What is the Paleo diet? It is a nutritious real foods diet that eliminates processed foods as well as grains. The Paleo diet is the original human diet, designed by nature itself, that we are genetically programmed to eat. The Paleolithic diet, also called the caveman diet, Stone Age diet, and hunter-gatherer diet, is a simple and healthy way of eating based upon the wild plants and animals that mankind ate during the Paleolithic era. It is the diet humans have subsisted upon for more than two million years.
Farming and Modern Civilization
Prior to the advent of farming, we were hunter-gatherers who lived on animal foods such as meat, fish, poultry, and game, and we foraged for vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Our Stone Age ancestors were nomadic cavemen who roamed the earth. Then 10,000 years ago with the onset of the agricultural revolution, something drastic occurred. Farming was born and the ability to store food gave birth to modern civilization.
The Paleo Diet and Diseases of Affluence
The diet of our hunter-gatherer, pre-agrarian ancestors was free of the toxic processed foods of today. Paleolithic man did not eat modern foods including nutrient deficient, high-calorie grains and processed sweeteners like sugar and corn syrup. Hence, our Paleolithic caveman ancestors did not have junk food. While they surely dealt with other adversities, they did not contract the diseases of modernity.
Once modern foods were introduced into our diet we began to suffer from the “diseases of affluence,” including diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and heart disease. Weston A. Price is a fabulous resource when it comes to investigating the diseases of modern man, and the foods we are biologically destined to eat. I bought a copy of his groundbreaking book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, in 2001 and keep it on my desk as I reference it often.
Why Do You Follow a Paleo Diet?
Everyone has their own reasons for going on the Paleo diet. Why did I choose the Paleo Diet? In 1998, I was diagnosed with celiac disease. I followed the gluten-free diet 100%, and saw little improvement. My digestive system remained in distress. So in 2001, I went on a strict grain-free diet. After two months, my digestive system felt dramatically better, and I’ve stayed on it ever since!
Here’s a link to my Paleo Recipes, there are hundreds on this site. Remember, all of my recipes are grain-free, gluten-free, and easy!
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What Foods are Allowed on the Paleo Diet?
The diet of Paleolithic man is as popular as ever. Still, “Is that Paleo?” is a question I encounter daily. I’ve compiled the list of foods below (in alphabetical order) that are do’s and don’ts for the Paleo diet to make things easier for you.
Fats -bacon fat, duck fat, ghee, grass fed butter, tallow
Meat and Poultry –(grass-fed, organic) bison, beef, chicken, duck, eggs, lamb, pork, turkey
Fish –wild caught, not farmed
Nuts –almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts
Oils –avocado oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, macadamia oil, olive oil, walnut oil
Seeds –hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
Vegetables and Fruit –local, organic
Grains –barley, buckwheat, corn*, oats, millet*, rice, rye, teff*, quinoa*, wheat (*grain-like seeds)
Legumes –beans, lentils, peanuts, soy beans
Processed Foods –candy, chips, cereal, soda
For me, the Paleo diet or Primal diet, is easy when I think of it as avoiding grains, as well as modern processed foods, and sticking with the good whole foods listed above.
The Paleo Diet and Your Health
How does the Paleo Diet impact your health? I believe that some of the people who spend years going from doctor to doctor with undiagnosable and “untreatable” health conditions may simply be ill-adapted to eating grains.
I’m not saying that the Paleo diet is for everyone. All I can tell you is what I know from personal experience. The Paleo diet works very well for me. I eat basic foods including animal flesh, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and a lot of good fat. I sleep quite a bit. I allow myself to get plenty of fresh air every day. Some might call it Paleo. Others might call it common sense. Either way, it works for me.
What works for you? Leave a comment and let us know!
Hi Elena – what do you eat most mornings for breakfast? Also I see you have both paleo and kept recipes. Do you do paleo or keto? I’m trying to decide which to focus on for RRMS. I have tried both but think paleo might be better for me.
