What can’t you eat on a paleo diet?

The paleo diet, also known as the Paleolithic or caveman diet, aims to emulate the eating habits of our ancient ancestors. It focuses on consuming whole, unprocessed foods similar to what early humans might have eaten during the Stone Age. While it encourages a return to natural and nutritious foods, it also restricts certain food groups that have become staples of the modern diet. In this article, we will explore the foods that are typically avoided when following this.


Grains, including wheat, barley, rice, oats, and corn, are excluded from the paleo diet. These foods contain high levels of anti-nutrients such as lectins, phytates, and gluten. These compounds can cause digestive issues and interfere with nutrient absorption. Instead, it emphasizes alternatives like nuts, seeds, and starchy vegetables.


The paleo diet does not permit legumes like beans, lentils, chickpeas, and peanuts. Like grains, legumes contain anti-nutrients that can lead to digestive discomfort and nutrient deficiencies. However, some it proponents argue that properly prepared legumes may be acceptable in moderation for those who tolerate them well.

Dairy Products

Dairy products, including milk, cheese, and yoghurt, are typically avoided in the paleo diet. The ability to digest lactose, the sugar found in milk, decreases as we age. Additionally, dairy products can be a source of inflammation for some individuals due to lactose intolerance or sensitivity to casein, a milk protein.

Processed Foods and Sugar

Processed foods, refined sugars, and artificial additives are not part of the paleo diet. These include sugary snacks, sodas, processed meats, and packaged meals. The paleo philosophy encourages whole, natural foods, so avoiding processed options is key to the diet’s principles.

Vegetable Oils

Vegetable oils derived from soybean, corn, canola, and sunflower seeds are commonly used in modern cooking but are not considered paleo-friendly. These oils are often highly processed and contain unhealthy omega-6 fatty acids, which can disrupt the body’s natural omega-3 to omega-6 ratio. The paleo diet suggests using healthier alternatives like olive, coconut, and avocado.

High-Carb Foods

While it allows for carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables, it restricts high-carb foods like potatoes, white rice, and refined grains. The focus is on consuming lower-glycemic carbohydrates, less impacting blood sugar levels. Sweet potatoes, squash, and other root vegetables are preferred alternatives in the paleo diet.

 Can't You Eat On A Paleo Diet
Can’t You Eat On A Paleo Diet


It encourages a return to a more natural and unprocessed eating, similar to our ancestors. Paleo diet proponents believe they can optimise their health and well-being by avoiding grains, legumes, dairy, processed foods, certain oils, and high-carb options. However, it’s essential to carefully consider any dietary change and consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to ensure nutritional needs are adequately met.

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