What is the Paleo Diet and What Can You Eat On it?

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What is the paleo diet?

This idea was first promoted by gastroenterologist, Dr. Walter L. Voegtlin, in his book, ‘The Stone Age Diet,’ published in 1975. He proposed eating like our ancestors did during the paleolithic era which was from about 2.5 million to 10,000 years ago. This would have been food that was available before farming; foods like meat, fish, eggs, fruit and nuts or whatever was available. This wouldn’t have included milk, grains and legumes.

Our genes haven’t evolved fast enough for the modern diet that developed from farming, therefore because we haven’t adjusted to it, some parts of our modern diet could contribute to health concerns like obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

It is also known as the ‘Stone Age Diet,’ ‘Hunter-gatherer Diet,’ and ‘Caveman Diet.’

What Are the Benefits of this Diet?

You can’t eat highly processed foods. Therefore, it may help you to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight and it may reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Also, because no grains are allowed, it would be safe to eat for someone with coeliac disease.

What Can you Eat on the Paleo Diet?

You can eat :

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Lean pasture-fed meats
  • Fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Oils like olive and walnut oils
  • Some paleo diets let you eat potatoes, and occasionally chocolate and drink red wine!
  • Spices

Foods to avoid.

  • Grains like wheat, oats, and barley
  • Legumes (beans, lentils and peanuts)
  • Dairy products
  • Foods with refined and added sugar and salt
  • Starchy vegetables like corn and some proponents say no potatoes
  • Highly processed foods like chips, biscuits and cakes
  • Sweeteners
  • Alcohol and coffee

If you are considering this diet and would like recipes, feel free to click on this link:- Paleo recipes.

Disadvantages of the paleo diet.

It can be boring.

There is very limited research on the long-term effects of this diet, therefore, it’s unknown whether following this diet is good or bad for you. The average life expectancy of our paleo ancestors was approximately 33 years! If they weren’t murdered, they died of infections and diarrheal diseases that led to dehydration and starvation.

As stated earlier, you omit whole grains and legumes in this diet. By doing this, you could be missing out on vital nutrients like fibre, vitamins, proteins and calcium.

This diet could be more expensive than a normal diet because whole grains, legumes, and dairy products are more affordable than grass-fed meat or wild game for example. The high meat content could have too much saturated fat which is bad for your heart.

If you are a vegetarian or a vegan than there is a ‘pegan’ version but this would seriously be very restrictive and dangerous for your health because of the low amounts of iron, protein, zinc and magnesium.

The proponents of this diet are making erroneous claims when they say that paleo people didn’t eat whole grains because tools for grounding grains have been found at a 30,000 year old site.

Also, our paleo ancestors didn’t eat a lot of meat because that would have depended on how many animals they managed to catch and kill.

Moreover, research has indicated that our genes since the paleolithic era have evolved for us to digest starches in grains and lactose in milk.

Meal Ideas for the paleo diet.

This diet does have its good points because you cut out highly processed foods with their high amount of sugar and salt. So, if you decide you would like to give it a go to lose weight for example, then, here is a suggestion for your meals on a typical day.

Breakfast: Bacon and eggs.

Lunch: Meat and salad with nuts.

Dinner: Meat and vegetables.

Snacks: Fruit and vegetables like baby carrots and sliced apples and chia pudding. (Mix 2 heaped tbsp of chia seeds with about 250ml of almond milk and honey to sweeten it. Leave it to set and then feel free to top it with berries.)

If you would like more recipe ideas, click here for Mary Smith’s book which contains recipes that don’t take more than 15 minutes to prepare plus cooking time.

Thank you for reading.

Rachel x

Sources: mayoclinic.org, healthline.com, bbcgoodfood.com, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, everydayhealth.com, hsph.harvard.edu, webmd.com

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