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Read and Understand Labels to Select Paleo-Approved Foods

Foods that are part of the Paleo diet, sometimes called the cave man diet, include very few processed items. A few processed foods — olives, canned fish, coconut milk, and curry paste, for example —are included on the Paleo-approved list, but generally, you want to avoid any factory-produced food.

Here's a bit of advice to carry you through your Paleo grocery shopping experience: If you don't recognize the ingredient as food, you shouldn't eat it. That's an oversimplification, of course, but you really can't go wrong following that advice.

Even seemingly innocuous products, such as herbal tea, "all natural" salsas, and instant coffee, can include hidden varieties of wheat, corn, soy, and sugar, so you must be diligent in reading labels even on foods that seem safe.

When reading ingredient labels, you want to look for scientific names and variations on problematic ingredients, like wheat, soy, sugar, and corn. You should also be on the lookout for any ingredients to which you have an allergy — and beware of any ingredients that you can't pronounce, even if they don't appear on the lists in the following sections.

The terms artificial flavorings and natural flavorings are used as a catchall for flavor enhancers, and manufacturers are not required to disclose exactly what they are. Both of those labels can indicate wheat, gluten, corn, and soy, so even if everything else in the product is Paleo approved, steer clear of foods that include those ingredients on their labels.

Sneaky names for wheat and gluten

If the following ingredients appear on a label, it contains wheat and/or gluten:

  • Artificial flavoring

  • Bleached flour

  • Caramel color

  • Dextrin

  • Flavorings

  • Hydrolyzed plant protein (HPP)

  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)

  • Hydrolyzed wheat protein

  • Hydrolyzed wheat starch

  • Malt

  • Maltodextrin

  • Modified food starch

  • Natural flavoring

  • Seasonings

  • Vegetable protein

  • Vegetable starch

  • Wheat germ oil

  • Wheat grass

  • Wheat protein

  • Wheat starch

Sneaky names for soy

If the following ingredients appear on a label, it may contain soy:

  • Artificial flavoring

  • Hydrolyzed plant protein (HPP)

  • Hydrolyzed soy protein

  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)

  • Miso

  • Natural flavoring

  • Soy albumin

  • Soy fiber

  • Soy flour

  • Soy lecithin

  • Soy protein

  • Soy sauce

  • Stabilizer

  • Tamari

  • Tempeh

  • Textured soy flour (TSF)

  • Textured soy protein (TSP)

  • Textured vegetable protein (TVP)

  • Tofu

  • Vegetable broth

  • Vegetable gum

  • Vegetable starch

Sneaky names for sugar

If the following ingredients appear on a label, it contains added sugars:

  • Agave nectar

  • Barley malt syrup

  • Cane crystals

  • Corn sweetener

  • Corn syrup

  • Crystalline fructose

  • Dehydrated cane juice

  • Dextrin

  • Dextrose

  • Disaccharide

  • Evaporated cane juice

  • Fructose

  • Fruit juice concentrate

  • Galactose

  • Glucose

  • High-fructose corn syrup

  • Invert sugar

  • Lactose

  • Maltodextrin

  • Malt syrup

  • Maltose

  • Monosaccharide

  • Polysaccharide

  • Ribose

  • Rice syrup

  • Saccharose

  • Sorghum or sorghum syrup

  • Sucrose

  • Treacle

  • Turbinado sugar

  • Xylose

Sugar in the form of fruit juice concentrate often appears in high-quality sausages, and some nut butters include dehydrated cane juice. These are minimal amounts of sugar, so after your 30-Day Reset, it's up to you how much of these acceptable sugars you allow in your everyday diet.

Sneaky names for corn

If the following ingredients appear on a label, it contains corn derivatives:

  • Artificial flavoring

  • Corn alcohol

  • Corn flour

  • Corn meal

  • Corn oil

  • Corn starch

  • Corn sweetener

  • Corn syrup solids

  • Dextrin

  • Dextrose

  • Food starch

  • High-fructose corn syrup

  • Maltodextrin

  • Mazena

  • Modified gum starch

  • Sorbitol

  • MSG

  • Natural flavorings

  • Vegetable gum

  • Vegetable protein

  • Vegetable starch

  • Xantham gum

  • Xylitol

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