What to Eat on the Paleo Diet

eat all the bacon

Looking for a list of foods to eat on the Paleo Diet? Here it is!

I like to keep up on the latest research and have been using the Paleo Diet in my natural medicine practice for several years. The Paleo Diet has some grey areas, which can be confusing. I have created the following lists based on my research and clinical experience and believe that this is a good practical version and a great place to start.

Because of the variation, people tend to get stirred up…thinking their way of eating Paleo is the only way. Which is why I just love what Chris Kesser says, which is that all of us health-minded folks quit arguing and perhaps call it a “Paleo Template.”  The term Paleo Diet implying a defined parameters that everyone should follow without room for individual experimentation. A template being a basic format that contains general guidelines that can be formatted and fitting to the unique needs of each individual person. Brilliant!

Foods to Eat Freely
Quality is important here. Seek out grass-fed and pastured meats; these are animals that are allowed to forage in their natural environment, eating what they were designed to eat. Animals kept in tight spaces and fed genetically modified corn and soy based feeds should be avoided.

In order to keep things realistic, please just eat the best quality meat you can afford.

Pretty much any animal and any and all parts of the animal are on the table! Pun intended…

Whole “unprocessed” cuts of meat are great. Think: steaks, roasts, ground meat, whole or cut up chickens, chops, etc. Things you would typically find at the butcher counter…

Some processed meats are okay, but you will have to find those that do not have added preservatives and fillers. Make sure and check the labels of your lunch meat, sausage and bacon.

Look for pastured, free-range and organic when possible. Better yet if from a local farmer! Chicken, duck, quail…whatever you can get your hands on!

Go for wild caught and avoid any fish that are “farmed.”  Shellfish are fine too. Higher quality canned sardines, anchovies, wild salmon, and pole-caught tuna are also great choices.

Eat lots of them! Corn is a grain, not a vegetable and should be completely avoided. Starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, rutabagas, turnips and parsnips are good choices, but make sure you are also getting plenty of other, non-starchy vegetables too (lettuce, kale, cabbage, brussels sprouts, onions, peppers, tomatoes, etc).

White potatoes fall into a “grey Paleo” area- see below.

Sea Vegetables
Yep! Kombu, seaweed, algae, wakame, etc…

Any fruits, whether fresh, frozen, or dried- as long as they don’t contain extra sugars or preservatives- are just fine. Juice is okay in great moderation and should be fresh (as in, if you juice it yourself, great!).

Nuts & Seeds
Look for raw nuts and seeds, as the roasted ones often have poor quality oils added to them. Enjoy all nuts and seeds as well as the “butters” and “flours” that are made from them.

Peanuts are legumes, not nuts and therefore should be avoided.

Make coconut your best friend! Fresh coconut, canned coconut milk, unsweetened shredded coconut or coconut chips, and coconut flour are all great. Coconut butter is a great snack! Coconut oil is wonderful for cooking. Coconut aminos (fermented coconut sap) is a great alternative to soy sauce for cooking.

Fats & Oils
Quality is especially important here as well. Tallow and lard are wonderful for cooking but should only be used from healthy, pastured animals.

Other great choices are: extra-virgin olive oil, unrefined coconut oil, macadamia oil,  avocado oil, walnut and hazelnut oils, red palm oil, and palm shortening.

Look for natural sea salts and avoid iodized salt.

Foods to Eat in Moderation
Go for the organic if possible; its just a tad pricier but definitely worth the extra cost.

Dark chocolate should be dairy free, and most is, but be sure to read the label. You can also find non-dark dairy free chocolate also. Unsweetened cocoa powder and cocoa nibs are always a great choice.

If you do want to indulge, avoid beer and other malt beverages. The best options are wine, hard cider, and plain spirits such as whiskey, gin, vodka, rum, etc. Moderation is very important here.

Look for raw, unprocessed honey- local is even better. Maple syrup, raw stevia, blackstrap molasses, and coconut sugar.

Foods to Avoid
All grains, including wheat, rye, barley, spelt, oats, amaranth, quinoa, rice, corn, buckwheat, sorghum, etc. These are just the most common ones; avoid all grains.

Yes, this means flour- white or whole wheat and everything that it might be in. These are things like bread, pasta, cake, cookies, tortillas and wraps, etc.

These are beans- whether you prepare them yourself from dried or get them canned, they should be avoided. Included in this category are lentils, soy, and peanuts. Green beans and snap peas are fine to eat.

Pretty much any oil not listed under the “Foods to Eat” category should be avoided. Ditch the liquid canola, vegetable, safflower, cottonseed, sunflower, and corn oils. And please, no margarine.

Again, any sweetener not listed under “Foods to Eat in Moderation” should be avoided. Especially refined white and brown sugar, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose, fructose. Even raw cane sugar and evaporated cane juices are not the best choices. Also avoid artificial sweeteners like Splenda (sucralose), Sweet ‘n Low (saccharin), Equal (aspartame)… you know the ones.

Grey Area Foods
There are a few foods that controversial within the Paleo Diet- as in, some people eat them and some do not.

White Potatoes
I generally recommend that you start off not eating them, and after you have been following the diet for several months and feeling good, you can reintroduce them and see how you feel.

White Rice
Same as white potatoes. Avoid rice at first and reintroduce it once you are established on the Paleo Diet. Plain white rice (not brown rice) is a great option for Paleo Kids who need the extra carbohydrates.

If there is any evidence that your body doesn’t tolerate dairy well, you should avoid all of it in the beginning.

Many people on the Paleo Diet do well eating selected, very high-quality dairy products. Butter, ghee (clarified butter), cheese, and cream from organic, grass-fed animals are the products you should generally stick with. And if you can find them raw, that is even better.

Sheep and goat dairy are good choices too! Also adhering to the high-quality standard.

Eggs, although often found in the grocery store with the dairy, are not dairy. Again, eat ’em up!


Wondering the why behind the Paleo Diet? Click here!

Wondering what exactly we eat and why? Click here!


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