Is This Paleo?

71 Comments

“If you have to ask, you probably can’t afford it.”  This little piece of wisdom comes in quite handy when buying high-end merchandise and dining in fancy restaurants whose menu lists -‘market price’ as the cost.  Now, many of you have probably been in situations where you or someone with you did the unthinkable and actually asked.  The result – rude looks, perhaps chuckles from those that may have overheard, and in the end no fancy diamond necklace or $1000 bottle of wine ends up getting bought.  What does this have to do with Paleo?

Now that Paleo eating is becoming ‘cool’ everyone seems to have their own version and opinion of what is and isn’t allowed.  You see it on paleo forums and blogs and hear it at the gym.  If you are a working as a trainer or nutrition coach the emails and questions are never ending…  “Is (insert food item here) paleo?  Options include: soy milk, oatmeal, agave, honey, quinoa, vinegar, tamari, Italian dressing, canola oil, chocolate, wine, hard alcohol, potatoes, coffee, Splenda, coconut ice cream…  These questions are asked over and over again until finally, someone, somewhere, in their very own version of paleo considers the item fair game.  This makes the asker of the question happy and all is well; until… “Paleo stops working” for them.  What’s next?  The questions start again -usually with a new food victim this time.

Generally speaking the “if you have to ask” rule is going to apply in most paleo food question situations.  If the food in question is not on the list in Robb’s book or listed on the website it’s probably NOT truly paleo.  That being said, if you are losing sleep at night because you used some tamari in your stir-fry or had vinegar and olive oil dressing on your salad then it’s time to relax.  On the other hand if you can’t sleep because you just ate a bowl of oatmeal with agave, had a cup of coffee and polished off a pint of coconut ice cream you may want to revisit the ‘list’.

So, how do you figure all this out without looking like a complete idiot?  Here are a few easy rules to follow:

  • If you are asking because the food is something that you ‘want’ someone to tell you is okay to have even when in your mind you know it’s not paleo – don’t ask.  This often applies to items such as coconut ice cream, oatmeal, wine, etc.
  • Consider the dose.  A good rule of thumb is if you can easily consume 100 or more calories worth of the item it’s not paleo.  You would be hard-pressed to use an entire bottle of vinegar or tamari (still not even 100 calories) but a couple drinks, honey in your tea, or a side of quinoa and you’re out.
  • If the question could be compared to asking if steak is allowed on a vegan diet – it’s not going to end happily.  Don’t go there!

Follow these simple rules and you’ll avoid embarrassment, disappointment, and perhaps a cheap shot to the gut.

Leave A Comment

Comments

Comment using Facebook

Comment using RobbWolf.com

  1. Evolutionarily
    July 27, 2011 at 6:11 am

    Thanks! Will be forwarding this to all my newly adopted Paleo friends, you just saved me about 100 future emails :)

  2. Sami Paju
    July 27, 2011 at 6:21 am

    This is my kind of post; short and sweet :) However, I’d add one more thing: Does it really matter if something can be put under the umbrella of Paleo diet or not? I understand the point of view that neolithic foods in general are bad for us unlike paleolithic foods, but where do you really draw the line between those?

    For example, the fruits and vegetables we have today hardly resemble the ones our paleolithic ancestors ate as we have been selectively breeding them for centuries. Same goes for domesticated animals that we eat.

    I don’t want to be nitpicky, but I think the REAL question is not “is this paleo?” but “is this good for me?”, or more precisely “does this help me reach my health and fitness goals?”.

    Cheers,
    Sami

    • Todd
      July 27, 2011 at 8:17 am

      In my experience, when people ask “Is this food paleo?” they are not actually wondering whether the food was eaten by our paleolithic ancestors. They are asking whether this food is considered acceptable under the “Paleo Diet” framework. It is frequently noted, “paleo is a logical framework applied to modern humans, not a historical reenactment.” In this context, I don’t see a problem with asking, “Is this food Paleo.” Having said that, Amy is right, if you have to ask, you probably shouldn’t eat it.

