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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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September 13, 2012

Action Item #1: Eliminate SAD Foods

By Mark Sisson
188 Comments

The fundamental key to success with any lifestyle modification is removal, elimination, and avoidance of the agents of opposition to your desired lifestyle. If you’re trying to read more books and stop watching reality television, you’re going to want to cancel your scheduled recordings of Jersey Shore. If you’re trying not to drink alcohol for a month, you’ll want to get rid of the beer, booze, and wine in your house. Heck, if you’re going vegan, you’ll want to toss all the animal products from your fridge, pantry, and freezer. And if you’re going Primal, whether if it’s for a 21-Day Challenge or just to get healthier in general, you need to eliminate the Standard American Diet foods that promise to thwart you at every twist and turn. It’s a pretty simple concept to understand, right?

It can be tough to put into practice, though, since these foods are staples for many. Some are even health darlings of Conventional Wisdom. Others are obviously junk, but junk often tastes good and lures you in to its sweet, salty, crispy embrace. Best to get rid of it altogether.

So, how do we do it? What are the foods we’re eliminating and why are we getting rid of them? You want the specific foods within the various categories to eliminate, and I’ve got ’em for you:

Beverages

Why:

Most drinks are just sugar water masquerading as health beverages. They represent a massive, highly-dense source of insulin-spiking sugar without the vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber that normally come with the sugar found in nature (fruits and vegetables). Plus, sweet drinks don’t satiate as much as solid food, leading to overeating and weight gain without you even knowing it or feeling “full.” Anyone who’s ever had a large Coke disappear throughout their meal without its gradually developing absence impacting their ability to finish the meal knows this.

Common beverages to avoid:

  • Juices – Orange, apple, acai, pomegranate, grape, V8, Ocean Spray, etc.
  • “Juices” – Nectars, punches, fruit cocktail, grape drink, Sunny Delight, purple stuff
  • Designer coffees – blended iced coffees (Frappucinos and their ilk), mochas
  • Soda/soft drinks – diet and regular (even stuff with real sugar!)
  • Energy drinks – Red Bull, Rock Star, Monster
  • Sports drinks – Gatorade, Powerade, Vitamin Water

Further Reading:

The Definitive Guide to Sugar

Dear Mark: Sugar as Immune Suppresant

The Dope on Energy Drinks

Baking Ingredients

Why:

When you pulverize a grain to make flour, you are creating an acellular carbohydrate. How this differs from a cellular carbohydrate is primarily its digestibility and the rate by which our bodies absorb its carbohydrate load. Whereas with a cellular carbohydrate, as found in fruits and tubers, we must break down the cellular walls to access the glucose, with an acellular carbohydrate that work has already been done. This sudden bolus of dense carbohydrate overwhelms our digestive tract, promoting an inflammatory gut flora and an impaired metabolism. That issue, plus all the other downsides that come along with grains (which I’ll be discussing later), make baking ingredients some of the first things you should be discarding. Besides, just what are you going to be baking?

Common baking ingredients to avoid:

  • Corn meal, starch, and syrup
  • All other starches and syrups
  • Flours (primarily wheat flour)
  • Certain edible powders – gluten, maltodextrin, powdered milk
  • Yeast

Further reading:

Dear Mark: Are Roasted Nuts and Nut-Based Baked Good Healthy?

Top 8 Most Common Reactions to Your Grain-Free Diet (and How to Respond)

How to Quit Grains

Condiments and Salad Dressings

Why:

Most condiments and salad dressings are simply another way to make bad food taste good by heaping sugar and/or bad fat all over it. If you get a low-fat dressing or condiment, it’s undoubtedly loaded with sugar to make up for the missing fat. If you get a store-bought full-fat dressing or condiment, it’s undoubtedly loaded with rancid omega-6 PUFAs that contribute to systemic inflammation. You can’t win, so it’s best to just get rid of the stuff altogether.

Common condiments to avoid:

  • Honey mustard
  • Ketchup
  • Jam/jelly/preserves
  • Mayo, lite mayo
  • Low-fat salad dressings
  • Salad dressings made from soybean, corn, canola, sunflower, or safflower oil
  • Anything containing lots of sugar, HFCS, and/or PUFA oils

Further reading:

10 Delicious DIY Salad Dressings

Homemade Condiment Creations

WTF?… Where’s the Fat?

Dairy Products

Why:

Not all dairy is off-limits, and, for those who tolerate it, certain types of dairy can actually be an incredibly healthy component of a Primal eater’s arsenal. But many others are intolerant of lactose and/or casein without even knowing it, and removing dairy from a diet previously rich in it can often reveal hidden intolerances. And I wouldn’t advise anyone to make a habit of using low-fat and non-fat dairy products, which are missing the vital fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamin K2, that make dairy such a nutrient-dense food. Going low- or no-fat also eliminates the conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a healthy, natural trans-fat that’s been linked to good health. Most studies have found that only full-fat dairy is associated with improved health outcomes, not low-fat or non-fat dairy.

Common dairy to avoid:

  • Processed cheese – Velveeta, Cheez Whiz, nacho cheese, American cheese
  • Ice cream and frozen yogurt
  • Low-fat and non-fat dairy – yogurt, milk, cheese
  • Sweetened yogurt

Further reading:

The Definitive Guide to Dairy

Yogurt Mania

Dairy and Its Effect on Insulin Secretion (and What It Means for Your Waistline)

Bad Fats and Oils

Why:

Both trans-fats and added omega-6 PUFA-rich oils are unhealthy. Trans-fats from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils cause fat gain, particularly in the dangerous abdominal area, even when calories are held constant. Omega-6 fatty acids are necessary in the diet, but only in small amounts. Ideally, the dietary ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 should be around 2:1, which is the evolutionary norm. The SAD tends to promote a ratio closer to 20:1, leading to increased systemic inflammation. Another danger lies in the inherent instability of PUFAs; when exposed to heat (like in a deep fryer or on a skillet), omega-6 PUFAs quickly oxidize, making them even unhealthier and more inflammatory.

