Deciphering Labels – Paleo or Not?

Dear Nell,

I can't tell if some of the foods I'm buying are Paleo because I don't recognize some of the ingredients on the label.  For example, I'm not sure what guar gum and sorbitol are. Are they Paleo?


Debbie, Kansas City

Excellent question, Debbie!  

Easy answer- first off- in a true Paleo Diet, you're not really going to be eating anything that comes in a package, with few exceptions, so that makes it really easy!  

Those few exceptions are the one-off items that you might have on hand for what I call a 'Plan B' snack- something to keep in your desk or car in the event of an emergency, like a non-peanut flavor LARABAR.  (Have a look at that ingredient panel- it will say something like: "cashews, coconut".  That's it.  FOOD that you can identify!)

Neither guar gum nor sorbitol are paleo. Guar is a thickening agent derived from a bean and sorbitol is a binding agent, and low calorie sweetener which is also indicated for use as a laxative.  (Nice, considering it's not only in many chewing gums and mints, but also many sports nutrition products!).

As much as you can- buy FRESH, and, if you do find yourself in a situation where you do need to purchase something packaged, make sure you can identify ALL the ingredients as foods (paleo foods!) that you know!