Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
11 Jun

An Open Letter to Kids and Teens (and Infant Prodigies)

In light of the recent release of Paleo Girl – a new Primal book that helps teens navigate the crazy world of flawed dietary and fitness advice, and get a jump start on healthy living – I’m republishing this article I originally wrote and published in December 2011. If you want the next generation to grow up in a healthier world, share this article with your friends and family. Let’s give the young adults in our lives the knowledge they need to be successful!

Dear youngsters,

You’re going through some difficult times, no doubt. I’ve been in your shoes before. I’ve been a kid dealing with basically all the same stuff you have to contend with. I’ve been there.

Your hormones are probably (depending on age, gender, and exposure to attractive members of opposite/same sex) either raging, simmering, fomenting, budding, and/or swelling.

Your legs and arms may be growing at disproportionate rates, leaving you feeling like a stranger in your own body.

That cute new guy whom you planned on eventually marrying has a funny last name, which just won’t work with the names of the kids you’ve chosen.

You just discovered the Beatles, and you totally want to tell everyone about it, but they’re all into top 40 stuff. You just can’t relate.

Your opinions on everything, who your best friends are, your relationship with your parents, and your post-high school plans change rapidly from day to day to day. And not superficial changes, but real, soul-rending ones.

Everything’s in flux, but (or ergo?) everything’s exciting. Everything’s the end of the world, or the start of something new and magnificent. In short, you’re young, the world is big, and you want to make the most of it all.

But I have a suggestion for you. It’s a suggestion that I wish I would have read on a computer somewhere when I was a kid (of course, that would have required me waiting an hour for Al Gore to patch me through on the ARPANET on a computer the size of a room):

Consider going Primal. Don’t wait until you’re old, hurting, and full of regrets to seize control of your health. Take it from someone who did wait until he was old(er) and hurting to conquer his health issues. You don’t want to wait. If you do, you’ll still likely make it, but you’ll miss out on valuable time.

I’m not even going to say you have to go 100% hardcore Primal – although it certainly wouldn’t hurt. I’m just saying it would be a fantastic idea for you to become aware of this stuff while you’re still young and on the cusp of the prime of your life.

The way I see it, if you don’t, you’re squandering a golden opportunity to extend the prime of your life through, well, the rest of it. Right now, I feel like I’m at my best. I honestly do. Mentally, emotionally, physically, professionally, I’m at a place where I wouldn’t trade places with myself 20 years ago. I was fit, doing triathlons, coming off of a strong career as a marathoner, but I was missing true health. Thanks to going Primal, I’m better than ever.

Now, think of what I just said. I’m 58. I’m probably older than your dad. I’ve lived over half a century, and yet I can:

Keep up with guys younger than half my age in high intensity Ultimate Frisbee.

Hike for twelve hours on an empty stomach.

Produce pretty decent content for a popular blog on a daily basis.

Write books and develop supplement lines that people actually buy and seem to really like.

Pass incredible quality time with my beautiful wife whenever I want.

Take a day off just to relax with the family if I so desire.

Spend half the day stand up paddle boarding.

Take my shirt off without feeling self conscious about my sagging gut and man-boobs.

Bound up flights of stairs because it’s easier and less time consuming than walking up them and scoff at escalators.

Feel mentally “there” and “on” at all times (okay, maybe the morning coffee helps in this regard, sometimes).

The thing is, these aren’t magical or fantastical accomplishments. I think these are extremely basic things any human should be able to expect out of themselves, albeit with minor variations. Not everyone is going to blog or play Ultimate, but everyone should be able to find creative satisfaction and engage in physical activity whenever they want without worrying out getting injured, something hurting, or fatiguing too quickly.

And I’m just some old dude who made a ton of mistakes early on and paid dearly for them… and I’m still doing pretty darn good. I’m not the only one, either. Many, if not most, of our success stories on this blog come from people who came back – better than ever – from poor health caused by making the wrong choices based on the wrong information in their younger years. Learn from their and from my mistakes so you don’t have to make them yourself.

Just imagine where you’ll be at 58 if you stay abreast of this health and fitness and nutrition and stress stuff starting from an early age. Just imagine how ahead of the game you’ll be, and stay for as long as you want.

Honestly, though? There’s a little selfishness going on here, too. I’m convinced that the earlier you commit to a Primal lifestyle, the greater the rewards later on in life, and I really want to see it happen. I know we’re never going to get anything close to a big study on the Primal lifestyle funded to test this idea out, but if we can convince a host of youngsters to start young – and stick with it – I think we’d see some remarkable things happen.

No, I’m not talking about forging Olympians or NBA stars or anything like that, necessarily. I’m referring to the promotion of a generation of healthy, happy, robust, fit, attractive, and most importantly of all, self-sufficient people forging their own paths toward health and wellness. I’m imagining a world where doctors flourish as the skilled technicians they are, meeting acute challenges without having to focus so much on the chronic stuff that they’re often unprepared to handle and their patients are unwilling to handle. Where people take responsibility for their own health, and it’s not a struggle or an ordeal, but rather just second nature. Heck, maybe it’ll even be a generation for whom this Primal stuff isn’t so crazy at all.

So, teens, tots, children, whoever (heck, even parents) – give it an honest shot. You don’t have to give up hanging out with friends or even grabbing pizza after a game sometimes. Embrace the 80/20 principle and just learn to make the right choices most of the time and understand that humans don’t come broken out of the box. That even though observing the greater population at large might lead you to the opposite conclusion, people are by and large born primed for excellent health.

