There are 6 reasons why I am not Paleo. Ready for them?

Robb Wolf gives a fantastic overview of, “What Is The Paleo Diet,” and in it he provides the basics for:

Okay to Eat

fruits, vegetables, lean meats, seafood, nuts and seeds, healthy fats


dairy, grains, processed food and sugars, legumes, starches, alcohol

The Paleo Diet

The Paleo Diet seeks to provide everything from more efficient workouts to reduced allergies and fat loss to stable blood sugar.

For all of these reasons, I am a huge fan. As a matter of fact, for many, many reasons I am a huge fan of the Paleolithic ways and practices.

Most assume I religiously follow the Paleo Diet. I don’t. And you should know that many people who preach Paleo and pump out Paleo-ified recipes aren’t necessarily accurate either.

Note: I still mark my recipes according to what they are so that, in case you do follow a specific diet, you instantly know if you can enjoy the recipe or not. I.e. gluten free, Paleo, egg free, soy free, dairy free, grain free, sugar free, etc.

Prime example: Baking Powder. I have seen more recipes on “Paleo” blogs that use baking powder. Baking powder contains starch (usually corn starch). Starch is on the “Avoid” list.

The use of baking powder is not why I am not Paleo. 

Here are my 6 reasons. 

6 Reasons Why I Am Not Paleo

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6 Reasons Why I Am Not Paleo #paleo #guthealth #paleodiet


  1. I do dairy.

    No, I don’t do conventional dairy (regularly) any longer, but I definitely have raw dairy when I can get my hands on the Organic Pastures raw cream, cheese, butter and kefir. Raw dairy has helped my gut. I never thought I’d see the day when I could say that, but here I am, saying it. The fact remains, and yes I thank God for my cream, cheese, butter and kefir.

  2. Grains….maybe.

    You better believe there are grains in my diet. Even as I was healing, I started incorporating some here and there. In the thick of healing, I can understand that grains might not be part of the protocol. However, despite the fact that grains are often considered antinutrients and phytic acid is shunned in the gut-healing community, I cannot fully get behind the idea. These are my main reasons for it:

    1. Grains have a lot of fiber, and fiber is something we are, generally, not getting enough of.
    2. Many grains are low-FODMAP. So, if you have SIBO and are already greatly restricted by what you can and can’t have, more restriction won’t be any better.
    3. Like everything else, the quantity determines the poison. 
  3. Peanut Butter obviously.

    Peanuts are a legume, so if I was Paleo there would be no peanuts, no peanut butter. How in the world would I have developed the most delicious nut butters – A Loving Spoon nut butter?What’s more is that I created the nut butters while on the GAPS Diet because everything I used in my dessert butters were GAPS approved. So, peanuts were okay for GAPS but they are not Paleo? And what diet is superior? I don’t know the answer; I’m just asking the question.

  4. Alcohol.

    I rarely drink anymore because I learned that I can react to even moderate amounts of alcohol. But I absolutely enjoy a drink every now and then. My favorite is just a straight, high-quality vodka with water, a splash of lemonade and slice of lemon or lime. 

  5. All foods under the “X” category are always okay.

    When you are truly Paleo, then entire categories of food either are or are not allowed. For example: seafood. Let’s say salmon, cod, walleye, sole and snapper work for you, but not shrimp, scallops or tuna. Or grains from above. Maybe you tolerate rice and quinoa, but not freekeh and barley? The ultimates don’t work.

  6. Baking Powder

    Wait, I lied. Baking Powder is one of the reasons why I’m not Paleo. Know why? This sort of falls along with number 5. I don’t ever want to silo off foods as forever “Yes” or “No” because of a rigid diet that I believe promises healing and health.

Diet Templates

Now listen, I realize that following any given diet doesn’t have to be as strict as what I laid out above.

The point of this post is to tell you that there is no one diet that is the diet for you.

There are only templates (i.e. Paleo, GAPS, low-FODMAP, Whole30, etc.) that can be a starting place for you and your healing journey.

In fact, here are a couple resources to help you create your own diet:

  1. Create Your Own FODMAP Diet Plan {Using These 310 Graphics}
  2. What is the Best Gut Healing Diet

As for me, I follow my own GAPS Diet, which stands for:

Gut and Psychology Sarah Diet

It’s such an awesome “diet” because it fits me like a glove.

