What is Paleo?

Well, the answer is: There is no EXACT definition of paleo.  But, I want to share the general consensus with you all since not everyone know anything beyond “it’s eating like a caveman”.  I like pictures, and I assume you do too (because really, who doesn’t?) So, enjoy! *Important note: For paleo to be a life-long change there must be flexibility. In general an 80/20 rule is a good solution. 80% of the time you make paleo choices and the other 20% of the time you can let loose so you don’t feel deprived and go crazy! 


This last one is my favorite, it really is just that simple.  Thanks nomnompaleo 🙂

So, let’s quickly go over a few commonly asked questions, shall we?

– How do you know if you should eat it? Eat real food, food with either no ingredient list (produce & meat) or a list that only includes real foods and spices (like canned coconut milk with no crazy ingredients).  A good general rule is, if you can’t pronounce something in it, don’t eat it.

– What the heck is a legume? If you aren’t sure what a legume is, it is 1. a leguminous plant (so helpful, right?) and 2. a seed, pod, or other edible part of a leguminous plant used as food.  Legumes that you are probably most familiar with include: peanuts, peas, soybeans/edemame, and any type of bean (black, pinto, red, navy, baked, lima, northern, red, etc).  These are NOT paleo, yo.

– Why not vegetable oils, like canola, vegetable, sunflower and safflower oils? Well, they are heavily processed, and easily damaged with light and heat.  When they become damaged via oxidation/heat/light they become RANCID.  Rancid oils are in no way good for you and can cause some big issues if consumed.  The problem here is that even if you don’t cook with them they still begin to oxidize from the heat of the lights on grocery store shelves… so they may be completely rancid before you even purchase them.  Gross, right?

– How about natural sweeteners like Xylitol or Stevia? Um… no.  If you can’t find it in it’s true form in nature to use as a sweetener then you should avoid it.  Good natural sweeteners include: honey (especially raw, local), pure maple syrup, dried dates, bananas, applesauce, etc.

– Why can’t I have corn? Corn is a vegetable!!! Actually, corn is a grain.  Grains are not meant to be digested in our guts and cause a lot of issues for a lot of folks.  If you do your own experiment and find out you can tolerate it well then go ahead and eat your corn.  Be warned though, nearly all corn in the country is a GMO (genetically modified organism) and has been engineered for your consumption.  It ISN’T REAL FOOD.  FYI 🙂

– Can I get all my necessary fat from nuts and seeds? Please don’t.  Nuts and seeds have an improper ratio of Omega 3s and Omega 6s which is a big problem in the US, especially due to all the trans fats and processed foods available.  Your best bet is to get all your fat from avocados, coconut in all it’s forms, olives and olive oil, and from healthy, fatty animal products.

If you have any other questions, leave them in the comments section and I will answer them for all to see! Otherwise, Google is your friend if you are ever unsure on a certain food/item/ingredient!

Congrats on anyone getting started on their journey!

Sweet Potatoes and Smiles, The Freckled Foodie

Comments: 54

  1. shawna December 2, 2013 at 6:13 pm Reply

    Im very curious. I wanna change my habits and encourage my family to do so also.

    • thefreckledfoodie December 4, 2013 at 10:04 pm Reply

      Shawna, That’s great! Try it out in baby steps, first cut out processed junk food, then gluten grains (wheat), then other grains, then dairy, and lastly legumes! It will feel a lot easier doing in steps if you are trying to get your whole family on board 🙂 Good luck! I also highly recommend reading Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfillipo!

  2. Forkypine December 5, 2013 at 8:28 pm Reply

    Great info on the coconut milk and cinnamon on the baked sweet potato… everyone liked it at dinner in Toronto tonight, cheers!

    • thefreckledfoodie December 5, 2013 at 9:06 pm Reply

      So glad it was a hit! Love hearing from my non-USA friends 🙂

  3. CJ December 20, 2013 at 11:17 pm Reply

    Why are legumes cut out of the paleo diet?

  4. Kayla December 25, 2013 at 4:47 pm Reply

    I’m really trying to increase my energy because my medication drains me plus my MS already makes me lethargic. Do you know if I will gain energy? And if so does it happen right away?

    • thefreckledfoodie December 26, 2013 at 8:37 am Reply

      Kayla, I know for me around the 3 week mark I got a TON more energy. Lost the 3pm slump, never need naps, wake up way easier and ready to start the day. Paleo gives me a lot more energy than I ever used to have!

  5. Barbara December 27, 2013 at 3:17 pm Reply

    I love your blog and how it breaks down the Paleo way of life, the diagrams are really helpful. I am starting Paleo in January and look forward to making some of your recipes. Your before and after are awesome!!