      • Amy Kubal
        July 27, 2011 at 9:27 am

        Thanks Todd! My point exactly!

      • Sami Paju
        July 28, 2011 at 10:53 am

        Hi Todd,

        I understand where you’re coming from and sort of agree :-) However, I also think that sticking purely to that kind of approach (the framework you quoted) leaves a huge gray area. I mean, who can actually say what is Paleo and what is not with 100% accuracy? Everyone seems to have their own interpretation and I think there are few things that are really sketchy such as fermented beans, fermented dairy, and some fruit that have come very far from their origins and can cause real issues.

        So, I will be sticking to my guns at least for now and maintain my point of view that “is something paleo or not” is not the what the person asking really wants to know. At least not in most cases :)

        I am also heavily inclined to think that everyone who actually cares about what they eat have an underlying goal; a reason for eating the way they do. It might be performance specific or just a desire to stay fit and healthy, but whatever the goal is, I think it is more fruitful to talk about how different foods fit that goal instead of whether or not they can be considered to be 100% on or off the paleo diet.

    • Glib
      July 27, 2011 at 8:18 am

      Couldn’t have put it better myself – Paleo is a basis for food choice, not a doctrine of how to eat. The more I get into “paleo” the more I evolve into a ‘food consumption science’ diet – what can I put in me that gives results / how does this food make me feel. It’s all about experimentation with different foods, although I do believe and push my friends heavily in the 30 days strict and reintroduction of things like dairy and properly prepared legumes etc.

      Ultimately, personally at least, I’ve found the higher fat/protein low carb route does maintain the easiest, but how you spend those 75-150g of carbs is up to you to experiment with (beyond the obvious—grains). People need to understand that playing around with the diet is key, and if you aren’t getting results – something needs to change.

    • Amy Kubal
      July 27, 2011 at 9:05 am

      Very good point Sami! Thanks for the comment!

    • Squatchy
      July 27, 2011 at 9:59 am

      Exactly. Different foods may or may not be appropriate to different people depending on their goals and individual health concerns or issues.
      You’re right, this stuff shouldn’t be reenactment. If something is truly good for you to eat that your paleolithic ancestors didn’t have access to, should it be avoided anyway? No, of course not :)

    • Primal Toad
      July 31, 2011 at 5:02 am

      I personally feel that if it is truly Paleo then there is a 99.9% chance that my body will thrive on it. This means all meats, veggies, fruits, seafood, fish, eggs.

      I am one of the most curious individuals in the world. I want to know what food A and B tastes like. Therefore I have been allowing myself to enjoy a bite or 2 of whatever “food” it is in order to fill my curiosity. If i know its junk then I stop. I enjoy it without any guilt and am thus more willing to stop.

      I then classify certain foods as grey area foods.

      These include foods like chocolate, wine, nuts, seeds, etc.

      Chocolate is abundant in phytic acid and I do not feel well at all when I consume more than 2 blocks at a time. However, I LOVE 85-99% dark chocolate. I also know it has a lot of beneficial properties. Thus I enjoy 1-2 blocks when its around. I enjoy a glass of wine here and there and nuts and seeds as a condiment.

      One must decide what is best for them.

  3. Julia
    July 27, 2011 at 7:01 am

    Great rule of thumb about the “100 calories;” that’s going to come in handy!

  4. Tim
    July 27, 2011 at 7:32 am

    My dad, a recent paleo convert, used to always ask “what does Wolf say about…?” Or “is (whatever) paleo?” He has really embraced the lifestyle and doesn’t ask those questions himself, but does travel a lot and has to field those questions from people interested in the Paleo concept.

    So now in restaurants, when folks (including curious servers) inevitably ask why he’s substituting pretty much everything for meat and veggies, he says “I’m watching my panther-like physique. So, if a panther wouldn’t eat it, I won’t eat it.” The wait staff love it, and it’s a great way for people to understand what is and isn’t cool without going into excruciating detail.