Common bad fats and oils to avoid:

  • Anything containing partially hydrogenated oils
  • Butter spreads and sprays – Country Crock, Smart Balance, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, Promise
  • High omega-6 oils – corn, canola, soybean, sunflower, safflower, peanut, grapeseed, cottonseed
  • Margarine
  • Crisco
  • Most restaurants cook their food in these fats unless you request otherwise

Further reading:

The Definitive Guide to Oils

Dear Mark: Trans Fat

Dear Mark: PUFAs

Fast Food

Why:

Fast food is the perfect encapsulation of the Standard American Diet at its most alluring and unhealthy: omega-6 PUFAs, lots of carbs, sugary sauces, crispy salty deep fried (in the aforementioned oxidized PUFAs) breading on everything, low quality meat, high calories, low nutrient density. It’s the SAD wrapped up into a delicious, disgusting package.

Common fast food items to avoid:

  • Burgers, chicken sandwiches, fish filets, hot dogs
  • French fries, onion rings, jalapeno poppers, tater tots
  • Chimichangas, churros, chalupas

Further reading:

10 Ways to Forage in a Fast Food Nation

Top 10 Fast Foods in Disguise

The Primal Blueprint Guide to Dining Out

Fish

Why:

When compared to wild-caught fish, farmed fish tends to fall short in several important categories. For one, farmed fish are lower in omega-3s and higher in omega-6s, especially predatory fish like salmon whose natural diet is harder to emulate in aquaculture. At least in the case of salmon, farmed is higher in contaminants than wild, including PCBs and dioxins. Plus, fish farming as it’s currently practiced in many areas harms the environment (PDF), causing run off into and pollution of adjacent bodies of water. That said, some wild caught fish high up on the food chain are too high in mercury for regular consumption, especially for pregnant women and children.

Common fish to avoid:

  • Most farmed fish, especially predatory fish like salmon
  • Breaded fish – fish sticks, fish filets, popcorn shrimp, fried calamari, fried oysters/clams/mussels
  • Large predatory fish high in mercury – shark, swordfish, king mackerel

Further reading:

Farmed Seafood: What’s Safe and Nutritious

Salmon: Factory Farm vs Wild

Grocery Store Seafood: What to Eat and What to Avoid

Grains and Legumes

Why:

Grains and legumes contain significant amounts of antinutrients, including phytic acid and lectins, which impair digestion, reduce mineral absorption, and damage the intestinal lining. They’re also high in carbohydrates and, if you’re talking about grain or legume flours or flour products, those acellular carbohydrates which are particularly damaging. Overall, grains and legumes are simply unnecessary. They don’t offer anything you can’t get elsewhere.

Common grains to avoid:

  • Cereal grains – wheat, corn, rice
  • Pastas
  • Bread and flour products – baguettes, muffins, crackers, croissants, Danishes, graham crackers, pizza, pretzels, rolls, tortillas, Triscuits, Wheat Thins, rye, sourdough
  • Breakfast foods – pancakes, English muffins, scones, cream of wheat, oatmeal, grits, granola, waffles
  • Chips – corn, potato, tortilla
  • Cooking grains – millet, rye, barley, bulgur, amaranth, couscous
  • Puffed grains – Cheetos, Goldfish, popcorn, rice cakes, Pirate’s Booty

Common legumes to avoid:

  • Alfalfa
  • Beans
  • Peanuts, peanut butter
  • Peas
  • Lentils
  • Soybeans, tofu

Further reading:

Why Grains Are Unhealthy

The Definitive Guide to Grains

The Lowdown on Lectins

Meat

Why:

Though animals are often the centerpiece of the Primal Blueprint eating plan, not all meat is created equal. Processed meats and meat products, imbued with preservatives and sweeteners and binders, are not nearly as beneficial as fresh animal flesh, bones, and offal. Nitrates, which aren’t dangerous in and of themselves (and even appear naturally in vegetables), can form potentially unhealthy, carcinogenic compounds called nitrosamines when subjected to heat, especially without the presence of antioxidants (which nitrate-containing plants have plenty of). Limited amounts of high-quality cured meats can be a welcome addition, but fresh meats should comprise the bulk of your meat intake. Factory farmed meat intake should also be limited, as access and finances allow, while grass-fed/pastured animal products should be strongly favored for their beneficial nutrient content and fatty acid composition.

Common meat to avoid:

  • Pre-packaged meat products processed with chemicals and sweeteners – sausages, dinner roasts, frozen meals, sliced lunch meats
  • Low quality deli/cured/smoked meats with preservatives and nitrates – pepperoni, bologna, ham, hot dogs, salami, bacon, Slim Jims, jerky
  • Fried, breaded poultry – fried chicken, hot wings, chicken fingers, chicken strips
  • Limit grain-fed and factory farmed meat and poultry

Further reading:

Meat Musings: Are Cold Cuts Primal?

Sodium Nitrite: Another Reason to Avoid Processed Meats

The Differences Between Grass-Fed Beef and Grain-Fed Beef

Processed Foods

Why:

In several ways, processed food takes too little effort to eat when compared with whole food. It’s instantly available, which means you can rip open a bag of something resembling food and mindlessly eat it while watching TV, whereas whole food must be prepared by hand. It’s also way too easy to digest. One recent study compared the energy expended by the body after eating whole food to the energy expended after eating processed food; energy expenditure required to simply break down and digest the whole food was twice that of the processed food. Processed food is also usually made with the usual suspects (PUFAs, sugar, grains) we try to avoid.

Common processed foods to avoid:

  • Bars: energy, protein, granola, fruit
  • Frozen dinners, breakfasts, and desserts
  • Sugary snacks
  • Chips, crisps, crackers

Further reading:

Processed Soy and Meat Alternatives

Top 10 Junk Foods in Disguise

Soft Serve McNuggets and Hot Doctopus: Together at Last

Sweets

Why:

Sugar can impair insulin sensitivity and worsen blood lipids. PUFA oils can induce oxidative stress and worsen insulin sensitivity. Refined grains spike insulin to astronomical heights. Each item alone is cause to worry, but when you pack them all together – like in a donut – you produce a truly problematic food that compounds all those issues.