    • thefreckledfoodie December 27, 2013 at 5:38 pm Reply

      Thanks Barbara! I am so happy I can help in any way with your journey!!! Good luck 🙂

  6. Michelle January 9, 2014 at 10:32 pm Reply

    My husband and I started a Paleo lifestyle just over a week ago. It’s been going MUCH better than I thought it would and we are having fun making meals (Thank you for your wonderful recipes! They are our favorites so far!). My goal is to lose about 20 lbs over time and about 10 days in I am down 0 lbs (my husband is down 6 lbs…). We are both active – doing cardio 4-5 days a week. Any tips or advice for a female trying to lose some weight? I know for weight loss you should limit the fruits, which I am doing. But some days I feel like I am not eating enough calories and wonder if that is having an impact? Would love any tips or advice for a newbie! 🙂

  7. Veronica Perez January 29, 2014 at 1:04 am Reply

    Hi freckled foodie. I just happened to stumble on to your blog and happy that I did. I was googling how to cook sweet potatoes. I’mgonna make some for breakfast but now I have to try some of the recipes on here. I just start my paleo diet 2 days ago and have been looking for recipes but I’m finding that many of the recipes aren’t really Paleo friendly. I have quite a bit of weight to lose so wishme luck.

    • thefreckledfoodie January 29, 2014 at 8:31 pm Reply

      Good luck Veronica! Hopefully my recipes can help you stick to it 🙂

  8. Brandon February 20, 2014 at 6:31 pm Reply

    What about eggs?? Can I eat eggs with Paleo? I didn’t notice them when I glanced at the protein section of the infographic.

    • thefreckledfoodie February 20, 2014 at 7:07 pm Reply


      YES! Absolutely eat eggs (especially the yolks!) and try to get them from a local farm since they are SO much better tasting and better for you! I eat eggs for breakfast everyday and sometimes for a pre workout snack as well!

  9. Ali February 27, 2014 at 2:47 am Reply

    I’ve looked at paleo on and off over the last few years but the pull of fresh bread (even though I know it disagrees with me) has been far too strong. I’m still a little unsure but, just 4 days after going cold turkey on “obvious” carbs I’m feeling better, despite the headaches!!!

    Being based in the UK I find it’s a struggle to get some products, particularly ones that are whole30 compliant – I’m taking the plunge and startingon 10th March 😀 – and tend to get stuck in a rut with meals – I need quick and easy as I’m out of the house for nearly 12 hours a day with work.

    finding sites such as this are a real boost as they give so many ideas so, just wanted to say thanks for providing much needed inspiration 🙂

    • thefreckledfoodie February 27, 2014 at 8:53 pm Reply

      Ali, I am so glad I could provide some inspiration and help with some easy recipes! I definitely recommend making crock pot meals and doing some big cook ups during the week so you always have healthy options on hand!!

  10. Nikki April 7, 2014 at 8:26 pm Reply

    I have been on day 3 of my 30 days and I have lost about 10 lbs. I have been eating my vegies and lean meats, I am not hungry what should I do?

    • thefreckledfoodie April 7, 2014 at 9:01 pm Reply

      Nikki, just make sure you are eating three meals a day to get enough calories! Eventually your body will regulate and you will get hunger cues.

  11. joyfulstander April 10, 2014 at 5:24 pm Reply

    Hello, just curious…why can’t you have beans?


  12. Brooke April 11, 2014 at 8:53 pm Reply

    I’m confused about fruit? Is that not suggested with paleo lifestyle?


    • thefreckledfoodie April 12, 2014 at 9:55 am Reply

      Brooke, fruit is definitely part of the paleo lifestyle! If you are looking to lose weight or get past a sugar addiction then it is best to reduce your servings to 1 or 2 per day. Veggies are more nutrient dense which is why I eat more of them than fruit, but when it is in season I love it! Hope that helps 🙂

  13. Gene April 20, 2014 at 3:48 pm Reply

    since peanut is a legume and not a nut, is peanut oil acceptable?

  14. Gene April 21, 2014 at 12:44 am Reply

    What about shellfish?
    If chicken is allowed, I assume turkey, duck and goose are OK

    • thefreckledfoodie April 28, 2014 at 8:41 pm Reply

      Gene, shellfish, turkey, duck and goose are all okay! Basically any animal protein is a-okay

  15. michal April 23, 2014 at 10:09 am Reply

    Hi Rachel, great blog!
    i started paleo about 2 weeks ago, but my diet is different since i have Ulcertive colitis. i try to follow to paleo autoimmune protocol, which means eggs and chocolate for example are not legal, at least for the first month. i will try to add them in a few weeks, i guess 2 or 3 eggs when baking muffins are not that awful=)
    thank you for the blog and great recipes!
    can’t wait to try some of them – i miss treats and sweets!

