Despite the various controversies that have plagued the the so-called caveman diet, Paleo philosophy gets a lot more right than its reputation might make you think. You can read our guide to the Paleo philosophy here.
At its core, a Paleo diet puts real food and more physical activity centre stage and nixes refined and processed foods wherever possible. All this has the aim of aligning our diet more with that of our cave-dwelling ancestors.
So, what can you actually eat on a Paleo diet – and what should you avoid?
Let’s break it down....
Veggies: Packed with nutrients, veggies are pretty much fair game. Opt for more above- ground veggies (things with leaves) than below-ground (like starchy potatoes).
Proteins: Red and white meats are both on the table, preferable free range and with a focus on top-to-tail consumption (that is, eating the whole animal).
Eggs: Free range all the way.
Fish: All fish and shellfish, preferably unfarmed and sustainably caught.
Fruits: Fruit can be a good way to satisfy a sweet tooth when going Paleo. Try to keep it to 2–3 serves of fruit per day (as per the WHO guidelines).
Nuts and seeds: A good source of natural fat and packed with omega-3s, nuts make the perfect Paleo snack and add crunch to meals. Don’t overdo them though – they can be deceptively energy-dense.
Oils: The most Paleo-friendly oils are unrefined with primarily saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. Olive, avocado, coconut and some nut oils are all okay in moderation. Avoid highly refined vegetable oils.
Grains: The general rule here is if you need a machine to refine it, you shouldn’t be eating it on a Paleo diet (cavemen didn’t have flour mills, as far as we can tell). That means bread, cereal, rice, pasta and whole grains are all out.
Legumes: The proponents of Paleo are a little divided here. Some avoid legumes like beans, lentils and peanuts (yes, a peanut is a legume) entirely, while others okay soaked legumes, which the body can digest more easily.
Dairy: Again, the jury is not completely decided here. Most Paleo followers avoid dairy entirely, while some allow small amounts of fermented dairy like yoghurt or kefir.
High-sugar foods: Sorry, sugary cakes and cookies, soft drink and Cadbury chocolates are a no-go when going Paleo. Fun fact if you’re needing a sweet hit: Lakanto is widely considered Paleo-friendly!
Highly-processed foods: As a general rule, if you see any numbers or chemical names you can’t pronounce on the ingredients list, steer well clear. Same goes for processed meats like salami and bacon.
When in doubt, just keep your food as close to its natural state as possible. Paleo or not, eating real, unprocessed food is ultimately doing the best for your body.