New to Paleo?

If you’re new to Paleo, you’re starting in the right place!

Put simply, Paleo describes a lifestyle and way-of-eating (so much more than a restrictive or crazy fad diet) based on eating:

  • plenty of protein
  • lots of veggies and some fruits &
  • a good amount of healthy fats.

That’s it! Simple, right?

Back when Paleo first started, there was really only one very strict set of guidelines about what to eat and what to remove from one’s diet. Truthfully, that’s how I recommend getting going. Stick to the basics by eliminating grains, legumes, dairy and as much added sugar as possible. Give it at least 30 days and see how you feel, then try reintroducing foods to test them out. For a structured program, I recommend the Whole30.

Over time, as you discover which foods are optimal for you and your goals, your list of “yes” and “no” foods are likely to change and loosen a bit. There is no single exact list of foods that works best for everyone. If you are into extremely strict Paleo, this is not likely the right site for you. If you’re into tons of treats and trying to make Paleo fit poor eating habits, this isn’t the right site for you either.

Rather, my philosophy is this:

Eat as much whole, nutrient-dense, vibrant food as your budget allows. Your food should have as much nutrient bang for the calorie buck as possible. If you’re eating to support overall health and well-being (or what I call Healthy, Happy and Harder to Kill™) eat three meals a day focused on protein, veggies (and some fruit) and healthy fat.

If you have very specific goals, especially around athletic performance, extreme shifts in body composition, or dealing with an autoimmune condition, your Paleo template may look different slightly different. It’s not uncommon to see foods like white potatoes, whey protein and white rice pop up from time to time in my posts. It does not mean these foods are optimal for everyone. It also doesn’t mean that this site “is not Paleo” for suggesting them as potential foods for folks with very specific needs.

Rather, to exclude them from the discussion as potential foods that support very specific goals would be remiss of me. A vast majority of  the articles and recipes on this site are in line with a general Paleo template for overall health. I urge you to consider viewing Paleo as a collective of food and lifestyle choices that best support your unique needs instead of a universal “yes” and “no” list, especially once you’ve gotten past the first few months.

I know that when you’re first starting out, things can be confusing! I started eating Paleo back in January 2010, and it took some time to get comfortable with how to plan and cook some awesome food. Even though I love to create recipes in the kitchen, I still like to keep it simple and thus, Stupid Easy Paleo was born.

Find What You’re Looking For…

To get my free Five-Part Paleo Quickstart Mini-Course delivered right to your inbox, click here.

If you’re a performance-minded individual, check out my ebook The Paleo Athlete or pre-order my new print cookbook The Performance Paleo Cookbook (from Amazon or Barnes & Noble)!

Want something more comprehensive? THE program to help you learn to eat Paleo? Look no further than the all-inclusive The Real Food. Real Good. Course. 24-7 access to online learning about Paleo at its finest!

Enter your email at the top of the home page, and you’ll get free updates every time a recipe is posted. That way, you’ll never miss a morsel and you’re guaranteed to get lots of inspiration for your Paleo journey.

Read Frequently Asked Questions here.

Here are some posts to get you started!

Demo Videos

Slow Cooker Recipes

56 thoughts on “New to Paleo?

    1. Steph

      Thank you Frank! The tough part about Paleo is that it means so many different things to so many people. Juicing to get in those extra fruits and veggies is a great way to go. Do you have any suggestions for what to do with the pulp? I’ve eaten it but it’s usually not super appealing in terms of consistency (though I know it’s good for me).

      Reply
        1. Maxine

          Mix the pulp with meat balls, meat loaf, muffins or banana type breads.
          Great thing is you can decrease an amount of the oil used by adding the pulp!

          Reply
        2. sherri

          We just found out that my 2 yr old is allergic to wheat, eggs, soy, milk & nuts I am having a hard time fixing things for her to eat… she became a picky eater now.. need some help please on recipes. .

          Reply
          1. Steph Post author

            Hi Sherri…I recommend checking out an AIP protocol and recipes (there are several cookbooks such as this one: http://amzn.to/UmFNoQ) which will have recipes free of most of the things you listed.

