Tag Archives: Paleo foods

The holidays are a time for celebrating and feasting. There’s no reason you can’t enjoy some great meals and stick to your Paleo diet. It’s easy to lose sight of your health and nutrition goals this time of year. However, you don’t want to start the new year having to begin from scratch. Let’s look at some tips to maintain your healthy lifestyle and Paleo diet right through the holiday season.


Host Your Own Paleo-Friendly Dinner

The simplest way to make sure a meal is Paleo is to cook it yourself. If you have a partner or friends who can help, so much the better. Another option is to make it a potluck where everyone brings a dish. This isn’t always practical for traditional family celebrations but it can be fun for parties among like-minded friends. In this case, even people who don’t normally share the same diet can bring a dish that’s appropriate for the occasion.  


Communicate Your Needs

If you’re attending a holiday dinner at someone else’s home, let them know about your dietary restrictions. People are getting increasingly used to accommodating different diets such as vegan, gluten-free and, yes, Paleo. Not all hosts are amenable to making special preparations for you. Your grandmother who’s been making the turkey with stuffing the same way for 50 years might not want to alter her recipe just for you. In these cases, politely refuse anything that isn’t suitable. If you know that the Paleo offerings will be limited, you can even bring something with you. The key is to communicate in a non-confrontational manner with people so it doesn’t look like you’re insulting their cooking or trying to convert them to your diet.


Strategic Compromises

It’s up to you whether to stay 100% compliant with your Paleo diet through the holidays or to make some exceptions. You might, for example, decide to compromise for one traditional family dinner and eat the non-Paleo stuffing, mashed potatoes, and dairy-rich desserts. Even then, you can always stick mainly to healthy foods and just take small samplings of everything else. Most holiday dinners contain lots of dishes and people are unlikely to notice the quantity of each item you consume. Whether you decide to stay true to your Paleo diet or compromise for certain occasions, stick to your decision and don’t feel guilty or apologize for it.


Stay Active

In addition to your diet, it’s important to keep up with exercise during the holidays. If you’re eating more than usual, you need to burn off those extra calories. Make sure you schedule workouts between all of your shopping, meals, and parties. If you don’t currently have a regular workout schedule, the holidays are a good time to start. Many people join gyms in January to keep their New Year’s resolutions but why not get a head start and join now?


Paleo-Friendly Holiday Foods

Popular holiday dishes cover a wide spectrum when it comes to healthiness and Paleo-friendliness. In many cases, it all depends on how you prepare the food. Here are some suggestions for food and snacks for the holidays.

  • Grass-fed Meat and Poultry -If you get your meats from organic sources, it’s suitable for a Paleo diet. Typical supermarket meats, however, are usually from grain-fed animals and don’t make the mark.
  • Stuffing – Many holiday meals are served with stuffing. Unfortunately, most stuffing is made with bread from grain flours. However, you can just as easily make stuffing with alternative ingredients such as mushrooms, almond flour, sweet potatoes, and other Paleo-friendly ingredients.
  • Sweet Potatoes – A delicious staple at all holiday meals. While white potatoes are not Paleo due to their starchiness and high-carb content, sweet potatoes are.
  • Veggies – Many vegetables are fine for a Paleo diet provided you don’t cover them with butter or sauces containing dairy. Squash, broccoli, avocado, cabbage, mushrooms, and cauliflower are some nutritious vegetables to serve at your holiday meals. Dressings and sauces made from oil and vinegar are Paleo-friendly, as is salsa and any sauces made from almonds, walnuts, and other nuts.
  • Dairy-free Pumpkin Pie – Pumpkins are a healthy and tasty food that’s often ruined with dairy and refined sugar. A pumpkin pie made with ingredients such as almond milk and sweet potatoes is just one example of a delicious Paleo dessert that’s perfect for the holidays.  


You Can Have a Healthy Holiday Season

These are some ways to get through the holidays with your Paleo diet and lifestyle intact. The specific strategies you employ depend on your circumstances, including your social obligations and how open the people around you are to healthy eating. No matter what your situation, there’s no reason that the holidays have to mean giving up on your goals and principles.

How You Can Eat Paleo - and Save Money | The Paleo Diet

In a world where drive-thru burger joints and $1 pizza slices outnumber farmers markets and grocery stores, eating healthy, let alone Paleo, on a budget can be difficult in Western society. For the millions following a Standard American Diet (SAD) and choosing to adopt a healthier lifestyle like Paleo, grocery shopping without breaking the bank can seem an even greater challenge. While it may seem that lean, grass-fed meats, healthy fats, and fresh produce are expensive, there is no greater cost to your health than a poor diet.