Common sweets to avoid:

  • Brownies, cake, cookies, cupcakes, pies
  • Candy, candy bars
  • Milk chocolate
  • Sweeteners – agave nectar, sugar, evaporated cane juice, high fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, powdered sugar, raw sugar, honey, molasses
  • Frozen desserts – popsicles, pushpops, ice cream

Further reading:

Dear Mark: How to Politely Pass on Dessert

What Happens to Your Body When… You Carb Binge?

The Definitive Guide to Insulin, Blood Sugar, and Type 2 Diabetes (and You’ll Understand It!)

Well, folks, what do you think? When you lay it all out like that, it can look a little daunting. That’s an awful lot of foods, including pretty much everything many people have grown up eating. And yes, it might be difficult at first, but it gets better. It gets easier. Heck, once you have everything dialed in and you’re humming along on all the amazing whole foods you can eat, you probably won’t even miss all that other stuff.

Let me know if you have any questions and stay tuned next week for Action Items 2-5! Grok on!

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188 Comments on "Action Item #1: Eliminate SAD Foods"

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Groktimus Primal
4 years 15 days ago

I guess Mark is gearing up for the newbies and the oncoming information war. These are all pretty well tread topics.

Alison Golden
4 years 15 days ago

He’s also giving us a refresher. Reviewing this list, I’m reminded that I still have corn starch in my cupboard – my kids do science experiments with it – and I still have some questionable flours in the back of my pantry I could get rid of.

shana
shana
4 years 14 days ago

I know most of us have read it before in some form or another, but its so wonderful to have it all on one page. It’s a good reminder of what I still need to change.

Rich
4 years 15 days ago

Yes, but like yesterday’s post it’s handy to have summaries now and then. They are easy to pass along (as I did with yesterday’s) as people I know start noticing how I have been changing (for better) and ask questions.

lockard
lockard
4 years 15 days ago

I love this review – can send new folks to this link for a fast over-view

Happycyclegirl
Happycyclegirl
4 years 15 days ago

Even though we’ve been primal living for over a year, I did find a couple of items on that list that are still in our house. Gonna be working on getting rid of them asap.

reza
reza
4 years 15 days ago

Hi there, I am very interested by the idea of Prime Living but I am scared as my
Cholesterol is high and the idea of coconut fat, (grass-fed red meat) and eggs are a bit scary. I have read Mike’s article about the LDL particles and the inflammation and still hesitant to try this. Have you and your family have a normal Cholesterol after trying Prime for a year?

mars
mars
4 years 15 days ago

my husband was at 300 and put on statins for 6 months. got down to 220. went 100% primal and gave up the statins. he’s at 200 now. will never take a statin again.

Adam
Adam
4 years 15 days ago
Unless you have the rare genetic defect for cholesterol receptors, you likely have high cholesterol because of your epigenetics (parents’ health during pregnancy + your subsequent lifestyle). As somebody who has read a lot of the science about this, you will be more than happy with the results. You’re not being “bad” by eating naturally fatty foods. Did you read the cholesterol summary by Dr. Attia (let me stress this again – a DOCTOR who is citing current scientific literature to support his medical practice)? You should just keep in mind that: You are not absorbing 100% of the cholesterol… Read more »
shirley
shirley
4 years 14 days ago

I was concerned too when I first started. Mine was 240 then it went up to 250 by earring eggs. So I read everything I could find on here, gave it 3mobths and it is now 202. I eat my 2eggs or more daily, coconut oil, animal fats and love it…

Jonathan Swaringen
Jonathan Swaringen
4 years 14 days ago

http://eatingacademy.com/nutrition/how-did-we-come-to-believe-saturated-fat-and-cholesterol-are-bad-for-us

http://eatingacademy.com/nutrition/the-straight-dope-on-cholesterol-part-i

http://www.menshealth.com/health/saturated-fat/page/1

You should have no worries after reading and watching. Don’t miss the video at the bottom of the eatingacademy saturated fat post. Its a gold mine 🙂

Nicole
Nicole
4 years 10 days ago

My father, who WAS on statins, and I both have *better*-than-normal cholesterol numbers, and have been Primal since March.

Wendy
Wendy
3 years 6 months ago
I can specifically speak to your concerns of cholesterol and inflammation. High cholesterol runs in my family. Last year my cholesterol reached 245 (When I reached 40)! Doctors wanted me to go on 5 different medications. I stumbled on Paleo by accident and began Cross Fit with a trainer. I went cold turkey… No refined foods, glutens, grains. High fat in the form of coconut milk and oil, avocado, wild caught fish. My trainer suggested when I was hungry to eat a spoonful of coconut oil (gross), but I did it. Results: 3 months in: My cholesterol was down to… Read more »
Andrea
4 years 15 days ago

I love these refreshers…it’s so easy to allow things to sneak back in…
Hello…veggie chips.

Ben Hirshberg
4 years 15 days ago

It definitely is easy to justify certain foods. Especially with the marketing of so many foods and beverages as “healthy!” But we gotta stay strong and grok on 🙂

Nana
Nana
4 years 14 days ago

I accidentally read that last bit as “gork on”. I will now use “gork” to describe when I mess up and eat something non-primal. As in, “I totally gorked this morning and had a tiny piece of cake during class because I felt awkward saying no all the time and they kept asking.”

Shebeeste
Shebeeste
4 years 14 days ago

Love it. Mark, of course, says “Korg” is the opposite of Grok, but “Gork” is like a cartoon choking sound you make when the office ladies keep pushing cupcakes on you.

Pam
Pam
4 years 15 days ago
When you are only 1 of 5 in the household that is going Primal, it can be difficult! I have teenagers, plus a husband who has a family history of heart disease. He is an MD, and believes the low fat/whole grain way of lowering his risks (along with a STATIN!). I can avoid the fat-free foods, but am having trouble at times staying away from the ‘teenager food’. I know I control the grocery shopping, but it isn’t easy to drag 3 teenagers into a Primal lifestyle! Still, this is a good article to read to remind myself on… Read more »
mars
mars
4 years 15 days ago

wow you are married to an MD who supports SAD and statins! tough situation!

“Heck, once you have everything dialed in and you’re humming along on all the amazing whole foods you can eat, you probably won’t even miss all that other stuff.”

I AGREE 100%! I don’t miss a thing from the SAD. Serously. Primal 100% and never looked back.

