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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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March 06, 2012

How to Go Primal with Food Allergies and Restrictions

By Mark Sisson
125 Comments

Over the past couple months, I’ve steadily been accumulating questions from readers with food allergies and food restrictions looking for assistance. They are all interested in giving the Primal Blueprint lifestyle an honest shot, but because they can’t eat certain foods, many of which enjoy an (real or imagined) exalted place in our community, they need help. Can it be done without eating red meat? Can it be done as a vegetarian? Can one eat Primal without eating land animals? Can a person succeed without tree nuts? Without coconut products? Are almonds essential? Can a vegan succeed on this eating plan? Are these nothing but minor speed bumps on the road to Primal, or something more serious? Let’s find out.

I’m allergic to tree nuts…and they are such a big part of the Primal Blueprint diet. Is it possible to still succeed on the plan in a healthy way without eating nuts?

Terri

Definitely. I actually wouldn’t say that tree nuts are “a big part” of the eating plan, but rather supplementary garnishes to be added as desired/tolerated. They aren’t essential. Many people who are just starting out with this stuff turn to nuts as their go-to snacks, because they’re low-carb, high-fat, and relatively convenient. This gives nuts the allure of essentiality. They are not. Nuts make a fine snack, sure, but they also tend to run pretty high in omega-6 fats. While there’s nothing wrong with some whole foods-based linoleic acid from time to time – eating a walnut is not the same as quaffing rancid seed oil, after all – making nuts a “big part” of your diet will likely result in a lopsided omega-3:omega-6 ratio. Over reliance on nuts is a common problem faced by many a Primal eater, and it’s one you’ll never have to worry about. Be happy!

Since you can’t tolerate them, you simply don’t add them to your routine. That’s fine, and you won’t be missing much. You certainly won’t be missing anything that you can’t get from other foods. In fact, I’d wager that you’ll be much better off than the tree nut-tolerant person who can’t seem to stop himself from tolerating five handfuls of nuts every single day. Because they’re so energy-dense, what begins as an innocent post-lunch snack of filberts can easily turn into a full-fledged meal rich in omega-6s.

My daughter is allergic to almonds. Is there another flour I can use in my recipes?

Laurie

Absolutely. Coconut flour is probably going to be your best option, but it’s nothing like almond flour. Coconut flour is far drier, with far more fiber and far less fat than almond flour, so you can’t substitute coconut flour 1:1 for almond flour without getting a very different final product. Luckily, I did a post on coconut flour a couple years ago, and the comment section to that post contains several reader recipes. If you look around, you’ll find that the Primal recipe blogosphere is quite fond of coconut flour. Sure, you need to add a couple extra eggs to account for the drier texture (but more eggs are great!), but coconut flour doesn’t pack quite as a big of a caloric whop as almond flour. Baked goods made with almond flour can really add up fast, especially if they’re sweetened and delicious; using coconut flour in your pancakes instead of almond flour means you won’t be eating 1500+ calories in the form of a half pound of ground almonds, several eggs, a couple tablespoons of butter, a banana, and honey without really even realizing it.

Tapioca flour, rice flour, sweet potato flour, or potato flour are also options. They are higher in carbs than either almond or coconut flour, but they are largely free of possible irritants like gluten or other grain lectins. If you’re not worried about the carb load, these can be used.

Here are a few links to various flours: coconut, tapioca, rice, sweet potato, potato.

I’m allergic to bananas and avocados. What are good substitutes for these in any recipes?

Amina

Well, it depends. If you’re talking replacements for guacamole or frozen bananas dipped in 85% cacao dark chocolate, I have some bad news for you. It ain’t gonna happen (they aren’t that good anyway).

But if you’re trying to replicate the textural enhancements provided by the aforementioned forbidden foods, you have options. In smoothies, a creamy texture can be achieved via yogurt, frozen fruit, and/or coconut milk (use the cream and omit the water, if possible) infusion. And this may sound odd, but frozen macadamia nuts tossed in a smoothie provide a buttery texture that, while not perfectly analogous to that of a frozen banana or avocado, stands up well on its own merits. In a Primal baked good, unsweetened applesauce can replace mashed bananas. If you’re missing the fat content of the avocado, both olive oil and macadamia oil contain similar amounts of monounsaturated fats.

Oh, and I lied. Guacamole and chocolate dipped bananas are definitely that good. Sorry.

