If you’ve been in any corner of the internet in the past few years, you’ve probably heard of the Paleo diet.
What’s the craze?
Paleo is a popular diet variation on clean eating that focuses on eliminating processed foods and sugars from the diet, and instead, consuming clean, whole foods.
So, what’s the difference between clean eating and Paleo?
Clean eating is a concept. Paleo is a specific dietary execution of clean eating.
The principle behind Paleo is to model our food consumption off of ancestral diets. Paleo is short for paleolithic. Others call it the caveman diet because it aims to have us eat only foods that were conceivably available to paleolithic era humans.
Okay, enough of the jargon. A lot of people choose to go Paleo in order to simplify their diet and incorporate whole, nutritional foods. The Paleo diet is beneficial because it emphasizes foods that are the most nutritionally dense, low in sugar, and has been shown to help with digestion and energy. It’s particularly helpful for navigating our modern diets which are riddled with processed foods and nutritionally weak meals.
The most recognizable aspect of Paleo is that it eliminates all grains from the diet. But it also eliminates less controversial foods like legumes.
If you’re just now jumping into the whole Paleo camp, the diet criteria can be confusing. That’s why I put together the definitive starter paleo shopping list.
What will you find on your Paleo shopping list?
- Unrefined fats & oils
- Seeds: (Except for quinoa. Okay, 1st, yes quinoa is a seed
What isn’t Paleo?
- All grains
- Refined oils and vegetable oils that have been highly processed (soybean oil, vegetable, canola, sunflower, safflower, etc)
- Legumes: beans, soy, peanuts, lentils
- Processed sugars
The Ultimate Paleo Shopping List
- Cauliflower (perfect for making cauliflower rice for dishes)
- Sweet Potatoes
- Leafy Greens (Spinach, Kale, Romaine, etc)
- Brussels Sprouts
- Game Birds
- Organ Meat
- Ghee (although dairy is a general no on Paleo, ghee has nutritional benefits)
- Macadamia Oil
- Almond Flour
- Coconut Flour
Make your own nut/seed milk—the store-bought kind has emulsifiers and fillers
- Coconut Milk (get the canned kind if you don’t want to make it at home)
- Almond Milk
- Cashew Milk
- Hemp Milk
Aim for lower sugar fruits.
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
- Macadamia nuts
- Nut Butters
- Coconut Sugar
- Raw Honey
- Pure Maple Syrup
This isn’t an all-encompassing list, but it’s a great start to help get you thinking about what nutritious powerhouses to throw into your shopping cart.
Although Paleo emphasizes lots of yummy veggies and fruits, it’s also generally a pretty meat-heavy diet. The elimination of vegetarian and vegan protein substitutes like tempeh, beans, and soy make Paleo a little more difficult and restrictive for our non-meat eating friends.
The good news is, not every diet works for everyone, and you can make your own guidelines.
I know many friends who follow a Paleo diet but modify it in different ways from incorporating quinoa or the occasional dairy product to vegetarian friends who eliminate processed soy proteins but continue to eat beans.
No diet is perfect, but you can absolutely take the principle behind Paleo dieting and make it work for you.
Want more clean eating goodness? Check out our Ultimate Clean Eating Food List and get a free clean eating shopping list printable.