But we’re pleased to tell you our friends at Thrive Market are providing a new alternative that has made healthy eating more affordable, bringing prices down—way, way down.

Thrive Market is an online shopping club that sells wholesome, Paleo-friendly foods at 25% – 50% less than retail stores. With Thrive Market grocery shopping is made hassle-free. Order your organic, GMO-free foods and non-toxic household products, check out, and your order will be shipped directly to your door. Plus, shipping is free on orders over $49! Long lines at the grocery store are a thing of the past—now, your Paleo pantry staples come straight to you.

The same brands you love and trust at your local natural food stores can be found at Thrive Market as well, just at a price you’d be crazy to pass up. Instead of adding the typical retail markup, Thrive Market passes the savings on to you, their customers. Thrive Market has over 3,000 products, including The Paleo Diet Bar, among so many Paleo, non-GMO, organic, gluten-free, and raw options. Whether you’re following strict Paleo or adhere to the 85:15 rule, you can find exactly what you’re looking for without compromising your health or draining your savings.

Like Costco or other warehouse clubs, Thrive Market is membership based. Thrive Market members purchase a membership for $59.95 per year. That’s just $5 per month. A membership can seem like a big commitment, so we were pleased to learn every new Thrive Market member gets a free one-month trial membership before becoming a paying member. What do you have to lose?

And your Thrive Market membership fee has an even more important function. For every paying member who joins, Thrive Market will donate one free membership to a family in need. This social mission fits into Thrive Market’s larger goal—making healthy food accessible and affordable for everyone.

When you sign up for Thrive Market, you will be entered to win a $500 shopping spree at Thrive Market and a free 1-year membership. Even if you don’t win the grand prize, 10 lucky winners will get free 1-year memberships—a pretty nice consolation prize.

Start eating right and thrive.

The Paleo Diet Team

Over 25 Years of Eating Paleo And Counting  | The Paleo Diet

Some thoughts and considerations…

Getting older has its merits; but, of course along with it, the typical thoughts that go along with the ever-accelerating passage of time. The latter are likely more positive when one is healthy, allowing for the enjoyment of the beneficial elements of aging and yet so many individuals suffer considerably with chronic disease as their years progress. And, it is not a stretch to say that the majority of these situations are preventable.  I turned 50 last year and I am extremely fortunate that I can say I feel little difference physically to when I was a young man in my twenties. Even typing that feels strange as it implies that I am not young and; yet, I feel as young as I ever have in nearly every way.

There could be many reasons for my good fortune.  I was a competitive athlete for most of my life and I have continued to be extremely active working in the health and fitness industry. My parents are still playing golf in their 80s and show little sign of slowing down; and, so I likely have pretty decent genes. I know many individuals, however, that can say the same about their athletic past and healthy relatives but without the same enthusiasm for their current vitality.  So I am confident that the major reason in providing me the good health I enjoy at 50 is because Dr. Cordain introduced me to the Paleo diet back in 1988 when I arrived as a graduate student at Colorado State University. Consequently, the Paleo diet has been my dietary template – both personally and professionally – since that time and; as a result, I feel I have more than a few thoughts that merit sharing about the diet that has now taken the world by storm.

The first topic worth addressing; particularly for those thinking about adopting the Paleo diet, is that of the constant attacks the diet comes under because of its newfound popularity. For those interested in the details of the many ludicrous attacks and unsubstantiated claims against the Paleo way of eating and the responses thereto, you can read a number of rebuttals1,2,3,4 I have recently penned.  However, you can also realize that these unsupported attacks follow the same worn-out tracks that have, to date, not gained any traction worthy of merit.  Further, the authors of such attacks demonstrate that they are either woefully ignorant of the science supporting the Paleo diet or that they are a pawn to the corporations that stand to lose financially the more the Paleo diet gains followers. Ultimately, the research, clinical findings, and individual success stories supporting the Paleo diet have set it on a path without an end. Therefore, it is important to become educated about the Paleo diet to make sure that the path followed is the right one and not an imposter hiding behind the name.

To that end, the Paleo diet template is such a simple concept, and one that resonated with me back in 1988.  It made immediate sense to me back then and nothing has changed that thinking today. When I first heard Dr. Cordain outline the template for optimal nutrition, I simply heard the message that the diet represents the consumption of foods that the earth naturally provides for human consumption without human intervention. Non-Paleo foods represent the exact opposite. The foods on the Paleo diet template – animal protein, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, can all be consumed without human intervention, but those not on the Paleo diet template – grains, legumes, and dairy; with milk being an exception, can not.  And with respect to non-human milk, for its consumption to be considered natural, one has to accept the image above to be natural for humans.

