Is It Paleo?

by Suz on March 6, 2012 · 4 comments

in Paleo, Shopping

I’m sure, like me, you’ve seen lots of question on Paleo forums, asking if a particular processed food is Paleo.  Perhaps friends, inspired by your positive changes, are making similar nutritional moves themselves –asking for your guidance on what is and isn’t “Paleo” along the way.

A Return to SAD Foods?

The food raising the question generally seems to be some kind of snack or sauce, perhaps a nod towards the person’s previous SAD diet.  Often the first ingredient is arguably “Paleo”, perhaps some kind of meat, vegetable – or as it often the case in processed foods – water.  But the further down the list you go, the ingredients become less and less agreeable.  There is often some form of sugar or sweeteners, preservatives, stabilisers, my favourite “natural flavours” – which really could mean just about anything  – and perhaps the catch all “spices”.  So maybe there isn’t a lot of wheat; but not a lot is still some wheat!  Things like gluten seem to linger in the body for a long time, so complete abstinence makes a lot of sense – there’s no such thing as low-gluten

The other issue is that nutritional information panels don’t display the quality of the ingredients.  If they don’t specify that the beef is organic and grass-fed – I think we can assume it almost certainly is not.  Would you have bought the ingredients yourself – and if not, why are they suddenly acceptable just because they’re in a packet or bottle?

Unless you’ve made something, from ingredients you’ve sourced and understand; can you ever really know what you’re eating? 

No Time?

Processed foods are, no doubt, easier, quicker and cheaper.  That’s surely part of the reason we’re in this nutritional mess in the first place.  As with lots of things in life, the best things generally aren’t the easiest things!  Yes, you can buy mayonnaise for a few dollars and use it instantly – or you can invest time and make your own Paleo Mayonnaise knowing exactly what you’re eating – and what you’re not.  I know which I’d rather.

I often wonder whether the person asking the question is hoping to gain approval to revert, at least in part, to their old pre-Paleo ways.  Whilst some processed foods are clearly a lot more Paleo-friendly than others, I do wonder where to draw the line.  If you “allow” a mass-produced tomato sauce with a few dubious ingredients – perhaps that canned chicken soup doesn’t look so bad?

So, is it Paleo?

Almost everything I buy doesn’t have a nutritional label.  Meat from the butcher, eggs and vegetables generally don’t come in packets with nutritional information – and if they do, they are the only ingredient – or I don’t buy it.  The only exceptions in my supermarket trolley that I can think of are coconut milk (if I could grow my own, I would!) and nut butters, which I very rarely use.

As a general rule, I think it’s fair to say; if you have to ask, it isn’t Paleo!

Are there some border-line foods that you consider Paleo?  What do you buy that has an ingredients list?

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Sigi March 6, 2012 at 10:17 pm

Mine is a very boring pantry! I pretty much just have my salts/peppers/spices, a few tins of plain tuna, lots of tins of coconut milk/cream, and a few jars of the best pasta sauce I can find (which will never come in contact with any pasta!). The ingredients for that are: tomatoes, onions, garlic, salt, herbs, olive oil and spices. It’s good to dump into the slow cooker with a chunk of grass-fed beef, late at night, so I’ve got the next day’s lunch ready and waiting to come to work with me the next morning.

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Suz March 7, 2012 at 9:44 am

Mine is boring too Sigi – but with simple ingredients you can definitely make great meals!

Slow cookers are great aren’t they – I love coming home to a piping hot ready made dinner!

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Elissa April 11, 2012 at 8:56 am

Canned organic tomatoes, packets of herbs and spices, coconut milk the ayam brand, almond spread the macro one, i do get butter, cream, milk but all organic and full fat and i use them sparingly still going to trial a proper month of proper paleo although I believe I will go through a hard time of severing the attachment to dairy products. I love going to the markets and getting my box of organic veges which I have picked out myself, items from the butcher and then I go home and plan my meals for the week, alot of baking and cooking myself but I dont mind, I find pleasure in cooking food that wont cause any reactions or make me ill.

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Irena June 9, 2012 at 12:33 pm

I include some dairy so my trolley might have ricotta or Parmesan cheese, some natural Greek yogurt. Also, canned tuna for those on the go lunches and beef jerky ( I am attempting to make my own). And like many others, I also get some almond meal and coconut flour, coconut oil, coconut milk, some nut butters and organic canned tomatoes/tomato paste. There are also some great natural, Paleo friendly condiments like mustard, tamari, horseradish, gherkins, dips etc. I try to purchase those with as little added stuff as possible. They do make life easier for the busy bees like me.

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