What is paleo? It would be useful if we had some shared definition of the basics of paleo. I believe that Paleo could be defined as a shared set of restrictions, such as no refined flour or sugars, no highly processed foods, no legumes, no trans fats, no products derived from corn, wheat, soy, or seeds (including oils), being careful with omega 3/omega 6 ratio, plus freedom to combine meats, fish, fruits or vegetables as each one might prefer. The end result will not be uniform, many people will reject foods that others might love: Since many of us come from different backgrounds, although we share certain readings, each one has different educational and intellectual backgrounds, live under different personal circumstances, climates, etc. My question is: do you agree with my basic definition of paleo, or would you add other elements? Or do you think that a definition of paleo should be much more strict in terms of details, such as percentage of fats, saturated fat consumption, meat versus vegetable foods, etc?
Any reasonable definition of a paleo diet cannot refer exclusively to foods that were eaten by our paleolithic ancestors, because almost no such foods still exist. Our paleolithic ancestors did not eat modern domesticated cattle; they did not eat modern fruits; they certainly did not eat "caveman cookies" or whatever. And yet, who among us would consider a grass-fed rib eye to be un-paleo?
I think "paleo diet" should be a kind of short-hand for "diet that mostly excludes industrially processed foods, and instead consists of foods found in nature, prepared using very old (if any) processing techniques such as heating and fermenting."
By that definition, I'd say that dairy products such as milk or traditional yogurt can be paleo, but ice cream or non-fat FroYo cannot. I'd say that a steak is paleo, but a burger on a bun is not. A boiled potato is paleo, but french fries are not. An apple is paleo, but an apple Pop-Tart is not. Corn can be sort of paleo if it's nixtamalized, but not if it's a Dorito. Soy can be kind of paleo in the form of miso or tempeh, but not in the form of soy milk. (I don't think there's really any way to make wheat even kind of paleo.)
There are two things in your description of paleo, that I would change.
Regarding 1), I've never seen a container in a supermarket with a label that says trans fats, and I haven't noticed it on any ingredients list. As for 2), I would be surprised people labeling their diet as a paleo diet actually calculate their omega 3/omega 6 ratios.
I would rather define paleo in a way so that one would not need to know chemistry to understand it. If a person knows about different types of food, it makes more sense to say "don't eat legumes" because you can recognize a bean, e.g., when you see it. And if one avoids processed foods, a lot of the difficult-to-discern-what-ingredients-are-used cases are also avoided.
How about saying, avoid seed oils and other highly processed fat?
A strict definition of Paleo would be to avoid eating stuff that wouldn't have existed historically. Mutant crops, refined substances, farmed animals... the problem is this is impossible to do entirely.
Trying to eat the best quality, freshest, meat, vegetables and fruit that you can. Shopping like you were gathering in a forest. Preparing your own meals from this fresh produce. That's the workable definition of Paleo.
Fatty or lean meat 4 Answers