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"best" worst non-paleo foods?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created June 03, 2013 at 12:59 PM

so my boyfriend and I have reached 1 month on the paleo diet. We've done pretty well (we had 1 cheat weekend over our anniversary, but that's it), and for the most part I think it's working for us. We do miss non-paleo items sometimes, though. For me it's harder because I tend to get ravaged by cravings, which makes me cranky, but I know he doesn't really see it as a problem. My question is this- if we were to allow ourselves a couple "cheat" items, what are the least terrible options out there? Is dairy better than wheat? Are legumes a TOTAL no-no? I've heard differing opinions on whether or not all this stuff is actually terrible for you, so I'm really just looking to find out if there is some kind of ranking for how toxic each non-paleo food groups are. my boyfriend misses beans, mostly. he likes black beans. Personally, I miss hummus like crazy, and I often get cravings for bread (but I eat the Food for Life Ezekiel bread, which I think might be better than standard breads), and we both admit some of our meals could do with a little cheese- obviously this is probably better than us sitting down and eating a box of Lucky Charms or something to that effect, but I guess my question is: if you're going to allow yourself a bit of a cheat meal every now and again, what's the best possible bad choice you could make?

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on June 03, 2013
at 03:39 PM

Disagree - it depends on the individual's sensitivities. Given no sensitivity to dairy or wheat, beans may actually give one the most trouble! And of course, an allergy to casein or gluten/gliadin would make diary or wheat (or both!) immediately worse than the other. "Bean" sensitivity isn't as hip as gluten sensitivity, but it's (likely) even more common. Heck, there are songs sung by children about the ill effects of beans.

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2 Answers

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Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on June 03, 2013
at 01:29 PM

First, I would suggest you really try to identify if you want to follow a paleo diet. You don't have to do so to be generally healthy, but most of us here would say it is definitely an optimal diet. You haven't made it one month on "strict paleo" yet -- I suggest trying to do so before reintroducing possible allergens and irritants. Having said all that, I'll try to answer some of your direct questions.

Is dairy better than wheat?

For those without any allergies for dairy or wheat (casein or gluten), there are more easily accessible forms of healthy dairy products than there are wheat products. This is mainly because wheat is a pretty boring and not-too-edible food in it's unprocessed form, while dairy can be made into a plethora of cheeses and yogurt with minimal processing (fermentation and aging). If you do have an allergy or sensitivity to either, then you should generally avoid it -- something that you may be able to discover on a strict paleo / elimination diet.

Wheat isn't the only grain out there, and if you're really hell-bent on eating them, I suggets researching into the Weston A Price Foundation for guidelines on fermenting grains, especially Fallon's book Nourishing Traditions, which covers basic fermentation of many foods, including dairy, vegetables, and grains.

I don't strongly identify as paleo, but I do abide by the core tenets as a framework to find what works for me. On occasion, I'll ferment teff flour (not a wheat, but it is a tiny grass seed), and make injera pan bread. Does this mean I "can't be paleo?" I don't like to think of it that way.

Some not terrible grains, but not terrible interesting either, including white rice and oats. Again, I won't suggest either necessarily, and if you chose to eat them, I wouldn't suggest daily. But overall, not the worst thing you could eat.

I often get cravings for bread (but I eat the Food for Life Ezekiel bread, which I think might be better than standard breads).

It's still bread, and while it is sprouted, it is still a whole-grain bread, with all the issues that accompany that. I started to recognize my gluten intolerance when I ate Ezekiel bread years ago, as a matter of fact.

Are legumes a TOTAL no-no?

Legumes aren't even a categoricall total no-no on strict paleo. "Whaaaaa...?" you ask? Legumes are a family of plants. There are plenty of legumes -- that are clearly beans -- that are accepted in paleo and have been for a long time: you can find green bean, snow peas, or snap pea recipes in more than one published paleo cookbook. Also, there's outlier foods that are legumes, but we do not eat the seed portion - jicama is a legume, and we eat the tuberous root, and rooibos is a legume, and we make tea from it's leaves.

The need to cook or roast a bean before eating it is usually correlated to the amount of lectins in the beans, and these are 1/2 of the bad stuff commonly found in beans (the other 1/2 being the particular fibers in beans that many have issues with). Green beans (and related) simply have virtually no lectins, making them about as safe as any vegetable can be.

What your asking about is the traditional "bean"-type bean from a legume plant - i.e. from peanuts to chickpeas to large favas. This is another case where learning to ferment foods would help if you're dead set on eating these types of foods. I can no longer handle the types of fermentable fibers found in most beans, so I've stopped eating black beans and chickpeas long ago (and I used to make a mean refried black beans!)

Summary: for most of these foods and possible issues, your mileage may vary. I suggest doing a strict paleo diet for about 1 month, and then reintroducing 1 possbile irritant at a time, and seeing how you feel. Overall, no food is inherently forbidden, but certain foods are bound to make you feel healthier, and others may drag your down -- why not discover what those foods are?

-1
04a4f204bc2e589fa30fd31b92944549

(975)

on June 03, 2013
at 03:23 PM

Dairy is hardly better than wheat but if you and your boyfriend want to reintroduce some beans I think that shouldn't be a problem. Try to soak them for a long time and then slow cook in a crockpot.

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on June 03, 2013
at 03:39 PM

Disagree - it depends on the individual's sensitivities. Given no sensitivity to dairy or wheat, beans may actually give one the most trouble! And of course, an allergy to casein or gluten/gliadin would make diary or wheat (or both!) immediately worse than the other. "Bean" sensitivity isn't as hip as gluten sensitivity, but it's (likely) even more common. Heck, there are songs sung by children about the ill effects of beans.

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