    • Amy Kubal
      July 27, 2011 at 9:35 am

      That is AWESOME!!! :o)

  5. Sara
    July 27, 2011 at 8:00 am

    I’m confused – Rob’s quick-start guide lists espresso as a beverage of choice and the shopping list includes balsamic and apple cider vinegars (as well as tamari, for that matter, which I get is still soy). This post seems to declare them “non-Paleo”. Can you explain more about why these items are unhealthy?

    • Amy Kubal
      July 27, 2011 at 9:34 am

      Sara – these foods are not true paleo choices and not all sources will use them. That being said – these ingredients do a heck of job adding flavor to foods. Did our Paleolithic ancestors have them – no. But they also did not likely have year round access to fresh fruits and vegetables, grass-fed cattle roaming in the pasture, or a flock of free range chickens laying eggs either. There are some things that you just don’t really need to stress about – unless your health or response to the food tells you (on an individual level) otherwise. I have balsamic vinegar and tamari on my shopping list too! Don’t stress about it!

      • Melissa
        July 28, 2011 at 2:27 am

        How is this reply not a contradiction of the whole article?
        Is there a pressing need to stop asking,“Is (insert food item here) paleo?” Why does a forum like this exsit then? I’m getting a Paleo headache.

        • Amy Kubal
          July 28, 2011 at 5:36 am

          Melissa, depending on where you are at as far as experience with Paleo, you may or may not find this post helpful. The main point – don’t use the “Is this paleo” question to justify less than optimal food choices. Base your decisions on how your body responds and where your at as for as progress toward your goals and overall health.

          • Kim
            July 28, 2011 at 10:47 am

            This makes sense, I think the post was meant to be more of a broad view of what is appropriate and what is not. I know some girls who “eat paleo” but are constatntly seeking out paleo baked good recipes and eat a lion’s share of their calories in the form of paleo cookies and brownies (and then wonder why they are not dropping weight). Just because the cookie doesn’t have wheat flour or white sugar doesn’t make it a good choice.

  6. Amy B.
    July 27, 2011 at 8:28 am

    I love posts like this — infusing a little common sense and sanity into the Paleo discussions.

    I approach it like this: While there are definitely foods that we can all agree are “Paleo,” and foods that aren’t, there are lots of things open for debate. But why *bother* debating? Who cares if wine or quinoa or almond milk are Paleo? Folks should decide what their individual levels of risk and/or tolerance are. Like Robb says: who are you and what are your goals? If you’re generally pretty lean, fit, and healthy, and eat Paleo mostly from a health and longevity bias, a glass of wine or even a cup of *real* (not coconut) ice cream isn’t going kill you.

    On the other hand, are you very overweight? Very sick? Practically bedridden with an autoimmune condition? If so, you might want to rethink things.

    How strictly you stick with foods you know for certain are “Paleo” should be decided by what your goals are and how *quickly* you want to reach them. (Taking into consideration, of course, allergies, etc.)

    I think Sami’s point is great: “I don’t want to be nitpicky, but I think the REAL question is not ‘is this paleo?’ but ‘is this good for me?’, or more precisely ‘does this help me reach my health and fitness goals?'”

    • Amy Kubal
      July 27, 2011 at 9:26 am

      Sami definitely summed it up well! Unfortunately, there are some people that will insist oatmeal,etc. is the best thing that ever happened to them from a health and performance standpoint. There is definitely a lot to be said for individual diet design what works for one will not work for all. If it’s not working tweak it – just because a food is considered paleo it doesn’t mean that it will work for you. It’s all depends on goals and current health. But the questions will always be there. The most recent one that I recieved – “Can I put sugar or honey in my coffee for carbs?” The answer – You CAN do anything you want – if you should on the other hand is a whole different story!! Thanks for the great comment!