Animanarchy
Animanarchy
4 years 14 days ago

Getting close to 1pm and all I’ve had today is coffee. I’m not even close to hungry.. don’t even want nutritious food at the moment. Partial fasting lately has helped me regulate my appetite better.

Diane
Diane
4 years 15 days ago

Ah, the teenager stuff — or adult males! I had my nephew and brother-in-law for a week and found I really could not put down the potato chips! Wake up call for me — i’m usually 90% plus primal.

Adam
Adam
4 years 15 days ago

No teenager will say no to steak, omelettes, and veggies if slathered in butter. Lots of fruits are tasty because they’re a bit sugary, and those are a great improvement from chewy chips ahoy (god I loved those a few years ago). Try adding honey to natural foods, and it’ll come out to less sugar than a candy bar. Not ideal, but certainly better than the alternative. Also, the look good naked thing can be sneakily hinted at to any puberty-hitting teens 😉

jpatti
3 years 11 months ago

My hubby is not on-board either.

My “rules” are he can eat anything he wants, and that includes stuff like boxed mac-and-cheese, fish sticks, hot dogs, ramen – foods I find utterly gross or unappealing.

But he CANNOT bring MY favorite foods home. Cause… really, I can’t be expected to have high willpower ALL the time.

This is our compromise.

His stuff… I think of it like the cat food. It’s here, and utterly irrelevant to me.

Jana Miller
4 years 15 days ago

What about Kuerig coffee pods? Do they have any bad added ingredients?

K
K
4 years 15 days ago

Ohhh, I would love to see a write up about that. I love my Keurig and only buy plain/natural coffee, no flavors but I wonder about the plastic pod and the hot water going through it!

Dustin
Dustin
4 years 15 days ago

hundreds of wasted plastic cups/pods

K
K
4 years 15 days ago

Actually, they’re reuasable if you buy the reusable caps they can be reused several times and there are refillable ones but they are also plastic. I bought a fine mesh ( I think stainless steel) one but it clogs and doesn’t work well. I still would like to know about the plastic k cup pod.

Patty
Patty
4 years 15 days ago

I use the refillable pods with organic coffee or loose tea. The Ekobrew & Solofil brands work great for me and are BPA free. Both available on Amazon.

Jase
Jase
4 years 14 days ago

Yes! Senseo seems a much better choice. They even offer (might be a third party product) a reusable filter so you can load your own coffee.

http://www.senseo.us/

Jordan
Jordan
4 years 15 days ago

I have a refillable coffee pod for my Keurig, you just give it a quick rinse after every use. Better for the environment and you can control what’s in it.

Jana Miller
4 years 15 days ago

Thanks for the info-my husband uses these at work. I’ll look into a reusable one!

Finnegans Wake
Finnegans Wake
4 years 15 days ago

Mostly no, but I did see that the Keurig hot chocolate have sweeteners and oils added – yuck.

Kate
Kate
4 years 15 days ago

Ironic that the 21 day challenge and this post come in the one week per year when I am on high dose steroids and my celiac disease is in remission. Right now I have beer, bagels, bread, Oreo cookie ice cream and pizza fighting for a spot on my menu over the next 3 days. I guess I’ll just bookmark this for next week!!!

NW
NW
4 years 15 days ago

There is no remission with Celiac Disease. Gluten free diet is the only treatment. I’ve never heard of steroids making it ok to eat gluten with a Celiac diagnosis. Can you explain this some more, please?

Ma Flintstone
Ma Flintstone
4 years 15 days ago

Celiac disease in remission. That’s nuts.

Christina208
Christina208
4 years 15 days ago
Why does that irritate me? Ugh. I can’t wait till someone tells this crap to my kid who actually has celiac disease and he eats that garbage at school. Obviously someone is not going to a legit GI Dr. or has no idea what celiac is or how it works. Or, there is a legit medicine for celiac gut healing and this person is going against what any sensible Dr. would recommend and literally putting poison into their body. I would love to hear an explanation of this and if I am wrong, I apologize in advance.
Kate
Kate
4 years 14 days ago
Easy. Celiac is an autoimmune disease. I have quite a few. When one of my other diseases gets out of control (been in a wheelchair recently due to MS) my doc puts me on high dose infusion steroids. The steroids knock down my immune system so that it is unable to attack my body. For three days I can eat gluten without my immune system shredding my intestines. I only get this opportunity once a year or so. My diet is really clean otherwise, but I take full advantage of this without any guilt! Docs will not prescribe steroids just… Read more »
Kate
Kate
4 years 14 days ago
Btw this was not my docs “advice” but he did agree that it would work in theory after I had found it worked FOR ME in practice. Most people eat tons and gain weight on steroids. I have the opposite problem, I have a lot of trouble eating. Before I was diagnosed with celiac, Ramen noodles were pretty much the only thing I would eat during my infusion week. Post-diagnosis, my first time back on steroids I lost ten pounds in two days. I finally gave in and ate some noodles and had no gi problems. It’s worked without fail… Read more »
Leigh
Leigh
4 years 10 days ago

http://www.wimp.com/mindingmitochondria/
Katie, you mentioned you have MS….. Thought you might find this interesting.

Jonathan Swaringen
Jonathan Swaringen
4 years 9 days ago

You should really check in to Jack Kruse’s site. Tons of good information and blogs on pretty much every chronic condition.

http://jackkruse.com/brain-gut-6-epi-paleo-rx/

Highly recommend reading the whole thing. There are several mentions of MS and other similar conditions scattered throughout.

