Curious about becoming Paleo? You’re not alone – Paleo has been hitting the headlines and it’s got a lot of people really excited about what it could mean for them! Being Paleo in the UK is just starting to take off, so if you’re looking for hints, tips and useful pointers – you’re in the right place.
If you’re new to the Paleo diet – here’s what it means in a nutshell:
- The Paleo diet is based on the food of our Paleolithic ancestors, sometimes known as a Primal diet or Caveman diet.
- There are no complicated ‘food rules’ or special ingredients involved. It simply means:
- No processed food
- No wheat, grain or dairy
In short, being Paleo is not about fad diets or restricting yourself – but just eating lots of delicious, nutritious and clean food, that your body will love, and leave you feeling fantastic, all of the time. No annoying bloating, fatigue or crashes – you feel more energetic, revitalised and healthier all round.
Sound good? Take a look at my Paleo life to find out how it changed me – and read on to learn more about this simple but effective approach to healthy eating, with the answers to some of the most common questions I’ve received. If there’s anything you’re curious about – feel free to give me a shout out, and I’ll be happy to answer your Paleo questions!
Firstly, here’s Paleo in a few bullets:
- A diet based on the food of our Paleolithic ancestors, sometimes known as a Primal diet or Caveman diet.
- No processed food
- No wheat, grain or dairy
- A lot of amazing, nutritious, delicious, clean food!
- The potential to feel amazing, all of the time
Here’s a more in-depth version of my Paleo life.
Here’s what is in this article:
Here’s what is in this article:
Paleo in the UK FAQs
1. Is the Paleo diet boring?
Short answer – no! Long answer – with processed foods a common part of everyday life, it’s easy to wonder if simpler meals made with whole food ingredients could somehow be less fulfilling than the lure of an attractive photo on a ready meal. Paleo simply means cutting out all processed foods, wheat, dairy and grains, and is a fantastic way to challenge your kitchen preconceptions, and come up with creative, inventive ways of making great recipes, using only the purest and most natural ingredients. The result? Delicious, satisfying and nutritious food you’ll love.
2. Is it the same thing as Atkins?
No. The Atkins diet is a low carb diet that permits dairy (such as cheese), and excludes seeds, nuts and fruit. Paleo excludes processed food, wheat, grain and dairy.
3. Can I go Paleo as a vegetarian?
Being Paleo isn’t all about eating lots of meat – all you have to do is ensure you get enough protein by eating nuts, and you’ll be surprised at just how versatile they really are!
4. Can I eat Quinoa?
Yes! Quinoa might look like one, but it’s actually neither a grain nor wheat. Quinoa is rich in nutrition, labelled as “the gold of the Incas”. You can find out more about it health benefits here.
5. What can I eat for breakfast?
A really important question! Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day, and a typical Western breakfast might be made up of toast, cereals, croissants, oats, orange juice and of course, large quantities of coffee. Packed with wheat, butter, dairy and grains, it’s definitely not Paleo, and will probably leave you feeling sluggish by midday! Why not try a Paleo-friendly breakfast for a change?
Here are some of the delicious things you could be eating instead:
- Eggs in any form. Try them poached, scrambled or fried with a sprinkle of turmeric and paprika on top!
- Frittatas, packed with spinach and mushrooms
- Courgette and bacon hash, with an optional poached egg on top
- Paleo diet smoothie
- Grated sweet potato, spinach and grilled vine ripened tomatoes
- Almond or coconut flour Paleo pancakes
- Sweet potato and turkey casserole
- Nut based “oatmeal”
- A big plate of fruit is often a quick and easy option. My breakfast is never quite this stylish but here’s some surprising inspiration from Tokyo’s Narita airport:
6. Why no wheat? Haven’t people been eating it forever?
As a matter of fact – we haven’t! Wheat and grain were not part of the human diet until the Agricultural Revolution, around 10,000 years ago – that’s relatively recent in biological terms. Meanwhile, the human body has not changed much since our Paleolithic ancestors, and less than 1% of our genes have adjusted since the Agricultural Revolution.
For most people, adjusting and processing wheat is not something their bodies are designed to do, and people are becoming increasingly aware of potential sensitivities – Paleo in the UK cuts these out altogether!
7. Can I eat cheese?
No – as cheese is a processed dairy, it’s not Paleo friendly.
8. Where do I get my calcium from if I’m not eating dairy?
Dairy is often seen as the only source of calcium, but in fact there are equally rich, or even better sources elsewhere. Try any of the following:
- Sesame seeds
- Dragon fruit
- Bok Choy
9. What snacks can I eat?
Everyone needs a nibble during the day, and Paleo eaters are no different! Paleo food guidelines make it easy to decide what kinds of food you should be eating, and you can eat them whenever you like – as part of a regular meal, or a snack. Some of my favourite snacks are just a simple plate of fruit and some nuts, but when you’re on the move, it’s much simpler to pick something up on the go, and now it’s easier than ever to find Paleo-friendly snacks in most high street stores.
