Yes, there are a lot of people who say they eat paleo but in actuality their diets are closer to Atkins than anything. I don’t care how many clever slogans I see, no one will ever convince me that bacon is health food. Unless it’s from a pasture-raised pig, made with natural salt (and not much of it), and no sugar. But I haven’t seen that product on the market yet (NOTE: Reader megjersey asks if I ever tried Pete’s Paleo Bacon, which I have not heard of until she mentioned it, and after looking it up, it looks pretty paleo to me, so if you’re a bacon nut and don’t mind the salt, go for it and let me know how you like it).
Okay, I know you asked for 5, but here are the top 8 things that I stay away from as much as possible (based on my original article “7 NO’s and a YES), and they are in no particular order. Someone else’s list might be different, but I can only speak for myself. For instance, a long distance runner who follows paleo might have a completely different list, but these are the things that a lazy bastard like me stays away from.
1- Grains. All grains. Wheat, barley, corn, rice, oats, etc. Some are worse for you than others (in other words, more toxic), but I stay away from them all. Rice and quinoa (which is actually a seed) are more neutral in their toxicity, but are still empty carbs without adding much nutrition. I don’t feel the protein in quinoa is worth eating it for the added empty carbs.
2- Processed food. Unless ALL the ingredients on the label are paleo, stay away from it. I stop reading the label after one chemical sounding ingredient like sodium benzoid, or some crap like that.
3 - Non-Organic food. I would rather you eat organic grains than non-organic meat. There are so many bad things for you (mostly chemical) in non-organic food that it makes me sad. This includes avoiding non-pasture raised meat and eggs as much as possible. Yes, I know organic food is more expensive, but if you’re not buying that bag of snack food, and making your own things like bread and mayo, than it’s more affordable than you might think. Here’s an article I wrote proving that organic paleo is affordable for all.
4 - Conventional Table Salt. Stripped away at the salt mines by all kinds of nasty chemicals. IF you are going to add salt to your food (which I highly recommend you don’t), I’d rather you use organic sea salt or Himalayan salt, or something similar, but once it’s in your system, salt is salt as far as your body is concerned. There is enough salt in the organic food we eat to keep us alive without adding anything extra. Your tastebuds will become much more sensitive (a good thing) after giving up salt, and your body will become much healthier. Again, if you work out constantly, you might decide you need more salt in your diet, but my 3 reps a day of getting off the couch doesn’t see a need for it.
5 - Sugar. One of the worst things for us, if not THE worst. The only two forms of sugar I eat are raw organic honey, and fruit, but again, remember, once it enters your system, sugar is sugar, and it’s not good for you. At least fruit offers fiber and nutrition. Keep the fruit in moderation, eat the honey as a once in a while treat, and I think it’s a nice balance for a healthy diet.
6 - Legumes. This one sometimes breaks my rule of “if you can’t eat it raw, don’t cook with it,” because there are some legumes you can definitely eat raw, like snow peas, and green beans. But for the most part, you can’t eat most legumes raw, and you can only cook out so many of the toxins. The trace amounts of toxins left over build up over the years, and eventually lead to disease. The same goes for grains. The big ones to stay away from are beans (especially soy), and peanuts, but I stay away from them all, even the edible when raw ones. Still, one meal of green beans won’t kill you (but 10,000 meals of them might).
7 - Potatoes. As far as I know, you cannot eat a potato raw, without the chance of getting sick. Not only that, a cooked potato turns to sugar when digested. But still, there are worse things in life for you than an organic potato, so if someone orders a plate of fries and you have a few, don’t beat yourself up. But if you gave up salt, you might find them too salty to eat! That’s a good thing, not bad. By the way, this goes for sweet potatoes for me too (don’t write me nasty comments, if you eat sweet potatoes, good for you, but I don’t, for the same reasons I don’t eat white potatoes).
8 - Dairy. I rarely eat diary, unless it’s from a pasture-raised animal (go primals!). I just can’t justify it being part of a natural diet for humans, in the time before cultivation. But if you’re not lactose intolerant, and you want to eat pasture-raised dairy, a little moderation can go a long way to living a healthy life.
Dairy, meat, eggs, and sugar are acidic on the body, and most plant based food has an alkaline effect on the body. You want a ratio of about 70% alkaline to 30% acid for a healthy balance. So if your plate is 70% meat and 30% veggies… switch! You want mostly veggies, and a little (or no) animal based food in your overall diet to maintain a healthy balance.
I hope this helps, and thanks for reading! Good luck!