M.
M.
4 years 15 days ago
“Heck, once you have everything dialed in and you’re humming along on all the amazing whole foods you can eat, you probably won’t even miss all that other stuff.” I back this statement 100%. I cleaned out my pantry about 6 months ago and I’ve never looked back. I do Primal about 99/1 (I’ll occasionally have some plain potato chips if I want extra carbs and can’t stand to eat 4 lbs of veggies that day :P) and I can absolutely say with conviction that I DON’T miss all the junk. I find Primal foods to be immensely satisfying while… Read more »
Grok Fox
Grok Fox
4 years 15 days ago

I agree – though I’m not quite as strict as you I was amazed at the fact that I have not purchased a loaf of bread in almost 6 months and don’t really care that much about it – it was unthinkable to this farm girl not to dip toast in her egg yolk every Saturday. Now my husband and I just enjoy some applewood smoked bacon instead. 🙂

Amanda
Amanda
4 years 15 days ago

Hey, Mark! How do you feel about using coconut and almond meal in small amounts? If I get a couple tablespoons of coconut meal every day, am I doing more harm than good? It only has 3 non-fiber carbs per 2-tbsp serving, so I’m hoping they’re not too easy to digest because they’re ground? I want the fatty acid benefits of the coconut. 🙁

rebekah
rebekah
4 years 15 days ago

love the reminder… .there was alot of internal ouch, i eat that…. so tomorrow the list of things to eat!?!

Julie
Julie
4 years 15 days ago

Good to re-read, as a refresher, but now people may be wondering, what the heck SHOULD I eat?? Would be good in this post to point them to a quick and easy guide to what to buy and how to make it–

Adrian
4 years 15 days ago

Anybody have a suggestion for a caffeine fix, assuming I can’t stand coffee or tea?

Rob
Rob
4 years 15 days ago

Get some 90%+ dark chocolate. Thatll get ya revved up.

Ellis
Ellis
4 years 12 days ago

Sure about that? I eat dark chocolate (ranging from 72 to 86 percent, Endangered Species brand) most evenings before I turn the lights out for bed. Goes great with a glass of red wine and I sleep pretty well afterwards.

MarkA
MarkA
4 years 15 days ago

For an energy boost, I sometimes make primal “truffles”: 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon coconut oil, 1 teaspoon almond butter. Mix it all together and eat with a spoon. It really kills hunger if I know I can’t have a meal for a while and the caffeine and theobromine in the chocolate give a little extra energy without the downside of sugary snacks. Not sure if Grok would approve, but mighty tasty.

WildGrok
WildGrok
4 years 15 days ago

Very good, adding it to my recipes!

And here is one of my own, similar to yours, for dessert:

Name “Dessert for the Primal Sweet Tooth”

Take 2 spoonfuls of cream cheese, microwave for less than one minute.
Add 2 spoonfuls of coconut oil
Add 1 small packet of any Stevia variation (this is like a teaspoonful)
Stir and enjoy!

Have not tested it with greek yogurt but should be great

Diane
Diane
4 years 15 days ago

Chocolate has less caffeine than you might think — but it has thiobromine in varying amounts, which is similar to caffeine. Still, the primal truffles sound mighty tasty.

What I am curious about, is why you need a caffeine fix?

Christina208
Christina208
4 years 15 days ago

I make that exact thing for my 4 and 2 year olds and they think they are cookies:) Love it.

Nicole
Nicole
4 years 10 days ago

That. Sounds. Amazing.

Gordon Harris
Gordon Harris
11 months 14 days ago

Great idea thanks, I have all three ingredients in my kitchen, never thought about combining them to make truffles….score!

Jo
4 years 15 days ago

consider weaning yourself off caffeine? I know it’s radical, but it is possible. You may miss the “bump” as we call it at our house, but you may just as much enjoy the more level energy flow. When other folks are having an afternoon cuppa tea or coffee, I have a refreshing glass of water and a stroll around the block …

Ellis
Ellis
4 years 12 days ago
When you say ‘fix’, do you “need” the caffeine or just “want” it? I could go the rest of my life without another cup of coffee but I enjoy the taste immensely, the darker the roast the better. For the people at work who confront me about having a cup of coffee (I do one every day), following the CW that coffee is bad “because of all that evil caffeine”, I gently educate them that caffeine is a wonderful natural thing that stimulates circulation, elevates brain activity and mood, and its a bronchiodilator. In other words I can move better,… Read more »
Kenny
Kenny
4 years 22 hours ago

I’ve recently switched to cold brewing my coffee. Lower acid, richer flavor, and already made come morning. It’s easy to try cold brewing with equipment you already have. If you decide you prefer cold brew, $40 buys you a Japanese cold brew pot that fits nicely on the refrigerator door shelf.

Siren
Siren
4 years 15 days ago

Hey Mark- grape drink and purple stuff are the same thing… 😉

DarcieG
DarcieG
4 years 15 days ago

Pretty sure “purple stuff” was a reference to a Sunny Delight commercial. 🙂

Siren
Siren
4 years 12 days ago

true, but my comment was a reference to Dave Chappelle’s stand-up about grape drink. got chosen as comment of the week… very cool. thanks mark!!! =)

Andy
Andy
4 years 15 days ago

I cleaned the inside of my refrigerator yesterday, taking out all the items used to be a chore and something I dreaded. No more. Just a few packages of whole chicken legs, ribeye steaks, eggs, grass fed hamburger, butter, and several bags of veggies. Paleo is so simple !

Hannah
Hannah
4 years 15 days ago

I live with 5 other family members, 4 of which don’t adhere to Primal ways AT ALL, and it has been difficult of eliminate foods because other people want the bad stuff around? Any tips on how to cope?

Amanda
Amanda
4 years 15 days ago

Is swearing it off for yourself something that doesn’t work for you? It works for some but not others. And if you tell your family, or even make your spouse impose some kind of “penalty” (money, making you do a chore, etc.) if you cheat, the process gets easier. I don’t eat much but nuts, veggies, and eggs, and if my husband saw me eat anything else he’d ask me about it. It’s a good disincentive. 🙂

Rich
4 years 15 days ago

Understanding what I’m trying to accomplish and the results are all I need.

I’m Strict paleo over 6 months, wheat free for 2 years and at least five years before that of limiting carbs. I don’t even notice all the bad stuff in my house.

AuroraB
AuroraB
4 years 15 days ago

I’m in the same boat, but…. they don’t buy or shop for the groceries or cook or bake. I DO. If they want it in the house, they have to get it or buy it. That said, I do let them have some plain, unsugared cereal in the house. But not often.

