About Sarah Ballantyne, PhD

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DAWN0184Sarah Ballantyne, Ph.D. (a.k.a. The Paleo Mom) is the blogger behind the award-winning blog  www.ThePaleoMom.com, cohost of the top-rated and syndicated  The Paleo View podcast, and New York Times Bestselling author of The Paleo Approach and The Paleo Approach Cookbook.

Sarah has always had many interests and talents, which is reflected in the diversity of this blog. Here, you will find explanations of the science behind the Paleo diet and lifestyle, along with a strong focus on modifications for autoimmune disease sufferers, articles related to the practical implementation of a Paleo diet and lifestyle, detailed discussions relevant for paleo families and kids’ health, and recipes that span the gamut from kid staples, to comfort foods, to quick & easy meals, to gourmet dishes, to treats for special occasions, to snacks and nut-free baking, to recipes compliant with the autoimmune protocol for those who suffer from autoimmune diseases (like Sarah).

Sarah started her academic career in physics, earning an Honors Bachelor of Science with Distinction from the University of Victoria, Canada in 1999.  Her honors thesis work was in radiation therapy for prostate cancer, which prompted her to look for medical research applications in graduate school .  Sarah earned her doctorate degree in medical biophysics at The University of Western Ontario in 2003, at the age of 26.  Her doctoral thesis was titled “Progressive Liver Injury during the Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome:  Heme Oxygenase as a Therapeutic Target”.  Her doctoral research spanned the gamut of inflammation, innate immunity, endogenous anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant enzymes, gene therapy techniques, microcirculation and vascular biology, liver health,  and critical care medicine.

Sarah spent the next four years doing medical research as a postdoctoral fellow first at in the Cardiology Department at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, Canada and then in the Department of Cell Biology at The University Of Arizona.  In Toronto, Sarah continued her research in the fields of innate immunity, inflammation, vascular biology, critical care medicine, and gene therapy, with a new focus on Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome and the role of angiogenic growth factors in controlling inflammation and the innate immune system.  In Tucson, Sarah switched gears and studied epithelial cell biology with particular focus on trafficking of proteins required for tight junction assembly, maintenance of epithelial cell polarity, and characterization of a new tumor suppressor called endotubin (which suppressed epithelial to mesenchymal transformations through maintenance of tight junction integrity).  Sarah’s focus included cell trafficking (how cells shuttle proteins from one part to another in a targeted way) and cancer biology.

Throughout Sarah’s academic career, Sarah earned a variety of awards, including: awards for research excellence including from the American Physiological Society (3 years in a row) and from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research / BioContact Quebec (1st place);  many fellowships, including from the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation (HSF), Pfizer Canada (through HSF partnership), and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Strategic Training Initiative in Cardiovascular Health Research (TACTICS); and, a research grant through The University of Arizona Cancer Center Gastrointestinal Specialized Program of Research Excellence (GI-SPORE, a National Institutes of Health grant program).   Despite Sarah’s relatively short academic career, she filed one patent (in both the USA and Canada) and published 14 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals (including 7 first author papers; and 12 of which can be seen here), several of which continue to be highly-cited today, and 25 abstracts presented at international conferences.

Even though Sarah was enjoying a successful and vibrant burgeoning academic career, she opted to become a stay-at-home mom upon the birth of her first daughter.  Sarah’s decision to give the world of medical research a break when her first daughter was born was inspired both by the profound influence of her own mother during her upbringing and by a recognition that her health was not going to accommodate any attempts at finding balance between a high-powered academic career and her desire to be a fully-engaged parent. At the time her first daughter was born, Sarah was morbidly obese and suffered from over a dozen immune- and autoimmune-related diseases.


Summer 2005–at least 275lbs, but I will never know for sure because I was too scared to weigh myself. I was depressed and very sick.

After her second daughter was born, Sarah discovered the Paleo lifestyle. It had an amazing effect on her health, including contributing to her 120-pound weight loss! Over time, she healed herself of a long laundry list of physical complaints including: Irritable Bowel Syndrome, acid reflux, migraines, anxiety, asthma, allergies, psoriasis and an autoimmune skin condition called lichen planus. In fact, Sarah was able to discontinue six prescription medications, some of which she has been taking for 12 years, within two weeks of changing her diet! The dramatic improvements in Sarah’s conditions convinced her never to revert to her previous eating habits. She quickly became a passionate and enthusiastic advocate for the Paleo lifestyle, which led to the creation of this blog.