I have been intermittently following a Primal lifestyle, but have had difficulty transitioning my household to it because my husband is allergic to coconut, in all it’s forms. As DH has recently (today, actually) been diagnosed as having high cholesterol and borderline high blood pressure, and he has difficulty regulating his blood sugar, finding a substitute that would allow for greater implementation of a Primal lifestyle has taken on a measure of urgency; he is only 34, and I would like to have him around and healthy for several more decades 🙂 I will be consulting the forums for information, and re-scouring the historical files on MDA – however, any direct assistance that can be provided would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.

Sarah

Although coconuts are popular with this crowd, they are not essential. Yes, they taste good and provide healthy medium chain saturated fats, but so do palm oil and dairy fat. Both can be worthy replacements. If your husband wants the medium chain triglycerides (MCT) for which coconut is popular, he could always try MCT oil, made up of pure medium chain triglycerides extracted and refined from coconut oil. I had a funny experience with MCT oil, and I prefer coconut oil, but it’s a perfectly reasonable, completely refined alternative stripped of all vestiges of its coconut past that should be tolerated by those allergic to coconuts (but be careful and introduce very small amounts; I’m talking a quarter teaspoon at a time, just to be safe). As for palm oil and dairy fat, go with grass-fed dairy fat and unrefined red palm oil, and you get extra vitamins and nutrients along with your medium chain triglycerides.

Just don’t think “no coconut” is a deal breaker.

I am allergic and/or intolerant to eggs and dairy and coconut (in addition to wheat, soy, yeast, etc.). Do you think it is possible for me to go Primal in that circumstance?

Laura

Yes. You’ll likely be forced to go “strict” Primal, what with no dairy and no coconut flour baked goods bound together with eggs, but I think that’s actually a blessing in disguise. Sticking to meat, vegetables, fruit, and nuts will keep you honest, and it’ll keep you away from any potentially problematic foods (even the ones that most Primal eaters readily and happily accept) that can add up rather quickly. Check out Robb Wolf’s autoimmune protocol, which restricts dairy, eggs, nightshades, wheat, soy, and all the regular neolithic foods. Since plenty of people thrive on that way of eating, and you’re just avoiding eggs, dairy, and coconut, there’s no reason you won’t succeed.

Since you’re not eating yogurt or kefir or some other fermented dairy, which is how many people work fermented foods in their diets, you should look into lacto-fermented vegetables, like sauerkraut, kimchi, or pickles.

I can’t stand red meat. I know grass-fed beef and lamb are the bee’s knees, but I just can’t do it. Am I making a huge mistake?

Sam

Honestly, you are making a huge mistake. A grass-fed bone-in ribeye eaten on the spot, over the grill, with only your hands and a glass of Cab smeared with CLA-enriched grease to accompany you? That’s something every person should experience at least once or a hundred times. But that’s sheer animalistic pleasure-seeking. As far as nutrition goes, you’ll largely be fine.

Incorporate grass-fed dairy fat and you’ll take care of the lack of conjugated linoleic acid. Eat oysters a couple times a week and you’ll take care of the missing zinc. Make sure the animal products you do eat come from quality sources. I’m talking grass-fed and -finished, pastured, and/or wild-caught. You may have trouble getting enough carnitine, an important amino acid found almost exclusively in red meat. While the body both conserves carnitine quite well (indicating, perhaps, its importance in the body) and manufactures it internally, more carnitine has been shown to be helpful, especially in athletes and the elderly.  If you’re not eating red meat, you’re likely getting far less carnitine than most traditional Primal eaters.

If I could make one suggestion, it would be to eat a quarter pound of pastured ruminant liver every week. I know that’s a tall order, seeing as how you can’t stand the taste of red meat, but try to do it if you can. The benefits are many (it isn’t called “nature’s multivitamin” for nothing), and since carnitine is synthesized in the liver, a small weekly dose might make up for the overall lack of red meat. At the very least, include chicken, duck, or turkey livers.

I don’t eat fish. It’s not because I do not want to, but I simply cannot get over the taste after having a bad run-in with raw catfish in my less-than-primal-healthy eating days. Outside of the obvious (grassfed meets, free range eggs, supplementation), what are other steps I need to take to keep optimal and Primal?

Brent

Can you eat shellfish? Oysters and mussels would take care of all your sea-related needs, if you can tolerate them. Canned, smoked oysters are pretty mild, and I’m of the opinion that oysters are the most nutritious of the edible sea creatures. Hopefully you can keep them down.

