Food and diet trends come and go, (had enough of kale chips, anyone?) but there are a few that look to be around for a little while longer. The one that is sure to go nowhere soon is The Paleo Diet. We asked Mandy Mortimer to dig deep and give us the rundown on the paleo diet, and to introduce us to three yummy ways to incorporate it into our weekly menu.
The very short of it is to eat only what your cavemen ancestors would have eaten. The long of it is a bit more complicated as different experts have different opinions on what our ancestors would actually have eaten, legumes being a hot topic at the moment!
But the general idea behind it is that human digestion wasn’t meant to consume all the things we do now, things that we’re only eating because of progress in processing, refining, preserving etc.
Our cavemen ancestors would only have eaten foods that were hunted or gathered. Protein from animals, and things that were easily recognised as food would then fill in the rest of their diets like fruits, vegetables and nuts.
Dairy is the only variable. Some Paleo followers don’t believe dairy would have been included in Paleolithic diets (it can’t be easy milking a wild animal), and other Paleo followers think some dairy is acceptable. I guess this would be the equivalent of vegans versus vegetarians.
So if you are thinking about going down the Paleo route, here is a brief list of the do’s and don’ts:
- Lentils, beans, peas, peanuts, etc.
- Wheat flour, corn, oats, rice, etc.
- Which means no bread, pasta, etc.
- Granulated sugars, golden syrup, agave syrup, etc.
- No refined or processed fats.
- These can be found in vegetable, canola and sunflower oils, margarine, bread spreads, etc.
Processed Foods and Drinks
- If you don’t know what an ingredient is on the label and can’t even pronounce it, then you probably shouldn’t be eating it.
- So this means no sweets, crisps, processed snacks, etc.
- No fizzy drinks of any kind, even if it’s diet.
- No beer or alcohol that contains gluten.
- If you are going to have alcohol, stick to wine, ciders or spirits like tequila.
- If you are going to eat dairy, stick to full fat natural yoghurts, or those with unsweetened fruit inclusions, butter and raw milk cheeses.
- This is the general rule for Paleo eating.
- Chicken, beef, lamb, pork, venison, etc.
- Any kind of fish or shellfish.
- Organic or pasture raised.
Fruits and Vegetables
- As they say, eat a rainbow.
- Lightly cooked, but raw is best.
Nuts and Seeds
- Walnuts, almonds, etc.
- Also in the form of flours or butters.
Fats and Oils
- Animal lard, duck or goose fat.
- Oils like coconut, olive, sesame seed and macadamia.
- Honey, maple syrup or palm sugar (raw).
- Herbs and spices.
- Coffee made from ground beans and raw cacao.
The restricted list may look a little bit… restrictive… but you’ll soon get used to it. You still have plenty of other foods that you can eat, including a juicy steak or delicious Sunday roast, and there’s more to gain by eating foods with little or no added chemicals, which not only taste better, but are better for your health, too.
But, if you’re just looking to eat healthier but still be able to consume a wider variety of food groups, have a look at our article about Clean Eating.
About The Author:
Mandy is the writer and photographer behind the popular food blog, “What the Fruitcake?!”
She loves to cook but is a fanatic about all things baked. She spends most of her free time perusing foodie sites for delicious inspiration.