Start Here: The Core Four Lifestyle

If you’re new to a Core Four lifestyle, this is the place to be!

Put simply, this lifestyle is based on 4 main Pillars of Health:

  • eating foods that nourish your body. (Buh-bye strict diets.)
  • strengthening your body. (Exercise, yeah, but so much more.)
  • recharging your energy. (More often than you think.)
  • getting your mind right. (You think, therefore you are. Thanks, Descartes.)

If any one of those pillars is way off, your health will suffer. Period.

That’s it! Simple, right?

Simple doesn’t always mean easy. I get that.

And chances are you landed here because this is a “paleo” website.

But I need you to know, my philosophy goes FAR BEYOND just what you put in your pie hole.

A few words on that…

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 checking out Wired to Eat from Robb Wolf.

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 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.

Well, Sort Of

You see, a lot has changed about paleo as a way of eating in the last several years. I “went paleo” on January 10, 2010. (I have a good memory.) The community was much smaller back then, and there weren’t the hundreds – maybe thousands – of blogs, cookbooks, and pre-packaged products with the word “paleo” stamped on them. It seemed like pretty much everyone, myself included, was eating according to The Paleo Diet®.

The problem with “diets” is they’re one-size-fits all. Can’t make yourself fit and follow perfectly? You fail. It’s a lose-lose.

If you’re here to try something new, it can be really exciting.

But arriving on the shores of paleo-land and wanting to explore everything it has to offer often results in one thing for newcomers: confusion.

I’m going to outline the challenges for users as I see it in this post and give you a practical 3-step solution for navigating your way through the paleo jungle.

For the tl;dr version, skip to the bottom Summary section.

A Diet vs. A Lifestyle

The first challenge newbies often stumble across is the different ways the word paleo is used. On one hand, it refers to a trademarked diet plan with very strict yes / no rules. On the other, it describes a lifestyle, a way of eating, a philosophy about which foods to include to “look, feel, and perform” (to quote Robb Wolf) better that has no consistent set of rules.

Some recipes have dairy, some include acellular starches or even gluten-free grains. Some blogs have nothing but dessert recipes.

People wanting to try paleo for the first time get frustrated because one website says this while the other says that.

How the hell are you supposed to figure out which foods are right and which foods are wrong? (Spoiler, the answer isn’t what you think.)

(Friendly reminder: A lifestyle is far more inclusive of food.)

The Problem with Labels

Call it human nature, but we want to label everything and fit complex ideas like nutrition and fitness into tiny, neat boxes thankyouverymuch.

We don’t like messy, intricate stuff. If it’s black / white or yes / no, it’s so much easier that way! (Or is it?) No more pesky grey areas or “maybe” circumstances that require us to think about and experiment with things. That requires work, and our brains compel us to seek the simple prescription.

So when trying to explain a grey area like human nutrition or an ideal way of eating, we use massive heuristics.

A heuristic is a way to summarize something so we can make quick and efficient decisions about it. Think of it as a “rule of thumb.”

Inevitably, this leads to the most popular question I’ve ever been asked: “Is _______ Paleo?”

  • Are green beans paleo?
  • Are potatoes paleo?
  • Is grassfed Kerrygold butter paleo?
  • Are these energy bars paleo?
  • Are cookies made with gluten-free acellular starches and soy-free chocolate chips paleo?
  • Etc…

If you’re treating paleo as a quick-fix diet with a set of strict yes / no rules which completely ignore your personal context and needs, these questions are simple to answer because these rules of thumb have been defined.

Can you be militantly strict and follow this yes / no list for a short period of time? Sure. Is it sustainable? Not for most people.

If you want improved health for 70 years, not just 7 days, it takes a different mindset.

2016 was the year I stopped answering the question, “Is ________ Paleo?” for you. Keep reading for the strategy to answer this question for yourself.

“Please just tell me exactly what to eat and exactly how much of it to eat so I can lose weight.”

You are not a machine. It’s not as simple as adding a predetermined amount of fuel, turning the key, and watching you motor off into the sunset.

I hate to use this phrase, but you are indeed a unique snowflake. This is infinitely frustrating because many people who’ve made the commitment to work on their health just want simple answers, dammit.

  • Should I eat _______?
  • How much of this is too much?
  • How can I lose weight?
  • Is this food good for me?
  • Is this food bad for me?