If not, exclusively eating grass-fed meats, pastured eggs (which have a decent amount of omega-3s, believe it or not), and supplementing with a high quality fish oil will get you on your way.  I would also try incorporating some seaweed a couple days a week, if only for the iodine (which can be tough to obtain if you’re abstaining from seafood). A good way to do it is to add pieces of kelp/kombu to soups or cooking bone broth. I don’t find it influences the flavor too much, but it definitely influences the nutritional content of the dish. Seaweed salad, the kind you find in Japanese or Korean cuisine, is also great.

I’m a vegetarian for ethical reasons. Is it possible to go Primal and not eat meat?

Jeff

Yes, though it wouldn’t be ideal. You’ll have to really like eggs and dairy, but it can certainly be done. Just make sure the dairy and eggs you eat are of the utmost quality. Get eggs with dark orange yolks from pastured hens who ate grass, weeds, and bugs. Get dairy from cows, goats, or sheep who ate grass; preferably, it’ll be raw. Include some fermented dairy in there as well. As long as you’re avoiding grains, refined sugar, and processed seed oils and liberally eating high quality animal products, it can be done. A quality whey protein may also help with protein needs.

If you’re the kind of vegetarian that eats fish this won’t be nearly as difficult. If you are not, I urge you to at least consider the oyster. As mentioned in the linked article, oysters have no central nervous system. If they feel “pain,” they don’t experience it like cows, pigs, and chickens experience pain. Oysters don’t have dreams or aspirations (beyond perhaps creating the prettiest pearl in the sea) that would be crushed by your eating them once or twice a week. I would also look into eating insects. Research shows that they experience “pain” differently than most other animals, and they’re a good source of protein, fat, and multiple micronutrients. They’re also extremely eco-friendly, sporting the largest biomass of all terrestrial animals. Most hunter-gatherer societies with steady access to bugs utilize them as a useful source of calories. Why not us?

Or you could hear how to do it straight from the source. Here’s one Paleohacker who manages to stay paleo and vegetarian without issues.

I’m a vegan. I don’t eat any animal products. Is there any way to be Primal and a vegan?

Tim

No, it can’t really be done very well without extensive supplementation. Where are you going to get creatine? Carnosine? Carnitine? DHA? Zinc? You’re going to have to supplement.

All that said, you can certainly be a far healthier vegan by implementing many Primal principles – grain, sugar, and vegetable oil avoidance, to name the main ones. You’ll probably have to include more starch, like yams, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and other roots and tubers, as well as fruit, simply for the calories, because you can’t live on leafy greens alone. You don’t have the enlarged intestines of a silverback gorilla. You’ll probably want to incorporate nuts, for fats and protein. Lentils are generally seen as the least-offensive legume, so there’s an option for protein. Quinoa is another high-protein pseudo-grain type thing worth considering. Though it contains saponins, which may have antinutrient qualities, they don’t appear to be on the same level as something like gluten. Whichever you eat, bone up on your traditional legume and grain preparation; if you’re gonna do it, do it right.

Focus on all the good Primal food that is vegan-friendly, like coconut, fruit, vegetables, tubers, nuts while making sure to pick the least-offensive grains and legumes when you eat from those categories. Avoid the garbage, the sugars, the gluten, the seed oils. And, once again, please, consider the lowly oyster.

Well, that’s it for today. Be sure to write in the comment section with any further questions about workarounds for restrictions and allergies, and I bet you’ll get some great feedback. If there’s enough interest, we can do another one of these down the line.

Thanks for reading!

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125 Comments on "How to Go Primal with Food Allergies and Restrictions"

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[…] How to Go Primal with Food Allergies and Restrictions Over the past couple months, I’ve steadily been accumulating questions from readers with food allergies and food restrictions looking for assistance. They are all interested in giving the Primal Blueprint lifestyle an honest shot, but because they can’t eat certain foods, many of which enjoy an (real or imagined) exalted place in our community, they need help. Can it be done without eating red meat?   Read More » […]

Cat
4 years 6 months ago

Thanks for this – all very informative. In my experience a lot of people use their allergies/intolerances/food philosophies as an excuse for not giving the paleo lifestyle a go.

I got into this primal gig as a pescatarian (I ate fish but never meat) and just kind of figured it out as I went along.