  1. Tessa

    I have been trying Paleo for 2 months now and it has been very hard for me. I still crave the carbs (bread) and the sweets. I would say I’m doing it 50% but my goal is to be able to do go strict Paleo!

    Reply
    1. Steph

      Hi Tessa! Are you still consuming any bread, pasta, etc or tons of fruit? In my personal experience, when I eat dried fruit, for example, it tends to make me crave sugar (much more than say, the occasional piece of fresh fruit). Keep up the good work!!

      Reply
  2. Alaina

    Great article! Thank you! I’ll take any advice, I start my “Paleo journey” tomorrow! Went grocery shopping today and I’m all set!

    Reply
    1. Steph

      Hi Alaina! That is tremendous news…thanks for sharing!! Definitely check back along the way and let me know if there’s anything I can help you with :)

      Reply
  3. Melissa

    I just stumbled upon your website and I’m seriously considering starting a Paleo diet. However, I’m mostly afraid of snack time. That is when I crave carbs and sugar the most. Do you have any suggestion for great filling snacks?

    Reply
    1. Steph

      Hi Melissa! As a general rule, I try to limit snacking and stick to three full meals per day. I can usually stay full for 4-6 hours between meals. If you find you need something in a pinch, I like hardboiled eggs, clean beef jerky (I have a recipe here: http://stupideasypaleo.com/2012/04/18/recipe-beef-jerky/) or nuts. No need to be afraid…if you get hungry between meals, eat more at mealtime and experiment with what keeps you fuller longer.

      Reply
    1. Steph

      Hi there! A lot of people (including myself) experience bloating when they consume dairy or gluten. One thing to try is eliminating all dairy and gluten for 30 days – which will give your gut lining a chance to start repairing itself – and see if it helps.

      Reply
      1. Melissa

        Hello just a general question, why are beans, legumes not included in the paleo diet, I have heard much about elimination of wheat & dairy to increase health- decrease bloating, but what is the deal with the beans?

        Reply
        1. Steph Post author

          Beans and other mature legumes contain a large amount of phytate, a chemical compound that binds to micronutrients / trace elements such as zinc and magnesium and prevents their absorption into the body.

          Reply
  4. tonishaa

    Hello there! Thank you for giving me your input to eliminate gluten and diary contained food that gives me a sick depressing bloated feeling! Can u please mail me options that I can try for a meal or snack, or a simplified pattern to follow for 30 days.

    Reply
  5. Tina Adkins

    Hi Steph! Your website has def. inspired as although I eat fairly clean, I have not wanted to give up grains (wheat free) or small amounts of sugar. Mainly because when I tend to eat paleo, I feel awful! I can’t seem to eat enough and my mind is very fuzzy. Since I am working on my PhD, I need all my mental faculties ;) Why do you think I feel this way? I’ve heard others say the same thing…..
    Thanks,
    Tina

    Reply
    1. Steph Post author

      Hi Tina…thank you! First, congratulations for working on a PhD…that’s seriously cool.

      Well, a few factors could be at work here. First, if you’re avoiding wheat, that’s a good start. However, some grains also contain gluten (such as barley and rye). Second, some foods contain lectins – another irritating class of compounds. Grains, legumes, nuts and nightshades contain the largest concentrations of lectins. Gluten and lectins can damage the intestinal lining, compromising its function.

      I don’t want to make assumptions because I know very little aside from what you told me, but I’m guessing you may 1) not be eating enough food overall or 2) may be eating a rather low fat, slightly higher carb version of Paleo. Are either of those accurate? It may change the rest of my response so I’ll wait to hear back.

      Steph

      Reply
  6. Tina Adkins

    Thanks for the quick reply! Sorry I didn’t give you enough details the first time ;) It does seem like I am not eating enough – I find it quite hard to eat large quantities of meat and the veggies seem to “burn” so quick that I’m hungry an hour later! Perhaps I am not using enough fat….that would make sense as I am not much of a cook unfortunately ;) That is one reason your website is so appealing – I need EASY paleo and recipes that don’t involve much! I have never used a crock pot and that sounds divine. I have been eating quinoa or brown rice with my meals, as well as black beans – I also love to eat tofu as a meat substitute. It sounds like all those things, although healthy, could be working against me? Although I am working out vigorously and trying to keep within a healthy amount of calories each day, I am not losing weight :( I went off dairy and wheat a year ago due to the inflammatory qualities and using the elimination test – I feel so much better doing this! Thanks for your feedback :)
    Tina

    Reply
    1. Steph Post author

      Hi Tina, no worries. I always found it VERY hard to regulate my blood sugar (I could tell it was swinging from high to low) when I was eating quinoa and rice and legumes. Now, I get my carbs from veggies and carb-dense roots and tubers like sweet potatoes, and I do much better. In fact, I use to faint or get very lightheaded a LOT when I ate that way and since becoming Paleo, it has never happened again in 3.5 years.