Remember our friend the heuristic? I can tell you in general what we know works for most people but I can’t tell you – just by a quick glance – what will work exactly for you.

Even if we sit down and take your health history, preferences, and goals into consideration, what will work exactly for you now is unlikely to be exactly what’ll work for you in 1 year, 10 years, or 50 years.

If you care about losing 5 pounds the fastest way possible, I can tell you a simple answer: don’t eat anything for a week. Done.

Will you keep it off once you eat again? No. Is it sustainable? No. Is it an optimal way to lose weight? Don’t even get me started.

So, you see, telling everyone, “Go low carb,” or, “Eat lots of fermented foods,” or, “To do paleo, just eat XYZ,” may be simple but it removes the most important part of the equation: what’s right for you.

What’s Popular Isn’t Always What’s Right

What I’m about to say will probably ruffle feathers and make some people mad.

It’s not my job to follow what’s popular…it’s to give you the best guidance possible.

Paleo is so full of processed foods now that the original heuristic has been rendered virtually meaningless unless you think critically.

Paleo used to mean – and perhaps it still does to some – to focus a majority of your food choices on minimally processed, highly nutritious whole foods like meat, seafood, eggs; veggies, starchy veggies, fruit; and healthy fats.

Now it means – to some – how much marketers and manufacturers can get away with to stamp the word “paleo” on their product. The reality is that paleo is a buzz word worth a lot of money because it signifies something healthier which marketers can then persuade you is superior and you should buy. The term that describes this is “emerging markets.”

I’m not against capitalism and filling real needs in the market, but as a consumer, you have to ask yourself what it all means.

When I see a pre-packaged, shrink-wrapped, shelf-stable “paleo” muffin, I sort of scratch my head because it doesn’t fit that original heuristic (minimally processed, highly nutritious whole foods like meat, seafood, eggs; veggies, starchy veggies, fruit; and healthy fats).

Let me be clear: I’m not against the occasional treat and I’m certainly not advocating a perfectionist, orthorexic approach to nutrition. But remember, you need to clearly think about if these things are right for you given your context.

Some will argue that these options give people a healthier alternative and help people transition to a better way of eating. I’m not 100% against that, but we can do better and the messaging put out there does matter.

Okay, at the risk of sounding too Eeyore, it’s time to talk about solutions and strategies.

A Real Food User’s Manual

Step 1: Apply the Original Heuristic

Start here…

Choose high nutrient-density, minimally processed whole foods like meat, seafood, eggs; veggies, starchy veggies, fruit; and healthy fats a majority of the time.

Nutrient-dense foods contain lots of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, etc in proportion to their caloric value or macronutrient ratio. Basically, choose foods that contain a lot of nutrient bang for the calorie buck.

Make it a game: How much nutrition can you pack into your day?

Can you swap your protein sources for those with more vitamins or from higher-quality sources?

Can you add one more vegetable to your routine?

Can you start to fortify your nutrition with powerhouses like fermented foods or bone broth?

Step 2: Is It Minimally Processed?

Next I’ll present a couple questions (inspired by super smart friend of mine Jamie Scott) to ask yourself when selecting the foods to eat for a healthier lifestyle. First:

Is this food minimally processed?

The most nutrient-dense, optimal foods are by nature minimally (or not at all) processed.

Where do we draw the line at what processed means? Technically, cooking and preserving are processing but let’s be frank: eating a strictly raw food diet isn’t possible (or optimal) for most people.

And here’s where some critics throw punches at paleo. “Well, we aren’t hunter-gatherers anymore, so why bother trying to eat that way?” We cannot replicate the exact foods that were available to our hunter-gatherer ancestors because…evolution. But that doesn’t mean we should throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Make the majority of those foods you eat minimally processed.

That doesn’t mean you can’t opt for some items of convenience such as canned full-fat coconut milk or jarred tomato sauce or that you can’t cook your food.

But think about food items with “paleo” stamped them.

Just be reasonable: eating a lot of highly processed foods that have been stripped of fiber and contain preservatives, even if they fit the paleo heuristic by technicality isn’t optimal.

Step 3: Is It Right For Me?

Remember that pesky grey area I mentioned that requires us to think about our unique needs, challenges, health status, and goals? It’s time to address it.

Even if a food passes the first two tests, it may fail this next question:

Is it right for me?

I’m sorry, but there’s no prescription that works for everyone. If there was, I’d be sipping bone broth on a tropical island, enjoying early retirement.