Needless to say, I’ve now come around to the meaty side of life 🙂

Cat

Kayla
Kayla
4 years 6 months ago

I had the oppisite thought. I had horrible allergies that I couldn’t figure out, so I went paleo to see if I could find out what I was allergic to. Needless to say, it was successful. 🙂

Tony
4 years 6 months ago

It makes sense that once you go Paleo, you are eliminating a great deal of toxins which accompany a grain based diet. If we remember that health is a “process” and not an event, fine tuning your diet becomes simpler on a Paleo diet as you are now fine tuning a “tuned up” car instead of rebuilding a bomb, if you’ll pardon the analogy

laura m.
laura m.
4 years 6 months ago

Tony, I couldn’t agree more..many food allergies/digestive problems/eczema/sinus issues, are caused by most grains. Some have problems with dairy except butter. To vegetarians: some I knew tried it, got run down and went back to fish/meats. Also, people I knew lived to around 100 who ate meat.

LizWeber
LizWeber
4 years 6 months ago

You have indicated I’m on your list, but I’m not getting your postings. I have to go to google to get them. Thanks, Liz

Swedish
Swedish
4 years 6 months ago

I sometimes get problems with headaches and stomach problems after eating dark chocolate, I guess it’s the mycotoxins that causes the problems. Does all chocolate contains mycotoxins or are there any brands that are free of them ?

cTo
4 years 6 months ago

It might also be soy lecithin, which is common as an emulsifier in dark chocolate. I feel noticeably crappy after eating chocolate with lecithin in it, and feel fine after eating chocolate without it.

Danielle
Danielle
4 years 6 months ago

Or you could be very sensitive to tannic acid. Do you have similar problems with tea and red wine?

Britgrok
Britgrok
4 years 6 months ago

Dark chocolate also contains tannins which can cause headaches and stomach upsets. Google tannin intolerance for some more in depth info.

Chris
Chris
4 years 6 months ago
First of all, kudos to you, Mark! What you are doing is fantastic, so keep up the good work! However, I too seem to run into quite a few issues, when endeavouring to maintain a primal diet. As it happens, I am unfortunate enough to be severely allergic not only to everything below sea level, but also to eggs of any kind, shape or form. This has been a cause for concern for quite some time now, as I have been worrying about adequate intake of the so eulogised omega-3s. I try to incorporate it from plant sources, but understand… Read more »
Edmund
Edmund
4 years 6 months ago

how about a colony of hookworms?

This guy had WICKED food allergies and beat them into remission with some worms.

http://www.foodsmatter.com/allergy_intolerance/food_intolerance/articles/worms_for_food_intolerance.html

Tim
Tim
4 years 6 months ago
That is crazy! Thankfully for me going primal was enough. I’ve had food allergies since I was a childn, the worst being to eggwhites which made me itchy everywhere and my throat would close up, total systemic response. But when we went primal that disappeared in weeks. Now I can eat eggs and dairy (although I do avoid milk for primal reasons, sticking to occasional heavy cream) without a problem. However I’ve noticed if I have a piece of regular birthday cake I need to back off the eggs and dairy for about 24 hours so my intestines can right… Read more »
Linja
Linja
4 years 6 months ago

I’m skeptical about the hookworm cure. I had hookworms (no idea how I got them) last year and they didn’t help my allergies a bit. I have a lot of allergies and have not tried this diet yet. I haven’t had wheat in years though.

SuzU
SuzU
1 year 9 months ago

Chris, I too cannot manage seafoods or freshwater foods. I tried fish oil capsules, with unfortunate results (migraine). There’s some DHA in the bone marrow of grassfed animals. I make bone broths and use those liberally. I eat meat with bones in preference to muscle meat. I can’t bring myself to eat brains, which are a very rich source of DHA. However, neck, back, and tailbones all contain nerve tissue, which is rich in DHA.

Debra
4 years 6 months ago

For those allergic to almonds, I’ve found that hazelnut flour works just as well. You could make it yourself in a food processor, or buy it from Bob’s Red Mill. Substitute it for the almond flour in these blueberry muffins: http://blueravenwellness.com/?p=109

Abel James
4 years 6 months ago

But Sam, red meat is so delicious!

Kerry
Kerry
4 years 6 months ago

Super helpful post! I’d add that being allergic to eggs doesn’t mean you can’t have the occasional sweet baked good – flax seed, homemade applesauce, yogurt, and sour cream all serve similar purposes and depending on what the eggs are in a recipe for (binding, leavening, etc) the substitute can change and adapt.

irene
irene
4 years 6 months ago

Me and my boyfriend are going primal and i have already tried out some of your recipes ( they are awesome by the way ! ) just wondering where you get the spices for your dishes !?

liberty1776
liberty1776
4 years 6 months ago

I’ve seen Mark foraging in the hills of California for his spices…

I’d try farmer’s markets or if fresh spices are not an option, checkout Penzey Spices. They ship and are top notch quality.

