Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Morbi eu nulla vehicula, sagittis tortor id, fermentum nunc. Donec gravida mi a condimentum rutrum. Praesent aliquet pellentesque nisi.

Grey Area Foods on Paleo

GREY AREA FOODS

Looking for a specific food or food group?  Check out our “All About…” Series which goes deep into the science behind many of the foods which are classically eliminated on the basic Paleo protocols, and the foods that have a lot of conversation or confusion about them.  Some of these foods are included below…

Potatoes

See our All About Potatoes page for why potatoes are, strictly speaking, Paleo ‘approved’, but also why they are perhaps not suitable for every digestive system.

Potatoes are a ‘Grey Area Food’ for us here at Paleo in the UK simply because of the high degree of reactivity in those people who have compromised intestinal or immune systems. Our site is working from the basis of creating optimal health and this is one of those foods which can impact that for more people than possibly realise it.

This means that if you’re at all curious about how you get on with potatoes, digestively and in terms of other symptoms such as joint pain and skin conditions, then we recommend that you try without them for 30 days. Then you can bring them back in to truly ascertain what potatoes do for you. See our Paleo Reintroductions page for more on how to do this and what to look for.

 

Tea

If you have read our All About Coffee page you will know that caffeine and the polyphenols and antioxidants in drinks such as coffee and tea have the potential to be both good and bad for us.  Coffee has a bit more in it that tips it towards the ‘Foods That Are Out’ category but reintroductions are perfectly possible.  Tea, on the other hand has less ‘bad’ compared to the ‘good’.

We still place it in the ‘Grey Area’ for the simple reasons that caffeine is a stimulant and can negatively affect those with adrenal, blood pressure and neurological conditions. However, if you have always felt fine drinking tea (and remember this is being drunk either black or with almond/coconut milk as dairy is off limits) then there is a good argument for it being anti-inflammatory and healthful, certainly in smaller quantities. This can be green tea, white tea and/or black tea.

As with everything in the Grey Area, you may like to try a week or so without these foods and drinks to see if you feel any different. With these caffeinated beverages it is always good to cycle them in and out of your life, basically to sensitise your body to the effect they have. Doing so may show you just how potent and powerful a drug caffeine really is!

 

Alcohol

We are putting this here, even though it is, strictly speaking (and according to our About Alcohol page) this is eliminated. We place it in the Grey Area too because whilst it absolutely contains far more anti-nutrients than nutrients (and is in no way nutrient-dense) there is more to nutrition than nutrients.

Before we go on, if you want our deepest, heartfelt advice – try AT LEAST 30 days without alcohol as part of an introduction to Paleo living.

But at Paleo in the UK we recognise all elements that contribute to wellbeing and health. In our experience, social inclusion is an enormous part of what builds a life and a happy human being. Evolutionarily speaking, alcohol has, for centuries, been used as a social ice-breaker and a tool to remove a layer of inhibition whilst connecting people in networking and leisure settings.

So yes, if you want the science on what alcohol is doing to you metabolically and biochemically, that’s on our “All About Alcohol” page.

But if you want to know how alcohol really affects you as a person you have to understand that if alcohol is a means by which you more able to socialise with friends then it is worth establishing your personal alcohol tolerance so that you can do this without too many negative health impacts. And there are definitely ways to drink which are much healthier than others.

Want to know more about how to drink alcohol and establish your unique dose?  We have a whole section on this precise topic on our Paleo Reintroductions page.

 

Rice

If you want to start a fight in the Paleo community, simply mention Rice or Potatoes in public and watch the insults fly. The thing with rice, especially white rice, is that it is a grain and therefore typically excluded (because it contains all of the anti nutrients of grains such as gluten – see our All About Gluten page for more).  But here is one area where the very processing and refining of the grain is a good thing… because doing so removes many of the anti-nutrients.

If you add into this that many people inadvertently go ‘low carb’ when going Paleo (see our Macronutrients page for why Paleo doesn’t automatically mean ‘low-carb’), white rice can be a really useful ingredient to bring back into your diet, particularly if you’re partaking in the activity often associated with Paleo: CrossFit. Why does Rice get a pass and how can you work out if it’s a good thing to bring back into your life (after a process of elimination)? The instructions are on our Paleo Reintroductions page.

FOODS THAT ARE PALEO BUT AREN’T REALLY ‘HEALTHFUL’

If you’ve read our ethos on what we at Paleo in the UK include and exclude on “Paleo” (and why) you will know that we are all about healthful nutrition – i.e. foods that give more to the body than they take away.

Whilst the internet is a wonderful thing, it is built on attracting you to websites. Sweet treats and baked goods always look enticing and create many more clicks than meat and two veg. This means that otherwise great “Paleo” sites are dominated by these ‘treat’ items which are basically confectionary alternatives made with Paleo-permitted equivalents of sugar, flour and frosting. This is how these sites draw traffic… because we all love a ‘healthy, guilty pleasure’.

It is fine to make these alternatives. All of the ingredients are, on paper and in theory, perfectly Paleo. However, just because an ingredient is strictly Paleo does not mean that it promotes health when consumed in all its guises and with regularity. No matter what you are concocting with ‘legal’ flours and sugars, it’s still confection… and the ingredients are still processed to a degree which is not actually very Paleo.

