4

votes

Help me work out a paleo "rule of thumb"

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created July 16, 2011 at 10:04 AM

I'm a newbie, and learning all the time. It's easy for me to identify the basic foods as paleo or not (beef=paleo wheat=not) but I'm struggling every time I encounter a new food, or a food that there's some disagreement on (eg dairy). Also, I find I get bogged down when the discussion turns to omega3/6, anti-nutrients etc. It's annoying to have to look up or google every time I need to find out where something fits, so I'm wondering if any of you have a "rule of thumb" that works for you? The sorts of things I imagine are

"could I grow or kill this myself?" "could I eat this raw?" "how many people have touched this before me?"

Help me navigate through these first stages, please?

76d0056c773673e24b8c57a685d504ed

(132)

on July 21, 2011
at 09:41 PM

thank you for your suggestion!

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083

(2399)

on July 21, 2011
at 07:56 AM

ALA (fat in flaxseed), in my opinion, isn't something really good or bad. It just is ;) So in this case, I propose you experiment. Try a month without, see if it effects you, reintroduce if needed.

742d03cebff2a6d8aae313e90d5c76b8

(325)

on July 18, 2011
at 09:17 PM

I'm confused. Shouldn't it be "if they didn't eat it 10,000 years ago". Because I'm pretty sure corn, rice, oats, wheat and milk existed - maybe not in the exact same form we have them today, but still.....

76d0056c773673e24b8c57a685d504ed

(132)

on July 18, 2011
at 05:14 PM

Well I just learned something new about the flax then. But there's nothing wrong with consuming it, right?

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083

(2399)

on July 18, 2011
at 09:14 AM

Well flaxseed is not a good source (http://www.marksdailyapple.com/flax-prostate-cancer-risk/) of DHA/EPA Omega3 nad yopu might want to decrease the total Omega content instead of aiming for a good ratio. Good to have on board ! Paleo is awesome ;)

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 17, 2011
at 04:42 PM

So while some strike dairy from the paleo diet for one reason or another, it most certainly cannot be because it didn't exist back then. People that would eat insects would most certainly drink milk or eat it in some fermented form.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 17, 2011
at 04:41 PM

It was previously thought that dairy originated with the nomadic tribes of Asia and Europe, but now it's fairly certain it came out of Africa and it doesn't require much speculation to understand that paleos knew that a mother suckling it's young was the same thing that a human mother was doing for her young. And when they used "all of the animal" (which is so often brought up) why would they not bother with the milk of a newly hunted female prey. There's no telling how far back that practice went, not to mention it's fermented products. (continued)

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 17, 2011
at 04:41 PM

Ha! Then we start we start getting into technicalities rather than generalities such as a "rule of thumb" would imply. Yes, I'm a grass-fed butter slatherer, but that should not really be considered impaleo because butter goes back at least 11,000 years (http://www.tcnj.edu/~dillon6/ButterIs.html), so techinically it would satisfy the arbitrarily set 10,000 year cutoff point. But more to the point, there is no question that milk preceded the neolithic era and is in fact the ONLY food for which sole purpose is to nourish something else. (continued)

510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20898)

on July 17, 2011
at 01:27 PM

The key here is that you avoid the worst poisons for your body. Then as long as you're not eating them, you'll be forced to get your food from nutritious sources. Everything else is just counting the angels on the head of a pin, your body is quite resilient and can work with just about any food as long as you cut out the poisons. In the long run you'll have more success with a Paleo diet where you make strict rules about what you don't eat rather one where you go looking for Paleo foods.

76d0056c773673e24b8c57a685d504ed

(132)

on July 17, 2011
at 01:16 PM

excellent. so glad to help!