Grokitmus Primal
4 years 6 months ago

Vegans remind me of the episode of South Park where the Prius owners enjoyed smelling their own farts because they were so much better than everyone else they didn’t stink.

cTo
4 years 6 months ago

Because insulting them is always a great way to help them be open-minded to your side of an argument. Nice.

liberty1776
liberty1776
4 years 6 months ago
I have yet to met a vegan who is really open minded. Mind you, I know one vegan engineer. Engineers tend to be fact oriented and data driven. The issue I see with this engineer’s view point is he knows little to zero about biochemistry. So the data sources he goes to and references all state grains are great, do not eat meat, fat is evil, yada yada yada. His “analyze-the-data-and-think-independently hat” is nonexistent when his vegan position is disputed and he does not have any valid, logical retorts. I’m with Grokitmus Primal on this one. [Sniff]. “num num num… Read more »
liberty1776
liberty1776
4 years 6 months ago

Just to nip potential vegan arguments up front, I am sure open-minded vegans exist. I personally have not crossed paths with one and I went to a really “liberal” university and live in the really “liberal” part of the country.

I think most people dabble in veganism because of their social/political views rather than their desire to seek out an optimal diet for great, all around health. If this is the case then one cannot logically rationalize an illogical position/stance.

Kinda like religion.

cancerclasses
4 years 6 months ago

I always enjoy asking those people how many vegans & vegetarians do they think actually survivde the Ice Ages?

The correct answer is ZERO! Their brain chemistry is so deficient they rarely come up with that, but the quizzical puzzled looks on their faces are priceless. 🙂

Lynn
Lynn
4 years 6 months ago

I was a vegan for three years after my nine years of vegetarian lifestyle didn’t lower my cholesterol from 322. (CW told me high cholesterol was caused by meat.) My doc told me I could either eat a chicken breast once a day or go into the hospital for a blood transfusion. (anemia) I was so open minded that I changed doctors; different practice, different medical group, etc. I got similar advise from the new doc. Now we “discuss” statin drugs. However, anemia is no longer a health issue for me.

antibarbie
antibarbie
4 years 6 months ago
Most vegans choose to abstain from animal products for ethical reasons. If it was just a diet thing, then they wouldn’t have a problem with wearing leather. Because they feel that killing animals and other products of factory farming are wrong, you cannot argue with them about the shortcomings of the nutritional content of their diet. They are acting in line with their morals. You shouldn’t judge. However, those militant vegans that want to try to force their beliefs on others or vilify those who don’t agree with them can suck it. They aren’t any better than those wacky Christians… Read more »
Tim
Tim
4 years 6 months ago
I agree with CTO here. You don’t make friends and influence people by being judgmental about their most cherished ideals. Live by example: be healthy, be happy, talk about how you always have so much energy and nothing gets you down and don’t say WHY until you’re asked. I was vegan for more than a year, so I understand some of the thought processes involved: I wanted to be the best global citizen I could be, I wanted to do what’s right, to lessen the pain of the world, even a little bit. I’ve since learned that primal is a… Read more »
SusanA
SusanA
4 years 6 months ago

Very well said.

Kristina
Kristina
4 years 6 months ago
I agree with that. I have a really good friend who is a raw vegan, and while she thinks that it is the best diet ethically, globally, and economically as well as it being the best diet for herself personally, she doesn’t freak out at other people. We agree to disagree and move on. On closer inspection, with the exception of sprouted buckwheat her and her boyfriend’s diet is 100% paleo-friendly. They don’t cook, so grains and legumes are out. They don’t eat any animal products, so it’s dairy free (for the dairy-free cavepeople), and all the sweeteners they use… Read more »
conrack
conrack
4 years 6 months ago

The name or the car as it has come to be known is actually a result of an uncorrected typographical error, the real original name is the Totally Pious.

cTo
4 years 6 months ago
I have been primal for almost a year now and I have to say that most of the concerns brought up by people cited here have been a complete non-issue for me. I dont like nuts that much so I rarely eat them. I feel weird after eating eggs so I also have them rarely (although I’ve come to believe its because Im allergic to the egg white, so ive tried just cooking egg yolks with better success). Also–and I know this is blasphemy–I dont like avocados that much so I rarely have them too. Honestly, I rarely rarely rarely… Read more »
Tim
Tim
4 years 6 months ago

Totally. I do the same things. I love preserving the delicious fat to spoon over the steak as I serve and/or make a lovely butter and wine sauce with. This is what the word ‘sumptuous’ was invented for!

