What even is the Modified Paleo diet?

What even is the Modified Paleo diet?

Remember when everyone was banging on about Paleo? We used to be all about that caveman diet, but its popularity has dwindled, and it’s been knocked off its top spot as one of the most popular diets, replaced instead by the Keto Diet - celebs love it, social media loves it, doctors from the 1920s treating epilepsy love it… but should modified Paleo get a look in?

I’m not a dietician, and I’ve no nutrition qualifications, but I am very interested in the effect food has on our bodies. I don’t follow a strict diet plan, but I do eat well. Because it makes me feel well. I choose fresh foods, eat loads of fruit and vegetables, and I try to steer clear of processed foods with, I would say, a decent amount of success. And I like the idea of the Paleolithic diet because of that avoidance of the sugary/salty artificial stuff; and I really like the idea of the Modified Paleo diet because the ‘rules’ are way more relaxed!

First off, here are the rules of Paleo

The Paleo diet is based on what was available to eat before farming; so not dairy, not legumes, and not grains. But if our hunter-gatherer ancestors could hunt or gather it, it’s on the shopping list; so that includes fruit, veg, lean meats, fish, and nuts and seeds.

The idea behind this is that our bodies aren’t capable of handling the modern diet that the agricultural revolution brought about. The Discordance Hypothesis (stay with me) has been studied and might actually be a thing, and says we’re simply not built for the processed stuff and that we’re genetically mismatched to our modern diets.

So what is Modified Paleo?

It’s like chilled-out Paleo. Different ‘experts’ say different things about what Modified Paleo is, which makes it difficult to define, but I like the idea of a Paleo Template from Chris Kresser. I hold him in high regard not necessarily because I agree with everything he says, but because he takes his studies seriously and won’t make a claim he can’t back up. His version of Modified Paleo allows for the nuances that make us human but promotes caution around foods that are known to be harmful to our health on the whole.

My Modified Paleo Shopping List

Caveat: this isn’t my exact shopping list every week. Because I like porridge, and bagels, and Mrs Crimbles macaroons waaay too much. But this is what my basket sort of looks like:

Fruit & vegetables. All of them.

Lean/grass fed meats like chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, and pork, plus bacon (because bacon)

Fish like salmon, haddock, and trout. I’ll not buy sardines, though. Too smelly. 

Shellfish is good, but I don’t buy it that often.

All the seeds and nuts - I like sunflower, pumpkin, flax, and sesame seeds, and walnuts, almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, and coconut. And peanuts (because peanut butter).

I get my fats from butter, coconut oil, and eggs.

Quinoa, rice, and buckwheat.

I also buy raw local honey, and whatever seasonings I fancy.

Coffee. Always coffee.

How does the Modified Paleo Diet work?

In short, by eliminating super-calorific, highly-processed foods with little-to-no nutritional value and going wild down the fruit and veg aisle for healthy vitamins, minerals, and fiber, you’re cutting out the crap and getting more of the good. It can improve heart health, it could help with diabetes, and it can help you lose weight (although that’s probably due to consuming fewer calories). 

Follow Libby Bearman on Instagram: @LiftLikeLibby