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 17, 2011
at 01:12 PM

glad you like it, Rhi. I tried to answer your question as concisely as possible. This basic idea has kept me in great health for over two years. Of course, personally I avoid seed and nuts and their oils, eat a lot of meat and fish, eat a lot of starch, blah blah, but those are individual details that didn't seem to be what you were looking for.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 17, 2011
at 09:52 AM

That's easy and helpful, thank you.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 17, 2011
at 09:51 AM

Thanks for the encouragement.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 17, 2011
at 09:50 AM

Nice "out and about" rule. Thanks.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 17, 2011
at 09:49 AM

See, this is great. I wanted short and sharp, I didn't want to be bogged down in details, and I already do this so now I'm feeling confident. I also can't see how dairy can be paleo (though people are smart enough to work out what to eat) and I guess you just assumed that even a mega-newbie would know the "no sugar" rule.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 17, 2011
at 09:45 AM

See, this is exactly what I wanted. I can't see how dairy fits, I don't want to get bogged down in details. I guess maybe you just assumed that even a newbie knows the "no sugar" rule?

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 17, 2011
at 09:40 AM

Thank you for your kind support. I'm excited about this journey, just want know I'm on the right track.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 17, 2011
at 09:39 AM

I like your questions, liberal and rudimentary are good right now. The idea of thinking about how a food began (seeds, mother) really appeals to me, I think I'll add it to my mental checklist.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 17, 2011
at 09:35 AM

That's what I've been using as my guide, but I don't actually know what they were eating 10 000 years ago. I'm starting to get more of a picture though. So you're a "no butterer"?

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 17, 2011
at 09:33 AM

Great discussion you two. Being new to this, and already in good health with good habits, it's going to be more subtle than that. I'll keep that thought inthe front of my mind though.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 17, 2011
at 09:30 AM

It's exciting, isn't it? I love that this whole community is so understanding of imperfection and humanity. Slip-ups are actually part of the diet.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 17, 2011
at 09:27 AM

Great answer, and you're right, I might just need to ease up. The foods that I'm thinking about are still good by most standards

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 17, 2011
at 09:25 AM

Good point, thanks.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 17, 2011
at 09:24 AM

Thanks for the encouragement, but as I said, I'm getting tired and anxious about looking up everything I eat. I know that soon it will become automatic, and I understand that everyone moulds this lifestyle to suit themselves, I really just wanted a little help to get my head around these early stages. BTW, I am a nutrition nerd, and that's probably what's making it trickier. It's easy to rule out Mars bars, harder with quinoa.

Bd271299b2d4d9b2e3da9c252fef058c

(2854)

on July 17, 2011
at 03:18 AM

Good question! Comprehensively, I suppose- to eat what is 'good' for me (future), and to enjoy it (present). It gets tricky when cravings and guilt get in the way, but that's where self-knowledge comes in. Of course, this is easier said than done... But so is being paleo in a neolithic world.

0dbd7154d909b97fe774d1655754f195

(16131)

on July 17, 2011
at 01:34 AM

Distally or proximally? Feeling good in the long run or in the current moment. These two differences would drive very different desires.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 17, 2011
at 12:02 AM

"oh cool, perhaps my first downvote!" - i guess, it some dairy pusher with their wishful thinking that mammal gland fluids are PALEO ||| perhaps, dairy IS alright (i sometimes eat butter myself), but, come on!, - that's NOT a PALEO in a strict / orthodox sense

Efc27460255d03e72392883ca8a7b0d2

(134)

on July 16, 2011
at 03:20 PM

Just discovered this one myself: http://fastpaleo.com/free-paleo-cheatsheet/

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on July 16, 2011
at 02:16 PM

Add sugar to your list and I'm with you!

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 16, 2011
at 02:01 PM

Thank you @simibee for this answer - first sentence nailed it. It's exactly how I run my own personal Paleo and I've actually struggled to phrase it exactly this way. Aces.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 16, 2011
at 01:28 PM

oh cool, perhaps my first downvote!

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 16, 2011
at 10:11 AM

Those were the questions I used when I was moving from SAD to a whole-foods, unprocessed diet. I realize the paleo rule would be different.

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12 Answers

best answer

3
667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 16, 2011
at 12:28 PM

One rule is all you need.

Avoid:

  • grains
  • legumes
  • dairy

Don't overthink it. Keep it simple.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on July 16, 2011
at 02:16 PM

Add sugar to your list and I'm with you!

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 16, 2011
at 01:28 PM

oh cool, perhaps my first downvote!