Heather
Heather
4 years 15 days ago

Me too, I do the shopping, and I don’t buy non primal stuff, my young adult sons have to do that themselves, and a lot of the time they can’t be bothered. Bread is in the house, but I simply don’t crave it.
Cheers

Ma Flintstone
Ma Flintstone
4 years 15 days ago

You could appeal to their inherent vanities. I once got a 12yr old girl to eat vegetables (well before I knew about primal) by telling her how good her skin would look, and how slim and sexy she’d become. (Bit of a sick trick for a nanny I guess.) But it worked. Her mother was astounded. Problem solved. Teen/tweenagers care so much about their appearance. Sadly.

Cheri
Cheri
4 years 15 days ago

Just make it taste good! I got my teenage daughter and her ultra-picky friend to not only eat liver, but beg me to make more! (I stuck it in a jalapeño popper)

Agi
Agi
4 years 14 days ago

ooo…could you share the recipe? 😀

Animanarchy
Animanarchy
4 years 14 days ago

Liver cooked over fire is delicious.

mars
mars
4 years 15 days ago

remind yourself how good the primal lifestyle is for you. re-read mark’s list here for all the reasons why their SAD food sucks.

NotApplicable
NotApplicable
4 years 14 days ago

Lead by example, without preaching. Provide easily accessible, tastier alternatives.

Both my wife and teenage daughter’s diet, along with their subsequent health issues drive me crazy, but I know, the more I push, the more resistance I create.

Luckily though, the best part about primal, is that it just all makes sense. Resistance based on ignorance quickly subsides once these “new” ideas have a little time to form the basis for altered beliefs.

Jane
Jane
3 years 7 months ago
I had a “naughty food” cupboard. All the junk that other people ate lived in there. On the door of the cupboard I wrote “I DON’T EAT FOOD IN THIS CUPBOARD” and I also said it OUT LOUD to myself. I am a very auditory person, so I need to hear it said for it to be true for myself. I said it like a mantra, “this food is not mine. This food belongs to (list the names of the people who eat it). I don’t eat anything from this cupboard ever, under any circumstances. This really worked for me.… Read more »
flbeachmom
flbeachmom
3 years 18 days ago

Yes, this works for me, too. The junk is isolated in one place, and I just don’t open that door when I wander in to graze. It is the entrance to Platform Nine and Three-Quarters. It’s just not there.

Jill
Jill
4 years 15 days ago

The section on the baking products and flours was very helpful and reminded me why I should not be indulging in gluten-free crackers on the weekend. Time to clean up that portion of my diet.

HoooooHAAAAAAA
HoooooHAAAAAAA
4 years 15 days ago

I think its better to focus on what to do, what to eat, rather than so many..don’t’s. eat pastured meats, lot of veges, some fruits and nuts. some dairy if digested well.

Josh Frey
4 years 15 days ago

When a list like this is all laid out, it’s amazing to see how much “normal” food is actually unhealthy. In my experience, something like this can seem a bit overwhelming for people who aren’t used to eating this way yet.

“I…can’t…eat…anything!!”

In the end though, eating this way’ll change your life. Keep up the good work Mark.

MarkA
MarkA
4 years 15 days ago

I never realized until I started the primal blueprint that my kitchen was already mostly primal. We’d stopped buying processed foods and wheat products over the years, so it’s been mostly eliminating gluten-free grains, beans, rice, and a few sugar-heavy items like jam. The other difficult part has been finding a good source of real farm animals and eggs while staying within a reasonable food budget.

ravi
4 years 15 days ago
went shopping today and was yet again chuckling at passing through row after row of nice clean attractive non-human foods. (and this is a 100% organic store in germany) the above list is a bit daunting to the beginner – i actually think that it is not a good conversation starter or a beginners primer – too much diet-shock – i prefer to start my conversations to the newbies gently pushing them beyond the hints they already have about processed foods, sugar, etc. once someone is able to grok the place where it is coming from, i think it would… Read more »
WildGrok
WildGrok
4 years 15 days ago

Hi I am confused:
In a previous article (some days ago about foods “is it primal” V8 was listed as primal and here is in the list to avoid?

Ellis
Ellis
4 years 12 days ago

According to the Wiki article on V8 its 87 percent tomato juice, plus beets, celery, carrots, lettuce, parsley, watercress, and spinach. Tomato juice is incredibly acidic and doesn’t belong in a can, and since they’re saying “lettuce” without mentioning what kind, I’d imagine its completely worthless iceberg “lettuce”.

You’d be better off getting a juicer and making your own, fresh “V8”, with the added benefit of not having ultra-refined salt in it. Just add a dash of sea salt for taste, or maybe some tabasco.

Angele
4 years 15 days ago
I am Primal and have the hardest time sticking to enough variety in whole foods when I do not cook because there is only one of me and I do not have a freezer to store food. Do you have a list of protien foods that are acceptable that would be a good variety for a single person as myself. Right now I get organic chicken baked fresh daily at my grocery store, organic beef that I fry up myself, while fat yogurts and cheeses, what else is there? What about liverwurst? Or is that considered packaged as well?
Jo
4 years 15 days ago

liverwurst! a recently rediscovered treat at our house – just be sure to read the ingredients carefully. The corn syrup solids are _not_ primal

musajen
musajen
4 years 15 days ago

Damn… how far down the slippery slope I have slid…

Time to gut my cupboards and ice box.

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Bobby D
Bobby D
4 years 15 days ago

Mark, I had been under the impression that grapeseed oil was a good oil to use? I use it primarily for making salad dressings. Should I shit-can it?

cancerclasses
4 years 14 days ago
ANY polyunsaturated vegetable oil that is packaged in CLEAR glass or plastic bottles stored at room temperature on open unrefrigerated shelving is sure to be a toxic, adulterated, industrially processed TRANS omega-6 oil, possibly even hexane or other chemical and high heat extracted to increase production yield, and with added nickel and other heavy metal ANTI-OXIDANTS to further inhibit absorption of oxygen to prevent oxidation and thus extend shelf life and “stability”. Do an experiment I recently conducted with a bottle of Napa Valley Naturals ‘Expeller Pressed’ Grapeseed Oil packaged in a CLEAR glass bottle, but which by all appearances… Read more »
Debbie
Debbie
4 years 15 days ago