This is why I’m a huge advocate of doing a 30-day elimination when you first start your paleo journey.

You get to press the reset button for a month and temporarily avoid the foods that can be problematic for many people. The journey doesn’t end there though. Think of a short-term elimination as a reconnaissance mission. You’re gathering data to help you forge the path forward.

If you want better long-term health, you’ve got to do some tinkering.

Please don’t approach paleo as a simple one-size-fits-all prescription.

Paleo challenges and other detox programs aren’t a way to eat for the rest of your life. Strict – dare I say, generic – yes / no rules don’t take your needs into consideration. They’re also unnecessarily restrictive when you consider that long-term optimal health can be achieved with a less intense approach.

I can’t tell you what ratio optimal / less-than-optimal foods is right for you. Is it 80 / 20? 90 / 10? I don’t know. I’m not you.

Make a majority of the foods you eat fall into the category of minimally processed foods that are right for you.

A perfect example is someone like my husband. He has a histamine intolerance. Most basic paleo elimination diets actually encourage the foods that flare his intolerance such as eggs, fermented foods, avocado, spinach, even leftover meat.

Your unique health challenges may mean that yes, you always eliminate certain foods.

For example, if you’re a Celiac, please avoid gluten. If you have an autoimmune condition, you’ll want to avoid nightshades. If you have a legit allergy or you hate a certain food, respect that.

You may also push the boat in a certain direction given your context. Doing lots of CrossFit / high-intensity training? Include more carbs. Dealing with insulin resistance? You’ll likely want to be more conservative with your carb intake. That’s just one example of many.

Take My Advice…

I’ve helped thousands of people transition to a paleo lifestyle, and here’s my best advice:

If you’re new, go slow and keep it simple.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed about all the supposed “rules” of paleo and get analysis paralysis.

You’re not going to figure it out overnight. Sometimes it’ll feel hard. You won’t always get it right. Perfection is not the goal.

Start by cutting out junk food. Make better choices. Apply the three steps outlined in this article.

Don’t let stress over food choices make your progress a moot point.

A truly healthier lifestyle can’t be achieved only by focusing on food, but trying to make too many changes at the beginning is too much for many people. After you’ve been making better dietary choices for a while and you’ve got the hang of it, think about where you can work on better sleep, movement, exercise, and stress management.

Think about what you can sustain for decades, not just days.

Need more guidance? Come to my free webinar!

HTK Webinar |

To Summarize

  • A Core Four Lifestyle includes nourishing food, moving and strengthening your body, recharging your energy, and getting your mind right.
  • “Paleo” the way most blogs / books are using it these days means an overall way of eating or a lifestyle. However, many users try to follow a rigid set of rules long-term, and fail to take their needs into consideration. This creates dissonance.
  • People love heuristics because they make complex, grey area topics simpler to navigate. However, heuristics are often problematic because they fail to take individual needs into consideration.
  • Deciding which foods are “paleo” has become more confusing as manufacturers take advantage of this growing and relatively untapped market.
  • Start with a basic template, then tweak according to your context.
  • When deciding which foods you should eat, apply these 3 questions:
    • Am I selecting highly nutrient-dense, minimally processed whole foods like meat, seafood, eggs; veggies, starchy veggies, fruit; and healthy fats a majority of the time?
    • Is this food minimally processed?
    • Is this food right for me?
  • Go slow and keep it simple.

Start poking around on the website here to find more resources. Dig into my recipes here and watch my webinar about health sabotages you could be making without even knowing it!

98 thoughts on “Start Here: The Core Four Lifestyle

    1. 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).

          1. There are recipes for making dog treats with the pulp, my dogs really like them. I don’t find the pulp all that appetizing but I don’t like to waste it so either dog treats or compost.

        1. 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!

        2. 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. .

      1. We have been trying to start slowly with Paleo lifestyle. We have cut out all the breads,sugars pastas, cereals. now we eat steel oats instead quinoa, almondmilk Almondflour ect. were starting to switch out The not healthy for the healthy . I have a huge question I think were eating too much fruit we eat a ton of fruit and I don’t know if that’s OK we eat it every day watermelon oranges cantaloupe peaches and we eat all kinds of seeds and nuts. How much fruit should you eat a day?? Please HELP we’re over 50’s, my husband has had a heart attack and I have had permanent nerve root damage along with four major back surgeries and I’m disabled it’s hard to stand in the kitchen and try to cook all this stuff but we’re doing it together and trying our best.

