What not to eat on the Paleo diet?

The Paleo diet is grain-free, legume-free,
sugar-free, dairy-free and is low in omega-6 fats.

The Paleo diet is based on {real food} only.

Grains (whether they are gluten-free or not), flour,
vegetable oil, seed oil, legumes, soy, peanut, dairy or sugar
are NOT real food, but "processed edible substances".

Eliminating these 5 main non-foods can help you get healthier:

1. Grains (and pseudo-grains)

    With gluten: wheat, bulgur, kamut, durum, graham, triticale, barley, rye, spelt and most oats*

    Gluten-free: rice, corn, teff, millet, sorghum, rye, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, chia…

    MealsWhere grains hide
    Breakfastbreakfast cereals, oatmeal, muesli, bagels, muffins, toasts, English muffins, croissants, smoothie made with wheat germ, pancakes, waffles
    Lunchsandwiches (the bread, but also the deli meat!), pizzas, burgers (not only in the bread, but often in the meat patty too), breaded chicken, salads with croutons, barley soup, sushis (from the tempura, soy sauce or imitation crab), dumplings, soups (in the noodles or from the thickening agent), seitan
    Dinnerspaghetti, lasagna, rice, risotto, noodles, meat pies, stuffing, sausages, chicken nuggets, bulgur, couscous, frozen French fries (from the coating)
    Dessertscookies, cakes, pies, muffins, graham crackers, scones and other baked goods
    Snacksgranola bars, crackers, nachos, yogurt with granola, pretzels, potato chips (from the flavoring)
    Alcoholbeer, spirits made from grains, many liqueurs and mixes (from thickening agents)
    Seasoningssoy sauce, some tamari sauces, malt vinegar, many salad dressings, sauces and marinades, many seasoning blends, gravies

    Grains can also hide astexturized vegetable protein, flavoring, thickener, starch, farina, roux, malt, broth, bulgur, durum, graham flour, semolina, seasonings, spice blends and so on… 

    Sometimes it may be clear on the label, but not always.

Do you really know what is in your food?

2. Legumes

    Beans and lentils are often found soups, chili, refried beans and hummus

    Peanuts are often found plain, salted, as peanut butter, in granola bars, energy bars, breakfast cereals and other baked goods.

    Soy can be found in almost ANY processed foods.

    Soy can hide in: breakfast cereals, margarines, mayonnaise, muffins, protein powder, soy beverages, granola bars, sauces, tofu, vegetarian burgers, vegetarian dishes, fried food, edamame, tempeh, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, and frozen entrees, burgers or sausages (as a filler), gravies, smoothies, bouillon cubes, broth, soy nuts... These ingredients contain or may hide soy: soybean oil, soy protein, soy flour, soy fiber, soy albumin, soya, lecithin, textured vegetable protein, vegetable gum, thickener, stabilizer, flavoring, gums...

3. Vegetable and seed oil
    The most common oils to avoid include: soybean oil, canola oil, corn oil, peanut oil, cottonseed oil, grapeseed oil, safflower and sunflower oils. Avoid these oils and read ingredient lists to make sure they are not listed in the ingredients of your favourite foods.

    Vegetable and seed oils rich in easily oxidized and in pro-inflammatory omega-6 fats are mostly found in processed and convenience foods, such as baked goods, crackers, frozen entrees, soups, mayonnaise, salad dressings, spreads, margarines, shortenings and fast food. If you eat out, ask what oils are used if you want to avoid these unhealthy fats.

4. Sugar

    Sugar is not only found in desserts, sugary drinks and sweets, but it is also present in almost ALL processed foods, including tomato sauce, salad dressings, especially low-fat ones, frozen entrees, bacon, deli meat, dried fruit, marinated meats, breads, balsamic vinegar, mustard, ketchup, some nut butters, breakfast cereals, yogurts and fast food.

    Sugar is often listed as: glucose, fructose, sucrose, dextrose, dextrin, fruit juice concentrates, raw sugar, turbniado sugar, invert sugar, dehydrated cane juice, honey, high-fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, malt syrup and any other kinds of syrup, agave nectar, molasses, lactose, xylose, saccharose, maltose, maltitol...

5. Dairy
    Dairy products can cause or be the cause of different healthy problems, including lactose intolerance, dairy/casein intolerance, hormone disregulation, blood sugar imbalances and hyperinsulinemia (high insulin levels).

    Stay away from dairy at least for a month and try introducing raw, high-quality, full-fat and sugar-free dairy from pastured animals to assess your individual tolerance.

Learn more about why grains, legumes, vegetable and seed oils,
dairy and sugar are not part of the optimal human diet
...or have a look at what to eat on the Paleo diet.

With the help of the Paleo dietitian, you will learn to adapt the Paleo diet to your own lifestyle, preferences and personal goals.

Learn how to get started with the Paleo diet! (free)

Go back to the index to pick another topic related to the Paleo diet that you would like to know more about.

* Oats are often contaminated with gluten because they are processed in the same facilities where wheat and other gluten-containing grains are processed. Only certified gluten-free oats are completely free of all traces of gluten.

Reference: Celiac Sprue Association. Grains and Flours Glossary. 2011. (accessed January 2012)

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