Here is the best list of Paleo replacements to help you stick with your Paleo lifestyle. Everything from typical ingredients found at any local grocery store to obscure ingredients you can order over the internet. For your convenience, I provided links to all the food items.
Rest assured, I’ve selected items that are completely gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free.
Grains and Processed Sugars
Grains are predominately made up of carbohydrates, which break down into simple sugars, or glucose, in the body. All forms of sugar, including natural forms are also processed the same way inside your body.
As shown in the diagram below, the pancreas regulates the blood-glucose levels. When it’s too high – from eating too many grains or sugars – the pancreas releases insulin. The insulin then tells the liver and muscle cells to store the excess glucose in case the body needs it later – during exercise.
However, once the liver and muscle cells are full, the liver converts the excess glucose into saturated fat. Only this converted saturated fat combines together and forms triglycerides. To make it even worse, the increased insulin sent out to lower your blood-glucose levels blocks your body’s hormone, leptin, that tells your brain you are full. Once you have too much grains and sugar, your body still wants more because it doesn’t know you’re full.
Don’t worry, its easy to eliminate grains and processed sugars from your diet. Here is a list of Paleo replacements.
- Spaghetti Squash
- Zucchini Noodles – “Zoodles”
Hard to Find Sugar-Free Foods
Most cured meats are cured with processed sugars and contain a lot of unnatural ingredients like nitrates and nitrites. I once thought about curing my own meats, but I just haven’t gotten around to that yet. In the meantime, I searched and examined almost every bacon, sausage, ham and chorizo that I could find at the grocery store. The ones I found to be naturally cured and Paleo-approved are:
- Naked Bacon
- Pederson’s Natural Farms Bacon
- Pederson’s Natural Farms Ham
- Teton Waters Ranch 100% Grass-Fed Beef Uncured Beef Hot Links
- Homemade Sausage beats store-bought any day
Legumes, including beans, lentils, peas, soy, tempeh and peanuts contain considerable amounts of phytates and lectins. Phytates block some nutrients within the legume from being digested in the stomach and small intestine. These food particles, as they continue traveling through the intestine, remain undigested, which causes inflammation, bloating and gas.
Lectins are carb-binding proteins that cause the undigested food particles, now in your small intestine, to stick and bind to the small intestinal walls. This causes the walls to break down and creates a hole directly into the bloodstream. This allows the waste, toxins and anti-nutrients present in your small intestine to leak into the bloodstream, also referred to as leaky-gut syndrome. Once the waste, toxins and anti-nutrients are floating freely in the bloodstream, your immune system has to work overtime and try to clean the body and return it to normal.
Of the legumes, peanut butter is the most sought after replacement. Lucky for you, these are great replacements.
- Nut Butters. Almond, Cashew and Pistachio are a few of my favorites.
- Sunflower Seed Butter, for those with nut allergies. Be sure to get the organic one that is unsweetened and salt-free.
- Tahini Butter, made from sesame seeds and is also nut-free.
Don’t worry, Asian food is not lost forever. These sauces can be used to replace Soy Sauce.
Dairy contains casein, a protein that promotes the deterioration of your small intestinal walls, which can also cause leaky gut syndrome. A few people lack the enzymes necessary to properly break down and digest milk, which causes bloating, diarrhea and other indigestion problems.
You can find better sources of calcium in dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach and collard greens, and meat, seafood and nuts. The calcium found in these foods are more readily available for the body to digest without causing intestinal problems. To learn more about the nutritional benefits of following a Paleo lifestyle, read this post on Why Should You Follow a Paleo Diet.
Only babies need milk. Why? To get fat. Yes, baby-fat. This fat is very important for babies since they are growing at an extremely rapid rate. Once babies begin eating food for nutrition, milk is absolutely not necessary or required. Just look at nature, humans are the only mammals who not only drink milk as adults, but also drink milk from other species.
The best replacements for milk are:
The best replacements for butter are:
I substitute recipes with these other ingredients below to either add flavor, liquid or natural sweetness. You can check out the ingredients below all with links to purchase them.
- Rose Water – used in a few recipes as a natural sweetener in lieu of using sugar.
- Raw Cacao Nibs – chocolate in its purest form.
I would love to hear from you. What do you miss most after switching to a Paleo lifestyle? Have you found a great Paleo-approved ingredient that I missed here? please leave me a comment below and join the conversation.