  7. David
    July 27, 2011 at 8:33 am

    I disagree on the 100 calorie rule. I eat Paleo precisely because I do not want to worry about calories and becoming neurotic about my eating habits.

    I do agree that what most people ask is just stupid i.e., soy anything, oatmeal, etc…

    Sami hit the nail on the head. “Does this help me reach my health and fitness goals?” And it sits right in-line with the “this is not a historical re-enactment” philosophy behind Paleo.

    • Amy Kubal
      July 27, 2011 at 9:18 am

      You are correct David, but some people need guidelines!

      • Mary
        August 12, 2011 at 9:22 am

        I also disagree with the 100 calorie rule…. when I eat a giant grass fed rib eye with spinach cooked in coconut oil I am pretty sure it has more than 100 calories.

        • Amy Kubal
          August 12, 2011 at 10:04 am

          Mary – those foods are all paleo… This post is directed at the foods people question – oatmeal, quinoa, soy milk, honey, etc…

          • Dualhammers
            October 20, 2012 at 1:29 am

            It is easier for me to overeat meat than it is for me to overeat on lentils or quinoa. I can polish off 3, 4 lbs of 80/20 beef and be hungry for more, but if I try to eat .5lb of beef and 3 cups of quinoa I am going to be stuffed. If I find it easier to lose weight eating non-paleo things, does this mean I am broken in some way?

  8. Nick Cruz
    July 27, 2011 at 9:12 am

    Great and timely post. I personally, went strict paleo for 60 days when I started 2.5 years ago. From there I started tinkering with a few things, mainly with dairy and white rice. These may not be paleo, and I would never recommend them to any of my friends interested IN paleo, but I also read and listen to a good sized group of professionals (Robb Wolf, Chris Kresser, Mark Sisson) and I know how my body reacts, and I am ok with the results. Ill even go through retooling processes where I start over strict for 30 days. Unfortunately, the moment someone that Ive told about Paleo finds out that I eat the occasional dairy or white rice, they think its ‘paleo’ and then start spreading that rumor. Its like a really bad game of telephone where you sit in a circle, whisper into someones ear a sentence and then by the time it goes around the room the sentence is changed beyond recognition. And then, inevitably, the newbies fail because, like you said, ‘it stops working for them.’

    Thanks and I will be certain to share this!

    • Amy Kubal
      July 27, 2011 at 10:04 am

      Nick! That is so true – and exactly what we need to prevent! Just because it works for one, doesn’t mean it works for all!! Thanks for the comment!

  9. Mike Paleovillage
    July 27, 2011 at 9:17 am

    Can I add something? I know it sounds well for masses, quick fix, “follow the list” panacea… but it’s not as simple as that.

    That’s why so many “fad diets” fail; they send the user to follow the recipe. And the recipe only worked once, for the guy who started the whole thing.

    Some food items my be super ok for some people and then really bad for others. A piece of fish, raw is a totally different food than the same piece of fish fermented or fried, baked or steamed…

    Therefore, education is the key. Individuals start experimenting on their own bodies with different foods and learn what works and what doesn’t. Starting from a known practice… Not easy, you have to use the brains :)

    And a comment: the “dense rule” of 100 calories? U serious? That’s two tablespoons of heavy cream…

    • Amy Kubal
      July 27, 2011 at 10:02 am

      Michael,
      It’s not as simple as that, but for those that are lessed versed in Paleo than you and I simple, overlying guidelines are helpful. And while adding cream to your coffee might be fine – for some this isn’t going to be a great option. And ultimately, no dairy is not paleo. Is it okay for some – heck yeah, but that doesn’t make it paleo. Education and individual experimentation and desing are key – but as a quick start, yes/no, simple guide the rules I listed are fairly solid.

  10. Martin
    July 27, 2011 at 9:21 am

    Yes, honey in your tea is definitely not Paleo. But counting calories (the 100% rule) is.

