Here’s the SHORT answer:
Eat real and nutrient-dense foods that help your body to function at an optimal level.
Avoid processed, nutrient-poor foods, including foods that may affect the function of your digestive system.
Generally speaking, Paleo guidelines say to avoid the following:
- Legumes (soy, beans)
Incorporate superfoods: homemade bone broth, organ meats, collagen & fermented veggies/bevvies.
If you want the long answer…
Well, go Google it. I’m NO expert. I’m just a Paleo lifestyle enthusiast. I can’t explain it better than Diane Sanfilippo of Balanced Bites.
Don’t get stuck on whether or not something is allowed on Paleo. I like to believe it really is about the quality of food for optimal health versus a “diet” that helps you lose weight or be skinny. In fact, I don’t think it does that at all. Not to say you can’t lose weight on Paleo. It really is more about building a healthy body from the inside that will eventually reflect on the outside.
After several years of following a Paleo lifestyle, I have become less “strict” when it comes to what foods I allow myself to eat. After about a dozen paleo challenges such as the Whole30, 21 Day Sugar Detox or the Whole Life Challenge, I have learned which foods affect my body negatively and to what level, then I have learned to make educated decisions as to when I want to eat those foods, very-well knowing the consequences when they are consumed. For example, dairy gives me bubble-guts. #TMI But if I really want that pint of Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked cookie dough and brownie ice cream, then I will at least go inhale the entire pint knowing damn well I’m going to be paying for it later instead of completely clueless as to why my body is bloated and gassy for 3 days.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned and try to pass on to other people when they ask me why I do Paleo is that everyone’s version of Paleo is different. It should be different for everyone. No one’s body is exactly the same as another. Certain foods will affect one person negatively and seemingly not affect someone else. OR, the other person is affected on a different level and each person has a different tolerance level for negative “consequences.” In addition, we have different goals – whether it’s to lose weight, change your body composition, become a strong athlete, gain muscle or simply feel better. So it just makes sense to tailor your version of Paleo to you.
A lot of Paleo challenges want you to eliminate foods that generally cause discomfort and digestive issues or hinder the body from functioning optimally. Step 2 would be to slowly insert these foods back into your diet one at a time to see what the effect is on your body. Then you have a better idea of which foods your body tolerates better than others, which foods make you feel great and which foods you don’t even miss.
Sometimes you don’t know you’ve been feeling bad until you make the change and realize how good your body is capable of feeling.
I find that people often misunderstand the Paleo diet. Here are the top 4 misconceptions I personally hear and what Paleo is NOT:
1. “So you’re on the Atkins Diet basically.”
This is the misconception that Paleo is all about just cutting carbs, that carbs are the enemy and carbs make you fat and fat is bad. No more than that.
2. “Oh, I already cut down on eating rice and bread so I’m pretty much Paleo already.”
This is the misconception that carbs only come from bread, rice and pasta, that Paleo is only about cutting carbs AND that it is super easy. It actually takes a good amount of effort, planning and time to check labels, know your ingredients, prep meals, shop, cook, eat and change old eating habits.
3. “So you cant eat ANYTHING at all?!”
This is the misconception that Paleo is extremely limiting and that you’ll be depriving yourself when in fact it is the opposite in the way that it’s more about making sure your body is getting the nutrients and fuel it needs – the opposite of deprivation. There is so so so much real food out there to eat that isn’t processed. It is about getting those nutrients we are told we’re getting from processed food (such as fiber from “enriched” wheat bread) from actual real food (fruits and vegetables).
4. “So you’re like a a cavewoman. Do you make a fire and cook your food outside?”
Yes dumbass, I ride my dinosaur down to the local firepit and roast the wild saber tooth tigers I just caught with my bare hands. Really? I mean, REALLY? Shut your face. This is the misconception that we are actually trying to be cavemen on a caveman diet. I can’t even address this one anymore it’s so ridiculous but I’ve been asked this plenty of times. It’s hilar.