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 17, 2011
at 01:12 PM

glad you like it, Rhi. I tried to answer your question as concisely as possible. This basic idea has kept me in great health for over two years. Of course, personally I avoid seed and nuts and their oils, eat a lot of meat and fish, eat a lot of starch, blah blah, but those are individual details that didn't seem to be what you were looking for.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 17, 2011
at 09:45 AM

See, this is exactly what I wanted. I can't see how dairy fits, I don't want to get bogged down in details. I guess maybe you just assumed that even a newbie knows the "no sugar" rule?

510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20898)

on July 17, 2011
at 01:27 PM

The key here is that you avoid the worst poisons for your body. Then as long as you're not eating them, you'll be forced to get your food from nutritious sources. Everything else is just counting the angels on the head of a pin, your body is quite resilient and can work with just about any food as long as you cut out the poisons. In the long run you'll have more success with a Paleo diet where you make strict rules about what you don't eat rather one where you go looking for Paleo foods.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 17, 2011
at 09:49 AM

See, this is great. I wanted short and sharp, I didn't want to be bogged down in details, and I already do this so now I'm feeling confident. I also can't see how dairy can be paleo (though people are smart enough to work out what to eat) and I guess you just assumed that even a mega-newbie would know the "no sugar" rule.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 17, 2011
at 12:02 AM

"oh cool, perhaps my first downvote!" - i guess, it some dairy pusher with their wishful thinking that mammal gland fluids are PALEO ||| perhaps, dairy IS alright (i sometimes eat butter myself), but, come on!, - that's NOT a PALEO in a strict / orthodox sense

11
D3ff004d4a0c42b67cc2c49a5ee9c0f3

(5801)

on July 16, 2011
at 10:42 AM

For a newbie - If the total ingredients on the package is equal to 1 you have made an infinite improvement over the SAD.

That'll get you to 80% while you are still learning.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 17, 2011
at 09:25 AM

Good point, thanks.

9
B5cc60ce970d2efed2de1f01c3b33e86

(410)

on July 16, 2011
at 11:13 AM

As a newbie I say don't get caught up in trying to be to perfect. It gets exhausting, and usually leads to bad choices. Just use good judgment. Easiest way is if it has been altered to eat, stay away. Aside from heating it up obviously. Meat and Veggies, Nuts and Seeds, Some fruit, little starch and NO sugar. Good luck and welcome.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 17, 2011
at 09:27 AM

Great answer, and you're right, I might just need to ease up. The foods that I'm thinking about are still good by most standards

8
Fa9f340eddbad9a544184c688fa4dcdd

(6433)

on July 16, 2011
at 10:29 AM

Honestly it's difficult to apply a glib-sounding rule of thumb to all of the grey areas in Paleo - you have to make up your own mind on a case by case basis by weighing the pros and cons.

Paleo grey areas off the top of my head: fruit, optimal carb consumption, dairy, tea coffee and chocolate, "safe" starches like white rice, fish oil, novel supplementation e.g. curcumin.

The good news is that these subjects have all been discussed in depth from a variety of perspectives on this site. Once you work out where you stand, things should become automatic and then if you're a nutrition nerd you can tweak your views and keep abreast of the latest Paleo thinking.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 17, 2011
at 09:24 AM

Thanks for the encouragement, but as I said, I'm getting tired and anxious about looking up everything I eat. I know that soon it will become automatic, and I understand that everyone moulds this lifestyle to suit themselves, I really just wanted a little help to get my head around these early stages. BTW, I am a nutrition nerd, and that's probably what's making it trickier. It's easy to rule out Mars bars, harder with quinoa.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on July 16, 2011
at 02:01 PM

Thank you @simibee for this answer - first sentence nailed it. It's exactly how I run my own personal Paleo and I've actually struggled to phrase it exactly this way. Aces.

7
742d03cebff2a6d8aae313e90d5c76b8

(325)

on July 16, 2011
at 11:51 AM

I am a newbie also and realized pretty quickly that I was spending more time looking up information on the computer than I was on eating, exercising and hanging out with the family. My epiphany came when I realized that I was reading alot about 80/20 or 90/10 and lots of "you don't have to be 100% to still see and feel dramatic results". So I am done stressing about how to make my necessary coffee both paleo and drinkable - a Tbsp. of heavy cream and a smidgen of Splenda is not going to wreck my whole program.