    Right…

    • Amy Kubal
      July 27, 2011 at 9:56 am

      No, counting calories is NOT paleo – but believe it or not many people do and some may find this rule very helpful!

  11. Tim
    July 27, 2011 at 10:58 am

    I was confused when I first started living this way because Mark Sisson says one thing and then Robb says something else so I just played it by ear and have been getting leaner as a result. I do like the general guidelines idea instead of the “dont eat this and dont eat that” approach of most diets.

    • Amy Kubal
      July 27, 2011 at 11:15 am

      That’s the perfect approach Tim!

  12. manny
    July 27, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    sorry, typo (you can delete the first reply):
    right on! also that’s why i quickly ate my pint of coconut ice cream w cinnamon last weekend before my brain could ask the little fat kid that lives inside me if it’s paleo or not….

    totally agree on it depends on goals, and where the question is coming from (i.e. are they looking for an out?…)

    you gotta earn the right to tinker with your food after you have a handle on the basics. otherwise it’s like trying to vaccume under the couch when the the kitchen’s on fire, first things first…

    • Amy Kubal
      July 28, 2011 at 5:05 am

      That is an AWESOME analogy!! I’m definitely going to remember it! Thanks Manny!

  13. PaulL
    July 27, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    I had a similar issue with confusion between Robb’s and Mark’s approaches. But I quickly realized they were more or less on agreement over the larger issue of eating healthy.

    Mark makes a point The Primal Blueprint that you should mostly worry about whether or not your food choices are “whole and natural” more than what is/is not Paleo/Primal (with the exception of cereal grains, where regardless of whole or not, they aren’t food to begin with :)

    The issue I see confusing most people is that of dairy. Primal allows it, Paleo does not. Most of us who have been doing paleo for a while tend to be of the mindset of “if you can tolerate it, it’s fine, if not, then avoid it”.

    As someone at my gym so eloquently put it:

    Eat to support your goals.

    Figure out what your goals are, figure out if what you’re eating supports those goals, then decide whether you should eat it or not.

    Simple, straight forward, common sense.

  14. Robb Russell, D.C.
    July 28, 2011 at 11:12 am

    A more cumbersome question might be, “Is it consistent with the human genome?” However, as I watch the Paleo diet become Primal and Paleo 2.0, I wonder if someday it will end up being a shiny new version of Westin Price’s work (which isn’t Paleo).

    As far as trying to see what works for you, one problem is that some of the adverse outcomes associated with non-genomic foods (that is more awkward than non-Paleo, isn’t it?) is that the damage done to the body is insidious. Inflammation and glycation, for instance, don’t always slap you in the face.

    Coffee and alcohol? Aside from people from extreme northern latitudes, like Laplanders and the Inuit, who suffered from a lack of raw materials to grind, ferment, smoke, etcetera, there probably hasn’t been a population that hasn’t found some way to alter consciousness with plants. One UCLA researcher referred to this universal phenomenon as the Fifth Drive and noted that some animal species seek out substances that do the same thing. There are more than a few videos on You Tube showing animals getting drunk on over-ripe fruit. Certainly can’t blame that on the dawn of agriculture. For instance-
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5E5TjkDvU0

    We are all drawn to the Paleo world by health whether it is our own, that of a family member or of our patients. Before we make too many conclusions, consider Steven Salerno’s article, The Longevity Myth, in the Skeptic (vol. 15, no. 4, 2010) where he concludes, “A bit more humility would be in order…we should consider the all-time record for human longevity may be held by a fellow who attributed his good fortune not to any marvels of medicine but, as he put it, to a regimen of ‘green cheese, onions, coarse bread, buttermilk or mild ale (cider on special occasions) and no smoking.’ So said one Thomas Parr, who- according to records maintained at Westminster Abbey, where he was buried by order of King Charles I- died at age 152. In 1635.”