        1. Most people can eat 1-2 servings of fruit a day without much adverse consequence. If you’re still craving carbs, introduce something like sweet potatoes or other starchy tubers. It’s a different kind of carbohydrate than what you’ll find in fruit.

      2. lOOKS interesting ty for taking the time to explain so well. I will follow up with the webinar and slowly slowly as you suggest

  1. 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!

    1. 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!!

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

    1. 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 🙂

  3. 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?

    1. 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: 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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?

        1. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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…..

    1. 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.


  6. 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 🙂

    1. 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

  7. 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.

    1. 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.

  8. 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! 🙂

    1. 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 🙂

  9. 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.


    1. 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?

  10. 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!

    1. Hi Jenny!

      A good replacement for milk in coffee is coconut milk. Here’s a recipe for a really nice 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:


      1. 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!

  11. 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!

    1. 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.

  12. 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! 😀
    And again, I love the blog!! 🙂


    1. 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?

  13. 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).

    1. 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. 🙂

  14. 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??


    1. 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!

  15. 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.

    1. 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.

  16. 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?

  17. 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.

    1. 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.

  18. 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 .

    1. 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!

    2. Hi Nicole,
      I would like to congratulate for taking control of your health and looking for answers to your health issues. I know how tough it can be to be on a restrictive diet. Have you heard of Candida or anti-Candida diet? I was on it for 4 or 5 years until everything cleared up. I found using herbs an integral part of my healing process. On the plus side, now I feel so healthy, no cravings, no sugar, no dependencies. It’s great. Hang in there! It’s worth it.

  19. I have been on 95 percent Paleo diet for 33 days and have lost no weight. I do feel better tho. I have not given up dairy yet. The only dairy I eat is 100 calorie yogurt 1 a day and half and half in my coffee 2 x a day. I only drink water. Does it usually take time for the weight loss to come. If so, why? I love your website. Lots of good info.

    1. Hi Susan! Has your health improved in any other way? Sometimes, depending on the type of hormonal issues you could be having, weight regulation may take a bit longer.

      Also, I would highly recommend doing a Whole30. You’d have to eliminate dairy for 30 days but perhaps it’s a food that’s an issue for you? You’ll never know unless you take it out. If it doesn’t bother you, perhaps you’d add it back in.

      Hope that helps. Thank you for your kind words!

  20. I’ve been looking at the paleo diet and want to try it, but I have a huge problem with chicken, turkey and eggs. I can eat all of them sometimes but most times they make me violently ill, especially chicken. The only dairy I use sometimes is butter, yogurt and a little cheese. These hardly ever bother my digestive system. I have hypothyroidism. I see that you use chicken in a lot of recipes, if I eat it I can be violently sick for a few days or as much as 2weeks, can’t even keep water down and I drink alkaline water. I have been to many doctors and specialist and no one can find a reason for it. If I start this paleo journey is there something I can substitute for chicken, turkey or eggs? This all started when I became a raw foodist and had an accident on the job injuring my back and couldn’t shop for myself and went back to eating ” regular” food, this was in 2007. I have been miserable ever since. I am really looking for some kind of diet change to heal my body. I am 64yrs young and very overweight. Need some help! Thank you.

    1. Hi Anita,

      You aren’t required to eat chicken, turkey or eggs. There are lots of amazing proteins you can eat that will agree with your digestive system. Options include beef, pork, fish, and lamb. Have you looked into the Whole30 for a structured 30 day plan to get started? You’d just avoid poultry for that time.


  21. I started a strict Paleo diet about 2 weeks ago. I’m 54. My goal is weight loss and don’t really have any health issues. I just want to eat healthy and lose about 15 pounds that I gained during menopause and have been so difficult to shed. I’m doing great…. Lost about 5 pounds so far. My issue is that I have no energy and feel weak. I wonder if I’m eating enough but I don’t want to eat too much. I’m not sure if this is a phase that will pass since I’m no longer eating sugar, dairy, gluten which are all foods that would supply quick energy. Maybe my body is having to dig deeper to replace that energy or maybe I’m not doing something right.
    I’m eating protein, veggie, healthy fats at each meal. Nuts and some fruit. Help. Any ideas?