Very much looking forward to a list of things I *can* eat…

Highwayman
Highwayman
4 years 12 days ago

AGREED!! I think the title should be:
“Don’t eat this. Or that either”

Sarah
Sarah
4 years 15 days ago
I’d show this to my folks if I thought it’d do a damned bit of good! I actually did a rough calculation of my parents’ daily carb intake yesterday. My mother’s came to around 350g and my Father’s nearer 500! Cereal, juice and toast for breakfast, Mum takes a sandwich, yoghurt-coated granola bar, 2 rounds of cold toast with marmalade (“Because I can’t function properly if I don’t eat something mid-morning”) Low-fat yoghurt and either a piece of cake or a chocolate biscuit to work. When she comes home, she’s at the bread again, and then it’s something starchy for… Read more »
Kara
Kara
4 years 15 days ago

Sarah,
I hear the same “I’m too old to change” comment from my mom (ironically named Sarah!) as well. Change is tough. ….The pain of not changing has to outweigh the pain of changing before the process can occur

mars
mars
4 years 15 days ago

my mom has colitis and believes, thanks to her dumb MD, that leafy greens are the culprit. won’t try to give up grains, but glad to eliminate the greens.

*sigh*

Diane
Diane
4 years 15 days ago

Please don’t wash your hands. Just smile and do your own thing.

I’m nearly 62 and vividly remember Wonder Bread and Mazola (corn oil) margarine commercials telling me how to build a strong and healthy body (12 ways, with Wonder Bread.)

It’s an old joke: “How do you change a lightbulb?” “First, it has to want to change….”

Good luck and enjoy your family.

Shary
Shary
4 years 14 days ago

There’s actually a technical expression for blindly following one’s self-destructive karmic journey, but I can’t remember the exact terminology. In a nutshell, you can’t change those who don’t want to change. You can only change yourself.

Ellis
Ellis
4 years 12 days ago
Have you tried “migrating” your Mom from her current diet to a similar one using better ingredients, just to get a bit of positive change in her life? Sometimes its easier to do this first, and then the person is more receptive to further information. You say she starts with cereal, juice and toast for breakfast? I’m presuming you mean a carton of OJ, some Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs, and Wonderbread? Start her on a better quality cereal, like something from Nature’s Path. They have everything from raisin bran to hemp granola. See if your local grocery store carries Mona’s… Read more »
Sally
Sally
4 years 15 days ago

I easily gave up all these things except for sugar. Jellybeans are my kryptonite.

Leigh
Leigh
4 years 15 days ago

I’m confused about peanuts. I thought I read that nuts were ok, but now I see On the avoid list.
Also is Ezekiel bread ok. I haven’t seen anything positive or negative about that yet.

Sandra
Sandra
4 years 15 days ago

Peanuts aren’t really nuts. They are legumes and you would be amazed at how many people are sensitive to them and don’t realize it. Unlike my nephew who would end up in the hospital if someone touched him with peanut dust on their hands.

mars
mars
4 years 15 days ago

peanuts are also one of the most heavily fumigated crops in the world.. toxic pesticides..

Animanarchy
Animanarchy
4 years 14 days ago

Take that, animal that stole my peanuts stashed outside.

Ellis
Ellis
4 years 12 days ago

I won’t argue that peanuts should or shouldn’t be avoided, but given that there were zero cases of peanut allergies just 40 or 50 years ago, and now they are on the rise, I would think there is a lot more here than just the classification of peanuts, a couple of compounds in them that aren’t good, or the fungi that can attach to them. Some researchers believe that the increase in things like childhood immunization and the use of triclosan in soaps are actually part of the problem, along with all the -cides and fumigants mentioned elsewhere here.

Kenny
Kenny
4 years 22 hours ago

I’ve often thought that myself. In the book Diet For A Poisoned Planet, peanuts had over 158 detected pesticide residues, placing them in the ‘red light’ food category.

If you must have a peanut fix, organic peanut butter is the least toxic form.

Liz
Liz
4 years 15 days ago

I read that Ezekiel bread is NOT ok – it is still made out of grain even though it is sprouted. I don’t remember where I read it though.

And peanuts are not really nuts, they are legumes, so they are squarely on the “avoid” list.

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Kitty =^..^=
Kitty =^..^=
4 years 15 days ago

My mum is type 2 diabetic who absolutely in no uncertain terms does not believe in the Primal lifestyle. She always has potato chips and cookies and whatnot lying around. Fortunately I am in the right mind set and am able to ignore those nasty ‘foods’ and stay with my Primal eating plan. I do think, however, that if I were on a low fat diet there would be no way I’d be able to resist. YAY for Primal!! 😀

Debi
Debi
4 years 15 days ago

We have 6-9 mouths of food stored up. Most of it is non-primal. I can’t just get rid of it(too much money). So I have moved it out of sight. That seems to help.

Animanarchy
Animanarchy
4 years 14 days ago

Maybe you could give it to people you know or donate it to a food bank or shelter.

Leigh
Leigh
4 years 15 days ago

Thanks for the feedback. I get it then that peanuts are technically considered legumes. However in the Primal Blueprint book doesn’t it say you can eat trail mix? I think of trail mix and I think peanuts. I’m very new to this Primal lifestyle and am super excited to be here. I just want to make sure I don’t derail myself unknowingly.

Richard
Richard
4 years 15 days ago
Too Old to change? I made the change when I was 65 and I’m 68 now. I don’t eat grains except small amounts of rice, no sugar except on the odd occasion, and I eat lots of meat and offal and eggs and green vegetables. I did have a weight loss, but the interesting thing was that my slightly expanded “liver area” shrank down, leading to a much better shape. I had an increase in cholesterol and somewhat higher glucose levels, but those had to have been generated from processes within my body, and I’m ok with that. I also… Read more »
Leigh
Leigh
4 years 15 days ago

Pardon my ignorance since I am new to this primal way of life. So everything is not clear yet. I understand now that peanuts are technically legumes, however in the Primal Blueprint book I swear that I read that trail mix was primal. When I think of trail mix I think of peanuts……

Diane
Diane
4 years 15 days ago

You can easily make your own, peanut-free trail mix. Almonds, organic coconut flakes (no sugar added), walnuts, cashews, maybe even toss in a few dark chocolate chips. No peanuts need apply!

