You’ve probably heard a paleo diet called a lot of things: Caveman Diet. Primal. Real Food. Paleo Lifestyle. Around our house we call it “dino-chow.” All of these terms refer to roughly the same way of eating; they are based on the idea that we are healthier—both mentally and physically—when we mimic the nutrition of our hunter-gatherer ancestors.
The No List
Let’s get the bad news out of the way immediately: Eating paleo means avoiding many foods that may top your list of favorites. Different paleo practitioners promote varying guidelines. I follow the standards outlined of the Whole30 program developed by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig of Whole9. The guidelines are fairly stringent but extremely practical, and they’re based on the idea that we should eat the foods that make us the healthiest. I can’t argue with that. (Here are my 30 reasons to try a Whole30.)
Each of the “No” foods has its own unique properties that ensure its place on that infamous list. Generally, these foods are excluded because they either negatively affect your metabolism, or cause systemic inflammation, or both. Some are so bad they both wreak havoc on your metabolism and fire up your immune system. We very strongly dislike them. (We’re looking at you, grains.)
- Processed foods
- Added Sugar
- Vegetable oils
The Yes List
We eat real food: animal-based protein, vegetables, fruits, and natural fat sources. Want to see it in a list? Here you go:
- All animal proteins
- All vegetables, except as listed above
- All fruits (in moderation)
- Quality fat sources: coconut products, olives and olive oil, avocados, grass-fed animal fat
- Nuts and seeds (in moderation)
Basic Paleo Kitchen Advice
These posts should give you plenty to chew on if you’re ready to make the switch to paleo. From how much meat and produce you’ll need to buy… to being prepared to you never go hungry… to how to season your food with panache.
Stocking Up: just how much food does it take to feed a dino-chow convert?!
The Method Behind My Madness: the foolproof way to make sure you always have something great to eat in the fridge
Taste the Rainbow: veggies and fruits in every color to make sure you’re happy and healthy
Steam/Saute Any Veggie: my fail-proof way to cook almost any veggie
How To Blanch Veggies: par-cook veggies to make dinner super fast
What’s In My Spice Cabinet: must-haves so you can cook up a storm
Herbs vs. Spice: an explanation of the difference between the two, and some of my faves
Whole30 Food Plans
Week 1: including recipes like Pad Thai, Chocolate Chili, Italian Pork Roast, and more
Week 2: including recipes like Tah Mahal Chicken, Cinnamon Beef Stew, 5-Spice Pork Ribs, and more
Week 3: lots of tips for how to put together your own plan
Week 4: food tips for closing out your Whole30
Great Ingredients: No Recipe Required: a roundup of meals you can make without a recipe
Living Paleo While Still Having Fun
Tips for Eating Paleo in Restaurants: a guide for navigating the world of restaurants so you can eat well, have fun, and not suffer a food hangover
How to Be a Paleo Social Butterfly: five painless tips to ensure your social life doesn’t crash and burn just because you’re taking care of yourself
Hunger vs. Emotional Appetite: a guide to help you wrangle your cravings and differentiate between true hunger and an emotion-fueled appetite
For more detailed information on eating foods that make you healthier, visit the Whole30 program.
Or check out this list of resources. These are the people I turn to for the latest information presented in ways I understand and that make it applicable to my daily life.