  15. Jscott
    July 28, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Todd said this above: http://evolvify.com/why-everything-is-paleo/

    I want to give myself the best change to live the longest and highest quality life possible. I worship no diet group’s god. I want to be flexible. I want to float the streams of change and best direction without resistance. If a vegan diet helps my brain and improve my bio chemistry via vat meat (and oh it is coming) then I will enthusiastically eat that way.

    Abundance of choice for all income levels has a price to pay. Our entitlement to food (in developed nations) three times (or more) a day has made the wealthy fat–always has–and stripped away the one advantage the poor have: the ability to do without. Why skip eating 24-36 hours to purchase incredible quality of food when I can buy Ramen noodles and Spam for under 1 buck a meal?

    Obsessing about which nightshade is really a night shade and if a potato or rice is on the proper enlightened path is bantered around daily while fasting…well, that is old school. We know better now, yes?

    I want to move without pain. I want to process thoughts without suffering. Those are the measurements I care about. I will strip and/or add anything that improves those two metrics.

  16. Rene M.
    July 29, 2011 at 4:51 am

    Hmm… this article seems to be creating a lot of confusion. I agree with Paul and Amy. Food needs to be whole and natural. We have to look at the way food is prepared and make better food choices. Lets look at meat. Is meat Paleo? Yes and no. WHAT?! Has the meat source been fed grass and is free roaming? Yes, then it is paleo. If the meat source fed anything else other than grass, such as corn based feed and given steriods, then it is not paleo.

    Another consideration I would say, and Amy correct me if I am wrong, honey is considered a sugar, but if in small amounts and rarely used, it should be ok. If you want to imagine a caveman walking around with club in hand, and stops to the sound of buzzing over head, would he not take that honey? I would! Keep in mind, honey was available in limited amounts and not used often. Then we got smart and started farming it. ;)I use a small amount in my 1 cup a week coffee.

    As Robb would say, “This is not a religion.” Make smart choices, make sure food preparation simple, and remember meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts and berries (tree grown).

    • Amy Kubal
      July 29, 2011 at 5:29 am

      Yes, unfortunately this post is causing a great deal of confusion. It was meant to serve as a tool for beginners that are still trying to get the basics down. And also as a reminder, that just because someone, somewhere says that oatmeal, soy milk, etc. are okay – ultimately they will do you no favors and may be detrimental to you and your goals. Can you have honey, sure- you CAN have whatever you want – should you on the otherhand is a different story. Once and a while, great – but where people get in trouble is they find out it’s okay and it stars becoming an everyday staple. One tablespoon of honey once a week is much different than one tablespoon in each of 4 cups of tea daily. This post was not meant to be complicated – it was meant to be helpful. Don’t read into it and if you feel it doesn’t apply to your situation ignore it all together.

      • Amy B.
        July 29, 2011 at 7:13 am

        Exactly. I’m kind of surprised at the amount of debate this post generated.

        Depending on how “metabolically deranged” we are, how physically active, etc., our bodies can tolerate more or less carbohydrate, and more or less non-paleo foods. That doesn’t change the fact that something is or is not paleo. If something isn’t paleo, then folks need to decide if it’s worth having their progress being slower or less dramatic because they want to eat “x” food. But you’re right — they should be *aware* of what is and is not paleo, so if they *are* including some of the questionable foods, they won’t be able to legitimately claim that paleo “doesn’t work.”

        I think you’re spot on — Unless people have severe autoimmune conditions or allergies, a little taste of this or that once in a while doesn’t do a whole lot of damage. So folks get the mistaken impression that they can “get away with” things like that. But it’s just like you said — those treats that should be reserved for just once in a while start creeping in a few times a week, then once a day, and before you know it, Paleo “doesn’t work.” People fall into the same trap on straight low-carb programs, too. The low-carb tortillas, sugar-free chocolates, ice cream, etc. It’s sort of like obeying the letter of the law, but not the spirit. “Low carb bread,” to me, is missing the point. I respect that it’s a nice alternative for when a low carber really wants something with that texture or taste, but you know what I’m getting at.