Andrea, here’s a link to my breakfast recipes for you:
Though I often skip breakfast as I’m not usually hungry in the morning. I follow a Keto-Paleo Diet, which is essentially very low-carb paleo foods. For more on that please go here:
Much gratitude to you for the sharing and time you take to help others. We went grass free two years ago, to try and insure the ability to enjoy the rest of our lives. It has been liberating and so many benefits.Your blog has been especially rewarding that you encourage us to find what works for us.
What I would love for you to address is the difference between grass free and gluten free. My brain is curious, my body knows that no grasses is a good thing. And maybe your insight into why gluten free is even an option. It seems to me that taking out the gluten is putting a band-aid on a bullet hole.
It makes me angry when we are in the health care crisis and the system perpetuates the problem. Take a prescription pill instead of even considering changing diet.
Hi Bonnie, thanks for your comment! All grasses produce grains. I’ve been strictly grain-free since 2001, and that includes no corn or potatoes, even though they are not grains or grasses, they are starchy foods that I cannot digest well. I am so glad to hear you are enjoying my website :-)
Is a paleo diet safe for pregnant women?
Hi Karen, the Paleo Diet is an incredibly healthy diet! That said, we are all bio-chemical individuals and it is best to speak to your medical practitioner about which diet is right for you during pregnancy :-)
Jennifer Van Note says
Hello! Just came upon your blog and have to say thank you for making a difference! I’ve been struggling with stomach issues for many years and have recently been given direction from my gastro dr. to try the FODMAPP diet. This makes you cut out specific groups of food for a period of time. The first group being most of the items that are Paleo Don’t. This group as for probably many are really hard to reprogram out of my diet. I am struggling to push out my favorite sources of protein, i.e. Peanut Butter and Legumes. Those items along with Gluten seem to be the culprit. But within that group there’s also onions, garlic, fennel, beetroot which are natural I’m finding I could also have an allergy too. So I’m sure you understand my frustration. I’m at the beginning of my journey. I’m really happy I found your blog and am looking forward to trying your recipes and making them my new lifestyle staples as well as the day this journey gets easier ?
Jennifer, so glad to be on this journey with you!
Noreen Checkie says
Can you have dairy on Paleo?
Noreen, many paleo bloggers consider dairy to be paleo, however, given that our hunter-gatherer ancestors did not have domesticated animals dairy would not have been a food consumed by paleolithic man.
I have started reading your blog and several of your recipes and have decided that the Paleo diet is definitely something I not only want to do, but need to do for my health. I have counted, and I have over 20 medical conditions including fibromyalgia, RA, Lupus, (the previous 2 recently diagnosed), non-diabetic peripheral neuropathy,asthma, sleep apnea, acid reflux, IBS, and several heart conditions including a-fib. On a recent CT scan of my lungs it picked up that my left ascending artery has started showing some calcification. I read your very good article on the dangers of statins, and the thought of taking them cause me to become very anxious. My mother had been put on statins and after taking them for not even a month, started having widespread pain and memory difficulties. I begged her to stop but she wouldn’t listen. She is deceased now, but she never felt well for the 15 years she had taken that horrible medication. Would you mind if I shared your article with my cardiologist? I am going to fight him with all I have, and I so admire you and your knowledge.
Hi Sandy, thanks so much for sharing your story with us! By all means, feel free to share anything on my website with anyone. I’m here to help :-)
Gaylen Henrie says
I don’t believe in the cave man but your recipes sure are good!
What on earth does “I don’t believe in the cave man” mean, Gaylen Henrie?
Edward Drew says
Well, it’s working for me. Blood sugar is down, cholesterol is down, weight is down. Energy is up, sleep is better. And all I try and do is stick to the diet and walk 10,000 steps per day.
Lori Sinchok says
“What is the Paleo diet? It is a nutritious real foods diet that eliminates…” Then you go on to mention using bacon fat? How is bacon paleo when it is one of the most processed meats available, cured using nitrites?
Hi Lori, thanks for your comment! We use unprocessed bacon that is nitrate free and pasture raised. It’s from Niman Ranch and it’s a wonderful product. I think you’ll love it :-)
OMG! THANK YOU for the info on Niman Ranch! I’ve BEEN trying to find nitrate free bacon or ham with NO LUCK! YESSSS!