Summer 2012. Happy, healthy, fit.

Summer 2012. Happy, healthy, fit.

Sarah is passionate about scientific literacy and about distilling scientific concepts into straightforward and accessible explanations. As a scientist both by training and by nature, Sarah is deeply interested in understanding how the foods we eat interact with our gut barriers, immune systems, and hormones to influence health. Sarah’s innate curiosity goes further than just understanding diet and she is also deeply interested in lifestyle factors like sleep, stress and activity. Sarah believes that the true rationale for this way of eating and living stems, not from evolutionary biology (although that is a great place to start for forming hypotheses), but the thousands of scientific articles that each evaluate one small piece to the picture of how diet and lifestyle contribute to health and longevity.

Sarah is more than just a scientist. She is also a devoted mom and wife. It was important to Sarah to improve the health of her family in addition to addressed her own health conditions. Sarah successfully transitioned her originally skeptic husband and two spirited young daughters to a paleo diet and lifestyle. It was a slow road (full of challenges, victories and baby steps), but the difference in her family’s health was also profound. Sarah blogs about the challenges of raising a paleo family and living in a family where the members of different dietary requirements.  In fact, it was this part of Sarah’s journey and Sarah’s indentify first and foremost as a mom that inspired the name of this blog.

Sarah has also always loved food and loved cooking. She loves being creative in the kitchen and finding ways to reinvent old favorites. She cooks mostly for her family, which is why you will see such a diversity of recipes on her blog. She believes that even healthy food should taste amazing and that there can be room in life for celebrations with food and occasional treats (and that what occasional means is individual). Sarah also loves to draw, and yes, both the stick figure illustrations and the more technical illustrations (in this blog and Sarah’s books) are her own.

Sarah’s personal experiences with autoimmune disease is the reason for the large amount of autoimmune-related content on her blog and the reason why her first two books are focused on how to modify a paleo diet to reverse autoimmune disease. However, this is not an autoimmune only blog. Only a subset of both the scientific content and the recipes are focused on autoimmune disease. Instead, ThePaleoMom.com is a family-centered blog, a food blog, a “how to” blog, and a science blog. Sarah approaches the Paleo diet from a place of realism and a focus on long-term sustainability, that understands the individual nature of each of our bodies and that different diet choices work better for different people. It is a blog that respects your choices, and shares in both struggles and successes. It is a blog designed to explain the why’s behind a Paleo lifestyle to inform your choices and give you the tools you need to be successful.

You can also find Sarah on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

You can read more about Sarah’s personal journey to paleo and see more before and after paleo photos.



Hi, Sarah. Just want to thank you for applying your intellect and your passion to this area of health and wellness and for bringing it to people in such an accessible, straightforward way. I saw you yesterday at Whole Foods and was, as corny as it sounds, a bit starstruck, so just wanted to express my gratitude as i should have done in person. Your books and blog and podcast have provided me with a foundation on which to base my diet and lifestyle (after several years of misguided diets), plus lots of other fun tidbits along the way. And, most importantly, my autoimmune disease is in remission and I have more energy than I have in years. Thank you for all you do for those with autoimmune disease!

I love your recipes, but cannot find the calorie-fat-carb-protein count of each. Usually they are posted at the beginning or end of a recipe. I will go back and look again, maybe I missed something. Thanks

Sounds like we have very similar histories! I also have a doctorate – in Medical Science, basically, I studied biochem and cell biology. I was obese through grad school. I lost a lot weight right before becoming pregnant with my oldest daughter, but I was still overweight. I left the lab at 3 months pregnant. I knew i could not be the mom I wanted to be and be successful at science so I chose to be a mom. I decided to teach science online at the University level to replace (and surpass) my lab income.

I have yet to find my path to health and wellness. I’ve lost a lot more weight due to a pain condition (trigeminal neuralgia), not because of healthy eating choices. I’ve been contemplating an elimination diet and am now seriously considering the AIP. I know I need to reduce inflammation, I also have hypertension. I’m still addicted to sugar, dairy and all the other little nasties. I’m seriously considering starting a blog to document my journey.

Glad to have stumbled upon your blog! I’ve heard of you before, but never really paid attention until now. Had no idea of your background :) Hope I get to meet you someday so we can chat.

PS I’m guessing that’s not the coat you wore in the lab! I still have one, but it’s huge on me now!


I didn’t hear back from you following my last email. Have you had the chance to review my suggestion for a contribution?

It would be great to get your feedback .