Arty
Arty
4 years 6 months ago

Goats are related to deer NOT the cow and reach up for their foods. Goats can die from a diet of grass. They nibble on willow leaves and branches, bark, mostly weeds, blossoms and fruit.

Goats easily get parasitic infections when forced to eat grass off the grounds. They are not immune like cattle.

Just wanted to clarify that, since you threw in the goat as part of a grassfed animal.

cTo
4 years 6 months ago

I think its more that “grassfed” has become a catch-all term for local-sustainable-humanely-raised meats that are fed their nature-intended food and forage. I mean, people will also refer to grass-fed pork sometimes and pigs definitely dont eat grass.

Kari
Kari
4 years 6 months ago

Um, yes they do. Agree on the catch all term, but pigs eat grass…. along with rooting. Goats eat grass, just not much. I raise both. I know these things.. ;o)

Kris
Kris
4 years 6 months ago

“Pastured” is probably a better (though still imperfect) blanket term.

Anne
4 years 6 months ago

Thank you for this wonderful roundup. We’ve just discovered we have some major allergies with our kids (dairy, eggs, soy, wheat) and while strict primal takes care of most of these, I’m finding the egg allergy discouraging.

But these tips on how to make primal work, even with allergies, is so encouraging!

Angie
4 years 6 months ago

Oh, I just posted a recipe for making your own raw fermented sauerkraut! That might be useful to the people who can’t tolerate fermented dairy. http://northwestcavegirls.com/2012/03/make-your-own-raw-fermented-sauerkraut/

Erin
4 years 6 months ago

Great post! We actually stumbled into Primal eating accidentally when my daughter and I were diagnosed with multiple food allergies. She can’t do dairy or eggs, and that DOES make it more challenging…but not impossible! The benefits we’ve seen in our short 2-3 month stint far outweigh the extra effort I have to put forth in the kitchen 🙂

Daniel Wallen
4 years 6 months ago

I have several vegan friends who I think would appreciate this info; I plan on sending it their way. Thanks, Mark!

Chris
Chris
4 years 6 months ago

Good for you. I have some as well, very sincere well-intentioned people. We both just need to tell them to ingnore the childish, vegan-bashing comments.

Chris
Chris
4 years 6 months ago

Oops…that’s “ignore”. I feel lucky to have found this site, and want to pass it on to others

Primal Toad
4 years 6 months ago

“In fact, I’d wager that you’ll be much better off than the tree nut-tolerant person who can’t seem to stop himself from tolerating five handfuls of nuts every single day.”

-Agreed! It’s tough to only eat a small handful of nuts. Macadamias are best and if I could afford them more often then I would almost ditch all other nuts completely.

Katherine
Katherine
4 years 6 months ago

How timely. I love nuts, but I had my first full-out anaphylactic reaction to pecans this past weekend. LOL I can’t eat dairy, soy, or most grains and grasses, either. Strict paleo does really suit my body. My body is so happy eating mostly meats and veggies.

Matthew Caton
4 years 6 months ago
Meat, fish, fowl and vegetables. I think those four foods, as lacking in fun as they might get after a while, are all you really need to get most of the benefits of going Primal. In moderation chocolate, nuts, eggs, and dairy have their benefits, but I don’t think I can consider these foods purley Primal. Beneficial to one’s health and tasty, yes, but these foods were not in abundance in the Paleolithic era, nor should they be in a Primal diet. Abundance is the key word here. This means that a vegetarian trying fulfill optimal protein requirements with eggs,… Read more »
Nion
4 years 6 months ago

This article is very handy, as i’m trying to help my MIL switch over to a bitter diet…she has stomach cysts and issues with certain foods, she can’t eat red meat or pork – I did get her to eat more fish though, and chicken. And to take some fish oil. It’s slowly trickling through, lol.