I've also come to think of doing-it-the-paleo-way as a way of life and not a Diet. I always fail at diets because they are too hard. As soon as I would go on a low-carb diet, I'd concentrate on all the stuff I couldn't have, give in, have it, and then feel like I had failed, so why continue. With paleo I'm thinking of it as a lifestyle change - I have RA and need to get healthy - losing weight will undoubtedly come along. I'm much more stringent about not eating gluten, if I relate it to my health and not my weight.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 17, 2011
at 09:30 AM

It's exciting, isn't it? I love that this whole community is so understanding of imperfection and humanity. Slip-ups are actually part of the diet.

6
1568416ef28477d1fa29046218d83ddd

(6235)

on July 16, 2011
at 11:36 AM

Well the rule I apply when eating out isn't perfect but it is an 80% rule designed to make my social life work more easily. I ask" Would I make that at home"? If the answer is yes I consider it even if the preparation isn't paleo.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 17, 2011
at 09:50 AM

Nice "out and about" rule. Thanks.

4
8caffe4dea631347b447e9f4e12fb2da

(589)

on July 16, 2011
at 12:24 PM

Remember you will make mistakes, don't beat yourself up over it. That will discourage you fast. Keep it simple for a while and faze things in. You will find that it will work easier. Also your body will go through an adjustment period. Big thing is processed as Karin said, it's your biggest enemy. If you try to be perfect you will be your biggest enemy. So relax and enjoy the ride. Welcome and best wishes.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 17, 2011
at 09:40 AM

Thank you for your kind support. I'm excited about this journey, just want know I'm on the right track.

4
A65499f2f8c65602881550fe309cd48c

(3501)

on July 16, 2011
at 12:00 PM

Stay as unprocessed as possible as much of the time as possible. Pretty much sums it up for me :) And also, don't freak out if you find you can't follow that rule for some reason...depending on the situation. Sometimes you may find yourself where you may not be able to. Make the wisest choice you can, move on and don't beat yourself up for not being perfect. Simple but effective.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 17, 2011
at 09:51 AM

Thanks for the encouragement.

3
76d0056c773673e24b8c57a685d504ed

on July 16, 2011
at 01:49 PM

I am beginning too! But a few questions (they are rather liberal) that I ask myself are: 1) did it have a mother? (beef? yes. milk? no.); 2) Does it bear seeds? (these are fruits and veggies---good choices); Is it a legume or grain? (then don't eat it); Is sugar listed in the ingredients? (don't eat it). These questions probably do not encompass all the things you could look for, but it's a start.

I think training yourself to flip a package over and reading the ingredients is important. Honestly, most of the foods I buy do not have a package. They are single ingredients. Apples. Lettuce. Eggs. Beef, etc...the only real time I check is with dried fruit and nuts, which is my favorite most portable snack. I prefer fresh fruits and veggies for snacks, but if you are stuck on campus, some homemade trail mix is awesome. Unsalted nuts and unsweetened dried fruits.

I think the easiest way I have eased into the omega-3/-6 thing is, if I eat a food at some point in the day that is high in omega-6, I try to eat something else that is high in omega-3. An example: nuts are higher in o-6s, so I try to eat a piece of fatty fish high in o-3s at some point in the day. It seems easier to get the o-6s, so I try to counter it by sprinkling flax seeds on salads which are higher in o-3s. This is probably a pretty rudimentary way of doing it, but it's easy for me to do as I am beginning as well.

76d0056c773673e24b8c57a685d504ed

(132)

on July 17, 2011
at 01:16 PM

excellent. so glad to help!

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083

(2399)

on July 18, 2011
at 09:14 AM

Well flaxseed is not a good source (http://www.marksdailyapple.com/flax-prostate-cancer-risk/) of DHA/EPA Omega3 nad yopu might want to decrease the total Omega content instead of aiming for a good ratio. Good to have on board ! Paleo is awesome ;)

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 17, 2011
at 09:39 AM

I like your questions, liberal and rudimentary are good right now. The idea of thinking about how a food began (seeds, mother) really appeals to me, I think I'll add it to my mental checklist.