        Kim’s comment above is great, too — people discover paleo treats made with almond or coconut flour and sometimes go a little overboard. You can definitely make some great homemade “indulgences” for when you’re really in the mood.

        On the other hand, I think it’s hilarious (or maybe sad?) when I see people buying certain things in places like Whole Foods or Trader Joes. Organic, gluten-free junk is *still junk.* (And most of it for certain is *not* Paleo!)

  17. Novi
    July 29, 2011 at 7:40 am

    Well try this paleo recipe

    You’ll love it!

  18. Jason
    July 30, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    Paleo has been such a relief for me. The stress of counting and obsessing over calories is gone. Since being 100% paleo for a month I’ve noticed that I don’t have to eat as much just to feel full. I sleep better and I feel as if I’m thinking clearer.

  19. Leah
    July 31, 2011 at 11:11 am

    I think this post only addresses part of the reason people ask questions. There definitely is a group of people who will ask “Is this Paleo” in the hopes you are going to validate something they already know they should not be eating. However, there is also a group of people who truly do not know or have been given misinformation. I think back to a conversation I had about a month ago with someone who is a regular participant in one of my martial arts conditioning classes. He had recently started doing some crossfit-type of workouts at a micro-gym and they had him doing a paleo diet for 30 days. He was struggling with this and admitted that he really didn’t know what he should be eating. I asked him if he had discussed with his trainers/coaches. He admitted he had not as the nutrition discussions had taken place in a group setting and he felt silly as everyone else seemed to know what was going on. We talked about the paleo diet for a bit and I provided him with some web references to do some homework. My advice to him was that he really needs to do some research on his own in addition to considering the advice he is being given. I also recommended that he speak to his coaches after the group sessions and ask for help.

    I am happy to answer the “Can I eat this?” question as it often provides an opportunity to educate someone. While I understand the group this post was targeted for, I would not want to discourage someone from asking questions.

    • Robb Wolf
      August 1, 2011 at 9:21 am

      It’s a good point, but it’s wacky how folks do not “get” one of these options:
      1- eat: meat, seafood, fruit, veggies, nuts seeds

      2-do not eat: grains, legumes or dairy.

  20. Jamie
    August 1, 2011 at 9:45 am

    I am pretty new. I have only been doing the 30-day challenge for 16 days now. I had a glass of wine last night and knew it was not part of my new paleo lifestyle. I thought this article was great. It is easy for people to try to talk themselves into thinking that MAYBE this ________ is paleo. I thought the article did a good job of saying, “Hey, if you have to talk yourself into it, it’s probably not what you want to be eating.”

  21. Shannon
    August 3, 2011 at 6:13 am

    I think one of the best pieces of food advice I ever got was from my endocrinologist when he put me on a close-to-paleo diet many years ago: “If you shouldn’t eat it, you should’t eat it. No low carb, no sugar free, no low fat. Just don’t do it.” That’s been hugely helpful with paleo. I may have a GF cookie every so often, but I know they’re not good for me. Ditto for soy products. I occasionally cook with tamari, but not every month. I love this post because it’s exactly my thought process–if I have to ask, then I probably shouldn’t eat it. And if I do, like those yummy bagels I ate while in Brooklyn, I better be willing to pay the price. (Which I did. Next time I’m in NYC I will skip the bagels. Sigh) Stick to the basics and you’ll be fine.

    • Amy Kubal
      August 3, 2011 at 9:44 am

      I love it Shannon! Right on!

  22. Turow
    August 4, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    some of the language smacks of being a cult. People must ask if things are ‘really paleo’ and only those profitting dispense the knowledge. Are there any self checks in place?

    Join the forum and first thing the dietitians will be ready to sell you salvation.

    Time will tell.

    • Robb Wolf
      August 5, 2011 at 6:11 pm

      Really? Really?

