If you missed Is It Paleo - part 1, read it here.
The following are my opinions about how certain gray area foods fit into a Paleo/Real Food framework. These rules do not have to be your rules! Remember that Paleo is a framework to help you figure out what to eat that makes you feel good and what foods work with your body to provide optimal health!
- Bacon: Real bacon is a definite YES (from properly raised animals, cured with salt, spices, and sugar). However it is important to keep in mind that variety is important in a well-balanced diet, so eating all bacon all the time (no matter how high quality the meat is) would not be a good choice.
- Chocolate: Super dark chocolate (the only real chocolate) is definitely appropriate. And as long as it's not sugar, chemical loaded junk (I'm looking at you Hershey's) you can probably eat it every day and not suffer any undesired consequences (yes, I just told you to eat chocolate every. day.)
- Coffee: As long as it's good quality (are you sensing a theme here), a cup a day is fine. Don't get in the habit of using it to make up for not sleeping enough. Also, don't use coffee as an excuse to load up on sugar!
- Dairy: My short answer is to eat it as long as it's full-fat and it comes from grass-fed, pasture raised animals. I'm not going to debate the finer points here because it's not that important to me. Also if you don't tolerate it, don't eat it!
- Green beans and peas: As far as I'm concerned these are veggies. Eat them.
- Honey/maple syrup: These are pretty harmless and natural as far as sweeteners go. Be aware though that if you are constantly craving them, you probably need to reevaluate some things. No judgement here, just some awareness and perspective.
- Paleo treats (almond flour cookies, gluten-free pizza, etc.): Delicious and definitely more than ok on an infrequent basis.
- Sausage: See bacon. If cavemen knew about bacon and sausage, they definitely would have eaten them.
Remember that this is all about balance and proper nutrition, not who or what is right or wrong. I believe that the Paleo/Real Food lifestyle is about eating whole foods that will provide you with nutrient-dense fuel for your body as well as avoiding refined and processed foods.
So many people believe that eating whole foods is hard, but it really isn't. It might be an adjustment in the beginning but it's just a matter of getting rid of foods that don't promote health within your body. These changes can be confusing at first, it does get easier as you shift your way of thinking and eating. Focus on one thing at a time - get rid of processed foods first, or work on getting more nutrient-dense fruits and veggies in, then focus on other changes. It doesn't have to be complicated, and once you make the shift you'll be glad you did!
Remember that Paleo itself is not a one size fits all approach, but it is a way of eating that is appropriate for everyone. Your Paleo "plan" might not look like mine, but there is some iteration of Paleo that will work for everyone. Paleo is a template to help you make dietary choices that will optimize your health.