And that is precisely my point.

This isn’t about the 6 reasons why I am not Paleo. This is the fact that everyone tries to mold into a perfect way, a perfect diet.

There is no such thing – even if you have IBD or IBS.

There is one way that works.

That way is your way. It is carefully crafted and created. It can take a very long time to nail it down, but once you do, I guarantee your life will forever be changed.

Stop molding. 

Start paving.

Define a lifestyle for you. Heal in a way that suits your best interest.

And don’t forget that journal to guide you. 🙂


If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:

    1. Reasonable SIBO
    2. Why I No Longer Follow a Diet
    3. How to Reintroduce Foods After an Elimination Diet


6 Reasons Why I’m Not Paleo via #guthealth #healthyliving #paleodiet

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    1. Because Peanut Butter is so amazing…in so many ways. Each time I dip into my Honey Vanilla-Bourbon Peanut Butter, I am in heaven:) And yes, the whole baking powder thing *drives me nuts!!!* I have seen more Paleo blogs/recipes use it over and over and I wonder if they even know. When you get down to it, Paleo can be a lot more complicated than it appears, which is why I’d rather just do me than a mold. Again, this is all just personal preference!

  1. Great post Sarah! I totally agree with you, and I have to say, though I was on the paleo/SCD bandwagon for a while while healing from SIBO, I have reintroduced some foods (some dairy, and a few grains and peanut butter) and feel great! I am getting a wee bit frustrated with some of the paleo police seen in the blog world, and I think everyone needs to find a balance of what works for them. All I know is my tummy feels pretty darn good now, and I did not die from eating some gluten free oatmeal! 🙂

  2. Question.. what grains have you eliminated that you hope to one day introduce back into your diet? Do you do any sort of gluten free bread options? Right now I do gluten free or corn based tortillas.

  3. I found that white rice, not brown, is really soothing to my gut when I have having a flare-up. Brown rice is one of my “nos”. I can handle corn, but my favorite, broccoli, is a toss-up.

    Not getting stressed out about what I can and cannot eat can be difficult, I can’t even begin to put a name on it!

      1. During a flare up, I eat bland. For a week all I could handle was organic ginger ale, peppermint tea, apples (no skins) and white rice. I was told by a co worker my diet needed work, because obviously I knew nothing about vegetables and meats and no grains and no sugar. I wanted to cry because I didn’t want to eat only apples and white rice, but my gut was a misery and had been for quite some time.

        Can’t we just eat? Why does everything have to have a name? Just another frustrating fact of having gut issues 🙂

  4. You are so right! It really angers me when people say they are part of a diet…with exceptions! I think you are completely on the marker with this, good for people if they can do it and want to do it, but for most people it is unrealistic….as I am learning with the gluten free diet. I could never go paleo as I could not get enough carbs to sustain 70 miles a week!

  5. I am moving further away from labels each day – they aren’t typically sustainable and try to force us to follow certain guidelines that aren’t meant to be enforced. Finding the nutrition that fuels you and helps you thrive is the key – not that it follows some diet trend. 🙂

  6. Diet labels give us a framework to begin to understand. They serve a VERY useful purpose when someone is first learning how to find the diet that works best for them. But at some point, if we are continue to improve on our personal-best path, we have to move beyond the generic and strict guidelines/rules of recognized diets, fitness plans, training plans, career paths, etc. in order to find what works the best for each of us. Great post!

  7. LOVE this post! I could never give up peanut butter…HA! I love the taste of it, trying new flavors, the nutritional benefits, oh and the list goes on and on. Oh and I like wine too…You just have to do what works for you. Makes you feel good. I’m still learning this every day, but that is life! 🙂

  8. I definitely have my own lifestyle. Yes, I do follow some of the Paleo attributes, but my diet seems to be a little more strict to some extent… So I call it the GIGI. Exactly! To each their own – because everyone is different so we all need to figure out what works for ourselves! 🙂 Clearly you have!

    xoxo – I am so pumped to meet you in March, have you figured out a hotel situation?

