Interested in the Paleo diet? Finding out what you can and can’t eat is the best place to start. (You don’t need a slice of bread sneaking onto your dinner plate, do you?) Here is a list of the foods to enjoy, to avoid, and to sometimes dabble in.
What You *Can* Eat on the Paleo Diet
Get excited about ditching the processed foods and loading up on foods that cavemen ate… for the most part.
Meat and Poultry
Try to choose grass-fed, organic, and pasture-raised whenever possible, and avoid all processed meat products. Beef, chicken, lamb, turkey, duck, pork, and game meat are all great choices on the Paleo diet.
Seafood and Fish
Go fishing (at the local fish market) for wild-caught, sustainable fish and seafood whenever possible. Everything from shrimp, to halibut, to salmon, to lobster is fair game.
You’re likely going to eat so many eggs (it’s the dream Paleo breakfast staple, but don’t be surprised if you eat them for lunch and dinner too). Ideally look for omega-3, free-range, or pasture-range eggs, and feel free to enjoy both the yolks and whites in your meals. Egg whites are so 2007.
No veggies are off-limits so pack your salad bowl full of greens, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, asparagus, eggplant, and bell peppers. But really, did you think you were going to hear otherwise when it came to veggies?
No need to cut out all the carbs, because on the Paleo diet you can fill your plate with vitamin-rich sweet potatoes, white potatoes, beets, yams, and turnips.
Fruit is also fair game so choose your colorful favorites. Berries, apples, citrus, bananas, avocados, and pineapple are all great ways to get your fiber fix. Just don’t go HAM on the fruit consumption as one of the goals of going Paleo is to cut back on sugar (even the natural stuff).
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts, seeds, and nut butter are a perfect way to load up on healthy monounsaturated fats, fiber, and protein. Almonds, walnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pepitas, sunflower seeds, and Brazil nuts will all become your BFFs when a snack craving hits. You’re good to go with anything except for peanuts (which are technically legumes), and that means peanut butter too, so keep your spoons in the almond butter jar for now.
Unprocessed Fats and Oils
Dairy may be off-limits, but Paleo enthusiasts love fat. Choose high-quality extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, and nut oils for your salads and cooking. Ghee is also an excellent butter replacement.
Herbs, Spices, and Salt
While processed food is a big Paleo no-no, you don’t have to do without salt. Choose natural pink Himalayan salt and sea salt, and season your food liberally with oregano, mint, basil, rosemary, thyme, garlic, chili, cumin, cinnamon, and other natural spices and herbs.
While you don’t want to make it a meal staple, a little bit of maple syrup or honey is allowed on your Paleo plan (you’re going to need them when you make your first Paleo dessert).
What You *Can’t* Eat on the Paleo Diet
It’s easier than you think to stay on course; just be sure to avoid the following foods.
This isn’t a shocker since cutting out processed food is what the Paleo diet is based on, but look out for anything with a long ingredient list filled with preservatives, binders, or man-made trans fats.
Stay away from the white stuff, high-fructose corns syrup, and baked goods or desserts made from them. Basically, anything in the window case at the local coffee shop is not your friend.
Yep, even the gluten-free grains are off the table. Get rid of bread, quinoa, rice, barley, corn, pasta, and more. Literally, get rid of them so you aren’t tempted to dive in come dinner time.
Still not sure what pulses are? They’re beans and legumes. That means soy, beans, lentils, chickpeas, dried peas, and peanuts are goners on the Paleo plan.
Buh-bye, ice cream! While some liberal Paleo eaters allow small amounts of full-fat milk, butter, yogurt, and cheese, conservative followers cut out all dairy-related products. We say you do you.
Clear your pantry of any and all vegetable oils including soybean, peanut, corn, cottonseed, safflower, canola, and grapeseed. Stick to the high-quality olive, coconut, and avocado oils instead.
Diet Coke was definitely not around in our ancestors’ day, so kick the sweetener habit and eliminate aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, and other crazy sounding artificial sweeteners that claim to be healthy but aren’t.
What Foods You Can *Sometimes* Eat on the Paleo Diet
We’re not saying to eat these every day, but how hardcore you plan to be will determine how much of these you’ll allow on your plate/in your glass.
Red wine, dry cider, and non-grain based spirits like tequila can be enjoyed in moderation. Keyword: moderation.
Packed with antioxidants, 70-100 percent cocoa chocolate is allowed in small amounts.
Now that you know what can and can’t be on your plate, review the Paleo beginner’s guide for all of the Paleo info and you’ll be more than ready to get started.