Now go. Get healthy while you’re still healthy, while you’re still unbroken. It’s always easier – and more effective – to keep a new knife sharp than to restore a chipped, rusty, neglected old one.

Thanks for reading, everyone, and please share your advice with the younger amongst us in the comment board below.

Learn More About the Brand New Book Paleo Girl and Grab Your Free Gifts While the Limited-Time Offer Lasts

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. YES! Well said, Mark – right on.

    Nick wrote on December 27th, 2011
  2. heck yes, i loved this post! wish i’d read it when i was in high school.

    jakey wrote on December 27th, 2011
  3. Very true. That’s why I’m raising my kids up right from the start. I’m not 100% primal, or even 80%, truth be told, but even following a few basic principles is making a huge difference. We don’t fear fat, and we know which fats to choose. We avoid processed foods and toxins of any kind. We eat plenty of animal products, while keeping grains as more of a treat. If I ever make it to 100% Primal (which will take a raise in the grocery budget and a bit more motivation than I’ve got right now, considering I’m feeling fine), we’ll be doing even better. But the one thing that really motivates me to put effort into what we eat is knowing that my kids are going to grow up better the better I feed them. They will avoid so many childhood chronic illnesses that are considered “common” (even type 2 diabetes for kids now! what the heck!), build healthy, strong bodies, and have good eating habits.

    Most likely they’ll rebel at some point and eat a ton of junk food. But they’ll recognize that sick feeling it gives them as NOT normal, and hopefully they’ll come back to the way I taught them. (My mom was considered sugar nazi when I was a kid, spoiling my childhood by not giving us more than one piece of candy a day or letting us eat cereal with more than 12 grams of sugar per serving … and I simply can’t binge on sugar now. I don’t have a high tolerance for it, and I instantly recognize that yucky feeling that tells me to stop.)

    Sheila wrote on December 27th, 2011
    • Haha your mom seems lenient compared to mine! She gave away all our halloween candy, and cereal was never an option in our house. I DID rebel – freshman year of high school I bought a Nutty Bar and FunYuns every day after lunch.

      However, when I finally started growing up a bit and thinking about my health, my parents teaching were the first to come to mind. I didn’t really get caught up in diet fads with processed food because I had previously been taught that low sugar and high fat was the best way to live.

      Kids will always rebel, but if you teach them the right things to begin with, they should find their way back.

      Leslie wrote on December 27th, 2011
      • My mother ate all our Halloween candy and taught us to question authority–I think SHE was the one rebelling! :)

        Wenchypoo wrote on June 11th, 2014
        • +1

          Merky wrote on June 11th, 2014
  4. Man, I wish I had found you when I was still in high school.

    Bruno wrote on December 27th, 2011
  5. I applaud the effort but unless the young are a lot smarter than we were wisdom must be earned or it will not be recognized. This is especially true since they are being lied to by the CW professionals and must have time to sort through the BS before the Holy Grail becomes obvious.

    Grokitmus Primal wrote on December 27th, 2011
    • True, but there is only one way to find out.

      “Why is youth wasted on the young?” – Dunno who said that

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on June 11th, 2014
      • It was George Bernard Shaw, and it’s oh so true.

        Brian Barber wrote on June 11th, 2014
    • I knew several people who became vegan for health or ethical reasons in junior high and high school. Can you imagine dropping milk with as much as it is pushed on kids? Also, I was raised Christian (and my parents/grandparents drilled it into me) and at the age of 11, questioned it so much that I chose to no longer embrace it. I haven’t identified with that religion since, and I’m 34. I think kids are smarter and more capable of thinking for themselves than you realize.

      Casey wrote on June 11th, 2014
  6. I was 16 at the beginning of summer, 17 at the end. I was 180 lbs at 5’7″ at the beginning, 150 at 5’8″ at the end.

    Thanks, Mark.

    P.S. I stopped living Primal when school started (do you know how hard it is to stay awake in calculus without chocolate? It’s TOO HARD.), but I’ve been getting back into it. I’ll give you a proper success story by the end of senior year :)

    Steven Chao wrote on December 27th, 2011
    • I can’t wait to read your success story!!

      Lisa wrote on December 28th, 2011
      • +1

        cndnrose wrote on June 11th, 2014
  7. Absolutely! I SO wish I had discovered this as a teen, and I’m jealous of all you younger people who are Primal as you have such a wonderful head-start :-)
    I had been thinking I would have to be a ‘terrible warning’ to the young folk in my life…. NOW I’m determined to be a ‘shining example’ instead! Lol

    Janet NZ wrote on December 27th, 2011
    • …if only the internet existed back when I was a teen…

      Wenchypoo wrote on June 11th, 2014
  8. I am a 16 year old teenage boy, and going primal nine months ago was the best thing that ever happened to me! Sure, I was in shape before going primal, but if I didn’t work out a lot or run and swim a lot I would be out of shape in no time. Plus, I feel great! I used to feel like crap all the time, but after cutting grains my body thanked me. One thing to also mention in this post that actually might help convince many people to go primal is skin! Going primal can really clear out acne, especially after balancing out your omega3’s and omega6’s (not eating such an inflammatory diet.)

    I have had a growing interest in my health throughout my teenage years, and all this information on living primal and paleo is like a drug for me! I love learning more about it, and I read your blog on a daily basis. I am actually going to write my junior research paper on living primal, and if anyone that knows a lot about paleo would willing to be my mentor, I’d greatly appreciate it! Shoot me an email at if you’re interested.

    PS, After my friends have seen how great I feel and the great shape I am in, the are finally deciding it might be worth it to make the switch! Grok on!