    • thefreckledfoodie April 28, 2014 at 8:42 pm Reply

      Michal, Thank you very much 🙂 I hope you try some and love them as much as I do!

  16. Sari April 24, 2014 at 12:03 pm Reply

    I’d love to get started on paleo but I LOVE baked goods. Do you have any advice on how to overcome cravings for bread, cake and so on? I have eaten clean for a couple of months last year but in the end, it always comes back to me craving either baked goods or chocolate!

    • thefreckledfoodie April 28, 2014 at 8:44 pm Reply

      Sari, once you cut back on processed foods and as many carbs you will crave them a LOT less, I promise! But in the meantime try making paleo baked goods like my cookies, brownies, or muffins! I kill my cravings with 90% dark chocolate too 🙂

  17. Nikki May 22, 2014 at 3:39 pm Reply

    I absolutely love bread… Garlic bread in particular! Have you got any tips or substitutes?

    • thefreckledfoodie May 22, 2014 at 7:11 pm Reply

      Nikki, when I decided to try the paleo diet I quit bread cold turkey and don’t miss it at all anymore! My biggest suggestion would be to just eat more protein and vegetables at your meals and use garlic to season them. Eat until you are full and satisfied and you won’t need any bread. Eventually your body won’t crave garlic bread anymore!

  18. Drew June 14, 2014 at 12:17 pm Reply

    Hi – wanted to know your thoughts on how to live with someone ( husband and kids who are not on this idea of eating) and turning their diets around. My husband loves to get junk and bring it home for all to share! “Hey its only 99 cents!” As fast as I get rid of it I see it back in a few days!

    • thefreckledfoodie June 19, 2014 at 1:21 pm Reply

      Drew, after living with someone who I cooked for and didn’t follow the paleo diet my recommendation would be to eat the way you would like to and prepare all your meals that way. After your family sees how great you look and feel and how much more energy you have they will come around. I have found that people are much more receptive if the idea is not forced upon them and they make the choice once they see all the positive benefits firsthand! You could also kindly ask that your husband not bring home any processed foods because you don’t want them as a temptation in the house. Or just bake him some paleo “junk foods” like cookies, brownies, sweet potato chips, etc 🙂

  19. Craig Kerr June 25, 2014 at 11:34 am Reply

    What’s wrong with beans ….. For exams kidney beans?

  20. Gillian September 12, 2014 at 9:32 am Reply

    Hi Rachael, I just wondered what your thoughts were on Quorn?

    • thefreckledfoodie September 14, 2014 at 4:57 pm Reply

      Gillian, Quorn is a very, very processed “food” and is not something I would ever recommend eating. The ingredients on the website are: Mycoprotein (41%), Wheat Flour, Water, Canola Oil, Wheat Starch, Potato Dextrin, Wheat Gluten. Contains 2% or less of Salt, Dextrose, Turbinado Sugar, Spice, Eggs, Rehydrated Egg White, Yeast, Natural Flavors From Non-Meat Sources, Firming Agents: Calcium Chloride, Calcium Acetate. The only ingredients I don’t have a problem with is water and eggs… Definitely something I would stay away from!

  21. Gloria Slomka September 12, 2014 at 9:36 am Reply

    I think I get it but is there an actual diet plan for weight loss (paelo suggested by doctor) . Something I could follow in the beginning I have been doing weight watchers

    • thefreckledfoodie September 14, 2014 at 4:54 pm Reply

      Gloria, you will automatically lose weight and become a healthier version of yourself by eating real, whole foods and reducing the amount of sugar/grains in your diet. If you are looking to lose more weight then watch your carb intake and don’t go overboard on honey, maple syrup, or fruit! Best of luck 🙂

  22. JULIA November 25, 2014 at 5:32 pm Reply

    Hi, I just stumbled upon your site & find it simple to understand & easy to follow. For me who just start to learn to live a more simple & healthy way, I believe you will be my example.
    Thank you.

  23. Brielle December 3, 2014 at 6:06 pm Reply

    Hey, I haven’t read all of the previous comments yet , so I apologize if this is a repeat question lol.
    I am mostly already on the paleo diet as far as cutting out processed foods and chemicals go, but I do eat rice quite often (mostly in sushi). What are your thoughts on rice? Is it something you consider essential to be cut out if the paleo diet, or is it really not that bad?

    Thanks 🙂

    • thefreckledfoodie December 4, 2014 at 7:45 am Reply

      Brielle, no worries, there are a lot of questions on here! 🙂 White rice is considered a “safe starch” by most in the paleo world these days and can be a great source of carbs, especially after a workout! I would do what you can to ensure it is organic (I know, almost impossible with sushi) because of arsenic in most non-organic rice. I personally have sushi once or twice a month so I am definitely not one to judge! I try and split a roll and then get some sashimi so I am not eating too much though. Hope that helps!

