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Paleo doesn't just refer to a prehistoric period in history anymore. The paleo diet has become a lifestyle of eating only whole, unprocessed foods similar to those eaten by our ancestors during the Paleolithic era. Wondering what it is all about?

Photo by Vicky

Enthusiasts of the paleo diet suggest that simple, minimal-ingredient, no-added sugar foods—similar to what our Paleolithic ancestors ate—are easier for our bodies to digest and process for optimal health. Like anything in life though, it is merely one perspective on how to have a healthy lifestyle. So take this post as an informational guide, rather than an instruction on how to eat.

Here is an at-a-glance overview of the most commonly followed paleo lists:

What to Avoid:

  • All grains (including wheat flour, tortillas, whole grains, rice, pasta, etc.)
  • Corn and any corn product
  • Legumes (including peanuts and any peanut product and soybeans and soy products)
  • Dairy
  • Refined sugar and artificial sweeteners
  • Potatoes
  • Refined vegetables oils (vegetable oil, canola oil, soybean oil, etc.)
  • Processed foods (including prepared salad dressing)

What to Eat:

  • Meats, fish, seafood (preferably grass-fed meats)
  • Fresh fruits, vegetables (sweet potatoes are ok), and sea vegetables
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fats: coconut oil, olive oil, walnut oil, avocado oil, macadamia nut oil, hazelnut oil, lard, tallow, butter from grass-fed cows is usually accepted
  • Herbs and spices

Eat in moderation:

  • Dark chocolate
  • Coffee/caffeinated teas
  • Alcohol
  • Unsweetened dried fruit
  • Sweeteners: maple syrup, honey, stevia, coconut sap
  • Fresh juice (with no sugar added)

Interested in weaving paleo-friendly meals into your diet? Here is a recipe for each meal:

2-Ingredient Wheat-Free Banana Pancakes (Paleo)

Photo by Karen Gaudette

Only two ingredients you probably have on hand come together in these quick and easy pancakes kids love.

Paleo Baked Eggs in Avocado

Photo by bd.weld

Everyone's three favorite ingredients: avocado, eggs, and bacon come together in this filling meal.

Spaghetti Squash with Paleo Meat Sauce

Photo by Cookin Up A Storm

Replace pasta with spaghetti squash and top it with a hearty, meaty sauce.

Paleo Tropical Ice Cream

Photo by Lnldad

Coconut milk is the star ingredient in this refreshingly delightful dessert.

A lifestyle with as few processed ingredients as possible is the ideal in my life...for most of the time. But a slice of pizza and a glass of wine on a Friday night can truly feed the soul. I certainly can attest to that. Although the people of the Paleolithic era didn't eat pizza, they might if they were living in these times. It's all about the balance.