    Jeremy Jordan wrote on December 27th, 2011
  9. Cool post!! I turn 30 next year and hope that I can stick with living Primaly, drop 60lbs and then continue to live this way forever!!

    Tina wrote on December 27th, 2011
    • I’ll be 30 next year as well. I’m always dumbfounded by how my friends look tired and out of shape even though we’re all relatively young. Meanwhile I just ran up and down a mountain outside of Tokyo in 3 hours round trip even though it was rated at 3 hours UP! They often say, “Jay, you’d better have kids before too long or you won’t have the energy to raise them!” Hah! Hopefully I’ll be able to convert them through example…

      TokyoJarrett wrote on December 27th, 2011
      • totally off-topic, but do you live in Tokyo? my fiance and I are planning on going there for our honeymoon… possibly hitting up Kyoto as well. I have done a bit of research as far as touristy things to do there, but do you have any suggestions? thanks!

        Erin wrote on June 11th, 2014
      • I am currently teaching myself Japanese and have always wondered if I could live in Japan in the future. At first, I figured living primal and strength training would be impossible if I did that. Thanks for showing me that there might still be a way for me to achieve it.

        TheChris wrote on June 11th, 2014
  10. Totally agree. I found this stuff when I was 22, and that was already late enough to be overweight and metabolically damaged. A year and a half later I’m nearly where I want to be in terms of body composition (and that’s with several months of less-than-80% adherence) and feeling better than I ever have in my life. I know I’m on a path that will keep me getting stronger, fitter and happier for years to come. Don’t wait! The earlier you take control of your health, the bigger the benefits and the more you will get out of it!

    Uncephalized wrote on December 27th, 2011
    • I agree- the damage can begin young for some of us. My PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) kicked in shortly after starting menstruation- cue years of weight and acne hell during those highly sensitive teen years. Even if young people can’t really envisage the benefits of a Primal lifestyle in years to come, understand you’ll reap immediate benefits now with a fit body and clear skin being just the start…

      Susie wrote on June 11th, 2014
  11. I found this site during the spring of my senior year in high school (2010) from a link on barefoot Ted’s website. I’ve been at it for almost two years now, and everyone calls me crazy for doing what I do (being as primal as possible), yet I still manage to be more fit and healthier than the rest of them. Definitely not easy to stay motivated, but it’s always worth it. Anyway, I’m still going strong now in college. Here’s to you, Mark, and all the (young) lives that you’ve touched

    ZacD wrote on December 27th, 2011
  12. When I see other people’s kids I can’t help but think about when I have my own and how great it’s gonna be to raise them Primal from the start!

    Ande wrote on December 27th, 2011
    • Totally. My fiancee and I are planning on getting started on a family in a few years, and I’m definitely looking forward to raising strong, healthy, happy Primal kiddos. :)

      Uncephalized wrote on December 27th, 2011
    • Yes, do it. Raise them primal from the very beginning. It’s a daily challenge in my house. I went primal almost exactly one year ago. I feel better and lost 30lbs. I’m wearing a size 4 to 6 now (I’m 37 years old)… but my children, despite the evidence in front of their faces, are putting up a fight. I would say they’re about 60% primal, if I had to put a number on it. But especially my 10 year old daughter rebels against primal, even though my closest friends and I (and my husband) have completely changed our lives.

      Being a kid is not easy. :) You think you’re just so much smarter than all the adults together. And evidence means nothing. sigh…

      Ute wrote on December 29th, 2011
      • My kids are 16 (girl) and 14 (boy). I went primal on my own two years ago. I did not bug my kids–or my husband–about it at all, I just did it for myself. When my husband saw how lean I was getting with very little formal exercise, he joined me and lost about 50 pounds in 6 months. My daughter wants to be primal, but lacks the will to really commit. She did, however, recently present a persuasive speech to he English class about eliminating grain and her classmates loved it. I just bought her “Paleo Girl.” I hope it will help her decide for herself. My son has absolutely no interest. He’s mad I don’t make white rice anymore to go with stir fry.

        My point is: Sometimes just being a quiet example of success is the best way of teaching. If I had hounded the rest of the family, I would still be the only primal human in the house (even my dog is grain free now!). As it is, I’m about 90/10 primal, hubby about 70/30, daughter about 50/50. I no longer buy cereal, pasta, crackers and rice (although hubby does occasionally eat spaghetti with the kids). Bread is down to one loaf per week. We do eat WAY more veggies now, including green smoothies for breakfast. Daughter loves those!

        So, just know that whether you go primal overnight or ease into it gradually, you still are doing your body good.

        Paula wrote on June 11th, 2014
        • I forgot to say that eating school cafeteria lunches can really undermine a primal or paleo teen, so stocking up on packable foods that can be taken to school is important. Or, eating a protein packed breakfast that will get teens through the school day without lunch is another good idea! Also, parents and kids should work together to come up with primal alternatives to the typical fare at get-togethers and parties. Sometimes it seems the only option is pizza, but planning ahead can pay off. Eating a healthy meal before the party and bringing your own primal snack are good habits to help avoid the pizza temptation.

          Don’t forget that all is not lost if you do have a slice or two of pizza or some birthday cake–only once in a while!. Just eat extra-primal after that!

          Paula wrote on June 11th, 2014
  13. And for further ways to incorporate the 80/20 Principle into your lives (I did in the kitchen), go here (

    From a document that no longer appears on my blog: “Streamlining and improving your food choices will lead to more cupboard and refrigerator/freezer space, more time and money for other things, weight loss (which leads to less spent on clothing, less closet space needed, and less laundry), and improved health. Better nutrition also leads to more energy, less stress, slowed aging, and less susceptibility to sickness, both obvious and hidden (blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.)

