Modern life has evolved so that we no longer have to walk miles and miles every day or join forces with our community just to survive. Electricity and running water are blessings our ancestors would have loved. No matter how advanced our lives get, our brains and bodies run on primitive technology and instinct.
Tapping into this instinct can be as simple as noticing when food is making us feel tired, something that could have been dangerous during the dawn of mankind. Some of us ignore the signals our bodies give us and run on coffee, nicotine, and processed foods, all to save time while our bodies signal for help.
What Is A Paleo Diet?
You may have heard about the caveman diet and how easy it is to maintain. A paleo diet is a nutritional approach that focuses on eating foods that are similar to what our hunter-gatherer ancestors consumed during the Paleolithic Era - a time period associated with the development of human beings.
Although there are different interpretations of what paleo technically entails, a paleo diet typically includes whole, unprocessed food. These include meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. While excluding dairy, grains, legumes, processed oils, refined sugar, and other food groups that our ancestors would not have had access to.
The idea behind paleo is that by eating like our ancestors - who were lean, healthy, and active - we too can achieve similar health benefits. You can try our paleo-friendly menu to check what foods can be included in your diet.
Why Are These Foods Prohibited on Paleo?
The paleo diet is based on the common belief that by mimicking the eating habits of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, we can improve our health. Of course, there are no medical records from back then, so we don't know what was truly going on with the health of our forefathers and mothers.
There are a few reasons why certain foods are prohibited on paleo. First, many of the foods that are not paleo-friendly are relatively new to the human diet. For example, grains were not introduced into the human diet until the Agricultural Revolution, which occurred about 10,000 years ago.
Similarly, legumes - which include beans, lentils, and peas - were only introduced into the human diet about 5,000 to 7,000 years ago.
The paleo diet also avoids dairy and processed oils because they can be difficult to digest and can contain unhealthy fats.
What Can't You Eat on a Paleo Diet and Why
1. Cereal Grains
Cereal grains that are not paleo-friendly include wheat, barley, oats, rice, and corn. Those are not paleo because they were not introduced into the human diet until the Agricultural Revolution. Cereal grains are difficult to digest and can contain unhealthy fats.
These are beans, lentils, and peas. Legumes are not paleo because they were only introduced into the human diet about 5,000 to 7,000 years ago. Legumes are difficult to digest and can contain unhealthy fats.
3. Refined Vegetable Oils
Refined vegetable oils are not paleo because they can be difficult to digest and can contain unhealthy fats. Examples of refined vegetable oils are soybean oil, corn oil, and cottonseed oil.
4. Processed Foods
Processed foods are not paleo because they are often high in sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats. Examples of processed foods include cookies, cakes, crackers, and chips.
5. Refined Sugar
Refined sugar is not paleo because it is processed food. Refined sugar can be difficult to digest and can cause blood sugar spikes. Examples of refined sugar are cane sugar, beet sugar, and high-fructose corn syrup.
6. Sweetened Beverages
Sweetened beverages are not paleo because they are often high in sugar. Sweetened beverages can be difficult to digest and can cause blood sugar spikes. Examples of sweetened beverages are soda, energy drinks, and fruit juice.
Salt is not paleo because it is also processed food. Salt can be difficult to digest and can cause blood pressure to rise. Examples of high-sodium food are canned soup, lunch meat, and bacon.
8. Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners are not paleo because they are often made with chemicals and can be difficult to digest. Examples of artificial sweeteners are aspartame, sucralose, and saccharin.
9. Trans Fats
Trans fats are not paleo because they are processed foods. Trans fats can be difficult to digest and can cause heart disease. Examples of trans fat are margarine, shortening, and hydrogenated oils.
Beer is not paleo because it is processed food. Beer can be difficult to digest and can cause dehydration.
What Are Some Substitutes for Non-Paleo Foods?
If you're following a paleo diet, there are paleo-friendly substitutes for many non-paleo foods. For example, instead of eating grains, you could eat paleo-friendly seeds such as quinoa, buckwheat, or amaranth.
Similarly, instead of eating legumes, you could eat paleo-friendly vegetables such as green beans or carrots. And instead of dairy, you could eat paleo-friendly alternatives such as almond milk, coconut milk, or cashew milk.
The paleo diet is based on the general premise that humans should eat the same foods that our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate. The diet excludes cereal grains, legumes, dairy, processed oils, refined sugar, alcohol, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, and trans fats. Some paleo-friendly foods include lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. There are also some paleo-friendly substitutes that are mentioned in this article.