So What Do You Eat…? 10 Easy Paleo Substitutions

I’m going tailgating with my family to cheer on the Cyclones this weekend! My mom and I were discussing packing food and she said “Well we will have burgers. You can eat meat.” While this might be true, there are plenty of other things I can eat too!

I don’t blame her – when people first look into Paleo, the question I often hear is “So what do you eat when…” you’re at the movie theater, at parties, coffee shops, you need a snack, something fast and easy, etc.  Well… I figured that out by reading a lot of labels.  One of my favorite questions of all time is “What do you eat when you’re PMSing?”  My response: “Bacon.”  Although, come to think if it, I don’t get as many weird food cravings as I used to.

So here’s a list:

10 Things That Aren’t Paleo & The Stuff To Eat Instead

1. Ketchup, BBQ sauce, any prepared salad dressings (yes, even the low fat kind).
Why not? Contains sugar, corn syrup, dyes, vegetable oils.
Paleo version: Pico de gallo, guacamole or fresh avocado, sugar free salsa or mustard, homemade salad dressings with olive oil and vinegar, or squeeze a lemon wedge over your salad.

2. Cappuccinos, lattes, artificial sweeteners or non-dairy creamers.
Why not? Contains sugars, chemical/artificial flavoring, dairy, soy, etc
Paleo version: Americanos (this option is my personal favorite – it’s expresso with hot water added), Expresso, black coffee, flavored roasts, coconut milk or a little heavy cream (not skim milk) in place of creamer, no sweeteners.  If you can’t do coffee without sugar, then ask yourself, why am I drinking this?  It’s probably a sugar fix and has nothing to do with the coffee.  Try an herbal tea instead.

3. Soda, milk, shakes, smoothies or juices.
Why not? Contains high fructose corn syrup, added sugar or artificial sweeteners, dye, etc.
Paleo version: Water. In general, never drink food – your body just doesn’t need so much food in liquid form.  If you like orange juice, you’re further ahead eating an orange. You can do almond milk or coconut water, but I prefer to keep it simple.  I occasionally (i.e. once a month) might be in a pinch and will make a shake with some whey protein.  When you make them at home, you know what’s going in them.  I don’t recommend ordering them out – EVER.

4. Granola bars, protein bars, breakfast bars, & trail mixes with grains or candy pieces.
Why not? Contains grains, added sugar and high fructose corn syrup, peanuts, soy, etc
Paleo Version: Beef Jerky (check ingredients to make sure you are choosing a clean variety or make your own) or unsalted almonds, pistachios, pecans, etc. Bonus if you mix jerky and nuts together, with a little dried fruit!  Hard boiled eggs also work well as snacks with protein that travel well.

5. Potato, Corn or Tortilla Chips
Why not? Contains potatoes, grains or corn, vegetable oil, weird powdery artificial flavoring, etc
Paleo Version: kale chips or sweet potato chips, best if homemade.  I like to slice sweet potatoes thin, toss them in fat, and sprinkle with cajun seasoning.  They bake in 8 minutes and are really good!

6. Popcorn.
Why not? Contains corn, vegetable oil, buttery topping that isn’t real butter, etc
Paleo Version: roasted Brussel sprouts or roasted Carrots. Try tossing either one in grassfed butter mixed with vanilla and crushed pecans (butter needs to refrigerate overnight to gain best flavor). They are pretty awesome!  If you miss popcorn at the movies specifically – see my suggestions for granola bars or candy, and pack your own.

7. Peanut Butter.
Why not? Contains peanuts, which are legumes, not nuts, and vegetable oil, sugar, etc
Paleo Version: unsalted almond butter – you can still serve it on apples, celery, and bananas. The lowest price I’ve found is at Trader Joes. Sorry Kelly Ripa, choosey moms don’t choose JIF.

8. Candy.
Why not? Contains sugar, corn syrup, all sorts of additives and artificial flavoring, colored dyes, etc
Paleo Version: Dried or fresh fruit or dark chocolate (70% or more – not all chocolate is made the same,check the sugar content, it should be very low). Even though these are paleo, dried fruit and chocolate are still treats – for eating seldomly, not to be used everyday or to replace a meal. If you are trying to lose fat, keep your fruit intake to a minimum.  My favorite kind of dried fruit is mango.  My favorite brand of dark chocolate is Green and Black’s Organic and it’s so rich that I eat 2 or 3 pieces at a time, which is a fraction of the bar.  I know they are pricey, but that’s just more incentive for me to eat them sparingly.  Dark Chocolate is seriously good for you; you should try to learn to love it.

9. Vegetable Oil of any kind (canola, Pam, etc) and Margarine
Why not? Contains soy, corn, all sort of processed crap that does not occur in nature, that should scare you and if you don’t believe me, read this.  Stop what you are doing, walk into your kitchen and throw this stuff away.
Paleo Version: Coconut oil or bacon fat. You can also use grassfed butter or ghee (clarified butter).  At this point, I would even tell you that if you have the choice between non-grass fed butter and margarine or vegetable oil, choose the butter.  Always the butter.

10. Crackers or Croutons.
Why not? grains… all grains.
Paleo Version: high quality salami, carrots, celery (any kind of raw veg) or olives, to name a few, make great options at parties or as snacks. Crispy bacon or roasted nuts can add a great crunch to salads or soups.


Was this post helpful?  Give you any ideas?  The possibilities are endless! Do you have any other ideas to add to the list? Please share in the comments!




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