    Convenience foods cost us in many ways, and they really aren’t so “convenient” after all—especially when you discover that you really don’t need any of them!”

    …and this was written well before I discovered Paleo. This is what I learned from reading ALL the 80/20 guy’s books, even though they cover the work place. The kitchen IS my work place.

    Wenchypoo wrote on December 27th, 2011
    • ~Fast-forward 3 years~

      My blog is now dead, but I still stand by what I wrote back then–I seem to have a knack for writing timeless stuff.

      Wenchypoo wrote on June 11th, 2014
  14. Biggest problem for kids?

    Peer pressure.

    Once they get past that, then they might have a chance!

    jason walker wrote on December 27th, 2011
    • Or “beer” pressure 😉

      R. Francis Stevenson wrote on June 11th, 2014
  15. My almost 4 year old is nearly 100% Primal. She knows that “sugar and grain and bread don’t make us big and strong”. Yes, perhaps I’ve brainwashed her, but how many other kids consider a square of dark chocolate to be a special treat? She still doesn’t love her veggies, but we’re working on that!

    Jenny wrote on December 27th, 2011
    • Mine do :)

      merl wrote on December 27th, 2011
    • I remember being young and not liking most everything. My ablilty to stand strong tastes didn’t develop until after I was 10 and I still have to cook the sulfer veggies just this side of overcooked so my innards don’t rebel. Little bits cooked and blended into food can get you quite aways in that department. Not easy, I was a very picky eater who likes most of the food I couldn’t handle as a kid. AND I’m “getting mine” because my son is also a picky eater, isn’t that what all us parents want? To have our children have one just like them? He, he, he.
      Grandmas can also get a long way in having them try new things at their house, using different names and while they “help” fix food with her. Mine learned to like celery, carrots, broccoli to name a few. My mom got kids to eat green beans by calling them “beanies” instead. Ya never know what’ll work.

      2Rae wrote on June 11th, 2014
  16. 19 and primal since March 2011! My friends and family still think this is just another manifestation of how crazy I am, but I feel great. Even at this age, it’s clear how nutrition and simple tweaks like paying attention to >how< I sleep can make an incredible difference. The biggest difference: changing how I eat uncovered a passion for nutrition, and that passion is the only reason I decided to go to college. Another one: now that I see that vast improvements can be made in an individual within a short time, I'm inspired to improve in all areas of my life.

    I want to thank not only Mark here, but everyone who is a part of this community, whether or not you feel you've contributed. Seeing that this is in fact a community has no doubt given some amount of persuasion or courage to those looking to improve.

    Kate wrote on December 27th, 2011
    • I’m 19 and primal since around Oct. 2010. My family also thinks I’m crazy and full of it because I would tell them about every new piece of information I found and I’m not afraid to admit that something I read previously was probable wrong. I don’t talk about how I eat or exercise (kettlebells and DDR) anymore so when I make an adjustment I don’t have to deal with the comments anymore. Primal has also helped me appreciate nutrition more but I still refuse to do to college.

      Jinyoung wrote on December 27th, 2011
  17. Excellent advice. I only started taking a serious interest in healthy eating around 31. I ate what I thought was healthy-er before that, but I’m in much better shape now that I’m mostly low-carb paleo.

    Those that are young: it may seem unnecessary now (<25yo), but wait until your buddies start crossing that 25yo mark, or so. Even though I'm only 31, many of my buds have clearly added a few pounds a year since college. After a decade, that's starting to add up. Most of them couldn't do a basic fitness test: 5+ full pullups, 20+ proper pushups, run a mile, or show any core strength. I hope they start watching the beer and food intake, or it's not going to be pretty at 40.

    validvibe wrote on December 27th, 2011
  18. So true,I am almost 48 but I even think going primal would have minimized up my acne back then when I was a teen.
    It certainly seems to have helped reduce my adult acne since I started in Nov 2010.
    So appeal to their vanity :)

    Gayle wrote on December 27th, 2011
    • Oh, the acne… I almost couldn’t believe how immediately it cleared up when I started primal. I cut out dairy at the very beginning and thank goodness I did– a bite of any recipe with dairy in it can make my face angry by the next morning, sometimes earlier. I don’t even crave dairy, and haven’t since a week after I got rid of it. 19 and with a clear face after four years of terrible acne. My before/after is like a Proactiv commercial. Yeah, not a single craving here.

      Kate wrote on December 27th, 2011
  19. It’s a lot easier to start with the right habits when you are younger rather than trying to adopt them later in life. I agree with the the 80/20 rule. If you can do the right thing 80% of the time you will be way ahead of the game. You don’t need 100% perfection, striving for perfection is a recipe for failure, especially in health. You have to enjoy life a bit a long the way.

    Michelle wrote on December 27th, 2011
  20. This is a very timely post. I have two wonderful little girls 2 and 5 years old. The 5 year old has been overweight for the last year. She doesn’t eat terribly, but puts on weight easily. Starting this week I am changing her diet to 80% primal. I really hope her body responds positively, as primal eating has had a fantastic effect on me.

    Wish me luck.

    Shawn B wrote on December 27th, 2011
    • Some little kids are chubby until they start to grow taller. My neice was that way and then she shot up and is a normal sized kid.

      2Rae wrote on June 11th, 2014
  21. Thank you for this post!
    I’m 19 and discovered this website and primal living this past summer. I’m thankful to have found this early enough in life so that I will hopefully never struggle with major health issues. I am lucky enough to have a mother who is trying to follow a paleo/primal lifestyle aswell.