Since being introduced to the Paleo diet template, I have had my fair share of non-Paleo diet foods as I have always allowed myself to eat foods outside of the template that I enjoy. Having said that, I do not eat the foods outside of the template ad libitum, and it is always my guide when making healthy food choices.  An example I always share with my clients is a dish I usual order at a local Mexican restaurant. The menu item is a lemon-garlic sautéed chicken breast that comes with; of course, rice and beans. I never fail to request that the rice and beans be replaced with sautéed or steamed vegetables and I have never come across a restaurant that won’t accommodate this kind of request. Making these sorts of small adjustments to meals add up over time and; so, even for people that eat out a lot, their diet can be improved considerably following the Paleo diet template.  Eating free range animal protein and organic produce is not always possible eating out at restaurants and I am not going to try and argue that doing so as much as possible is not optimal.

However, I will say that avoidance of the non-Paleo foods, grains, legumes and dairy, is the more important practice. A goal of eating 80% Paleo foods has worked well for my wife, myself, and the majority of my clients. I also do not allow my clients to make the non-Paleo 20% quantity highly processed “junk” food; rather, I split the non-Paleo quantity into 15% minimally processed non-Paleo foods (i.e., “clean” grains, legumes and dairy) and the remaining 5%, if desired, into highly processed “junk” foods. I have also found that individuals adopting an 80:20 Paleo to non-Paleo diet quickly develop a different palate that allows the 80:20 split to be more easily attained; and, in many cases, individuals increase the quantity of Paleo foods by preference. Improved health following this 80:20 template indicates that it is sufficient for the body to obtain the necessary nutrients while also allowing the body to deal with the negatives of the non-Paleo foods (e.g., anti-nutrient consumption) without consequence. It might even be argued, that for many people, a small quantity of non-Paleo foods are useful to maintain the effectiveness of the physiological mechanisms that handle foods containing anti-nutrients.

However, I have also found there to be a significant amount of variability with respect to this.  Some people can attain their health goals with a 70:30 approach, while others need a 90:10 approach.  So if you are not seeing the results you expected by adopting the Paleo diet, you may need to be stricter and increase your ratio of Paleo foods to non-Paleo foods. However, regardless of the ratio of Paleo foods to non-Paleo foods with which you see effective results, I also recommend following a strict Paleo diet plan for around 7-14 days, 3-4 times per year to maintain optimal health.

But what if you have been extremely strict with your adoption of the Paleo diet and you are still not seeing an improvement in your health or specific chronic condition? Over ten years ago, while lecturing on high-intensity interval training and the Paleo diet, I met a clinical nutritionist by the name of Dr. Oscar Coetzee. Dr. Coetzee is one of the most impressive nutritional practitioners I have had the pleasure to work with and I have frequently sought his expertise with difficult clinical cases. He is currently lecturing and researching nutritional protocols at the Marlyand University of Integrative Health, with his research efforts now focusing on intestinal permeability, autoimmune diseases and cancer. He is an advocate for the Paleo diet and the answer to why a strict Paleo diet may not work for someone is tied to intestinal permeability.  Consequently, Dr. Coetzee and I are going to address the above question in a series of articles for ThePaleoDiet.com blog in the coming months. But simply stated, the answer lies in adopting, virtually, a liquid Paleo diet.  So, if you are someone, or know of someone that has not had the expected results following a strict Paleo diet, stay tuned!

Following one of my recent rebuttals, I was Tweeted the statement you must realize that a Paleo diet lifestyle is unrealistic.” This is a common criticism and yet it is easy to see the lack of logic in this thinking. If the Paleo diet was so hard to follow or is unrealistic, how has it gained such popularity? The fact is, the Paleo diet is not unrealistic at all, particularly the 80:20 approach, and as demand changes supply, we are seeing how its popularity is changing the landscape with respect to the choices being made available to the consumer.

A 100% Paleo diet may well be unrealistic or perhaps better stated, unnecessary for most. But I have also seen autoimmune patients, who discover they do not have the luxury of being able to eat outside of the Paleo template without consequences, follow a 100% Paleo diet with little problem.  In my rebuttal to the British Dietetic Association (BDA), I challenged the BDA to choose and analyze 21 meals (7 breakfasts, 7 lunches and 7 dinners) from Dr. Cordain’s The Paleo Diet Cookbook. Then, having done so, defend their position that the Paleo Diet is “an unbalanced, sure-fire way to develop nutrient deficiencies, which can compromise health.”