I am extremely grateful for all your wisdom and writings… that you are so BUSY and enthusiastically involve so much joy in all your writings is truly a blessing for us all. Thank you for the important contribution that you are.
I have one question that puzzles me a bit. Clearly the AIP involves consuming no gluten and no nightshades, both of which wreak havoc with my system, so it is wonderful that that information is really getting out there, thank you for bringing so much awareness, especially to nightshade sensitivity.
My question, at the same time, is WHY are nightshades in SO many of your recipes, and with no mention at the same time, that paprika,red bell pepper,dijon mustard, bacon, are or are highly likely to contain gluten or nightshades…?… I mean no disrespect,. I see you do have alot of recipes that mention nightshades/AIP…. It is just confusing.
I am extraordinarily grateful for you. I stand in awe of all you do, and your commitment to humanity. I have also read more than once that cauliflower contains nicotine. As a chemist, you would be able to ascertain that as a truth or non-truth more readily than I.
Thank you very very much.
Blessings and all good things, Faith 16 August 2015

I received my “gift certificates” from the Caltons.
I am finding that there is a minimum purchase with the first two, and I am so frustrated. I have a limited budget and try so hard to feed our family well without spending more than we budgeted for. I am not being allowed to use the $50 at US Wellness Meats without spending an additional $25 to meet their $75 / 7 pound minimum. You absolutely should have included this information up front when letting people know about the gift certificates. So far I can’t seem to check out at Wild Things Seafood without spending an additional $25 minimum. These aren’t gift certificates, these are coupons with a lot of catches. I am so disappointed.
Susan M Burke

I am so sorry! The Caltons told me that there was no minimum purchase and that every single company had at least something that could be purchased with the gift certificate and no additional funds. My team and I asked A LOT of questions before agreeing to promote this and we got dishonest answers. Believe me, I’m as frustrated as you are (furious actually, since it’s my reputation on the line here!). I will not be supporting any of the Calton’s products or campaigns ever again. This whole thing was rife with “catches” that I was not informed about (upfront and honest marketing is something I am an extremely firm believer in). I’m going to have one of team e-mail you (I hope this e-mail address is okay–if not, please email contact@thepaleomom.com with a better email address), and I’m going to figure out how I can make this up to everyone who took part in this based on my recommendation.

I too ran into money problems using those so called gift certificates. Very disappointing and they are Not gift certificates! There is a difference between a discount and a gift cert. The latter acts like realcash you use to mpay the bill. The discount code ties one into several hooks and catches. Most disappointing

More on the calton ripoff
I just tried to use the so called gift certificate for wild things. I had to use the cert on product which totaled about 54.00 and they charge 77.00 flat rate shipping. It used to be 37.00. Gee does that sound like they are trying to earn back the 50.00 gift certificate?????? Who knows. This is a useless gift certificate.

Hi i have a question that is one im sure youve gotten before: can you recommend a super green food powder that is aip or even just paleo approved. i have hashimotos and i find that a lot of them either contain soy, dairy, gluten, artificial or natural flavors etc etc. if it’s not one, it’s always the other. i know vegetables are the optimal solution, but if there is any powder that can aid in that please please contact me and let me know. i have a headache from the hundreds ive looked at!
thank you so much and be blessesd for the millions of people you have inspired!


I’m interested about starting AIP cause of Hashimoto. I was reading Your website and fb page for last few month and I find it very useful and motivating.
My question is – when starting AIP do I have to cook and use dishes that where not in contact with non-AIP food?
I’m asking because I live with roomies that are eating non-paleo and non-AIP.. so, is there a “contamination” of dishes used to cook food that has gluten?
Thank you!

Dr. Sarah….I am so excited about getting your new book……unfortunately someone lifted my Approach
book from my library…it was one of my favorites. I love the way you explain all facets of the Paleo lifestyle.
And am looking forward to your new book…Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Betty Lou

Hola Sara!! lo primero gracias por toda la información que muestras en tu web !! estoy muy interesada en tu libro pero … estaría disponible en español?? o se editará pronto en España? y sino… que me recomendarías? Sería de gran ayuda para mí. Muchísimas Gracias. Pilar.

Hi Sarah, it was great meeting you at Book People Friday evening. I’m enjoying looking over The Healing Kitchen for tonight’s dinner.

As mentioned, our nonprofit’s vision is that everyone should enjoy the benefits of a healthy life, free from preventable, chronic diseases. Our focus areas include activity, nutrition and environment.