Gene
Gene
4 years 15 days ago

I’ve been 99/1 primal now for almost 2 years. I missed a few certain SAD foods for about 6 months. Now if I try one of my old favorites, I don’t even like the taste anymore. I’m cured. Not even tempted.

I’m so full of egg yolks, liver, and all manner of saturated fat and veggies, there’s no room left for a blood sugar/malnutrition driven craving.

Ellis
Ellis
4 years 12 days ago
So true. I remember being in the depths of hypoglycemia in my late teen years and having to eat nearly constantly. I could eat a triple cheeseburger and fries for lunch and a pan of lasagna for dinner, while struggling to maintain a bodyweight about 40 lbs too light for my frame. I felt horrible and had no energy. Its been a long journey but I’ve never stopped learning. Since I started upping my grass-fed beef intake and downing a couple eggs a day I can now go most of a day without “needing” to eat, I have no crashes-… Read more »
Gene
Gene
4 years 15 days ago

Oh and Debi, throw it out. If you keep it, you’ll eat it. The money is gone, and if you eat that crap it will cost you a lot more in future medical bills than replacing it with real food.

Marissa
4 years 15 days ago

this is a great little resource/tutorial to have to refer to when necessary. all great tips!

PeterC
PeterC
4 years 15 days ago

Darn, my breakfeast have been bacon and eggs, and its my fav meal.
But now thanks to the nitrates, I have to just have eggs fried in butter. Anyone know of a good meat substitute for bacon that is as or almost as convienient?

Animanarchy
Animanarchy
4 years 14 days ago

Plain pork is usually cheap and cut into strips cooked over fire is close enough to bacon. Less fat but it’s satiating meat.

dennis
dennis
4 years 15 days ago

@ paul you can enjoy bacon. they sell “uncured” nitrate free bacon in almost every normal grocery store.

JoanieL
JoanieL
4 years 15 days ago

Good reminder list and it’s always good to review the basics. Except for some “hermetically sealed” foods I have stashed in case the zombies come, I’m good to go. Finally finally got rid of my last two poisons, and bought real butter for the first time in I don’t know how many years.

jrVegantoPrimal
jrVegantoPrimal
4 years 15 days ago
Thankfully Jersey Shore has been canceled. Was never a fan. Can’t get enough of Hoarding though. Another element to fast foods and processed foods are the additives that are found in them, like blue#1 and yellow#5. why the need to color food? Oh…because it’s not food!!! I read an interesting article about the ingredients found in a normal Chik Fil-A chicken sandwich when the whole CFA fiasco was in the news. food coloring, aluminum, anti-foaming agents, etc… The amount of garbage in a plain chicken sandwich is ridiculous. I’m sure a lot of it is found in the bun and… Read more »
Animanarchy
Animanarchy
4 years 14 days ago

Sometimes I can’t fathom how people crave and devour fast food when I can barely cram it down. Other times I eat some things that don’t behoove me.

Animanarchy
Animanarchy
4 years 14 days ago

The other day I got two loaves of Wonderbread for cheap, ate most of one, and since then it’s almost a chore to eat. I’m regretting the purchase. I had the munchies and wanted something to snack on and make grilled cheese with with lots of vitamins and minerals, but it’s just too filling for the nutritional merit.

Ellis
Ellis
4 years 12 days ago
Sometimes our cravings can reveal something about what our body lacks. in the last month I’ve had a craving for hamburgers. Not fast food per se, but restaurant-style hamburgers. We usually have burgers at home once a week, sans bun, but with goat cheese, avocado, and a homemade honey and mustard dressing, but I still crave the ones one a bun. I think its just my childhood coming forth for a visit, but it could also mean something is lacking. But what? Processed flour? I doubt it. I haven’t figured it out yet. I heard a story years ago about… Read more »
Shalimar
Shalimar
4 years 15 days ago
That’s a good list. I comply with it 90%. What about wine? I enjoy it, but can’t say I feel good about it, even one glass(my limit) makes me feel a little yucky after the initial buzz wears off. Give me some encouragement to chuck the wine too! I finally threw out the Instant Breakfast, and want some encouragement to toss the Kashi bars. So much $. I still have pasta, cornstarch, dried beans in the house though I haven’t even thought of eating them since going primal six months ago. I just can’t waste them. Perhaps they will go… Read more »
Khainag
Khainag
4 years 15 days ago
Sounds like you are doing great! I was hitting the chocolate pretty hard last week. Also, getting rid of some stuff that makes me feel sick! Including tossing stuff that now makes me feel sick before I eat and feel sick! (Well, there is that can of Mountain Dew in my fridge…). I’ll toss that if you toss some of the pasta or something else inexpensive? Deal? Stay strong guys! I AM REALLY IMPRESSED AND INSPIRED BY PEOPLE GOING AGAINST THE GRAIN AND STICKING WITH IMPROVING THEMSELVES. I’ve been more or less Primal for the last few months or so,… Read more »
Girlfriend
Girlfriend
4 years 15 days ago

please tell us why we should avoid yeast?

Emseven
Emseven
4 years 14 days ago

I was curious about that, too. What’s wrong with yeast?

Tribe of Nature
4 years 15 days ago

Great list! I feel like printing out thousands of copies and hand it to everybody I meet 🙂

It’s absolutely worth the task to clean out your kitchen like this!

Cheryl Boswell
4 years 14 days ago

Thanks for doing this Mark. Instead of me struggling to explain certain concepts people might disagree with, I can send them to this page.

They’ll get a better understanding in a fraction of the time.

This is especially true of the why grains are bad section.

Anne
Anne
4 years 14 days ago

I am just starting on Primal – have been fructose free for about 2 years so this is an excellent list for me to read although I have been fairly close to the mark already. Just have to source nitrate free bacon in my town in Australia which is not easy.

trackback
4 years 14 days ago

[…] How to ELIMINATE unhealthy foods […]

Mario
4 years 14 days ago

This article is one of the best ones I’ve read in the entire online fitness and health community. We all know that most people are definitely not aware of what they eat. I wish articles like these would end up in some magazines.

Anyway, thanks for the nice read.

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