Switching to paleo doesn’t have to be hard and it definitely doesn’t have to be boring. After checking out this paleo food list, you’ll see that you still have quite a lot of options open to you.
In this quick guide, you’ll get a comprehensive paleo diet food list which tells you what you can eat and what you can’t on the paleo diet. We’ve also included a “grey area” list of foods that some versions of the paleo diet include and some don’t. Finally, you’ll get a list of delicious paleo substitutes for common non-paleo foods!
Basically, this is the paleo diet food list you need to help navigate your way through this new diet! Having a food list for paleo diet is extremely handy while planning your meals and grocery shopping so we recommend printing it out so you always have it on hand.
You can make countless delicious and totally satisfying meals using nothing but 100% paleo ingredients. As you can see, the most rich and flavorful foods are still included!
All meat, fish and seafood are not only allowed but encouraged:
Organ meats (liver, kidney, etc.) are highly recommended because they are super nutrient dense but they are definitely an acquired taste.
Eggs are also a very common protein source found in many delicious paleo recipes.
Fruits and veggies help round out a meal. They combine well with meat or with fatty ingredients (like the nuts, seeds, and oils below). Some great options include:
Nuts & seeds are a great source of healthy fats, protein, and nearly all of the vitamins and minerals your body needs. Snack on:
Peanuts do not count in this category. They are legumes, not nuts!
Healthy oils help add healthy fats to your diet. Some of the most popular oils in paleo recipes include:
There are only 2 definite categories on the paleo diet food list not allowed but these categories contain a lot of the most common ingredients in the modern diet.
You absolutely cannot eat processed foods as part of a paleo diet. That means no to:
Paleo is a low carb diet. Grains are restricted in every version. So that means no to:
Dairy and legumes are restricted in many versions of the paleo diet but some do choose to include them.
Dairy is sometimes excluded from certain versions of the paleo diet. The main logic is that our paleolithic ancestors did not drink milk after infancy. Milk wasn’t introduced to our diet until we started domesticating animals. Imagine trying to milk a wild animal!
However, milk does offer a great source of protein and other nutrients and since a small segment of the human population has adapted to drinking milk after infancy, certain paleo diets allow it.
The debate is never-ending and there’s logical arguments on both sides. We suggest you read some of those arguments for yourself and decide what makes the most sense for you.
If you’re lactose intolerant, for example, it’s a no brainer. But for those who can consume dairy, you have to decide what kind of health benefits you are looking for and whether or not dairy will help or harm your goals.
Legumes are restricted on almost all versions of the paleo diet. However, recent research proves that it was very likely some of our ancestors ate legumes as part of their diet. The main argument against them is that they contain phytic acid (an “anti-nutrient” that makes it more difficult for your body to absorb nutrients).
However, the amount of phytic acid that is present in legumes is reduced to a very small amount by the time they have been soaked and cooked. Basically, if you eat raw beans, they will be toxic and damage your body’s ability to absorb nutrients. But, we are guessing you have no plans for eating raw beans.
We do agree that peanuts (another legume) should be kept out of your diet or kept to a minimum as these are high in unhealthy fats and by the time they reach store shelves, they are usually heavily processed (especially peanut butter).
Here are some quick substitutes for non-paleo foods so you can adapt your favorite recipes to your new diet:
The easiest substitute for granulated sugar is coconut sugar. But other sweeteners included almond extract, vanilla extract, and extra ripe bananas—not to mention other fruits.
For recipes that call for flour, your substitute will depend on the consistency you are going for. In general, recipes that call for a lot of flour will have a somewhat different texture when you make them paleo friendly.
The most common flour substitutes are almond flour, coconut flour, and flaxseed flour.
Get a spiralizer and start spiralizing zucchini or other squash to make easy and delicious paleo friendly pasta substitutes!
Grated cauliflower is a fantastic substitute for white rice. It does add a bit of a cauliflower flavor but this is pretty subtle and is easily masked by the other ingredients in your dish. You can also grate butternut squash or pumpkin as a rice substitute. These have a richer flavor but this flavor can complement certain dishes (like risottos).
If you choose to go on the non-dairy version of paleo, you can use these substitutes to replace your dairy products:
While it can seem restrictive and like there’s nothing left to eat with the limitations of paleo, there is actually still a lot of great food that you can eat. It’s just a matter of transitioning and rethinking the way you eat.