4

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shopping paleo and being careful

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created August 16, 2011 at 7:37 PM

I have several friends that are starting a paleo plan for their families. They (as am I) fairly, if not brand new, to paleolithic eating. They are curious about picking out the correct products when shopping. Are there some key words on labels that can be cues for avoiding certain items?

A6e2b231f69366ce825476c5a6dcfff6

(1967)

on August 17, 2011
at 03:07 AM

Only one ingredient list hasn't p!$$ed me off: Italian seasoning: Thyme, Oregano.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on August 17, 2011
at 01:28 AM

+1 if none of your foods have labels your definitely on the right track!

2c8c421cf0e0c462654c7dc37f8b9711

(2729)

on August 16, 2011
at 10:01 PM

Ditto. If it has a list of ingredients, don't buy it.

Ec7cb2a7a68655954a01f03e95be1383

(1453)

on August 16, 2011
at 07:54 PM

Honestly, you should know the answer if you know the paleo basics. otherwise it might be good to educate yourself and read some books about it. Just saying... Could be difficult to maintain this diet without knowing what to avoid. However, I hope you find help here.

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10 Answers

12
Ec7cb2a7a68655954a01f03e95be1383

on August 16, 2011
at 08:11 PM

Honestly, you should know the answer if you know the paleo basics. otherwise it might be good to educate yourself and read some books about it. Just saying... Could be difficult to maintain this diet without knowing what to avoid.

Paleo is really convenient, you really don't need to read the labels... because you usually don't buy any food with labels.

However, here is what might help you in general:

  • Always prefer fresh, grass-fed, pastured or at least organic foods
  • That is foods like meat, eggs, seafood, organ meat, starchy and non-starchy vegetables, nuts, fruits
  • if you include dairy use high quality dairy products, preferable raw or fermented
  • Cook with lard, coconut oil, tallow, ghee or butter. Avoid all industrial seed oils
  • To make things easier, just avoid processed foods completely
  • Avoid hydrogenated oils
  • Prefer fatty meats

In case that's not practical enough for your friends and they still want to buy processed food (Which technically means they aren't eating paleo), this are the most evil things:

  • wheat and other gluten cereals
  • too much processed carbs
  • monosodium glutamate (poison), also called "spices", "yeast extract", etc.
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup and any high sugar sweetener
  • Hydrogenated oils
  • Soy in any form
  • if you need to call a chemist to defipher the ingredients, avoid it
  • Gluten and MSG are often hidden behind acronyms, so they should get educated about that
  • Aspartam is evil, too.
  • Seriously, all processed food should be avoided.

8
5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on August 16, 2011
at 08:47 PM

Don't buy foods that need labels. Get: Meats, (ok, grass fed and finished is a good label), eggs from a farm, butter, fish, vegetables, fruit. Or if it has a label, one ingredient would be ideal. Yeah, I may be stretching the point a bit, but the vast majority of foods you eat on a healthy paleo diet won't come with labels.

2c8c421cf0e0c462654c7dc37f8b9711

(2729)

on August 16, 2011
at 10:01 PM

Ditto. If it has a list of ingredients, don't buy it.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on August 17, 2011
at 01:28 AM

+1 if none of your foods have labels your definitely on the right track!

7
Da8e709acde269e8b8bfbc09d1737841

(1906)

on August 16, 2011
at 07:46 PM

To paraphrase Michael Pollan, if you can't pronounce an ingredient on the label, or don't know what it is, you're probably better off refusing the food.

As far as real food goes, emphasis should be placed on "grassfed" or "pastured" over words like "natural", "organic", and "free-range". The latter may be better than conventional feedlot animals, but it's not the same as grassfed/pastured.

Beyond that, most paleo folks will refrain from buying anything containing wheat or legumes. Even in health food stores, a significant percentage of shelved items contain one or the other, particularly when it comes to soy-derived products.

Also, any form of sugar should be avoided. Everyone talks about high-fructose corn syrup, but really, any added sugar/agave/etc should be avoided as a general rule.

5
8d454fc50d6d58643d6f8b0d1e7ea8ea

on August 16, 2011
at 08:00 PM

I don't buy anything that isn't broken down into a most minimal part (OK, not molecular structure) -- for example "chicken broth" as an ingredient is not acceptable to me. What's in that chicken broth? Chicken flavor? What's that?

3
67460907f9d818f56e1ef4c846317386

on August 16, 2011
at 08:06 PM

With respect to labels, you want as FEW ingredients as possible, this will generally mean it was processed less which is a good thing. As WyldKard mentioned, avoid any added sugar whether real (sugar, honey, agave, etc...), fake (artificial stuff) or pure evil (High Fructose Corn Syrup. Also watch for added oils and grains such as soy, wheat, seed oils. Stuff like oats and rice aren't as bad, but should still be avoided.

And if you have to get something bad, remember that ingredients are listed in order of content, so if sugar is listed as the last ingredient, it won't be nearly as bad as being listed as the first ingredient.

Ultimately though the goal is to buy fresh produce and meat and prepare it yourself. Stick to the outside of the store and prioritize local and organic food in that order. On produce stickers it will say what state it was grown in most of the time, but farmers markets are your best bet for fresh local produce. As far as meet is concerned buy grass fed and organic or at least hormone free.

Good luck and have fun with it!

3
Fe535c4994ac6176f76e1ff6d29eb08a

on August 16, 2011
at 07:56 PM

Along with what McMeghann said, anthing that is rather vague about what it is. "Natural and artificial flavors" usually includes a couple different versions of MSG.

3
Ccdf3fbcaec76e025ff94d03cc4daf9a

on August 16, 2011
at 07:50 PM

Anything that says "other spices" almost always has gluten in it. My friend is a celiac and those were her words of wisdom when I first started paleo.

2
B14dc4aa1ddefbec3bc09550428ee493

on August 17, 2011
at 04:33 AM

The fact that it has a label at all is often a good indicator. Eat whole, unprocessed foods.

2
F3e312545761ab663e37e6c2d5c831ea

(1049)

on August 17, 2011
at 02:36 AM

We recently wrote a post about affordability of shopping Paleo (http://paleoparents.com/2011/how-to-keep-your-paleo-family-out-of-the-poorhouse/) as well as some recommended items for your shopping list (http://paleoparents.com/2011/efficiently-economically-and-easily-how-to-grocery-shop/).

Instead of what to avoid (good answers already given) here's what we recommend when you're transitioning and looking for shelf-stable, affordable items:

Wholly Guacamole brand guacamole

Trader Joe's red and green salsa's

Trader Joe's olive oil, egg yolk and lemon juice to make your own mayonnaise

Canned olives and fruit in own juices

Canned wild salmon and tuna (Cost and Trader Joe's have the best prices and quality product)

Beef Jerky, without soy sauce and low in sugar

Sunbutter (Sunflower Butter) and Almond Butter

Fresh fruit (bananas and apples pack well) - dip in butters!

Fresh veggies (carrots, celery, pepper slices and cucumber are big hits) - dip in quac!

Nuts, dried fruit and unsweetened coconut flakes to make your own trail mix

TONS of Omega 3 rich eggs (free range, grass fed is best)

Almond meal or almond flour (we like honeyville but Bob's Red Mill is readily available) for "treats" if desired

LaraBars

Just make it fun for the kids, make it about learning about foods and health rather than deprivation and everyone will be excited in no time :)

Stacy

1
1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on August 16, 2011
at 07:54 PM

Fructose as a food additive avoid.

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