The (Naturally Gluten-Free) Paleo Diet

A little while ago, Sarah posted an article on being gluten-free and vegetarian. If you thought that sounded restrictive, how about this one?

cavemanThe Geico caveman would find something to smile about if he heard about the eating regimen known as “Paleo Diet.” The premise is simple: eat like our Paleolithic hunter/gatherer ancestors did before the Neolithic era of agricultural crop domestication and animal husbandry. Therefore, the diet consists of huntable foods such as meat and fish and foraged foods such as nuts, fruits, mushrooms, roots, and vegetables. With no grains in the equation, the diet is, of course, totally gluten-free. (And with no dairy included, it’s also completely safe for the GFCF diet).

Wikipedia credits the idea of eating like our Paleolithic forefathers to 1970’s gastroenterologist Walter Voegtlin. Practitioners of the diet believe that the body is not evolutionarily suited to digest agricultural foods. At first glance, the premise sounds jokeworthy. “Me hungry. Me eat like caveman. Me eat no grain.” (Okay, that was more Cookie monster/Yoda hybrid than Paleolithic human). But if you’re imagining that this diet entails gnawing raw meat off a bone, think again. Despite its premise in ancient history, the Paleo diet is updated for practice in the modern world. For example, use of domesticated meat such as beef and pork is acceptable, since it approximates the deer and wild boar our ancestors would have hunted. Recipes for the Paleo diet are as sophisticated as any other; check out this recipe for Sweet Potato, Bacon, & Egg Salad from Living Paleo which sounds absolutely delicious!

Foods to avoid on the paleo diet include refined sugars, salt, starchy tubers, legumes (including peanuts), grains, processed meat, and dairy products. Different advocates of the Paleo diet argue for different levels of strictness; some purists believe in cutting out harvestable legumes such as green beans and allowing the only beverages to be water and green tea, while others say that it’s okay to be loose on the rules since, after all, this is the 21st century, not the Paleolithic era. However, all of the proponents of the Paleo diet believe in its health value, which makes sense since the diet cuts out refined sugar, processed food, and extra salt.

However, will this diet really catch on in the gluten-free community? With no grains of any sort (no rice, no corn, and no quinoa!) allowed, the Paleo diet is much more restrictive than the gluten-free diet, which might be difficult to deal with. In addition, a person on the Paleo diet has to be careful about eating a balanced diet and getting all of the nutrients they need. Still, it is an interesting corollary to the  gluten-free diet.

Any gluten-free Paleos out there? We’d love to hear from you!

9 thoughts on “The (Naturally Gluten-Free) Paleo Diet”

  1. I actually started a diet similar to this because of a new article that was published on the 3rd of december this year that states that the gluten (different from the gluten found in wheat) found in all grains may be damaging to celiacs. I had eliminated all gluten except for rice and corn at the time, and i was still having symptoms, i would notice that i’d still feel a lil sick after eating these foods as well.
    I just started the new diet on the 3rd (no grains at all) and i must say i’ve already gained more energy, and i don’t feel icky after eating. I haven’t been as strict as cutting out sugar and starches, (i didn’t even know this diet had a name) but i’d be willing if my symptoms get worse, or return. It’s all about keeping healthy i say, and i’ll do anything to try.

  2. I’ve dabbled in it from a low carb perspective and really, haven’t found it any more restrictive than gluten free. I already avoid most GF pastas because they aren’t very good, and the ones that are cost a lot. I get more nutrients out of eating more vegetables and less filler any way (filler being rice and potatoes). There is also a lot of research to back up this way of eating.

    In other words, if it works for you, great. If it doesn’t, hope you find something that does.

  3. It’s also important to note that the meat on this diet must have been raised and fed in as close to natural environment as possible. This means they must be pastured and exclusively grass-fed, slaughtered right out of the pasture. Most food animals in the USA are finished with grains and soy and cooped up in small spaces with hundreds of other animals the last few weeks before slaughter.

    poultry should also be pastured and allow to roam about eating bugs and worms as they would if they were allowed to be wild. It’s really hard to find poultry raised this way, as even the “organic” crowd feeds them soy and grain.

