What is Paleo?

I’ve tried typing up this page several times with no luck.  So for the sake of providing some Paleo answers, I’m just going to keep it simple here.

Foods to Avoid:

  • Added Sugar – once you start reading labels you’ll be appalled by how much sugar is added to food where it is COMPLETLY unnecessary: ketchup, salad dressing and protein bars, to name a few.
  • Alcohol – empty calories.
  • Dairy – Regardless of the source, strictly speaking dairy is not an option within the framework for eating Paleo.  Primal eaters consume grass-fed, full-fat dairy.
  • Grains – even “healthy” grains like quinoa are off limits.
  • Legumes – black, white, pinto, and kidney beans, lentils, peas, peanuts, chickpeas.  Legumes are highly inflammatory and for this reason they are not Paleo friendly.
  • Processed Foods – stay away from the center aisles of your grocery store.  Anything that would not be recognized as food by a person from any time in history is off limits.
  • Soy – while soy is technically a legume I’m listing it separately because, just like sugar, this is something you will find added to EVERYTHING like cans of tuna?!  Read those labels diligently.
  • Vegetable Oils – did you know vegetable oils aren’t made from vegetables at all?  Canola, sunflower, safflower, corn, soy bean, and peanut oil are all off the table.
  • White Potatoes – carb dense and lacking other nutritional qualities, white potatoes are out.

Foods to Eat:

Three words: Animals and plants.

This colorful chart is a good guide:

Paleo Eating ChartOther Thoughts:

No one is perfect.  Most folks who adhere to the Paleo diet follow an 85/15 or even 80/20 rule of thumb.  Eat Paleo 85 percent of the time, and non-Paleo 15 percent of the time…

Strict Paleo devotees tend to not eat Paleo baked goods.  The thought here is that cavemen didn’t take Paleo ingredients and mix them into muffins.  I like muffins, but that’s just me.  Which leads me to:

Do what works for you.  You’ll never find any Paleo Shame here, we are all on our journey and hopefully we are doing the best we can.  One of my favorite quotes of all time, introduced to a 14 year-old impressionable Aspen on an Outward Bound expedition, is this:  “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”  Thank you Outward Bound and thank you Theodore Roosevelt.


There are so many places to look for information on the Paleo diet.  Here are a few good ones to start:


Mark’s Daily Apple

Robb Wolf


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