  24. NenaVerito April 13, 2015 at 5:42 pm Reply

    I’m in love with your blog!!!!
    It makes you just go for it… and I’m determined to show my husband it is the best you can do for your body and yourself. I’m breastfeeding so I was waiting for this moment of inspiration .. thank you
    PALEO ..ready or not.. here I go!

    Very helpful questions and answers..
    My question is.. how about Quinoa?

    • thefreckledfoodie April 13, 2015 at 7:26 pm Reply

      So SO glad you found me 🙂 and I’m so glad I could inspire you to make healthy changes! Quinoa is a grain, so technically not paleo. My recommendation is to go full paleo for 30 days and then add it back and see how your body tolerates it. If you don’t have any issues with it and miss it then add it back. I sometimes eat little bits of white rice and quinoa when I go out to eat because I don’t have a bad reaction to it. I don’t make it at home though! Best of luck!!!

  25. Lisa May 4, 2015 at 9:11 am Reply

    Curious about your take on Organic food? Personally, I would rather eat organic raw honey from anywhere than local raw honey that is contaminated by the little lovelies frolicking in the Roundup laden fields nearby. Local food is always preferable but some local farm are heavy on the pesticides. Some items, especially thin skinned produce that absorbs the pesticides through the skin (and can’t all be washed off) are scary. I consider organic to be an important part of our paleo diet because the cavemen definitely didn’t use todays pesticides. If they used any, they were natural, plants/etc.

    • thefreckledfoodie May 4, 2015 at 10:15 pm Reply

      Lisa, I tend to agree with you but can’t always purchase organic due to costs. I wish I lived somewhere that had local, organic food year round! I hadn’t thought about the honey thing but you make an interesting point for sure!

  26. Aggie May 24, 2015 at 7:42 pm Reply

    Thanks for the article! I stumbled upon your blog while googling how to bake sweet potatoes! I’m obsessed with them now!
    I have a question. One of the images on this article mentions that in order to lose weight, you must drastically cut carbs. However, I have read a lot of things about the low-fat high-carb lifestyle which helps you lose weight. I know it’s not paleo but I’m confused and would love to hear your opinion. I’m trying to lose a few pounds here and there. I go to the gym everyday and eat pretty healthy (my typical meal is turkey or chicken breast, cooked vegetables, some kind of carb such as rice or quinoa and fresh fruits). Do you think the paleo diet would be better?

    • thefreckledfoodie May 31, 2015 at 6:05 pm Reply

      Aggie, I think diet varies from person to person. What I would recommend is trying to cut out the rice and quinoa along with all other grains for 30 days to see what happens and then add them back after to see how they effect you. I 100% disagree with low-fat because I have found that I am my healthiest and most fit with around 50% of my daily calories coming from healthy fats. If you are looking to lose weight then going lower carb can definitely be helpful, at least from my personal experience and the experience of many people I know 🙂

  27. Janice February 14, 2016 at 6:44 pm Reply

    I have just started on Insulin and went from Type 2 to Diabetes Type l over l0 year’s fighting Type 2 and not having to go on Insulin. I lost that battle. I have gained 50 lbs. due to total lack of energy, stopped all exercise and going out. I became a recluse, but, I do see the Specialist and went to a Nutritionist and have learned so much. Q: Is the Paleo Diet good for a Diabetic, I think it is and it seems good for losing weight. I have to admit, I love sweet cake and fresh good bread. I could skip the bread, but, I need my sweets, I need to find more recipes for desserts with no sugar. Would appreciate your input?????

  28. Fiona July 18, 2016 at 8:40 pm Reply

    Hi there, I have begun Paleo and it is going well … although I am finding I am bored with what I am eating and can see I will lose motivation beyond the short term. I have been researching new recipes and am shocked at how many organic and VERY expensive ingredients I need to buy in order to maintain Paleo. Yesterday I saw it was $75 for a kilo of almond flour and $35 for a jar of organic cocoa. Are there any recipes that have limited amounts of these kinds of ingredients?

    • thefreckledfoodie July 25, 2016 at 5:43 pm Reply

      Hi Fiona, my biggest recommendation if you are bored is try new veggies and fruits you have never tried before! Jicama, for example is one I never knew about before I went paleo and is now one of my fave veggies. Also try making new recipes and dishes you never have tried like zucchini noodles with meat sauce or spaghetti squash egg casserole. Paleo baked goods and “paleofied” things like bread, tortillas, muffins, etc are more expensive for sure and aren’t actually very good for you anyways. You could also try making new sauces and condiments to make your meals more exciting like pesto, chimmichurri, hot sauces, and sunshine sauce (Google it). Hopefully that helps!

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