Going on the paleo diet or “eating like a caveman” takes more than just cutting out grains and refined sugars from one’s diet. It’s a lifestyle, and one needs to plan ahead before following the diet. It entails proper planning and the first step one must do before going on the paleo diet is making a paleo shopping list.
Food to Buy
The modern paleo shopping list varies from person to person and the list is customized according to the person’s preferences, as long as he or she sticks to the basics of the paleo diet.
The list is also optimized for modern man who does not have to forage for food nowadays; all modern man has to do is run to the grocery store and buy the items from your food list. The basic list is divided into several categories like herbs & spices, fruits & vegetables, meats (for the freezer & fridge), oils & fats, dry goods, and tins & jars.
Herbs and Spices
These items are sometimes overlooked, but their function is very essential. They add flavor to one’s paleo dishes and some spices even help in boosting one’s metabolism to speed up the weight loss and maintenance process.
Some useful herbs and spices are black pepper, bay leaves, cinnamon, chili flakes, ground cumin powder, ground coriander seed, garlic powder, curry powder, nutmeg, Italian herbs, and rosemary seeds.
Other spices include smoked paprika, Celtic salt or sea salt, sweet paprika, star anise, and turmeric. Some fresh herbs that are part of the paleo shopping list are dill, chives, basil, thyme, cilantro (coriander), and parsley.
While the category lists mostly animal products, there are also vegetable items that can be placed in the freezer or refrigerator.
Some meat (and frozen vegetable items) are raw prawns or cooked prawns, free-range bacon, free-range eggs, ground/minced beef (grass-fed), grass-fed gluten-free sausages, free-range chicken, salmon or snapper fillets, aged Pecorino or Parmesan, coconut yogurt or full fat Greek yogurt, Halloumi cheese, dried lean salami, olives, green peas, frozen spinach, and frozen berries.
Fruits & Vegetables
Eating lean meats alone is boring, and vegetables add a lot of flavor to meat dishes.
Some of the readily-available vegetables are: broccoli, red or white cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, carrots, cucumber, celery, ginger, garlic, kale, mushrooms, mixed lettuce, pumpkin, onion, red peppers, radishes, tomatoes, and spinach.
For fruits, some readily-available are: avocados, apples, strawberries, blueberries, bananas, kiwifruit, lime/lemons, and sweet potatoes.
Oils & Fats
Fats and oils add flavor to one’s dishes and provide the necessary omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats to keep one’s energy level high. With coconut oil, one can drink it straight, cook with it, or even rub it on one’s skin.
Olive oil, especially extra virgin olive oil, is used for cooking at low-medium heat and is great for dips and salads.
Macadamia oil is a neutral-tasting and great oil for cooking and is excellent to make home-made mayonnaise.
Animal-based fats can also be staples in the paleo diet shopping list.
Butter, which comes from grass-fed cows, is used for baking, low-medium heat cooking, and for melting over meats and vegetables.
Butter is also safe for people who are dairy-sensitive as butter is high in fat, which makes it tolerable for most people. Ghee (clarified butter) can be used for roasting, baking, and pan frying. It has a high smoke point and has hardly any casein or lactose left.
Even those on the paleo diet are entitled to a sweet treat every now and then. The list has some dry goods that can be used to whip up some fantastic desserts to be enjoyed at the end of every meal.
For baking needs, some dry goods essentials are: almond meal, macadamia nuts, almonds, hazelnuts & cashews, coconut flour, coconut sugar or coconut syrup, natural stevia, baking powder (gluten-free), dark chocolate, raw cacao powder, tapioca flours, and vanilla extract, among other pantry items.
The list may also include chicken, beef, or vegetable stock. The most preferable brands use natural ingredients and these items are usually stocked in the store’s cool section.
If natural stock is not available, one can make such from using leftover bones and vegetables. Beef or pork jerky may also be handy. While not always cheap, jerky can be used to flavor vegetable dishes or salads. It can also be eaten as a snack after working out.
Tins & Jars
These sauces can also be used for paleo cooking and are essentials in one’s pantry. Tinned passata/tomatoes can be used in sauces, soups, and stews. Tinned tuna and sardines are high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. They can be eaten for breakfast or snack time and are excellent additions to salads.
