So you’ve decided to try your hand at eating paleo, and that’s great, but it can be a bit overwhelming! Here’s a guide to what you can and can’t eat and how to shop for those items.
Say goodbye to butter, it’s out with the rest of the dairy. But don’t worry, coconut oil is a great alternative and unless you use a large amount, the coconut flavor won’t be too noticeable in your dish. Other alternatives to butter include bacon grease and lard.
Personally, because I love bacon, I use bacon grease the most. After cooking up a package for breakfast, just pour the grease that remains in the pan into a jar and use that for future cooking. Bacon grease can be a great way to add fat to lean cuts of meat and often lends a smoky flavor.
Practically all fresh produce is paleo-friendly. You just don’t want to give too much attention to the starchy roots considering that this is a low-carb diet plan. I always recommend buying organic, especially for produce items notorious for being pesticide-laden (for a list of those foods and a bit on why you should care about pesticides, go here).
Fresh produce is a really important area when shopping. You’re going to get the bulk of your vitamins from fruits and vegetables. Kale is a good source of calcium. Broccoli is a good source of chromium. Many fruits and vegetables are great sources of fiber. Different fruits and vegetables have different nutrients to offer, so make sure to keep things varied.
If your store has a bulk section, don’t pass up the opportunity to stock up on nuts. Nuts are a crucial part of the paleo diet, providing fat and protein, and buying in bulk will help your wallet when you make it to the register. Because variety is the spice of life, I try to keep a bunch of different nuts on hand all the time. Something worth remembering though, is that almonds have the highest protein content in a one ounce amount and macadamia nuts have the highest amount of fat content in a one ounce amount. For a side-by-side comparison chart of common nuts, check here.
I want to briefly outline the importance here of what meats you buy. Similarly to how I advocate organic for fresh produce, I advocate well-sourced meats. What do I mean by well-sourced? Well, we’re all familiar with the saying, you are what you eat. But what about you are what you eat eats? Not to mention, the meats that our ancestors would have been hunting was not farmed. To match that profile best, look for grass-fed pasture-raised beef, free-range poultry, and if you’re in an area that has it, forest-raised pork is ideal. To keep going with that idea, antibiotic and growth hormone-free is also important to look for. And I know this stuff can get expensive, but it’s well worth it. Paleo is significantly less effective if you’re eating standard factory farmed meats.
Again, since paleo and fats get along, don’t feel like you have to limit yourself to only lean cuts of meat. Grass-fed beef is automatically going to be fairly lean, but then there’s bacon, sausages, and the likes.
What Is and Isn’t Paleo
To finish up how to shop paleo, let’s make sure we really define what is and isn’t paleo so that you know what’s safe to grab off the shelves and what isn’t.
What is NOT paleo:
- Legumes (peanuts)
- Grains (sorry, bread)
- Processed sugars
- Refined vegetable oils
- Soft drinks
What IS paleo:
- Well-sourced meats
- Organic fruits and vegetables
- Healthy oils (coconut, avocado, olive, flaxseed)
One last thing to keep in mind: being paleo is based off eating like our ancestors, but that doesn’t mean that you have to strictly adhere to that as a criterion. I still drink coffee even though cavemen didn’t have that around. It’s all about what level of paleo is going to be best for you. Cutting out processed foods is a big part of being paleo, though, so don’t take the flexibility too far. So if this sounds good so far, then the Low Carb Coach can also help in your diet routine if you are looking to make some changes to your eating, with way more information than can be found in this article.