  9. Just wrote about this on my blog today – what I do & why… I lost weight many moons ago BUT it was never a diet or a planned program.. it all came down to what was right for me, what I could live with & still be happy… I do NOT eliminate any whole food groups if my body can handle them. 🙂

  10. Overall, good article. If labelling your diet is important, yours sounds pretty close to the Primal Blueprint. I don’t get hung up on labels or 100% compliance with anyone’s recommendations, but the Primal diet has an allowance for including unapproved foods, too.

    I don’t understand why you think the baking powder thing is a big issue. Most recipes call for less than a teaspoon of baking powder, which isn’t a significant source of corn starch in the finished product. And some baking powders have very little corn starch, e.g. Bob’s Red Mill has 1 g of carbs in a 5 g serving.

    Personally, I avoid all baked products because I avoid grains, I don’t like eating substitutes for unhealthy foods, and because it’s pretty much impossible to bake without using highly processed ingredients.

    1. Hey Dave! Thank you for the wonderful thoughts. Personally, I don’t care about who uses baking powder and who doesn’t, but what I’ve found is that those who do use it are oftentimes the “Paleo Police:)” I also had to use the baking powder example because in my recipes I never use it, because it’s a starch, and I like people to understand where I’m coming from, while educating them on what baking powder actually is. Your points on it are very valid. Thanks again!

  11. Glad someone said it 🙂 You should read Grain Brain though – may change your idea of grains being a food, which they are not.

  12. I’m afraid that you wrote this article by reading other people’s posts of “what is paleo”, rather than reading Mark’s Daily Apple articles, or listening to Robb Wolf’s podcasts over the years, or to Chris Kresser’s blog. These guys are far more flexible as to what is Paleo, or what it CAN be Paleo, rather than some hard-cut rules that others write on their sites.

    Unfortunately, this creates misconceptions about the Paleo diet. For example, Paleo is NOT what the Paleolithic people ate. This is the No1 misconception about Paleo. This has resulted in many debunking articles online that “this is not what Paleolithic people ate”, while Paleo is not about THEIR diet. We don’t eat snakes, rats etc. as they did. Instead, it’s a diet that uses the Paleolithic diet as a blueprint, BUT, it uses modern research on each food to find out if it’s fit for consumption or not. We eat whatever makes sense today, scientifically-proven when possible, based on the evolutionary path of humans. That’s it.

    Now, to talk a bit about your own points.

    1. No dairy. Dairy is accepted on Paleo. Most do butter and cream. Other types of dairy is also accepted especially if it’s fermented, raw, and/or from Casein A2 animals (e.g. goats, sheep, buffalo, rather than cows that contain the unnatural casein A1 variant which is a human-selected trait).

    Talking about the gurus, Mark is eating fermented dairy. Even people like Robb Wolf, who wrote on his 2008 best seller to avoid dairy (and then people copied that advice verbatim), now eats goat cheese.

    Result: As long as the individual does not have dairy intolerance, fermented or raw casein A2 dairy is fine (butter/cream can be from cows, it’s impossible to find goat/sheep one in the US).

    2. Grains AND pseudograins are out, except maybe a bit of white rice when out in restaurants (not one that has glutenous soy sauce though, e.g. in Chinese restaurants). Most people are gluten intolerant (that they find out after they go Paleo), and new research shows that GF grains like oats and pseudograins like quinoa can instigate gluten-like problems. They have proteins that are alike, and they can make the immune system think it’s gluten. If you’re very intolerant to gluten or gliadin, avoid all these. This is also why some specific type of celiacs can only get better after they stop eating ALL grains and pseudograins, not just the glutenous ones.

    3. Peanut butter. Avoid peanuts, the way they’re prepared in the US is not as healthy as elsewhere in the world (which is why Americans are so high in peanut butter allergies, while for Europeans is unheard of). Go for almond butter. Whole Foods has a very good sunflower butter too. Overall, do avoid them though, because they’re extremely high in omega-6. If you’re not eating *wild* fish daily, don’t eat nut butter daily. Simple as that. Also, nuts must be soaked before eating, otherwise they are too high in antinutrients.

    4. Red Wine. Red wine is fine in moderation. Nobody spoke against red wine in the Paleo diet. In fact, Dr Kruse, suggests it. I drink cider sometimes too.