Despite me quoting exactly the BDA’s analysis earlier in the rebuttal, I received an e-mail from an individual challenging my closing statement because I did not fully address the statement that the Paleo diet could be “An unbalanced, time consuming, socially isolating diet, which this could easily be, is a sure-fire way to develop nutrient deficiencies, which can compromise health and your relationship with food.” Because the BDA were so off base with their nutritional analysis of the Paleo diet, I quite honestly did not take their positions of it being time consuming and socially isolating too seriously, so let’s address those now.

For individuals experienced in following a Paleo diet, they are well aware that it is no more time consuming than any other diet that actually prepares the food from scratch. It is, of course, more time consuming than eating out from fast food restaurants or than grabbing highly processed, pre-packaged foods. However, I can assure anyone thinking of adopting the Paleo diet that the small investment of time in preparing meals at home following the Paleo diet template, would be well worth the investment. Having said that, I have had many clients that rarely cook at home and yet have improved their health considerably by using the Paleo diet template as their guide when eating out at restaurants. As to the Paleo diet being socially isolating, presumably because of the avoidance of grains, legumes, and dairy, the BDA endorses vegan diets, and so some how, the elimination of dairy, meat and fish does not have the potential for social isolation but the elimination of grains, legumes, and dairy does!  For what it’s worth, I don’t think that following a vegan diet is socially isolating either, we should all respect everyone’s individual food choice, I just hope people make choices based upon accurate nutritional information.  And similarly with the suggestion that the Paleo diet is unrealistic, the diet’s popularity wouldn’t have ballooned if the diet was socially isolating.

So what has more than 25 years of eating and recommending the Paleo diet taught me? Very simple, it is not time consuming and is easy to implement.  For most of you, you do not have to be 100% strict and can find the balance that works best for you. In doing so, you will not find yourself an outcast in society and your health and vitality will change dramatically for the better.

Dr. Mark J. Smith

Dr. Mark J. Smith | The Paleo DietDr. Mark J. Smith graduated from Loughborough University of Technology, England, with a Bachelor of Science in PE & Sports Science and then obtained his teaching certificate in PE & Mathematics. As a top-level rugby player, he then moved to the United States and played for the Boston Rugby Club while searching the American college system for an opportunity to commence his Master’s degree. That search led him to Colorado State University where Dr. Smith completed his Masters degree in Exercise and Sport Science, with a specialization in Exercise Physiology. He continued his studies in the Department of Physiology, where he obtained his Doctorate. His research focused on the prevention of atherosclerosis (the build up of plaque in arteries that leads to cardiovascular disease); in particular, using low-dose aspirin and antioxidant supplementation. Read more…


1. “Dr Mark Smith Rebuttal To Dr Christina Warinner TEDxOU Presentation.”Medical Meals Blog. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Apr. 2015.

2. “Weighing in On The Paleo Diet – Dr. Mark Smith Chews the Fat.” The Paleo Diet. N.p., 12 Oct. 2014. Web. 09 Apr. 2015.

3. “British Dietetic Association (BDA) Against Adopting The Paleo Diet.” The Paleo Diet. N.p., 16 Dec. 2014. Web. 09 Apr. 2015.

4. “Sprouting Truth From the Rubble: Modern Paleo Diet Template.” The Paleo Diet. N.p., 15 Feb. 2015. Web. 09 Apr. 2015.

Top 10 Paleo Foods for Heart Health | The Paleo Diet

One of the things I love most about a True Paleo regime is being able to enjoy so many of the foods I used to think were unhealthy choices.

And despite diet trends coming and going, many people get caught up with some of the less healthy versions along with the inaccurate hype that tends to surround them.

Some of the foods I now savor are ones I never would have dreamed of eating a mere decade ago, simply because I thought they were too high in fat (90’s mindset), didn’t provide enough carbohydrate (Endurance athlete? Go heavy on the carbs.), or simply because the sheer number of calories might exceed what I’d need in a given day (Exercise physiology thesis: Calories In vs. Out is the single, most important factor in determining whether you would lose weight, gain weight or stay the same), source of calories aside.

Testing and trying a number of ways of eating thankfully brought me back to a Paleo diet in 2005. Guess what? The many foods I didn’t consider are ones I’ve come to relish. It turns out they not only taste great, but are increasingly beneficial to our health.

February is National Heart Month and there is no better diet than a Paleo diet to promote heart health.