Gherkins add flavor and crunch to deli meat rolls and salads. Sun-dried tomatoes are excellent for snacks, salads, and omelets. For dressings, it is best to use white wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and apple cider vinegar.
Coconut milk or cream is used for baking, smoothies, mousse, curries, and soups while coconut aminos – in place of soy sauce – is used to marinate meats and chickens as well as for stir-frying. Coconut water, instead of energy drinks, is normally drank after a strenuous workout.
Mustard, hot chili sauce, and fish sauce are used to flavor Asian-inspired dishes. Raw honey, which is a sweetener, is full of antioxidants and enzymes and it has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties.
To enhance Asian dishes, sesame oil has a smoky seed and nut flavor. Tahini, which is a Middle Eastern staple, is a sunflower seed paste that can be added to sauces, dips, and salad dressings. Red wine, which is grape-based, can be enjoyed with one’s lean meat dish.
There is no end to what one can buy as long as they can be included in the paleo shopping list. The food choices are limitless. Moreover, the food choices can make one’s paleo dishes nutritious, delicious, and satisfying.
About The Paleo Diet
The paleo diet (or the Paleolithic diet or the caveman diet) is essentially the diet of what the ancient cavemen ate. It means the food of the hunter-gatherer and not the farmer and the basic foods the caveman ate were fish, meats, nuts, regional vegetables, leafy greens, seeds, and fruit.
The caveman also did not eat what modern man eats today like cereal, candy, pasta, canned goods, and processed food.
What made modern man revisit the paleo diet? During the Paleolithic era, the average man was muscular, tall, athletic, agile, and versatile.
Now, modern man is increasingly stressed out, out of shape, overweight, sleep-deprived, unhappy, and slowly dying from various diseases that are mostly preventable.
What went wrong? The rise of agriculture was blamed for modern man’s slow decline.
Millennia ago, man discovered farming techniques and the Neolithic Revolution (or the agricultural revolution) came to be. From a forager, man became a farmer. Humanity then settled down, established societies, and steadily developed to what it is nowadays.
Like many things, there is a downside to progress. The human body never properly adjusted to eating farm-harvested products, especially grains. Instead of eating meat, seasonal fruits, and vegetables, mankind is now dependent on grain-based staples like corn, pasta, rice, and bread.
Eating grains makes most humans obese and prone to suffer from various diseases like infertility, depression, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity.
The resurgence of the paleo diet has made many people think twice about what they eat. The paleo diet is considered the diet of what humans are biologically meant to eat. The diet enables humans to harness their genetic potential and begin living a healthier lifestyle.
Food to Eat
The paleo diet should comprise primarily of lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables, which makes for some interesting breakfast ideas. Lean proteins, which make one feel fuller between meals, support an optimized immune function, healthy bones, and strong muscles.
Vegetables and fruits are abundant in phytonutrients, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants that have been proven to decrease the risk of developing degenerative diseases like neurological decline, diabetes, and cancer.
Other paleo diet food items to eat include healthy fats from seeds, nuts, avocados, fish oil, grass-fed meat, and olive oil. Such foods are rich in omega-3 and monounsaturated fats that reduce dramatically the likelihood of developing cognitive decline and preventable diseases.
In a nutshell, paleo diet foods include vegetables, fruits, seafood, lean meats, healthy fats, and seeds & nuts. Adherents of the paleo diet should avoid grains, dairy, legumes, alcohol, starches, refined sugars, and processed foods.
Paleo Diet Benefits
Autoimmunity (leading to reduced pain), weight loss, and improved blood lipids are only some of the benefits of following the paleo diet. Other benefits of following such diet are: improved sleep patterns, better teeth, clear skin, anti-inflammatory properties, balanced energy throughout the day (very useful for athletes, reduced allergies, burning off stored fat, and more efficient workouts.
As for diabetes, it has been established that the paleo diet works better than the Mediterranean diet in reversing Type 2 diabetes symptoms. When it comes to cardiovascular disease, it has been found out that man’s Paleolithic hunter-gatherer ancestors showed no evidence of suffering from strokes or heart attacks.
In many ways, the paleo diet is ahead of the Mediterranean diet in helping one to lose weight and keeping it off.