foods to avoid on the paleo diet

The Paleo diet is inspired by the ancient lifestyle of men and women in the Paleolithic Era, two million years ago.

It is otherwise known as the ‘Caveman diet’ for its well-adapted food combinations that energize and balance the human body while promoting excellent physical and mental health.

Some of these are related directly to the Paleo lifestlye which may be surprising and challenging, but others could be classified as just common sense nutrition that will ultimately assist in optimizing health and wellbeing.

Foods to avoid on the Paleo diet – The Dirty Dozen


We are always being told to eat a bowl of cereal or eggs on toast for breakfast, but both toast and cereals, as well as pasta and rice, are all off limits due to their processed qualities.

Grains are high in gluten, which causes inflammation and irritation, they also contain anti-nutrients, which cause harm to the body.


Legumes include all varieties of beans, including kidney beans, string beans, mung beans, runner beans, black-eyed peas, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans and baked beans.

Although they’re traditionally seen as healthy and tend to be seen as a ‘superfood’, they actually contain insulin-releasing carbohydrates and cannot be broken down in the body very well, therefore, having a negative impact on digestion.

Peanuts are also legumes so are a no-no.


The Paleo diet reminds us that cow’s milk is supposed to be consumed by calves during their infancy, not by humans throughout their lifespan.

We are the only species on the planet to consume the milk of another animal and to continue to do so as adults. The pasteurized milk available in supermarkets has gone through a treatment process and includes antibiotics, bacteria, and hormones, none of which are welcome in the human body.

For the same reason, cheese, yogurt and cream are also to be avoided. Remember, eggs are not dairy, and therefore can be eaten on the Paleo diet.

4.Processed Sugar

Whatever diet lifestyle you follow decreasing processed sugar intake should be a high priority.

There is sugar in many fruits and vegetables that are entirely safe to eat.

But processed or added sugars and sweeteners should be eliminated from your diet. Sugar has many different names – corn syrup, brown sugar, sugar cane, maple syrup and can be very cleverly disguised – so as a general rule of thumb, if the sweetness is added, then the food should be avoided.

This includes fruit drinks, alcoholic beverages, salad dressings, jarred sauces and most desserts.


While potatoes are root vegetables and can be grown organically, they are still high in sugar and starch and produce a significant insulin response in the body.

Potatoes can cause intestinal distress for many people and, out of all root vegetables available, serve the least amount of purpose in the human diet.

That said potatoes especially sweet potatoes do have a lot of nutritional benefit and due to this reason many people still do eat potatoes occasionally when following a paleo diet.

6.Industrial Oils

Some popular supermarket oils are heavily processed and absent of natural healthy fats.

Do not let oils such as margarine, canola oil, peanut oil, and trans fats trick you into believing that they are healthy.

Only naturally occurring oils should be used for cooking.

7.Factory Farmed Animals

Grass-fed, free-range animals are healthier and therefore more nutritious when eaten.

Factory-bred animals (otherwise known as battery-farmed animals) are often fed poor diets including pesticides, and are sometimes pumped with extra water, which deteriorate their meat quality.

The caveman would not have consumed animals that were raised in artificial conditions, and so neither should you.

8.Soda and Juice

Drinks like soda and fruit juice may be appealing on a hot day but are filled with added sugar.

Any fruit that is used to make the drink has been drained of its important nutrients and fiber.

These drinks may give a short energy boost, but the temporary high is followed with an inevitable low, leaving you exhausted and depressed. These juices can be harsh on the stomach and difficult to digest.

9.Fast Food

Nobody really knows what’s in their favorite Chinese takeaway. Meals like this are often loaded with salt, sugar and flavor enhancing chemicals that create an addiction to junk food and poor health.

Obesity is on the rise partly due to our liberal access to fast food and limited knowledge of its ingredients. Meat is often from factory-bred animals and sauces are carelessly loaded with anti-nutrients and harmful carbohydrates.

10.Processed Foods

It goes without saying that processed foods full of artificial ingredients are of poor quality, with little or no nutritional value.

These will only serve to pollute the body and cause illness.

The Paleo diet focuses on fresh, organic meats and vegetables that have had no treatment or adaptation.

11.Pseudo grains

Pseudo grains, or ‘grain-like seeds’ come from plant based grains. Common pseudo grains are quinoa, buckwheat, and amaranth. In recent times, these grains have been considered ‘super-foods’, but we know that these grains also contain anti-nutrients, disallowing good digestion.

The Paleo diet recommends that these grains are avoided as they serve no real health purpose, despite what popular culture suggests.


Corn is another grain. Not only that, it is almost always genetically modified, meaning it has not been grown naturally or organically. Corn also contains anti-nutrients and has harmful properties.

Do not make the mistake of assuming it’s a healthy vegetable. It is actually a very difficult-to-digest grain.

In Summary

It may be overwhelming at first glance, but there are just as many foods on the Paleo menu as there are excluded from it. The Paleo diet promotes good digestion, resistance to degenerative diseases, and encourages natural bodily processes.

Educating yourself on the do’s and don’ts before embarking on the diet is advisable so that you are fully prepared.

Some foods to avoid on the paleo diet may come as a surprise and you may not agree with but in the long run, their absence will only serve to improve the quality of your overall health and wellbeing.