There is no doubt that ancestral diets did NOT contain these ingredients. But we have established here at Paleo in the UK that we’re not only about recreating an ancestral model. Instead, we are all about the “Healthful”. As part of this we profoundly respect that the emotional, social and pleasure principles are all part of being a truly healthy human being.  That means ‘treats’ are actually ON our tables…

But don’t pretend for a moment that they are actually “Health Foods”… because they’re simply not.  The context, pleasure and whole experience of eating them might be “Healthful”, emotionally. The food itself – not so much. This means that temperance and balance must be considered when choosing foods laden with ingredients that a Perfectly Paleo, but not Perfectly Nutritious.

Some examples of “Paleo” but not “Healthful” ingredients are:

ALTERNATIVE 'FLOURS'

Chief amongst which is 'Cassava Flour' made from a perfectly Paleo tuber… all ground up to make a powdered 'flour'. The result is very rich in starch and exactly like a sugar bomb. It's actually more highly glycaemic than normal flour. It’s literally GREAT at replacing other ‘flours’ and is fabulous if your carbohydrate intake isn’t already really high. But you are essentially eating something that is metabolised very similarly to the way refined sugar is metabolised. This is a treat, and great instead of wheat, but it is not full of nutritional benefit - so don't believe anyone who says it is! The same can be said of all of the following ‘flour replacements’: Tapioca flour, Arrowroot starch, Ground nuts and ground seeds as flour (less starchy, but still pure carb/protein bombs without any of the fibre that make things like almonds so nutritious in the first place), Sweet potato flour, Coconut flour...

BAKING INGREDIENTS TO AVOID

Best/Worst example?: Psyllium Husk - good god, no…! This is all the anti-nutrients and the husk of all of the lectin and saponin-containing grains concentrated into a powder with zero other benefits. Whilst it doesn’t contain gluten - it contains all of the bad parts of gluten-containing grains that go alongside the gluten…. (See our All About Gluten section for more on this). Also of note is chickpea flour, also known as Gram Flour - again… concentrated legume-based flour which basically refines everything that’s inflammatory and negative about the legumes which you are avoiding. (See All About Legumes for more on this). This sneaks into a lot of ‘gluten-free’ goods, but is really not Paleo and really not “Healthful”.

THE PALEO SUGARS

Again, frequently used in cooking/baking and strictly 'legal', but still sugar ...: Cane Syrup, Date Sugar, Tapioca Sugar, Coconut Sugar, Palm Sugar, Agave Nectar (actually on the ‘no list’ as it’s basically High Fructose Corn Syrup, just derived from a cactus instead)... EXCEPTIONS to the sugar rule include Honey (preferably local, definitely RAW) and Blackstrap Molasses, potentially even Maple Syrup. These all contain actual nutrients - especially the molasses - rather than being simple ‘sugar’ and ‘sweetness’ for your cookie recipes.

THE CROSS REACTIVES

Several products are often successfully reintroduced by people when used in isolation - but baking and cooking normally requires really high quantities of these products. This can tip tolerance over the edge into becoming reactive for some people, even though 'ordinary' consumption was absolutely fine. Two prime examples would be: Rice - really shown to have a high probability of cross-reacting with gluten for coeliacs. Whilst this is a low allergen food, if you have autoimmunity or gluten sensitivity specifically, this is a real reintroduction food that you need to play with. If you have reintroduced it successfully you may still have to watch the rice flour side of things - as using it as flour is a really large dose of this grain in one go. Dairy - you can read “All About Dairy” and our “Paleo Reintroductions” pages to fully understand the dairy question… but recognise that a bit of butter on vegetables and cream in coffee is vastly different to buttercream, cakes made with 250g of butter and frostings made with cream cheese, or dairy-based custard cakes… All not really Paleo, even if you have reintroduced good quality dairy. This is definitely a bridge too far for us at Paleo in the UK and certainly should not be an everyday occurrence.

Want all of this information in a handy e-book / PDF guide? Just fill in your email to have the full Paleo Diet Ins/Outs & Reintroductions Guide emailed straight to your inbox:
 

A WORD OF CAUTION

The ‘RULES’ pages of Paleo can read a little bit like a prescription – and they are supposed to: we are providing the basic understandings of what’s on and off the Paleo table.

However, always, always bear in mind that Paleo is a TEMPLATE – and the above ‘rules’ define the outline of this way of eating.  If you’re unsure about what Paleo really is, do read our “What Is Paleo” page, and if you’re at all confused as to “Why Paleo”, please check out our “Paleo Purpose, Macronutrients and Weight Loss” Page.

In reality all humans are different and what your ultimate “Healthful Diet” will be will depend entirely on your individual circumstances. It also must be combined with an overarching understanding of incorporating nutrition into a whole Paleo Lifestyle.

Nothing here is meant to trigger controlling, restrictive behaviours. Paleo really is designed to help you heal from inflammation and provide yourself with stable foundations from which you can experiment with and enjoy food that’s healthy and nourishing, for you.

A WORD OF CAUTION

The ‘RULES’ pages of Paleo can read a little bit like a prescription – and they are supposed to: we are providing the basic understandings of what’s on and off the Paleo table.

However, always, always bear in mind that Paleo is a TEMPLATE – and the above ‘rules’ define the outline of this way of eating.  If you’re unsure about what Paleo really is, do read our “What Is Paleo” page, and if you’re at all confused as to “Why Paleo”, please check out our “Paleo Purpose, Macronutrients and Weight Loss” Page.

In reality all humans are different and what your ultimate “Healthful Diet” will be will depend entirely on your individual circumstances. It also must be combined with an overarching understanding of incorporating nutrition into a whole Paleo Lifestyle.

Nothing here is meant to trigger controlling, restrictive behaviours. Paleo really is designed to help you heal from inflammation and provide yourself with stable foundations from which you can experiment with and enjoy food that’s healthy and nourishing, for you.