One of the best sources of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids which can lower the risk of irregular heart beat as well as plaque build up in the arteries. 1  Stick with wild, not farmed.


Rich in anthocyanins and flavonoids, antioxidants that can decrease blood pressure and dilate blood vessels.2 Freezing wild berries makes for a surprisingly decadent treat, all on their own!


High in flavonoids that are linked with a reduced rate of ischemic stroke caused by blood clots, and rich in vitamin C which has been associated with lower risk of heart disease, like atherosclerosis.3 Boost your heart health by adding tangerines to your spinach salad and quadruple the amount of iron you absorb.

Green Tea

Researchers estimate the rate of cardiac arrest decreases by 11% with consumption of three cups of tea per day.4 Green tea is rich in Theanine, the amino acid that will offset caffeine’s effect.


Cardio-protective functions provided by the nutrients in tomatoes may include the reduction of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, homocysteine, platelet aggregation, and blood pressure.5 Go local and organic with this fruit in particular.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Rich in monounsaturated fats (MUFAs), EVOO may help lower your risk of heart disease by improving related risk factors. For instance, MUFAs have been found to lower your total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels.6  Promote heart health by upping your intake of this delicious fat in favor of relying too heavily on nuts.


Lutein (a carotenoid); B-complex vitamins; Folate; magnesium; potassium; calcium; fiber.7  Looks like Popeye had the right idea!


Consumption of ½ – 1½ avocados a day may help to maintain normal serum total cholesterol. More evidence that good fat is good!8

Wine (Sulfite-Free)

Rich in resveratrol, studies have shown that adults who drink light to moderate amounts of alcohol may be less likely to develop heart disease than those who do not drink at all or are heavy drinkers.9  Cheers to that!

Dark Chocolate

In humans, flavanol-rich cocoa counteracts lipid peroxidation and, therefore, lowers the plasma level.10  Just make sure to stick to the real stuff and go as close to 100% cacao as you can find!

And, just in time for Valentine’s Day, why not use this as the special occasion to enjoy my signature Paleo truffles!

While it’s no surprise wild salmon and leafy greens are included in my list of Top 10 Paleo Foods, when there’s room for the occasional glass of red wine and raw, dark chocolate on a lifelong Paleo regime too, it’s something that many people, myself included, enjoy wholeheartedly.



[1] “The Role of Fish Oil in Arrhythmia Prevention”, Anand RG, Alkadri M, Lavie CJ, Milani RV. Mar-Apr 2008

[2] “Daily Blueberry Consumption Improves Blood Pressure and Arterial Stiffness in Postmenopausal Women with Pre- and Stage 1-Hypertension: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial”, Sarah A. Johnson, PhD, RD, CSO, Arturo Figueroa, MD, PhD, FACSM, Negin Navaei, Alexei Wong, PhD, Roy Kalfon, MS, Lauren T. Ormsbee, MS, Rafaela G. Feresin, MS, Marcus L. Elam, MS, Shirin Hooshmand, PhD, Mark E. Payton, PhD, Bahram H. Arjmandi, PhD, RD, October, 2014

[3] Woollard KJ, Loryman CJ, Meredith E, et al. Effects of oral vitamin C on monocyte: endothelial cell adhesion in healthy subjects. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2002 Jun 28;294(5):1161-8.

[4] Cooper R, Morre DJ, Morre DM. Medicinal benefits of green tea: Part I. Review of noncancer health benefits. J Altern Complement Med. 2005;11(3):521-8.

[5] Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2003;43(1):1-18. Tomatoes and cardiovascular health. Willcox JK1, Catignani GL, Lazarus S.

[6] Lecerf JM. Fatty acids and cardiovascular disease. Nutrition Reviews. 2009;67:273.

[7] Ursula Arens, dietetician at the British Dietetic Association, Kathleen Zelman, WebMD director of nutrition. U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council. British Heart Foundation. British Dietetic Association. The Journal of the American Medical Association , July 23/30, 2003.

[8] Influence of avocados on serum cholesterol.[Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1960]

[9] Brien SE, Ronksley PE, Turner BJ, Mukamal KJ, Ghali WA. Effect of alcohol consumption on biological markers associated with risk of coronary heart disease: systematic review and meta-analysis of interventional studies. BMJ. 2011;342:d636.

[10] Wiswedel I, Hirsch D, Kropf S, Gruening M, Pfister E, Schewe T, Sies H. Flavanol-rich cocoa drink lowers plasma F(2)-isoprostane concentrations in humans. Free Radic Biol Med. 2004; 37: 411–421.

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