      Soy products like tofu have their own issues. I rely on animal protein (eggs, seafood and meat for my protein) because it has far more vitamin and micronutrient content than tofu (which is highly processed from soybeans).

      If you are working out hard and calorie restricting (not eating enough) it can have that effect.

      For me, once I increased the amount I was eating, focused on eating lots of veggies and some fruit, moderate servings of animal protein and a good dose of healthy fat, my body composition improved and my blood sugar regulates itself just fine.

      I can’t give specific recommendations but that’s what worked for me :)

      Best, Steph

      Reply
  7. Courtney

    Hi all. A good book to read is “It Starts With Food”. It gives very good detail about what grains, legumes and dairy do to your body and how it responds when you eat it. They recommend giving them all up for 30 days. From what I have ready, it takes your body a good week or so to “clense” the harmful effects but you usually start feeling better after about a week.

    Reply
    1. Steph Post author

      Totally agree, Courtney. Thanks for mentioning that! While “It Starts with Food” doesn’t have Paleo in the title, it definitely follows a Paleo template.

      Reply
  8. Virginia

    Steph I have to say I’m learning a lot from your posts and love you’re recipes. I just went primarily paleo 2 months ago, and GF in April. I can tell already how much better I feel. I just wish the weight loss would be following. Haven’t lost more than 10 pounds so far. But it’s something.
    On occasion I know these aren’t paleo buy I love them., I have Diamond Nut brand crackers or Glutino rosemary Olive oil crackers. I also occasionally maybe once a week have brown rice pasta with my kids on spaghetti day if I don’t have a spaghetti squash. Are these ok? Or totally defeating going 95% (more or less) paleo. And are these in the paleo police forbidden list lol. Thanks Steph! :)

    Reply
    1. Steph Post author

      Hi there Virginia! Wow…that is SO great to hear about your health changes so far. Keep up the good work!!

      I think it’s really important to keep your context in mind when deciding which “non-Paleo” foods to include in your diet. What I mean is to think about the following things: Do you have a metabolic, gut or autoimmune issue? Are you trying to improve body composition? Are you prone to going off-roading with Paleo-ified treats? (not suggestion you in particular do, but these are questions I tend to ask people). If you’re healthy and have good body composition and a good relationship with food, then treats or non-Paleo food items may fit your context just fine, or if not, they may be foods you want to avoid.

      Ultimately, I like to remind folks of something my good friends from Whole9 Life have said: “When it comes to food, there is no guilt…only consequences.” Those consequences could be good or bad, but it’s the guilt or other feelings around food that we make up. So, Paleo Police be darned but just know that whether someone says foods are Paleo or not Paleo, what that really means is that some foods make us more or less healthy because of physiological responses our bodies have to them.

      Hope this helps :)

      Reply
  9. Charlene

    I am in treatment for lung cancer and have had issues with “sticky mucus” blocking my airway. I switched to a vegetarian diet, but oncologist has concerns about lack of calories and proteins. I’m trying to figure out which foods to eat and which not to eat to eliminate production of this mucus. I eat a lot of fruit ( whole and juiced) and veggies. I have mostly eliminated gluten and refined foods, dairy and only eat a limited amount of meat and eggs.

    Help!

    Reply
    1. Steph Post author

      Hi Charlene, I know for me, dairy definitely makes me produce a lot of mucus, which is why I stopped eating it. How long have you been gluten and dairy free?