    1. Hi Carrie,

      What are you eating in terms of carbs? Any starchy veggies like sweet potato, plantain, etc? How much fruit?

      The “Carb Flu” ( is a thing for some people and that sluggish feeling will pass soon. But it’s not necessary to cut back so hard on carbs that you’re only getting them from green veggies. Does that help?

  22. Thanks so much for your reply. I have been avoiding all starchy veggies and maybe only have one serving a fruit a day (strawberries, blueberries or an apple). I read in Robb Wolfe’s book that you should avoid starchy veggies and limit fruit if you are trying to lose weight so that’s what I was trying. But, maybe it’s to drastic a reduction. I’m not sure of the balance yet. How much, how often….and still stay in the weight loss zone. Maybe I need to add a few things. I’m not starving myself so this weakness and lack of energy is frustrating. I’ll read about carb flu. Thanks for the tip. I’m so glad to have found your site. It’s been very helpful. Love the recipes. Thanks again.

    1. Hi Carrie…in general, you don’t want to “crack out” on carb-dense veggies and fruit, but a little bit is generally not going to harm your pursuit of weight loss. In fact, pushing carbs too low can often depress thyroid function in females, and that’s definitely not the outcome you want. Also, I will say this: 15 lb weight loss sounds like a lot but you aren’t morbidly obese or trying to shift dozens or even hundreds of pounds. Being more moderate and slow in your approach will yield the best results.

      It’s hard for me to give you a specific answer because so much of it is personal and depends on a myriad of factors. Maybe try adding some starchy veggies like sweet potatoes or hard squash to one meal for now and see what happens. A lot of this is going to be experimentation over time and is going to take longer than 2 weeks to dial in. Hope that helps.

  23. Thanks so much for your insights and comments. I can see that this is somewhat of a process and will require some experimentation. You have been very helpful. I’ll try add a few a few healthy carbs and see what happens. Thanks again.

  24. I try to eat more natural food as I get older and my body is changing, so a paleo diet fits in well with my current eating habits. The hard part is learning what ingredients can be substituted for others, but still produce tasty, healthy meals.

  25. I’m coming off my 2nd round of whole30 and having a difficult time trying to transition into Paleo. I’ve found nothing but conflicting information. For a post WOD meal I’d normally eat either a sweet potato or some butternut squash with 2 eggs, but I read on 1 Paleo website to avoid both of them since they are too starchy. I’m at a good weight, so weight loss isn’t an issue for me. It’s also impossible to get bacon that doesn’t have sugar in it around here. (small town problems) Is it okay to eat regular bacon in moderation that has been cured with sugar? I feel a little lost and overwhelmed without the strict rules of Whole30.

  26. Good morning all from Down Under! Just read the latest recipe for honey mustard ribs, which sounds delicious. What is brown mustard, and what could I use for a substitute if I can’t find it anywhere?

    1. Hi Diana…any kind of stone-ground or whole-grain mustard will work but avoid yellow mustard or Dijon…the flavors won’t be right.

  27. Even though i’m not exactly new to paleo i still loved your Top 10 recipes book, so thank you for that! Trying the banana pudding tonight 🙂

    1. Hi Pat,

      I’m really sorry but I’m not sure what you’ll have access to so it’s impossible for me to say. Talk to your doctor about gluten-free options while you’re there.

  28. Thanks. I’ve been interested in what Paleo means. Sounds like a smart simple way to eat.
    I’ve had great success with intermittent fasting. I think many feel like they eat OK, I felt this way. But I was slowly gaining. I truly believe that most foods that are readily accessible are high in calorie but low in nutrition. So its way too easy to overeat. With IF, I tend to eat much less, so I’ve trimmed up quite well without even trying much. Im getting better about food quality now to, which brings me here! Thanks for the resource!

  29. Hi Steph!

    I just came across this challenge that starts tomorrow – YIKES and YEAH! I haven’t had much time to dive into your challenge, but I do have a couple of questions if you had a moment to respond.

    1 – Is there a point system to your challenge? For example, you might have 8 staples to abide by daily. Drink enough water, workout, no additional sugar, no alcohol, etc…
    2 – I’m an avid marathon runner (currently taking a break due to an injury), but I do CF and/or HIIT class 4-5/week on top of running 20 miles/week. Are the workouts gauged more for beginner, intermediate or advanced?

    3 – When is your next challenge, if I can’t make it in time for this challenge?

    Thank you for your time in advance!