Judolizard
Judolizard
4 years 6 months ago
I used to be able to tolerate some dairy but now that I’ve been on PB I can’t have any. They immediately make me sick whereas before they would occasionally if I hadn’t consumed them in a while. Cheese is slowly starting to do the same, sadly. I’d try the organic diary but it’s illegal in my state (and illegal in SC for human consumption, I think, so it’d be pointless to drive down there). I guess my body is telling me that’s the way I am or supposed to be. Heh, not really missing it anyway because coconut milk… Read more »
pat
4 years 6 months ago
I’ve had to be extremely strict Primal for several months, due to a candida overgrowth. I was getting frustrated when my skin wasn’t improving, (dermatitis on my chin) but realized, I was eating parsnips and sweet potatoes still! Even carrots are a no-no. My candida caused some food intolerances: chocolate, eggs, milk dairy. Due to candida, I also cannot drink ANY alcohol (hello, fermentation!), cannot consume ANY fruit or sweetener or ANY kind, and no vinegar or mushrooms. I’ve also upped my probiotic intake, and increased my omega-3 fatty acid intake. In less than a week, and cutting out extra… Read more »
Beverly
Beverly
4 years 6 months ago
Pat, I also have a candida intollerence that effects my skin and my stomach. The fruits that I have found to be the worst culprit are berries due to their high sugar content. I also have to stay away from alcohol. On the few occasions that I did decide to drink, the feeling on my skin and internally as well, were not worth having that one drink (yes, it only took ONE drink to make me feel horrible). Also, once I went primal, I slowly added vinegar and mushrooms back into my diet. I have yet to have a problem… Read more »
pat
4 years 6 months ago

Hi Beverly!

No, I haven’t added vinegar or ‘shrooms back yet. It’s too soon still, I believe.

When my dermatitis completely clears up, I’ll go back to my naturopathic doc and get food tested again. I want this candida gone! ForEVAH!

Beverly
Beverly
4 years 6 months ago

It’s a horrible problem to have, for sure! I hope you are able to get past this and can eat normally again. I’ve had such great success after going primal, I only hope you have as much! Good luck!!!!!

pat
4 years 6 months ago

Also: my fiancé and I are going to LA for our honeymoon this July!

If I see Mark picking wild herbs in the hills of CA, I will giggle. A lot. Then hug him.

I will also be making sure we hit up as many Primal-esque restaurants and blogging furiously!

George
4 years 6 months ago

It’s nice to hear how flexible the Primal diet is for people with food restrictions.

Beverly
Beverly
4 years 6 months ago
Thanks for the post Mark. I have to say, I was diagnosed with alliergies to pratically every food I could have imagined about 2 years ago (except meats, veggies, tree nuts and most fruit!!!!). I was sick all the time and food was the common denominator. When I started eating Primally, I found that the few allergies they said I had to items such as eggs and dairy, were non existent once I completely quit eating gluten, wheat, oats, legumes, sugar, yeast, etc. I added back in the eggs and high fat dairy such as greek yogurt into my diet… Read more »
Chris
Chris
4 years 6 months ago

This seems like the flip side of yesterday’s conversation.
Is there any one food that is so perfect that it’s all we need? NO.
Is there any one food that is so important that we can’t do without it? NO.
The key to covering all your nutritional bases is variety!

John
4 years 6 months ago

Great post Mark. I do not have any kind of alliergies to any food, what I think it is great. However, I know people, close to me, who have this problem.

deb
4 years 6 months ago

Thanks for this post. There are so many great-looking recipes out there (even on here!) that I’ve had to pass on due to my almond allergy and lack of time to make flour out of other nuts (breakfast bars, for example *wistful sigh*). It’s good to be reminded that the almonds really aren’t that big a part of the total package, that there’s plenty more to work with. 🙂

Carol
Carol
4 years 6 months ago
Deb – I have almond allergies too and have been frustrated by some of the recipes – someone suggested replacing it with hazelnut flour, but my boyfriend is allergic to that! I’m just starting to experiment with coconut flour. I found a grain-free granola bar recipe that you can use any combination of nuts, seeds and dried fruits, so you can customize them….and they are awesome! Here’s a link to the recipe: http://www.joyfulabode.com/2010/09/12/grain-free-granola-bars/ When I made them I accidentally put 2x’s the salt, but we actually like the bars that way – it makes it a crunchy, salty(just slightly) sweet… Read more »
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maddieaddie
maddieaddie
4 years 6 months ago

“Oh, and I lied. Guacamole and chocolate dipped bananas are definitely that good. Sorry.”

Love it!

Ed
4 years 6 months ago

Great post…it is always good to hear hear answers for these questions from the guru… helps to gather key talking points when you get questions from family or friends (usually when family tells friends your “doing that primal thing…”)

My wife is vegetarian and she is slowly coming around to the idea of eating primal…i even bought her a pair of vibrums that she now wears to work! I dont think she will ever abandon vegetarian eating, but she did give up sugar for lent….its a start!