76d0056c773673e24b8c57a685d504ed

(132)

on July 18, 2011
at 05:14 PM

Well I just learned something new about the flax then. But there's nothing wrong with consuming it, right?

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083

(2399)

on July 21, 2011
at 07:56 AM

ALA (fat in flaxseed), in my opinion, isn't something really good or bad. It just is ;) So in this case, I propose you experiment. Try a month without, see if it effects you, reintroduce if needed.

76d0056c773673e24b8c57a685d504ed

(132)

on July 21, 2011
at 09:41 PM

thank you for your suggestion!

2
C2502365891cbcc8af2d1cf1d7b0e9fc

(2437)

on July 17, 2011
at 08:45 AM

For my money, you can't go past Kurt Harris' three neolithic agents of disease: gluten, excess fructose (ie sugar) and excess linoleic acid (ie vegetable/seed oil). Avoid these and you're likely getting 80% of the results from 20% of the effort.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 17, 2011
at 09:52 AM

That's easy and helpful, thank you.

2
Bd271299b2d4d9b2e3da9c252fef058c

on July 17, 2011
at 01:29 AM

"will this make me feel good?"

Of course, that is a very complicated question- taking ingredients, quantities, preparation, physical needs, and emotional needs into account- but it helps my judgement in most situations. Because at the end of the day, feeling good is why I chose Paleo.

0dbd7154d909b97fe774d1655754f195

(16131)

on July 17, 2011
at 01:34 AM

Distally or proximally? Feeling good in the long run or in the current moment. These two differences would drive very different desires.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 17, 2011
at 09:33 AM

Great discussion you two. Being new to this, and already in good health with good habits, it's going to be more subtle than that. I'll keep that thought inthe front of my mind though.

Bd271299b2d4d9b2e3da9c252fef058c

(2854)

on July 17, 2011
at 03:18 AM

Good question! Comprehensively, I suppose- to eat what is 'good' for me (future), and to enjoy it (present). It gets tricky when cravings and guilt get in the way, but that's where self-knowledge comes in. Of course, this is easier said than done... But so is being paleo in a neolithic world.

2
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 16, 2011
at 08:57 PM

Barry Sears, in one of his books, had this very simple rule -

"if it didn't exist 10,000 years ago, don't eat it."

That would have to be the very quintessential essence of the term "paleo" and it's self-evident any deviation wouldn't be true paleo. That would leave out much of what many paleohacks eat.

Ed

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 17, 2011
at 09:35 AM

That's what I've been using as my guide, but I don't actually know what they were eating 10 000 years ago. I'm starting to get more of a picture though. So you're a "no butterer"?

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 17, 2011
at 04:41 PM

It was previously thought that dairy originated with the nomadic tribes of Asia and Europe, but now it's fairly certain it came out of Africa and it doesn't require much speculation to understand that paleos knew that a mother suckling it's young was the same thing that a human mother was doing for her young. And when they used "all of the animal" (which is so often brought up) why would they not bother with the milk of a newly hunted female prey. There's no telling how far back that practice went, not to mention it's fermented products. (continued)

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 17, 2011
at 04:42 PM

So while some strike dairy from the paleo diet for one reason or another, it most certainly cannot be because it didn't exist back then. People that would eat insects would most certainly drink milk or eat it in some fermented form.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 17, 2011
at 04:41 PM

Ha! Then we start we start getting into technicalities rather than generalities such as a "rule of thumb" would imply. Yes, I'm a grass-fed butter slatherer, but that should not really be considered impaleo because butter goes back at least 11,000 years (http://www.tcnj.edu/~dillon6/ButterIs.html), so techinically it would satisfy the arbitrarily set 10,000 year cutoff point. But more to the point, there is no question that milk preceded the neolithic era and is in fact the ONLY food for which sole purpose is to nourish something else. (continued)

742d03cebff2a6d8aae313e90d5c76b8

(325)

on July 18, 2011
at 09:17 PM

I'm confused. Shouldn't it be "if they didn't eat it 10,000 years ago". Because I'm pretty sure corn, rice, oats, wheat and milk existed - maybe not in the exact same form we have them today, but still.....

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