    I have to agree that peer pressure is the hardest thing to overcome sometimes, especially when you do not want to be seen as being weird or on a diet. Trying to explain this lifestyle to people my age is rather difficult when they seem to care very little about how what they are doing now will affect them later…

    Grace wrote on December 27th, 2011
    • Peer pressure just sucks. I started intermittent fasting after my cans of tuna were not well recieved during lunchtime 😉

      Mary E. Clark wrote on December 27th, 2011
      • Why would anyone be weirded out by tuna? Even “normal” people eat canned tuna!

        Uncephalized wrote on December 27th, 2011
        • I started intermittent fasting for similar reasons too (before I even knew it existed actually).

          You’d think tuna would be normal but the reactions by young people are just plain silly. Sorry it smells a little?

          Grace wrote on December 27th, 2011
      • Ha ha! I take a can of sardines to work for breakfast. No one has said anything yet, but I’m kinda hiding in the break room so I can’t be seen. It’s a great breakfast, though!

        Meesha wrote on December 28th, 2011
        • I was just going to recommend switching to sardines! Love those things and I just laugh at the reactions I get from people. Thankfully, I’m to the point in your life where you quit caring what other people think. It’s harder when you’re younger.

          Stacie wrote on June 11th, 2014
  22. Hey Mark! Wow, i read your website everyday and right when i am having doubts about my nutrition, this post shows up! I’m 15 years old in high school and health has been very interesting to me these past years and i really want to immerse into the primal lifestyle. It is sometimes tough to stay 100% but thats why i love the 80/20 rule. I hope to do a success story for you after i really adapt to eating primal. Thanks again for giving attention to us kids :)

    Toni wrote on December 27th, 2011
  23. Great Post! Unfortunately my 8 year old chubby son is too young to grasp the importance of this post. I’m waiting until he gets older and more mature to care about how he looks, feels and performs. Its a daily battle against sugar in my house, but I am one against many. hop[efuly in a few years he will come to me and say “dad, please help me get leaner and stronger like you have done a few years ago.” I hope this is not wishful thinking on my part…

    PaleoDentist wrote on December 27th, 2011
    • WOW Your post reminds me about my house, I have just went along my beginning primal journey by myself also. My family loves there sugar and processed junk, I don’t buy it anymore so then they go out and get it themselves. (Order pizza anyone!< sodas) My son who is 9 is overweight as well as my husband and my 15 year old who is getting a ponch also but I am sick of trying to talk to them about it, they blow me off like I am on some kind of fad, weirdo. I hope they see results in me to change there ways but I am not holding my breath. How does one address this?? Maybe Mark can give us some pointers?

      rdzins wrote on December 28th, 2011
      • Well, you start out small. Letting things go from bad to not as bad and then oops, did I not buy that? Huh, not good for us anyway. Both my husband and son can now preach the primal life to anyone, and both have sometimes. Funny, then they go get a bit of pie, ice cream or sweet rolls, root beer….. uh, hey guys that’s more than the 20%….. but at least they are getting the propaganda and will come around here soon. They already live at a primal house because I do the grocery shopping, muwahahahahaha.

        2Rae wrote on June 11th, 2014
  24. I am so glad you wrote this post. It really summarizes how my wife and I are raising our kids. My wife and I both have success stories on your page and our hope is that our kids success stories are simply ‘we are in great health, we manage our stress, we enjoy life, we effortless manage our weight, we rarely get sick, etc.’ I hope my kids don’t have to get on a scale and see 300 lbs as a teenager like I did. I hope the changes we had to make are the norm for them.

    Keep up the great work!!

    Mike wrote on December 27th, 2011
  25. I hope my peers read this someday while searching the internet during a WoW patch time so together we can become a vibrant, capable generation. I am seventeen years old, a senior in high school, and absolutely disgusted with the self-serving culture around me. After going primal I really could see that so much of our apathetic lethargy stems from our dietary choices; it’s kinda hard to optimistically progress society when you’re hurting deep in your bloodstream and don’t even know it.

    Mary E. Clark wrote on December 27th, 2011
    • “Hurting deep in your bloodstream” is about the best way I have heard this put ever, Mary. Oh the years I have spent hurting in my bloodstream and sabotaging my energy with all the low-fat carbs I could eat, wondering why I was always starving and always fat when I was doing everything “right” according to CW. I am delighted that you have found primal so early in your life! Keep it up! Change the world!

      Rhonda the Red wrote on June 11th, 2014
  26. Awesome letter. I feel so lucky I stumbled upon this lifestyle and research at the ripe age of 20. I definitely feel like I have an edge on many people my age when it comes to health, productivity, and happiness.

    katie wrote on December 27th, 2011
  27. Thank you so much for this post, Mark. I have been waiting for one like this!

    I am 19, and I have been on-and-off Primal for almost a year. The “off” times were due to having insufficient funds for things like grass-fed meat and other Primal necessities. It took nearly 9 months to really learn how to find a good source, for a good price, and to learn how it satiates and that the up-front costs might be higher, but the long-term benefits are tremendous. Not to mention that there’s more humanity (depending on the farmer and stuff).

    I’m fully Primal now. I am 6’2″ and when I weighed myself 6 months ago, I was 320 lbs. I don’t know how much I weigh now, and I may have not lost any weight, but I have energy like I’ve never had before and have never felt better. The other reason for my “off” time was that I had a very bad back injury, and I was too stressed out to really think about anything.