    5. Veggies. 2/3s in weight on a dish is supposed to be veggies on Paleo, not meat. Before Paleo, I hated veggies too. But as my taste buds regrew after cutting down grains and sugars, I found them to be better than I remembered. It’s a matter of regrowing your taste buds (takes a month). Sugar/carbs is what destroys the taste buds btw.

    6. Nobody said that ALL foods under an X category are okay. Remember, Paleo even has an “auto-immune” version where it removes foods that are normally Paleo, because it recognizes that some people are allergic to them. Even more so, there are people who DON’T get better with plain Paleo or the auto-immune version, and they need to also follow on top the FODMAPs diet (which removes even more foods) before they get better. Just 3 days ago I corresponded with someone who had to do this before her bowels movements were solid again after almost a year of trying plain Paleo. FODMAPs was required, it was the missing piece. Regarding your seafood problems, try oysters and mussels and sea veggies. Especially oysters (even if canned), are the second most nutritious food after liver. I suppose you do offal, right?

    BTW, Paleo says that we should eat coconut products. Personally, except coconut oil, I’m intolerant to the rest of the coconut products (extreme indigestion for over 24 hours). So just because Paleo says coconut is good, doesn’t mean that everybody has the right digestive enzymes to eat these foods. Paleo is a guideline in this case. In my case, I can eat legumes without a problem, because I’m culturally coming from the Balkans, where people ate legumes 2-3 times a week, and we have evolved in a small amount of time to be able to eat them. Also consider that I became very sick when I moved to the US. Why? Because wheat here is different than the one in Europe. It was aggressively selected in the ’50s. My IBS/Celiac was triggered in the US, not in Europe. So as you can see, we can evolve rather quickly about foods, however, if we keep selecting foods every few years, we don’t have time to adapt. Beans haven’t been aggressively selected, so my people had time to evolve around them over the last few hundred generations.

    7. And this brings me to Legumes. The tide is turning on legumes. Research now shows that after soaking AND pressure cooking some legumes (especially lentils, white beans, garbanzo — peas/green-beans were always ok to eat as is), it renders their lectins inert. Now that research shows that, Paleo is starting to turn the tide towards them. This is why I said that Paleo is a “live” diet shaped by modern research, not just by strict guidelines of what Paleolithic people ate. This is its difference between Paleo, GAPS and SCD. I started myself with SCD (which is a precursor to GAPS), only to find religious-like beliefs by the late Elaine Gottschall, rather than science. For example, she would stay adamant that yogurt is better than kefir, while research shows us that home-made kefir can run circles around yogurt in terms of healing (consider that I’m Greek too). GAPS is better in that respect, as Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride is more open minded. But Paleo is always shaping, which is why I eventually followed it.

    1. Hi Eugenia,

      I am *grateful* to you for the huge response. You would be wrong in assuming that I don’t read any of the people you mentioned right away. I read them – I have read them – for a very long time. I have studied them, I have hugely studied Dr. Natasha and Elaine. I am very educated, as are you.

      The reality, though, is that “perception is reality,” and while you understand the entire scope of Paleo, people in general do not.

      Your points are all valid, but my point was, with things like “peanuts.” Yes, everything you said about them is accurate, but just because they are not the perfect little legume and food in general, does not mean that we can and should never have peanut butter or peanuts again. And veggies – I’m never referring to taste. I love them so much. I have Colitis, and I still cannot process a ton of them. And on and on and on…

      My points were more around this idea of “why do we need to be on a labeled diet when doing us is far more beneficial?”

      Again, I respect and appreciate all of your information and knowledge you shared with my readers.

  13. I wonder why my comment was not approved today. I’m not some troll, I simply tried to explain various misconceptions. I spent a whole hour writing it, and I seriously tried discussing your points, and offer new viewpoints and information, instead of simply leaving a single line of comment like others did.

  14. I don’t label my diet. I nourish myself with foods that do me good.I learn as I go along as well, knowing which foods that make me feel great (both in body and mind) and those that make me feel like poop 😉

  15. Hey Sarah!
    I am wanting to do a 21 day plan for myself to heal my little leaky gut. I love half in half in my coffee. I am sure I need to cut that out for full healing. Is there a good alternative than just drinking watery almond milk? I saw that you mentioned Raw dairy? Does that mean buying a certain brand name? Thank you!

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