    1. Hi Sherry…it’s going to start on Mon Oct 24 but the discount will end tomorrow.

      There aren’t points in my challenge because research shows that positive reinforcement (i.e. points) is not as effective at changing behaviors long term compared to increasing self-motivation. (My email today was about that very topic.)

      Part of the reason lots of women’s stress is through the roof is due to overexercising, so this challenge asks women to cut back on straight up cardio and add in weight training. I’m guessing your injury is due to overuse so I’d really recommend seriously considering switching things up. Remember, more isn’t always more when it comes to exercise. There is a beginner level, yes.

      The next challenge is TBD so I can’t say for sure but it’ll likely be after the new year at some point.

      Get on my mailing list by clicking here and I’ll be able to send you updates:

  30. Hi Steph,
    I am a wheelchair bound chick, age 48, with Cerebral Palsy, working full time, and wife and momma…..
    My current doctor suggested a permanent diet of veggies, fruit and protein…no diary and carbs. He told me to pretend “I have been dropped off in the jungle and i have 6 months to make these changes and thrive and hunt”. However, how many “cavewomen” do you know with I have to improvise.
    I am overweight and need to lose weight quickly so I can get off medication AND be relieved of GERD, Asthma, and possible sleep apnea issues. He told me eat Palm sized portions at each mea. I have been off dairy since August and only drink coconut milk. Any additional suggestions for this chick on wheels? I am so determned.
    God bless,

    1. Hi Susie …here at Stupid Easy Paleo, macronutrient counts are not provided. Our best solution is to get the MyFitnessPal app where you’ll be able to enter the recipe ingredients and get the counts from there.

  31. I love this post! I wholeheartedly agree that paleo (and health in general) is more than just about what you eat and I love that you acknowledge that is this post. Thank you for sharing this.

  32. Hi Steph,

    I’m a 20 yr old college student that’s over 250 lbs at 5’6″. I’ve tried every diet (weight watchers, Jenny Craig, ITG diet (ketotonic but you eat processed snack food to replace food)) and now I’m looking into Paleo as an option along with high-intensity workouts to give me great and sustaining results. I want to lose 90-110+ lbs in a year and a half or so. I’d love to be at my optimal size in 2018 but maybe at the end? Who knows. Honestly, I need help. I have no idea where to start since I’ve been overweight my entire life and need to figure out how to keep the fat off. I know for a fact that carbs and sugar make me gain, and I probably will be reducing those. How can I lose weight efficiently without having saggy skin and the possibility of it coming all back to me? Thanks.

    1. Hi Melissa,

      First, I want to acknowledge you for taking action…that’s awesome!

      Second, I would let go of putting a timetable on weight loss. With paleo, there’s a lot of bloating, etc that can be lost early on, and then weight loss tends to slow down to a more steady rate. Saying you want to be X weight by X time puts a lot of pressure and stress on a person. And stress is the enemy of weight loss.

      Third, you may have saggy skin…there isn’t a way that you can really control how saggy the skin will get. I’d really recommend you follow @obese_to_beast on Instagram ( He’s an amazing young man who was morbidly obese and has changed his life. I think you’ll find him really inspiring.

      And lastly, just go slow and make manageable swaps in your life. Trade bread and pasta for more veggies. Eat protein at every single meal. Include healthy fats at each meal. Trade out soda for sparkling water, etc. Get more sleep each night, going to bed and getting up at the same time (sleep is extremely important in fat loss). Move your body as much as you can…and know that high-intensity workouts have a place, but they may not be an appropriate starting point. I recommend strength training instead, plus copious amounts of walking.

      Pick one thing per day from the food-sleep-movement triad you can focus on so you don’t get overwhelmed. Best of luck! (And if you want to hear more about this, join my free webinar: 🙂

  33. Interesting post – thanks for sharing.

    You mentioned starting with a 30-day elimination (presumably this is the same as the short-term elimination?), and I was wondering if there are any resources on the best way to do this.

    All the best.

  34. I’m new to the Paleo world. I have set up to start a Whole30 on Jan 2nd, I just can’t do that during the holidays 😛
    I have joined a gym that has circuit training. Is this the same as Crossfit? I can’t afford to do the Crossfit.

  35. I’ve been trying to eat “Paleo” for about three weeks now and this article really simplified things for me. Tremendous advice! I plan to link this site to my own blog as a reference for my friends.

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