Archive for October, 2012

October 26, 2012

FAQ: My paleo

Many people have described that “paleo” is not one way of eating.  While there are (many) things that are clearly Not Paleo (soda, cheese doodles, crack cocaine), a lot of things are…..iffy.  Do you consider it “not paleo” when you eat a small amount of white rice?  What about dairy (local, raw, organic, fermented….any of those adjectives make a difference?)?  What about “paleo-ized” desserts, gluten free and sweetened with honey or maple syrup?

For myself, I eat the following foods without trying specifically to limit them in any way.  They are the core of my paleo diet:

-Meat/fish/eggs, with a heavy emphasis on local, pasture-raised/grassfed/wild-caught


-Healthy fats (avocado, coconut (oil, milk, flakes), olive oil (low/no heat), animal fats, pastured butter)


The following are foods that I keep an eye on.  Overeating any of these foods has the potential to cause problems (see other paleo blogs for the details, I’m not going to rehash the science here), but what constitutes “overeating” varies from person to person:

-Fruit.  My most commonly consumed fruits, from highest to lowest, are: blueberry, any other berry, banana, apple, melon, all others.

-Starchy veggies.  I eat these primarily post-workout (Japanese sweet potatoes FTW!).  I don’t severely limit them at other times of the day (especially not after reading this article from Paleo for Women), but I don’t include them at every meal, or even every day, because they can make me feel too full.

-Dairy.  I take a good amount of pastured heavy cream in my morning coffee, but most days that is my only dairy.  I will eat cheese, yogurt, and even a bit of milk (if called for in a recipe) without considering it a cheat, but I try to keep those items minimal.

-Nuts.  I use nuts as a snack or fat-source maybe 4 times per week, but try not to overemphasize them in my diet.  I’m conscious of the omega-6 levels in nuts, and also (to a lesser degree) their caloric load.  Favorite nuts are macadamias, almonds, and cashews.

-70%+ dark chocolate.  I have 1 square or less per day.  I’m not tempted to eat more because too much dark chocolate makes me feel like I’m going to have a migraine.

-Alcohol.  This may be a controversial one.  First off, this category does not include beer or mixed drinks involving soda — those are still off the plan.  However, we enjoy a traditional Wednesday night margarita (high-quality reposado tequila, juice of 1 whole lime, 1/2 oz Patron Citronge), and on weekend nights we will have a mixed drink or wine.  The cocktails are usually low-to-no sugar affairs, and I will have a MAX of 3 drinks in an evening (usually 2).  I consider this amount of alcohol to be acceptable for my paleo diet.

The following are my most common non-paleo foods, from most to least frequent

-Ice cream/fro-yo.  About once every week.  I try to stick to gluten-free flavors and toppings.  The ice cream is from a great local shop, high quality and delicious (the fro-yo is chemical-laden grossness, and I’m trying to stop giving in to it).  I tend not to make homemade, even though I have a great ice cream maker, because I’d rather it be a one-time thing rather than having a whole container sitting in my freezer.

-Other sugar.  Once in a great while I’ll eat a cookie/piece of cake/other treat.  These are pretty much always homemade, I can totally skip any packaged cookie or cake (with the exception of ice cream cake.  Yum.).  This literally comes up about once per month.  I don’t add sugar to anything I cook at home or to my coffee.

-“Paleo-ized” baked goods.  You know the drill.  Gluten free chocolate-cherry muffins made with almond flour!  Coconut flour pancakes (with additional maple-apple compote)!  Caramel-banana-bread!  Yes, I make these things, but I don’t kid myself.  These are hyper-palatable treats that are many steps removed from whole, real food.


-Corn and white rice.  I do think of these as “off plan”, and honestly they don’t tempt me too much.  I don’t like to be a pain at sushi restaurants, so I usually just get sashimi and avoid the whole issue, but if I’m feeling like having a sushi roll I go ahead and eat the rice.  Same with corn, a few kernels in a dish won’t put me off, but I do think of them as outside my typical diet.

-Bread products, pasta, etc.  These are rarely “worth it” to me.