Sticking with a Paleo can be hard enough (cheese… amIright?) But Paleo is, unfortunately, even more complicated than meets the eye. With our shelves saturated in highly processed foods, it can be difficult to find truly singular ingredients. Here are 6 add-ins to look out for when trying to think (and more importantly… EAT) like a caveman.
1. Rice Flour:
The main take-away here is that gluten-free does not mean grain-free. Many gluten-free options would seemingly be an easy Paleo option, but this is not the case. Even in an item that is advertised for using protein-rich almond flour, there is no guarantee it is free of rice, corn or quinoa (yes, quinoa is technically against Paleo rules too) supplements.
2. Corn Products (Starch, Syrup):
Corn is a grain, and its products are often added to meats and other processed items that would otherwise seem Paleo-safe. Items that I was surprised by this Paleo-adversary’s presence was fruit juice, brats and other processed meats.
3. Soy Products:
Oils (and fats) are a very important part of Paleo-living, but this can be tricky when trying to avoid soy. One item that I came across, where I would have never expected to find soy, was marinara sauce. You may have thought in the past, “Marinara sauce is all tomatoes. Thank goodness, so I can still put sauce over my spaghetti squash noodles….” Well, I’m sorry to say that you would be wrong. Unless you plan on making it yourself from scratch, your favorite sauce may be put on the black list for its soybean oil counterparts.
Now, I know what you’re thinking… but no, homemade jam is not Paleo. I found this out after eating gobs of it with almond butter in what I thought was an ingenious inside-out PB&J on a spoon. It may seem straight-forward to eliminate baked goods due to their other non-Paleo qualities, but there are other seemingly-natural sweets out there that don’t make the cut simply because they contain sugar. Other items that I ran into (or more like halting road-block-style crashed into… ) that fit in this realm of injustice are: dark chocolate and coffee. Now, by themselves, cocoa and black coffee are as Paleo as could be, but they are hard-pressed to find without their sweet friend (sugar). If you need something sweet, try almond butter or honey. In dire situations… a TINY piece of the highest cocoa-content dark chocolate you can find. As for coffee, learn to drink it black or make the switch to tea.
Salt is one of those food items that you would think is, for the most part, harmless (like sugar). But in reality, salt consumption is yet another food item that you need to limit in order to be true Paleo. It’s not an official ban, but watch out for salt content in those meats and nuts. Unprocessed meats and unsalted nuts are your best option.
6. Other preservatives (that I can’t pronounce…):
This was probably one of the more frustrating Paleo-adversaries for me. Especially considering I already couldn’t put sugar in my morning coffee, I wanted to at least add my go-to almond milk! But because of the incredible amount of additives in store-bought almond milk, this was not meant to be…I think that this is just another opportunity to emphasize, that in order to be truly Paleo, you need to watch those ingredient lists and opt for the most natural and un-altered version of that food as possible. This means either making the majority of your food from scratch, or simply eating a lot of raw fruits and veggies.
For my Paleo diet transformation, in the end, I depended a lot on NerdFitnesses‘ Paleo Central mobile app. HUGE lifesaver when you are not sure if something fits within the realm of the caveman, and I definitely recommend it to any Paleo-newbies out there.
Any other Paleo struggles out there? Let me know in the comments below!