    The problem now, though, is helping my partner go Primal. She’s normal weight, high height, but lives a high-stress, no-(physical)-activity lifestyle, clings to foods that are cheap and fast (like pizza, sandwiches, &tc.), but fully understands the Primal concept, understands how the metabolism works, and knows that she would be better off and that it would help secure her genes (and present health). She just “doesn’t have the time,” and she’ll fall for quick things like 15 minute convection-oven pizza and potato chips from a bag because they’re there and they’re fast and easy. Maybe I’ve been pushing it too hard on her. I forget about the 80/20 principle. Thank you so much for reminding me, Mark!

    I’m going to start trying to help her and incorporate 80/20! I do more of 95/5. I let myself have a little Ben & Jerry’s on the weekend, after a hard week’s work. It’s pretty benign, compared to a lot of things, I think.

    Thanks, Mark!

    Aidan wrote on December 27th, 2011
    • One thing your partner might find helpful is finding easy and yummy meals to cook that can be made in big batches and then refrigerated/frozen for later. I know that being in school full-time, working part-time (or working full-time and doing school part-time, which I’ll be switching to soon) as well as trying to have a life can make it really challenging to eat well. I found that setting aside 1-2 hours on a Sunday and 1 hour on a Wednesday to do my cooking for the next few days was really helpful. I’ll often cook up a couple of steaks, some chicken breasts and a pork tenderloin as well as some sauces/toppings and then stick them in the fridge. Most things will keep for up to a week and I can mix and match to suit my tastes, with the food only needing 10-20 minutes in the oven to reheat. Crock-pot meals can also be a good solution – normally 10-15 minutes prep, toss them in the fridge overnight and then pop them in the pot in the morning to cook throughout the day.

      As for snacks, kale chips are quick and easy (10 minutes to prep and 10-15 to cook) and don’t cost any more than potato chips. They’re also very customizable. I normally cut up my kale when I get it so I can just grab a handful, toss with oil and seasoning and then pop them in the oven. Quicker than going to the store for potato chips and I can use whatever seasoning I want. Hand-made sweet potato, carrot or zucchini chips are just as easy if you have a mandolin or specialized cutter. They take a little longer to cook but are still pretty easy and certainly much yummier than the over processed bag of chips. You might even be able to make them for her so she gets to try them without the effort (they keep well in sealed containers).

      Samantha wrote on December 28th, 2011
  28. My 10 year old is currently struggling with the decision to go dairy free. He understands the war against acne would be easier won without dairy, however he really likes a nice glass of whole milk in the afternoon. I tell him it’s his choice and I know he’ll make a good one.

    I have to say though: I am 27 and Mark – you are STILL older than my Dad. I say that with love, age is just a number. :)

    Jen wrote on December 27th, 2011
    • Hi, Jen, just curious if your 10 year old is drinking raw milk (if it’s even an option for you)? I’ve had acne problems with pasteurized (who wouldn’t?), but raw milk causes no problems for me. I know it’s not really paleo, and everyone’s body reacts differently, but maybe it could be a good compromise, or a good way to help him ease into the transition?

      Danielle wrote on December 29th, 2011
    • Try non-homogenized. It makes a big difference. If the cream isn’t completely localized on top of the milk and is making creamy lumps in the milk, just strain it. Should be available in health food store as “non-homogenized, pasture-fed whole milk”. Or “non-homogenized ‘grass’ whole milk”.

      maidel wrote on June 11th, 2014
    • Maybe try him on coconut milk? Trader Joe’s has a good unsweetened brand in a cartoon, it’s nice and rich.

      BonzoGal wrote on June 11th, 2014
  29. Thanks Mark :) I stumbled upon the primal/paleo world a few months ago, age 16, and I completely love it. I’m 17 now and have shown it to my parents and friends, most of whom seemed pretty interested in and supportive of the idea.

    I’ve also become an adept cook, a vibram-wearer, and a buyer of responsibly-raised foods.

    I became very interested in human psychology and anthropology after taking those classes in school. I’m also a high-school athlete (rower). The primal/paleo lifestyle blends all these things together seamlessly.

    Keep up the great work! I’ll continue to visit every day as long as you keep posting every day!

    Acacia wrote on December 27th, 2011
  30. Great column, Mark. I have forwarded this page to all my contacts – young and old. Happy new year, everyone.

    Mark Cruden wrote on December 27th, 2011
  31. Love this post! I’m 19 and have been primal since the beginning of summer 2011. What a blessing your site and books have been to me!! I am keeping up my primal lifestyle as a freshman in college and couldn’t be happier. When I think of what my diet would have been had I not found this blog – loads of pizza, cookies, dairy, etc. – it makes me thankful that I have the resources and knowledge to do something different with my life. I don’t want to live a SAD existence, and I am determined to do whats best for my long-term health. Now I hope to make a positive impact on my family and friends. I can’t wait to live in an apartment next year so I can cook delicious primal food for my roommates and myself! Thanks Mark for all you do…grok on:)

    Natalie wrote on December 27th, 2011
    • Thats EXACTLY how I feel! I just want to move off campus so I can cook real food! I’ve slowly developed the biggest gripe against campus food. Only one more semester to go…

      Joe wrote on December 27th, 2011
      • Agreed! School food is the worst…but I’m coming back from winter break prepared with my grass fed jerky and some paleo brands meals! Lets hope that makes things easier haha

        Natalie wrote on December 27th, 2011
  32. As always, well put, Mark. I sincerely wish I’d come across the primal lifestyle 25 years ago. It likely would have saved me a whole lot of years of pain and agony from Fibromyalgia and arthritis. Both of which, I’m thrilled to say, are well controlled and cause very little to no pain now!