    • Big John
      August 11, 2011 at 2:24 pm

      PROFITING? Really? Its FREE information and so is the forum! Ohh…and “self checks” ever heard of Free Will and Self Control ya %#$&!

  23. Dominic
    August 21, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    What’s your take on psylium husks? Greatly helps me stay regular.

  24. Heather
    September 13, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    I think these questions exist because so many people have previously been on diets with strict regulations—diets at which they have ultimately failed. We are so used to diets that try to control every thing you can eat (like Medifast, which even regulates how many teaspoons of vinegar you can have). With these diets, any little diversion is a failure and no one wants to fail again. We have learned to sacrifice our autonomy when it comes to dieting.

    When I peruse the forums of various diet plans, it makes my head spin to hear all the people frantically asking for guidance. “Is this approved? Is that approved? What do you think of this supplement?” It’s like a hyperactive kid trying to see exactly how far he can push the boundaries without getting into trouble. When you let yourself get into that mentality, you are setting yourself up for failure. Instead, you should be asking yourself which dietary behaviors support your own personal goals and well-being.

    Robb Wolf and Mark Sisson are intelligent, but they are not all-knowing or omnipotent, and they are not our parents. They offer some great guidelines, but they want you to think for yourself and take charge of your own health. The 80/20 rule exists so that you can add honey to your coffee once in a while (if it helps you stick to the guidelines in the long run), but also so that you are not eating honey-sweetened almond flour muffins six times a day. You are the only person who can decide exactly where the boundary exists for your own body.

  25. Chris
    January 4, 2013 at 8:47 am

    I am new to the paleo diet, in fact just researching it now and haven’t started it yet. I don’t think it is absurd to ask “is it paleo” especially for someone like me trying to research in the beginning. Otherwise, how will I know what to cut out???

    • Robb Wolf
      January 4, 2013 at 9:48 am

      Chris-
      In the first few hours of research I guess this passes muster.When the concept is:No grains, legumes or dairy, and the question pertains to grains, legumes and dairy (as it frequently does) this is the impetus for the post.

      • Chris
        January 4, 2013 at 10:38 am

        Ok, that makes sense. I just found this forum when trying to narrow down things like vinegar (or things I am not completely knowledgeable about where they fall into as far as food categories go). And I have seen mixed opinions on vinegar. I guess I’ll follow the obvious rules regarding grains, legumes, and dairy…and everything else borderline in moderation. Thanks again!

        • Suzanne
          February 6, 2013 at 12:11 pm

          Sorry, Robb, but I think you may have forgotten what it is like to attempt a complete overhaul of your diet. Going Paleo requires a rethinking of unconscious eating patterns, things that we take for granted and have been programmed to believe are healthy for us. I’m on day 5 of the Paleo auto immune protocol, and have been researching this diet for days, not only to answer the “Is it Paleo” question, but to look at what scientific research has to say. While some people don’t want to think that hard and would prefer to follow what the experts (such as yourself) recommend (hence the question, “Is it Paleo”), some of us want to dig deeper and understand why those precepts are there (myself included).

          Questions are great and always okay. It’s an opportunity to connect and learn and grow. And yes, I still have tons of questions. I am still researching about legumes (discovering last night that the English peas I bought for the salad were legumes and not to eat them), and things like lemon juice, vinegar, and coconut flour (who ever heard of it and what does it taste like?), and does this mean that dessert is basically a no-no? Remember, I’m doing the auto immune protocol. For example, I recently read on one blog: Coconut milk and coconut oil are great. Whole coconut products like coconut flakes and coconut flour should be used sparingly until you know how you handle them (high inulin fiber, which is a FODMAP).

  26. James Burnette
    September 26, 2014 at 8:54 am

    I get asked this question so often. Hey can I eat this? While it get frustrating I don’t want to yell at people that are trying to make a better choice. I try explaining how to make the decision on their own and just keep answering yes or no when that fails.

Leave a Reply