What is Paleo?

Paleo [pay-lee-oh] refers to the cuisine (yes, cuisine) of the Paleolithic era. Also known as the Caveman Diet, Paleo includes meat/fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. It excludes all grains, dairy, gluten, sugar, legumes, and processed foods. Remember, cavemen were hunter/gatherers not farmers. So meats and vegetables are a big part of this diet. It allows for better consumption of vitamins and nutrients that our bodies were meant to absorb.

paleolithic-food-pyramidAnd lots of water!

What to eat

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Berries
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Natural non-processed cold-pressed oils (olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil…)
  • Flour made from paleo ingredients (nut flours, cassava flour)
  • Wild caught, grass-fed, pasture raised, organic, and local are all buzz words associated with the Paleo Diet.
  • Water, pure coconut water, pure maple water. Juices in moderation.

What not to eat

  • Refined sugars and oils (this includes cane sugar and artificial sweeteners as well as processed oils like canola and vegetable oil)
  • Dairy (cheese, milk, yogurt)
  • Grains (wheat, quinoa,
  • Rice (this is a grain)
  • Corn (this is a grain)
  • White potatoes
  • Legumes (beans, soy, chick peas, peanuts)
  • Things labeled “Gluten Free”. Just because it’s gluten free doesn’t mean it is Paleo…or healthy.
  • Anything processed. If you cannot grow it, gather it, or hunt it, then chances are it isn’t part of the diet.

TIP: When grocery shopping your best bet is to stick to the perimeter of the market. The aisles are full of junk for the most part. Always read labels.

Read labels. Read ingredients. Stop and think. When ordering at a restaurants do not be timid when inquiring about the ingredients or asking to leave a few things out. This is your body. This is your decision.
For more info on paleo grocery shopping click here.

20 thoughts on “What is Paleo?

    1. mangiapaleo Post author

      I would consider yucca to fall into the paleo ‘grey area’. Although a root vegetable it is pretty starchy and has a relatively high glycemic index like a regular potato, which is not part of the paleo diet. However, if you’re carb loading for a long run or even using a little of it I say go for it.
      As far as a dairy-free cheese and yogurt there are a few options. However, the yogurts usually have other stuff in them that aren’t so paleo. Lisanatti is a brand that makes almond cheese and the mozzarella style does melt. SoDelicious is a brand that makes coconut milk products including yogurts. 🙂

      1. Sonia

        I just picked up the Lisanatti mozzarella cheese, and to me it’s tatse is indistinguishable from regular dairy mozzarella. Of course this was before reading the label and discovering brown rice flour is an ingredient. Does this still make it Paleo?

        1. mangiapaleo Post author

          Hi Sonia,
          Unfortunately it is not paleo. Rice is a grain and grains are excluded from the paleo diet. It also contains canola oil which is not paleo. However, if you are really craving mozzarella and do not tolerate dairy then this may be a nice alternative in very small amounts. The paleo police will not arrest you. Do what is best for your health 🙂

  1. sarahlearichards

    The no-dairy rule would be killer for me. I have a primal/paleo friend who eats eggs everyday, but once a week is good enough for me–she also eats just sweet potatoes (which I don’t like very much) instead of the other kind (which I like very much). I think unless you grow up this way, it is extremely difficult to stick with a lifestyle like this. I think those who can and do must have amazing willpower.

    1. mangiapaleo Post author

      It is very hard. I think it’s easier for the willpower to shine through when you are treating a disease or feel there is no other option but to kick your health in gear. Dairy is very hard and I miss cheese all the time! Sometimes I introduce it back into my diet in small doses to see how many body handles it – and so I don’t go crazy without it! 🙂 Eggs are okay on paleo. Encouraged, actually. However, for those following the autoimmune protocol diet eggs should be excluded from the diet.

  2. kristine

    What are your thoughts on products that lists a non-paleo ingredient (i.e. modified corn starch, dextrose, rice starch) as being less than 1 or 2% of the ingredients?

    1. mangiapaleo Post author

      Thanks for your question! Since I follow paleo I obviously try to avoid any non-paleo item including corn starch, dextrose, rice starch… all of that. Even if it’s less than 1% it is still in there. There are many packaged products that market themselves as being paleo, however, they include ingredients like brown rice syrup. That actually has a much higher glycemic index than sugar and is pretty much just as process.
      However, I always say “to each their own”. If it doesn’t bother your body or digestion then go for it. At the end of the day the paleo diet isn’t for everyone. In fact, no diet is for anyone. You just have to figure out what works for you and your health needs.

  3. jsara

    Hey, I’m really glad to have found this site – have known I need to make more changes to my diet (already gluten, dairy and sugar-free) but haven’t been sure about how, all the recipes and info on here make it look less scary! I was just wondering if you know anything about if it’s possible to be vegetarian and paleo? I’m wondering how to juggle this as I;ve been vegetarian my whole life so am quite reluctanct to start eating meat now but also don’t want to miss out on any important nutrients.

    1. mangiapaleo Post author

      If you are a vegetarian and thinking about going paleo I highly suggest researching the food first. I highly suggest against being paleo and a vegetarian. Because then you’re only eating veggies and fruits. Frankly, I do not believe that is healthy. If you’re worried about introducing meat just start slowly. Try fish first – maybe shrimp. Then introduce some lean meats like chicken or turkey. Cook this all yourself so you can regulate how it is made and what spices or preparations you like.
      If you are paleo you will be eating only pastured or grass fed meats so your body won’t be experiencing any of the toxins, nitrates, or hormones put into the animal. That should also help.

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  7. Kara

    I would assume hummus is not okay. I have UC and have been in a flare since salmonella poisoning last fall. I am going to try paleo. Also what alcohol is okay? I make red wine:(

    1. mangiapaleo Post author

      Hi Kara, if we’re talking paleo then hummus is not included in the diet. It is made from chick peas (garbanzo beans) which is a legume. Hummus is actually one of my trigger foods!
      Sorry to hear about your salmonella poisoning. Ack! Hopefully cleaning up your diet will show a difference. I usually suggest staying away from alcohol as it often activates the bowels more and causes more harm than good. It’s all up to you, though. This disease is so individual and so is the diet. Best of luck!

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    1. mangiapaleo Post author

      Although it’s pretty highly processed I would say it’s entirely up to you. Shifting away from sweetener in general is a good idea when on the paleo diet.
      I believe the lifestyle change is more about your individual needs. So if it Ella you reach your goals then go for it. Everything in moderation. 🙂

  9. marina

    I recently got some kefir grain and been making my own kefir for about 3 months. I hear a lot of great healthy things about it and i love to drink it every day, but i’ve been wondering how it affects my diet i’ve started about a month ago, grain, pasta, flour free and i’ve lost almost 20lbs. i have to lose about a hundred more and this paleo seems pretty good.

    1. Mangia Paleo


      Thank you for your comment. Glad to hear kefir is working out for you and that you enjoy it. As I use paleo to live a healthier lifestyle I do not have experience with weight loss. It sounds like you are doing well, though. So keep up the good work!


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