    Doug D wrote on December 27th, 2011
  33. I’m 20 and found the Primal Blueprint about a year and a half ago on Stumbleupon. It changed my life. I’ve since found the energy I need to match the enthusiasm to be a teacher! I stopped worrying about being overweight and focused on getting my head straight. After getting my head straight I soon realized my passions. I feel invigorated reading comments by other young people. It gives me hope. Many times I feel like a primal animal in the dark without a fellow to follow or play with.

    The peer pressure and strange looks are definitely a deterrent, but I try my best to stay positive against some of the close-mindedness out there. I’ve become a (self proclaimed) runner on the forefront of primal youth, spreading Mark Sission’s approach to health like the juiciest berries on the forest floor.

    This post is what I’ve been trying to explain to my fellow students for the past year.

    Much love to Mark and the Primal Community!

    Joe wrote on December 27th, 2011
  34. Hubby and I pretty much have started over..we have 2 teenagers (18 & 16) and then had a son this past March! The teens just kinda roll thier eyes with the primal lifestyle, which is a shame, but we are raising our infant son primal all the way. When starting him on solids we tried both rice and oats-Which he turned his nose up to, so we decided…why press the issue? And have left the grains in the dust. I make all his foods, no yucky jarred stuff older than him and he is great and his dr is pleased with his progress–she is a DO so she is more open to alt. Child raising anyway, which is great. Thanks again, Mark!

    Karen wrote on December 27th, 2011
    • Karen,
      Do you have any online places you like for advice for raising infants primally? My grandson is 9mo, and his mom & dad are trying to keep him primal, but they both have to fight the pressure of doctors, babysitters, well meaning (other) grandparents. I know my daughter would like to have more ideas of feeding a just-teething youngster primally, plus just the support of knowing she isn’t alone in wanting to raise her son this way.

      And thanks Mark for yet another excellent post. It amazes me that you can keep the quality as high as you do day after day.

      John wrote on December 27th, 2011
      • Feed them what you eat – period. We have an 11 yr old and she’s been 80/20 her whole life (started her with sweet potatoes instead of oats.) Although she may have an “off” day at a party, now that she goes alone, she doesn’t miss a beat coming home. Now that my husband has been truly primal for well over a year, which I thought he would never give up cookies, she just follows our “lifestyle.” It’s easier when their younger, we shop and cook for them – now she’s used to yams vs white potatoes, and salmon vs chicken nuggets. BTW, she has never eaten at a fast food – because we don’t :-) We now joke about it with her – maybe she can go to mcDonald’s before she leaves for college :-)

        Erin wrote on December 27th, 2011
        • Erin,
          That’s easy at 11, not so easy at 9 months. Teeth are just starting to come in so many primal foods are too difficult to eat, as well as choking hazards.
          My daughter is raising her boy primally (starting with breastfeeding), but is just looking for other peoples ideas on how to approach it.

          John wrote on December 27th, 2011
        • Look up baby led solids. I have late teethers. Both kids have always just eaten what we eat. We start solids at 6 months and they don’t start getting teeth till 9 months. If you just have to go the baby foods route then try avocado, boiled or scrambled eggs, baked winter squash, overly steamed broccoli, mashed cauliflower, meat that’s been simmered till it’s super soft, or soft poached fish etc. Like I said though, we don’t bother too much with specially cooking foods. She can eat chicken off the bone no problem. It’s messy, but she loves it.

          elly wrote on December 28th, 2011
      • Hi John!

        I am following the feeding schedule from, but minus the grains. Little Man gets whole fat yogurt and cottage cheese, as well as avocado, roasted butternut squash, roasted sweet potatoes, cranberries, apples, pears, zucchini–we had a love affair with that! He has also had peas, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower, as well as chicken, turkey and pork and broth made from chicken and turkey bones.

        I am pretty much feeding him what we eat, and following the recommendations of wholesomebabyfood, like I said, with when to start certain foods, and I make his food. I have a baby bullet and I love how well it works. If your daughter would like a fellow mom to chat with, she can contact me at kbspinner at gmail dot com. Would love to chat with her!


        Karen wrote on December 28th, 2011
      • I have an 11 mo. old. Shes been primal from the get go. Around 8 months, I started her on meat…salmon, beef, chicken…I just chew it for her and then give it to her. Sounds gross, I
        know, but she loves it. Other foods I give are yams/sweet potatoes, acorn & butternut squash, steamed spinach, broccoli, carrots, peas, green beans, avocado, banana, mango, strawberries, blueberries, pears and eggs. We use jarred food occasionally when the situation warrants. And, of course, breast feeding. Right now shes drinking approximately 32 oz a day, give or take. Very soon she’ll be chewing up her own food. Can’t wait!

        Meesha wrote on December 28th, 2011
        • Hey! I’ve done the chewed meat thing for Little Man too!! I am pretty sure it is primal- I am sure Little Grok’s mom didn’t run down to the market for jarred meats! Did you try her on cranberries? Our guy loved them, cooked down with apples and pears. Blueberries are coming up soon!

          Karen wrote on December 29th, 2011
      • My son is 9.5 months old. I’m feeding him quasi Paleo/quasi Sally Fallon. He eats a lot of egg yolks (1st food ever), duck liver ‘pate’, pureed meats – as well as avocado (2nd food ever), sweet potato, vegetables and fruits. He also does a little kefir (because he likes drinking out of mommy’s glass). I think it’s pretty easy at this point – it will get harder when he’s eating different foods than his friends, and knows it.