      Reply
  10. Jenny

    Hello! Your website is very inspiring and I can identify with many, if not all, of your pre-paleo symptoms! I am a fellow sugar addict. The more I read the more I want to commit. However the first thing that comes to mind is my morning coffe, I look forward to it so much and I didn’t know what replacement is used for this, if there is one. Also do you have a go to food when you have a sweet tooth or do you feel that the paleo diet fully prevents these cravings? Lastly should I jump in 100% or do you suggest a 80/20% approach? Thanks so much!

    Reply
    1. Steph Post author

      Hi Jenny!

      A good replacement for milk in coffee is coconut milk. Here’s a recipe for a really nice latte: http://stupideasypaleo.com/2013/06/26/coconut-milk-latte/.

      I don’t have many cravings nowadays but I still try to avoid adding sweeteners to my food (even things like honey, maple syrup, etc). It’s not that I *never* add them ever but I just generally don’t anymore. I also don’t bake a lot anymore because I find it just triggers my cravings for lots of sugary sweet foods.

      I didn’t go 100% in until about 1.5 years into my Paleo journey and I think that’s choice that varies wildly from person to person. Some people do well with ripping the band-aid off and going cold turkey. Some don’t. I might recommend trying it for 30 days and seeing how you feel, then reassessing. Have you seen my free quickstart guide yet? It might be worth a bash to sign up and read through it before you make a decision either way: http://stupideasypaleo.com/easy-paleo-quickstart-guide/.

      Cheers!

      Reply
      1. Annie

        Just started a 14 day plan, 3 meals a day (200g of meat with unlimited greens) and it varys for week 2. Im a complete sugar addict like Jenny above so I’m really interested in seeing how I get on! Ill keep you posted!

        Reply
  11. Jazz

    Hi there, I have recently been diagnosed with cancer and so hubby and I have decided to go hard out paleo. However, hubby is a tradie and needs lunches he can eat that wont go off in the lunchbox and dont need to be heated. He also needs pretty filling stuff to give himthe energy he needs to keep going all day I the weather and hard work etc. Any ideas? Loce this page by the way!

    Reply
    1. Steph Post author

      Any kind of lettuce wraps work well. Salads. Canned fish. Even boiled eggs will keep for a few hours without refrigeration. Get him a little collapsible cooler with a freezable insert.

      Reply
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  13. Jennifer

    I found your website on Pinterest last night while at work and I stopped by to check you out. :) I’m loving the realness of this blog! My family and I are starting our Paleo journey today (we are going shopping in a bit…wish us luck!) and I’m getting great advice/tips from your blog. I do have a question, though. I was wondering if going 90% Paleo and “cheating” every now and then would be a wise idea. The reason I ask is, my husband is kind of upset that we can no longer make a pot of chili. lol He Loves beans and loves making a big pot of chili and eating it for 2 days. haha I know that starting a new way of eating is tough and I don’t want to miss some foods that I liked and give up because I feel deprived. I noticed you said you still eat chocolate so I’m thinking my 90% idea is alright. lol I would love to be 100% Paleo because at this point in time I have a lot of health issues and would like to be healthier so I can be there for my daughters as they grow.
    Any tips, tricks, help, or words of encouragement are well appreciated! :D
    And again, I love the blog!! :)

    Jen

    Reply
    1. Steph Post author

      Hi Jennifer! I would definitely highly recommend doing a Whole30 or something like that at first because you’ll discover which foods may be problematic for you. Then you’ll know if a cheat is even worth the terrible feeling you get or which foods, if any, even give you a hard time. Does that help?

      Reply
  14. Connie Snider Richardson

    Just came across your website via pinterest (the salmon recipe sounds awesome). I have been following the Paleo diet for 3 weeks now and have lost 11 lbs. (well that was until this weekend and ate several things I was craving)…back on track today though).

    Reply
    1. Steph Post author

      Way to go, Connie!! There will be hiccups along the way but the sum total of your choices is what matters most. Nobody can be perfect 100% of the time. :)

      Reply
  15. Elizabeth

    Hey! Love your blog, it is awesome. :)) I have a quick question; I just started whole30 and the thing I miss most so far, is oatmeal. I’ve tried a pumpkin substitute, but it did not turn out great, and the another recipe I saw required far too many nuts for my comfort. Any suggestions???

    Also, how many servings of fruit do you recommend? Is three too many??

    Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Steph Post author

      Hi! Thank you :)

      I haven’t found any kind of oatmeal sub that I really like though I do recall making No-Oatmeal from Mark Sisson once that was pretty tasty. You’re right though…tends to be very heavy on the nuts.

      You know, I think it depends. I really go for fruit in the summer more than the winter, when it’s fresh and in season. Other times of the year, I hardly eat any. The only thing I consciously avoid is dried fruit. It triggers my sweet tooth something fierce. Another thing I’ve seen happen on Whole30 is some folks sub fruit for junk food and go way overboard with it.

      Hope this helps!

      Reply
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  17. Marilyn

    I love the Paleo concept and have been on it for about six weeks. I lost 10 pounds very easily but now I’m “stuck” and have plateaued even though I’m being good on the diet. How do I get past this hump? It’s very discouraging.

    Reply
    1. Steph Post author

      Hi Marilyn,

      It’s not unusual to see short-term drops in weight, but keep in mind, the real benefits of Paleo sometimes take a few months to experience. Keep at it. Slow and steady wins the race.

      Reply
  18. Jamie

    I’ve been trying to do pretty strict Paleo for 3 weeks now. I’m really hungry at 4:00 and I have a bit of low blood sugar. I know you aren’t supposed to have snacks inbetween meals but I feel like my lunches are lacking because I’m on the go. I haven’t given up caffeine but cut down dramatically and use coconut milk in my morning coffee.
    I sometimes go to bed hungry.. is that right?
    thanks
    jamie

    Reply
    1. Steph Post author

      Hi Jamie,

      What time are you eating dinner? Have you tried to bump up the amount of food you’re eating at each meal?

      Reply
  19. jamie

    I eat dinner around 7, maybe 6:30 if I’m trying to not eat a snack at 4.
    Breakfast is early, like 7:30.. lunch 1-2.
    I will try to bump up the food, but I’m also trying to lose 8 lbs. And I want to start exercising in the morning too.
    jamie

    Reply
    1. Steph Post author

      Hi Jamie,

      You don’t necessarily have to restrict food significantly to lose weight! If your body is giving you strong signals, ignoring those can often lead to stalls in weight loss.

      Reply
  20. Nicole

    I’ve been researching Paleo bloggers for a few weeks now. I had some precarious health issues surface about 2 months ago. After several ER visits, ENT’s and neurologists couldn’t figure out my ailments, I turned to research. My Hungarian gypsy mother was the one to pinpoint my illness. Turns out I have a severe case of Candida which also triggered a mild case of MS . Leaky gut syndrome. It boiled down to the fact that years of antibiotics and horrible eating habits poisoned my system. I am 34 days clean eating and determined to keep this lifestyle. I have reversed 65% of my ailments and lost 2 1/2 inches of ‘wheat gut’ from my waste. I’ve never been overweight so this wasn’t a ‘diet’ for me. It’s about feeling better in my skin. I went cold turkey and dove in head first (or gut first)
    I did a lot of research and prepared myself for the ‘die off’ and mild depression that followed detoxing. I find myself frustrated with food sometimes and want to stuff a pizza in my face. But I keep in mind what I went through to get this far and it passes.
    I’ve been a self taught chef for well over 15 years now. So I know the basics of cooking and how to manipulate food. The hardest part is retraining my tastebuds to eat foods I never touched in 38 years. Because the Candida is so bad my food options r VERY slim. 0-gluten 0-soy 0-yeast 0-legumes 0-refined sugar 0-nightshades. I seem to b ok with dairy but cut back due to lactose being a milk sugar.
    I value sites like yours and the people who are out there helping people like me live. I have the inner workings of my own blog that I’m working on so I can also educate and help people better understand this lifestyle. I especially like your blog cause u have references to food photography which is also a huge interest for me. I will b visiting your site frequently and would like to link you to my blog when it is ready. In the meantime I’ll be browsing your site for a pancake recipe! Thanks for being here .

    Reply
    1. Steph Post author

      Hi Nicole…thanks for being here and thank you for your kind words. With regard to a really healing protocol, I can recommend the book The Wahls Protocol by Terry Wahls. She has MS but significantly reversed its progression with diet. Good luck with your blog!

      Reply
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