Paleo 101: An Intro to the Basics of the Primal Way of Eating

Paleo 101

Today’s post is written by Husna Lapidus, otherwise known as “Primal Belle.” Husna Lapidus is the owner and founder of Primal Belle, a fitness and nutrition counseling small business, serving individuals and families in the Rochester, Buffalo and Syracuse areas. You can follow her on facebook, check out her website on, or contact her at

First I want to thank Sarah for inviting me to contribute to her blog. I follow her regularly and appreciate the service she provides to so many of us in Rochester.

Like Sarah, my aim is also to help my fellow Rochesterarians! I recently started a small business that offers nutritional counseling to individuals and families. (I also train clients to use kettlebells for exercise, but that’s a topic for another day.) My dietary recommendations are based on the way our human ancestors ate, also known as the Paleolithic, or Paleo, diet. There are lots of benefits to eating like a caveman.


  • Blood sugar regulation
  • Cravings for carbs, banished
  • Fat loss
  • Enhanced athletic performance
  • Improved fertility
  • Mood stabilization
  • Hormone regulation
  • Alleviated digestive problems
  • Autoimmune disease management

How did our cave-ancestors eat? Well, they hunted, and they gathered. Whatever they could catch and kill for food, or find growing, was what they ate. In today’s modern times, it doesn’t work exactly like that. We shop for all our foods. But the trouble we run into, and the reason why so many of us are overweight and have other health problems, is because 80% of the food sold in stores are not REAL FOODS. They are multi-ingredient, processed, pre-packaged, and combined with artificial ingredients or “natural” ingredients that are unnaturally added.

We’ve been told that foods like margarine are healthy for us. Does this sound healthy?


When foods are heavily processed, they are robbed of their nutritional value. This includes reduced fat foods. Even when a food product is fortified with vitamins and minerals, if they are not naturally occurring in the food, our bodies won’t absorb their beneficial properties. When our bodies aren’t getting adequate nutrition, they tell us to keep eating.

Eating Paleo is about seeking nutrients. If you eat the foods your human body was designed to eat, you will feel satisfied and healthy, and no longer feel the constant urge to snack. You won’t feel queasy or lightheaded if you need to skip an occasional meal. Your hunger will be true hunger rather than emotional or biochemical (blood sugar spikes and dips). When you eat a Paleo diet, you should eat to satisfaction and simply stop eating when you’re full. You are also not to count or restrict calories, because by restricting calories, you are restricting nutrients. Eat foods that are nutrient dense – that means, they should be as close to their natural state as possible. Within a few weeks (usually less) you will start to be able to trust your body’s natural hunger and satiety cues, and you can be free of journaling, calorie/carb counting, portion controlling, rationing, fretting or feeling guilt.

If you’re still reading at this point, you’re probably wondering what foods to eat and what to avoid on a Paleo diet. I tell my clients to make each of their meals look something like this:



This ought to be pretty simple to follow, and if there is only one thing you learn from me, let it be that plate. However, it does get more nuanced than this. Here are some key points to follow when eating a Paleo diet.

1) Choose grass-fed, organic, free-range, pastured meat, eggs and optional dairy whenever possible. Animals that eat their species-appropriate diets will have more nutrients that you, in turn, will consume. If your budget makes this difficult, consider options such as cow-pooling, where you share with a neighbor or friend in the purchase of an entire cow or portion of a cow. Another rule of thumb is: organic is more important for the fattier cuts of meat, since it’s the fat that holds toxins from pesticides fed to non-organically raised grain-fed animals.

2) Eat a wide variety of vegetables and animals. The more variety, the more nutrients you will get.

3) Eliminate processed foods, including all grains, refined sugars, legumes, ultra-pasteurized milk, genetically modified foods, food colorings, reduced fat foods, and other food additives.

4) Eat healthy fats, including saturated fats. Saturated fats have gotten a bad reputation, but there has actually never been a study that conclusively states saturated fats are bad for us. In fact, research is showing that it’s quite the opposite. Fats that are solid at room temperature are saturated, and can be used for cooking. Fats that are liquid at room temperature can still be healthy, but should be used only for cold uses, such as salad dressing. The best of these good liquid oils are olive, avocado, macadamia nut, sesame and walnut oils. Certain oils, such as canola, grapeseed, and peanut should be avoided entirely. They are highly processed, and are easily further damaged by light, heat, and time.

5) Consider fruits, nuts and seeds as healthy condiments or additions to your meals. Be careful to read labels and choose nuts that are raw, or dry roasted and not cooked in oils like cottonseed, safflower or sunflower seed oils.

6) Make meals enjoyable. Smell your food, chew thoroughly, sit down and eat in a relaxed state. Your body and your mind will thank you.

Whether you are interested in improving your overall health, the eating habits of your kids, looking to lose weight, or if you’re dealing with allergies or food intolerances, there is help for you. The Paleo diet has reached thousands of people in the US and has become increasingly popular due to its effectiveness. It can take some adjustment, but once you learn a few tricks for planning your meals and making delicious substitutions for rice, pasta and bread, you will never look back.

If you are interested in learning more about the Paleo Way of Eating, you may want to check out these recommended books:

Disclaimer: The ideas presented in this website article are not intended to render or replace medical advice of any kind. The information presented herein has not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and it is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Full medical clearance from a licensed physician should be obtained before beginning or modifying any diet, exercise, or lifestyle program.

Primal belleHusna Lapidus, Esq., MPA, BS, is a nutrition consultant and kettlebell trainer in Rochester, NY.  She believes that good health and fitness are fundamental to a happy and fulfilling life.  It doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money to achieve good health.  She’s a busy mom that feeds her picky kids healthy foods and gets full-body workouts in less than 20 minutes, in the comfort and convenience of her home.  Efficient cooking, eating, and exercising is the name of her game, as she prefers to enjoy most of her time with her family and friends.  You can learn more about what she does and the services she offers individuals and families on her website and blog,

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  1. We have been trying to eat more organic foods and less processed foods. It is a challenge but we do feel better.

  2. This is a great post!! I have not looked into Paleo much and this helped put things into perspective for me. Thanks

  3. Great intro to paleo! Our family is trending towards paleo. We still eat some dairy, but have cut out all processed foods, sugar, and grains. I hope you’ll consider linking this up with our Wellness Wednesday link-up. I think it would be a fantastic article for my readers to see :)

  4. My brother and his family live a Paleo lifestyle and they say it makes them feel great. I can’t seen to get my guys on board with it though!

  5. We are not full paleo eaters, but we do try to lean as far to the paleo method as we can with picky eaters. It is definitely a much healthier way to eat. My husband went FULL paleo for a few weeks while he was gone on an internship and he said he felt a huge difference. Definitely a great way to eat. We probably won’t become full paleo family, as we have picky eaters and frankly we love some of our processed food. But we try to keep those to a minimum. But I think as long as we try to be as close as possible; we are doing pretty good.

  6. Nice post! We eat Paleo sporadically. We need to get back into it!

  7. We’re practically paleo at this point since I’m gluten-free anyway, but my hubby struggles with the balance of eating enough non-meat products!! His portions are SO out of control, something I’m trying to help him with (ie serve him his food!). It’s a challenge but we feel really great. I still love my milk though and a few grains (rice, oats) are in our diet. We’re getting there though!

  8. I’ve been thinking more and more of going primal lately. We have way too many grains in our diet.


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