        He’s off the charts both height and weight (at his 9 month check-up, his pediatrician asked for tix for when he becomes an NBA star – which he is not genetically pre-disposed to. I think he’s just eating well :)

        Bee wrote on June 15th, 2014
  35. I’m 19 and have been Primal for…5 days now! :)

    I discovered this site maybe two months back after being linked here by…I forget. Maybe Tim Ferriss. Or Ev Bogue. It was definitely a blogger. Anyways, it took a while before it really sunk in for me. I’ve been voraciously reading not just this site but a whole spectrum of others. I spent some time introducing my girlfriend (whom I live with) to the concept and subtly dropping hints here and there. We previously ate almost 100% of our meals out, and while we generally stuck to the Asian fare so readily available in our area (not nearly as bad as eating at a typical American restaurant), it wasn’t optimal. Rice and noodles are freaking ubiquitous in Asian food. A lot of Asian people will literally call you crazy if you suggest you don’t eat rice or noodles.

    Anywho, I’ve been working towards a paradigm shift in which we do most of our eating from home, and once I got my girlfriend receptive to the idea, I purchased the 21-Day Total Body Transformation and the Quick & Easy Meals book, did a house purge, went shopping at Costco (not ideal, I know, but its a start!) and 5 days later here we are. There were some minor, Christmas-related slip ups, but other than that I’ve been very strictly Primal. No real change in body composition yet (I don’t really have much weight to lose), but I feel PHENOMENAL. (And the few times during holiday celebrations that I slipped up, I felt like craaaaaap) That alone tells me what I’m doing is right.

    I’m not fully Primal with the exercise & lifestyle habits yet, but I definitely have the diet dialed in, and I feel that’s a good enough place to start.

    ahnaka0 wrote on December 27th, 2011
  36. Thanks Mark for a very timely article; I was sitting down making plans for the whole family to eat primal (once all these Christmas chocs are out of the way!). Would love some advice from others who are primal as a family. I have three boys – the eldest is 14, has egg and peanut allergies, doesn’t have an ounce of fat on him so really needs building up, the middle one is 12, probably needs to lose a bit of weight but is also a growing lad, (already size 11.5 feet!), and the youngest is 10, has too much of a sweet tooth and doesn’t like vegetables. Actually, I’m not sure how I will get any of them to eat veg and salad as a major part of their diet. I guess we will move to it gradually, while we reduce the amount of crisps, biscuits, fizzy drinks and pizza coming into the house, but any advice gratefully received! I have the book now so I know that will be helpful and I will show the boys this blog!

    Hannah (in the UK)

    Hannah wrote on December 27th, 2011
    • Good luck on your move to get the family more Primal! I introduced myself to eating more veggies by roasting them. I just toss some vegetables (brussels sprouts, broccoli, carrots, green beans, etc) in a bit of oil and seasonings, then roast in the oven until they’re brown around the edges. I have a life-long hatred of most of those vegetables, when cooked. Now that I roast them, I eat them in a bowl for snack, like I used to eat potato chips!!

      AustinGirl wrote on December 28th, 2011
      • Oh, and if you can get bottles/cans of carbonated water where you live, a small bit of fruit juice can transform them into pretty good soda substitutes, until your boys get weaned off of soda completely. That worked well for me.
        A website called has some excellent Primal/Paleo cookie recipes too. I adore their ginger cookie recipe. I know that MDA has cited it for some of their recipes before too.

        AustinGirl wrote on December 28th, 2011
        • Thanks AustinGirl, I haven’t tried those sorts of roast veg, was thinking down the lines of roasted sweet potato and red onion, but can try that as well.

          I’m going through various recipes to see what we can try in January – some great ones for Chilli, Chicken, celery & stilton stir fry, Moroccan aubergine bake, Croustade of mushrooms (where the base is made using ground almonds). I’m quite looking forward to this! Mark’s message helped me see that I don’t have to switch them all overnight – maybe if I get breakfast and dinner more primal, while I think of what they can take for packed lunch. And of course I will just stop buying the crap (fizz, crisps, biscuits) and spend more on the steak! I’m also really keen to see if this helps my eldest son’s asthma – I’ve heard that just going wheat-free can help, and have seen several people mention how much their asthma has been helped in their success stories. Hopefully we will have a success story to add soon too……

          Hannah wrote on December 29th, 2011
  37. Ditto–Ditto–Ditto!

    I am going to get my pets eating Paleo, too! I should have taken the hint many years ago when our Sheltie had pre-cancerous polyps–likely caused by pet food–she was placed on a single source protein and carb diet. (Do you see $$ signs here? Yes, we are long past getting her real food.)

    Joni wrote on December 27th, 2011
  38. Hi Mark
    I’m 16, nearly 17 and an avid follower of your blog. This post came at the right time, just the kick in the butt I need.

    I need to lose 10 to 15 pounds and of course its difficult to be primal when you don’t control the grocery shopping or what’s for dinner, especially when you own a breadmaker and are a bread addict.

    But I’m sick of feeling crap when I wake up and being ashamed of my body.
    Thank you.

    Holly wrote on December 27th, 2011
  39. Definitely gonna raise my kids primal. Considering that there’s a chance that they might inherit my crappy insulin sensitivity, it would be best for them to just avoid grains, starch, and sugar, altogether, like future mommy’s doing right now. And that it’ll do great things for their bodies, as well. :) I don’t think I could sleep at night, knowing that I might be setting my kids up for a life of ill health. :(

    Venne wrote on December 27th, 2011

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