed in moderation. Stick to half a portion of berries or half a fruit such an orange or apple and you should be safe and on track for healthy weight loss while being paleo friendly as well. Here are some of the fruits available to you on the paleo diet.
Healthy oils and fats
Stay away from refined and hydrogenated oils and stick to cooking with oils and fats which carry a healthy profile. Here are the healthy oils and fats available to you as a paleo diet follower.
- Olive oil
- Avocado oil
- Coconut oil
- Ghee (clarified butter from grass-fed cows)
- Butter from grass-fed cows
- Chia seeds
Nuts and Seeds
Snacking on nuts and seeds gives you all the protein you need with enough fiber content and fat to keep the hunger at bay. If you’re looking to lose weight, then keep your nuts and seeds to a minimum but you’ll find that most are in full compliance with a paleo diet. Here are the nuts and seeds you can use in your diet.
- Pine nuts
- Macadamia nuts
- Seeds of all sorts (sesame, pumpkin, sunflower)
Refined sugars are out and you should try your best not to overindulge in fruit as a snack as fruits are very high in sugar and unless its metabolized through active-physical exercise, it will turn to fat. Here are some of the natural sweeteners which you can try.
- Coconut sugar
- Date sugar
- Raw honey
- Maple syrup
Some Paleo followers find it suitable to include what could be called “pseudograins” in their diet due to the massive nutritional value of most. While not strictly paleo, foods like quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat are extremely high in nutrients. Make sure that if you do breach paleo ever-so-slightly by including these and others such as Chia seed in your diet, then soak these pseudograins in salted water for at least twelve hours to get rid of most of the anti-nutrients such as phytic acid.
Common alternatives to grain-based flour are almond and coconut flour. You’ll find that coconut flour is better at absorbing moisture which makes it great for recipes with a lot of wet ingredients. Use coconut flour in a recipe which is lacking liquid and it will most likely come out dry and crumbly. Almond flour is a better all-round choice making it the first option for those new to paleo baking.
Recipes calling for cocoa require 100% cocoa not a blend. Keep a nut butter on hand (as long as it isn’t peanut butter it’s fine) and go for sunflower seed or coconut butter in case of allergies.
Baking paleo recipes typically requires a different temperature setting and baking time to regular recipes. Don’t simply convert a normal flour recipe to paleo and bake it at the same heat. One of the only ways to guarantee success in paleo baking is by trial and error or by following the expert advice of The PaleoHacks Cookbook. You don’t find better steps to guide you through cooking paleo from stir-fry and smoothies to muffins, cookies and breads, it’s got you covered.
Sustaining a Paleo Diet
Other paleo changes to your regular diet include fully pastured or free-range eggs instead of regular eggs, and sticking to natural sweeteners like Stevia only. Dairy is a no-go, but if you do have to have cheese or cream go for goat’s milk products as they have a lower glycemic index. If you drink alcohol, then stick to dry wines and never touch grain-based spirits. Sustainable sources of wild fish should always be found whenever possible and its far more nutritious to eat fresh produce rather than frozen.