Here are 3 delicious Paleo friendly snacks from UK stores and online:
- Nakd bars – naturally, no added sugar, wheat, grain and dairy free. Take a look at them here.
- Paleo People Granola
- Sweet Potato Crisps
10. Can I drink tea?
This question is as British as it gets! While I’m 99% Paleo, part of my 1% is caffeine. Avoid large milky drinks like sugary lattes, but occasional tea with skimmed milk, or macchiato are certainly ok. You can also try green teas, mint and other herbal teas – take a closer look at types of tea and their benefits here.
11. How about alcohol?
Some Paleo eaters avoid alcohol entirely, but it’s a personal choice. If you do choose to drink, then it’s best to avoid any wheat based drinks like beer. Wine, cider, potato based spirits like vodka are all OK. Here’s a handy list of gluten-free Vodka brands. Another unusual one to try is Chase English Potato Vodka
Practical Paleo in the UK
1. How long should I eat Paleo?
Paleo isn’t about short-term goals or fad dieting, but about making an overall lifestyle change – so if you enjoy being Paleo then there’s no reason why you can’t continue!
2. Can I use a microwave?
Paleo might be based on what our ancestors ate – but it doesn’t mean we have to cook the same way too! Feel free to use a microwave – caveman-style loin cloths and club sticks are totally optional!
3. What is a good substitute for bread?
There are lots of Paleo bread recipes made using alternatives to flour, such as almond flour and coconut flour – and it’s easy to whip up a loaf without needing a breadmaker, for Paleo-friendly toast and sandwiches. Try this Paleo Banana Bread – lovely with a cup of green tea in the afternoon. But as well as looking for substitutes, you can also explore the great variety of other food choices too so that you’re not left feeling ‘restricted’.
4. Can I eat Paleo if I’m diabetic?
Yes!! You certainly can, in fact Paleo eliminates refined sugar and grains – foods that can impact blood sugar levels. It’s important for any diabetic to talk with their doctor before changing their diet.
5. How many calories should I eat per day?
Here’s the best thing about Paleo. Paleo is not about calorie counting, but giving your body the right food it needs and cutting out unnecessary junk food, helping you stay in control of what you eat.
Paleo in the UK
1. Is Paleo popular in the UK?
Paleo is definitely growing in popularity in the UK, and it’s easier than ever to live the Paleo way – you can even find regular “meet ups” to meet other like-minded Paleo people! While Paleo is getting lots of new-found coverage in the media, it’s important to remember that Paleo is not a new ‘diet’, but a return to a more natural way of eating.
2. Where can I eat Paleo in the UK?
Many restaurants offer an allergen-free menu, which is a perfect way of avoid wheat or dairy products, and fitting into Paleo requirements. Most restaurants will also happily make small changes to meals, so don’t be afraid to ask for minor changes, such as removing cheese, not coating chicken in flour, swapping fries for salad or rice for vegetables.
3. Are shops ready for Paleo in the UK?
Living Paleo is really not as hard or as strange as people might initially think – supermarkets sell a very wide range of wheat free, dairy free and grain free products, usually catering for allergies and intolerances such as lactose or celiac. You’ll easily find these in the “free-from” aisles, which now have a wider range of food than ever. As awareness increases, you will likely see more products targeted towards Paleo eaters specifically too.
4. Is it expensive to eat Paleo in the UK?
Paleo foods are often perceived as being costly, but in fact, the Paleo lifestyle can be much more cost-effective than ‘normal’ eating. While fresh foods might be more expensive that processed foods in the short term, there are lots of money-saving tips to help your money go further:
Top 5 Tips for buying Paleo food in the UK:
- Buy food in bulk. Instead of buying expensive, small packs of long life products such as flours, nuts and dried fruits, go for volume instead. They can be stored for a long period without spoiling, and are usually much cheaper in larger sizes.
- Go to Holland and Barrett! As a prominent High Street brand, they are a great place to find special offers on Paleo essentials like fruit and nuts, and are a great place to stock up.
- Freeze meat! Freezing fresh meat doesn’t reduce its nutritional content, so instead of buying small cuts from the supermarket, head to your local butcher and get a better deal for a bulk buy. You can portion it up and freeze – so it’s ready whenever you want to prepare a meal.
- Shop around and ask for discounts. A little extra legwork might just save you a few more pounds in your purse, so keep an eye out at local shops and supermarkets for special offers and promotions, rather than sticking to your weekly shop. You’ll also often come across discounted fresh foods – while you want to avoid stockpiling fresh food that can easily spoil, a great workaround is to cook them straight away and freeze portions in advance, giving you Paleo ready meals, with all the home made goodness.
- Be adventurous! Don’t worry too much about strict meal planning. With so many recipes available online (*have a look my Paleo recipes!*) you will always be able to rustle up something delicious.
So there you have it…
I hope this Paleo UK FAQ list has helped you. If you’re worried you won’t be able to stay Paleo in the UK and need help – let me know! Starting something new doesn’t seem easy, people might not understand why you’re doing it and what you’re doing but that doesn’t mean you should stop if you feel great.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” ― Hippocrates