The Million Mile Month in April – please see the 2 minute video in the Wellness tab at http://www.MillionMileMonth.org

Sarah, please let me know a convenient time to connect and also the best email to stay in touch. It will be very special indeed to obtain your input as we extend more into nutrition, which is so critical.

Thank you Sarah for your consideration. I hope you have a smooth trip back to Atlanta and thank you for all your work – Sincerely – Steve

512 970 7443

Hi Sarah,

I’m a relatively new reader of your site but you may have noticed my tweet on your post “5 Nutrients You’re Deficient In… If You Eat Too Much Sugar” (awesome article by the way).

I’m writing to you because I’d love to contribute a guest post to The Paleo Mom
Are you still accepting them?

I’ve been brainstorming some topics that I think your readers would get a ton of value from:

– A Simple 3 Day Detox For Busy People
– 5 Paleo Ways To Make Your Gut More Friendly For Vibrant Health
– 3 Juice Recipes For Ultimate Hair Health
– Paleo For Students and Those On A Tight Budget
– A Straighforward Guide To Heavy Metal Detox (no you don’t have to stop going to rock concerts!)

To give you an idea of the quality I’ll bring to your site, here are some other posts on health that I’ve recently published:




Please let me know if any of these titles take your fancy.


William Hartfield

Was wondering why on paleo-mom foods to eat and avoid. She says that eggs and nuts are OK to eat. The other links on her website show that eggs and nuts are on DO NOT EAT list. Is eggs and nuts OK to eat on the autoimmune paleo diet. I have Hashimoto disease and plan on starting the AIP diet.

Thank you very much.

Hi Sarah, I heard your interview with Abel James on his podcast and I found you very informative and helpful. So, thank you. Since you have done SO much research on how eating can affect the body and autoimmune disease, I was wondering if you knew of, or could point me in the direction of, a study on paleo-type eating and Inclusion Body Myositis. My father is suffering from the disease and I was hoping there was a study or some research I could find that could help him understand that food could help him with the disease. They say there is no cure and he is getting weaker and weaker – he turns 70 this year. Any help you could provide would be amazing. Thank you in advance, Karen

I have a question completely not food related (or is it?) but I think many females can probably relate. I’ve been looking into libido supplements. I know you are all about natural over chemical solutions when possible. What do you think about Provestra, Femestril, and Vigorell? Each of them claim to contain extracts from Diamana, fenugreek, fennel and things like that which supposedly improve the function and desire.

If not those then do you know of other possible solutions besides the obvious: counseling, sleep, exercise, generally healthy diet…or can you refer my question to a colleague who would know?

Thank you for any help you can offer.

Sarah you are the most honest, trustworthy, thorough and authentic (I figured four should be the limit) “Paleo” voice. I look to you first for knowledge and your recipes are often my go to. A very sincere thanks to you!

By-the-way I too think it is time to dump the caveman. I think it detracts from the science of the diet.

I’ve got your books, and have followed the diet for three months along with seeing a Naturopath. My symptoms have improved greatly – thank you for your research.
I have been doing further research with the gut-brain link. Looking at the Adverse Childhood Experiences research and Dr Bessel van der Kolk’s book “The Body Keeps the Score”
You mention in your book the three major players (p 42) and others who want to help with healing Autoimmune diseases all (that I’ve found) fail to mention that if you have a high ACE (Adverse Childhood Experience) score they are found to be more prone to autoimmune disease.
I think this would fall into the “Environmental triggers, infection, or bad luck” category, would you agree?
Thank you

I have TONS od food allergies. I can’t have any nuts (even coconut) no wheat, no soy and no fish. These are just the major foods. I am not sure about avocado yet. I recently started a wheat belly eating plan (the best I can) but I am having a hard time find recipes that I can make because of my nut allergies. I really need help finding things that I can eat and different ways to eat them. I stay frustrated at every meal time trying to figure out what to do next. PLEASE…I need help and guidance.

I don’t use wheat or soy in any of my recipes and have a decent amount of nut free recipes on the blog and in my cookbooks. Many of these use coconut, but not all. You can find my nut free recipes here.

Hi Sarah

I began eating small bite size portions of frozen raw liver some time ago and apart from the odd episode of ecoli have found it works however I’m thinking of becoming pregnant soon and want to know if I continue to consume it in a safe method if it should be safe for the growing foetus.

Until eating liver I was a strict vegetarian so don’t want to consume any other meat ‘ideally’ but understand this may not be realistic and want to better my health.

Best regards
Rosie (private and confidential)

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