    I’ve been eating this way since the summer and lost weight as well as feel better. I have hashimoto’s and RA, both autoimmune diseases which have been linked with gluten intolerance. I’ve been off RA meds for 2 years hoping to stay that way, and working on getting hashi under control.

  4. I’ve been gluten-free for over 2 years due to an allergy. More specifically i’ve been following the paleo diet which is gluten and dairy free. I have never felt healthier in my life and I owe a big part of that to the Paleo Cookbooks by Nikki Young, when I found out I was gluten intolerant I did further research and came across the paleo diet. I decided to go paleo with the aim of reviving my health from the damage gluten had done over the years, so I purchased these cookbooks and they helped me immensely to stay off the non-paleo foods I kept craving and that I was so used to eating. Here is the URL for anyone interested in checking out these cookbooks also.

  5. I had to do the Paleo/Candida diet last month when I finally faced the reality that candida was taking over my life. I was diagnosed with Celiac 4 years ago and ever since have had issues with Candida, but because my diet was already so restricted I couldn’t think of putting more restrictions on myself. That changed when my enzymes stopped working and nothing seemed to really help. Going candida free and using the Paleo diet cookbook has helped tremendously. I am hoping after three months I can introduce small bits of gluten free grains back into my diet with moderation. The diet has leaned me out and really helped my digestion. If you are overweight on the Gluten Free diet, I highly suggest doing the Paleo diet for three months to really feel and see the difference in how your body works. As a Pilates Instructor, I notice a big difference in my engery levels and strength.

  6. I’ve been eating mostly Paleo/Primal since 2008, including a year that I followed the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), which is very similar to Paleo. I love it. I’m not a Paleo purist and eat small amounts of dark chocolate and occasional rice or potatoes but I keep the starchy and sugary stuff to a minimum. If I eat too many starches, my GI tract lets me know. :-) I include Ghee in my diet, which is butter with the milk solids/casein removed. In many ways, Paleo is simpler than the “standard GF diet.” I don’t spend time reading labels or deciphering ingredients, and I hardly ever stray from the perimeter of the grocery store. The diet doesn’t seem restrictive to me but perhaps that’s because the majority of my calories come from natural fats which are very satisfying.

  7. Wanting to lose weight, I went all natural… only fruits, veggies, meats, rice (brown), and occasional cheese… and drink only water. I do allow myself salt if I want… though I never seem to need much if any… and I do allow myself salad dressing w/my salads, though I dip the tip of the fork tines into the dressing before taking a bite, instead of pouring it over the top of the salad. I actually have gotten to the point I can eat a salad w/o dressing at all, but I don’t feel I have to, so If I want to have dressing, darn it, I have it! lol
    I make a lot of home made soups, and “fried” rice (not fried, more of a rice, meat, and veggie mix) and lots of meats, veggies, and FRUIT! Mmmmm.
    (though not canned… syrup and all…) Once I hit my “goal weight” in about 5 pounds… :) … I am thinking of allowing myself a “splurge day”… though not an all you can eat buffet, but one day a week, to allow myself maybe bread, or spaghetti, or etc… since I have NO food allergies that I know of, I feel I can do this… though after being free from all “junk” for so long… I wonder if my body will rebel against it once I try to re-introduce some… it has been MONTHS since I’ve had any grains other than rice, or sugars, or ANY chocolate!!! lol It will be interesting to find out.

  8. Thanks for the interesting article- all the follow up comments are really helpful also! I have been gluten free for a couple of years but still gets symptoms of bloating which drives me mad. My husband has just started the paleo diet and is doing well. Since he does all the cooking it wouldn’t be a huge step for me to give up the last remaining grains (although after eating cereal for breakfast every day of your life it’s going to be hard!) and I’d be willing to try it if it made my bloating disappear for good. Thanks again!

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