Ro
Ro
4 years 6 months ago

OMG thank you so much Mark! This post is SO helpful. I would Like to mention that I use your website instead of google now.
I’m a vegetarian (by childhood trauma) and I recently starting including eggs in my diet thanks to you. Am I on the right track by consuming 2-3 eggs a day and about 2 oz of cheese?
THANK YOU

Kris
Kris
4 years 6 months ago
Good for you for making progress on your issues! “On the right track” is a bit of a nebulous question. I don’t really pay attention anymore to things like protein prescriptions since going primal, but as a big, active guy, I’d be wasting away on that amount of food. 3 eggs, 2 oz. cheese, butter, cream, nuts, and fruit would be a good breakfast for me. Are you hungry? Do you eat other calorically dense foods (primal or not)? I guess the answer is, you’re making great strides, just continue to cut out the junk and replace with good stuff… Read more »
Ro
Ro
4 years 6 months ago
Thanks for replying Kris! You’re right about protein prescriptions and going with one’s instinct IS what all this really is about; I shouldn’t have doubted myself because everyone around me has been going hard on me telling me I shouldn’t eat this many eggs daily (i’m a girl, and not big at all). But when I started eating eggs, my body started craving them! I eat lots of nuts and avocados and add olive oil for satiety, as well as insane amounts of veggies, fruit and salad. Since ditching the hummous and bread, and cutting back on lentils, there was… Read more »
Kris
Kris
4 years 6 months ago
I love oysters, but I’m a bit surprised to see Mark recommend them as an intro meat. The texture can be difficult for people, and they are expensive. I feel like most “reformed vegetarians” would find muscle meat or fish an easier sell and move on from there to organs, shellfish, etc. Sounds like you might benefit from some diversity in fat sources, especially because of the high omega-6 content in nuts. How are you with coconut products? Could you do pastured butter, cream, full-fat greek yogurt? What about cooking your vegetables in something like pastured lard? You can always… Read more »
Kris
Kris
4 years 6 months ago

Grr… comments are killing me today. I accidentally posted the above reply as a new post. Then when I copied it back to the correct thread it added that link for some reason.

Could a mod remove the original post and the link from the post above? Thanks!

Ro
Ro
4 years 6 months ago
Reply to post below: haha I laughed so hard at your bacon comment but I’m not ready for flesh yet! I don’t know if it ever will be possible but I promised myself if I am ever tempted by it I will go for it. Thanks for the suggestions! I absolutely do full fat yogurt, labneh, cream and butter (though I haven’t gotten my hands on any pastured butter yet) and love coconuts and coconut milk, but coconut oil is not available in my country for some reason. I know about the nuts, but I guess they’re kind of a… Read more »
Ro
Ro
4 years 6 months ago

But apparently I’m still a bit foggy because I didn’t get that the reply will automatically post itself below haha

Jade
Jade
4 years 6 months ago

PLEASE consider the GAPS diet for allergies! It’s nutritionally complete, very Primal, and though it takes 1.5 – 2 years to complete, life without allergies might be worth it for many people.

As food allergies and intolerances are autoimmune in nature, they can only get worse over time, so it’s probably best to nip them in the bud.

Jennifer
Jennifer
4 years 6 months ago

GAPS is one of the best things I did for my health. Most of my sensitivities are gone now!

fitmom
fitmom
4 years 6 months ago

I came to primal while I was stumbling around the web, trying to figure out what to eat after being diagnosed w/mulitple food sensitivities…including eggs, coconut, dairy, wheat, tomatoes, etc, etc.
And at MDA I found all sorts of people who were eating meat, veggies, sweet potatoes and nuts on purpose! And feeling better than they ever had! I put down my rice-flour & canola oil & egg-substitute muffins, picked up a steak knife, & haven’t looked back since. Oh, and I can eat coconut, butter, & eggs in small quantities now.

Beverly
Beverly
4 years 6 months ago

Can’t see any posts??

Meesha
Meesha
4 years 6 months ago

Beverly, I couldn’t see any comments either when using firefox. The comments magically appeared when I switched to IExplorer….But, how will you see this reply unless you figure this out for yourself? lol

DThalman
DThalman
4 years 6 months ago
I started eating primally due to severe IBS. Though my IBS was almost entirely held at bay with the primal eating (and I experienced many other health benefits coincidentally), I still had some problems with the IBS, even eating primally. When I heard about the FODMAP diet, I looked into that and ended up eliminating the primal foods that were FODMAPs (short chain carbohydrates). For me, this meant I had to give up avocados, watermelon, onions, garlic and a few other things. (But I found I could tolerate small amounts of hard cheeses, a “yellow light” FODMAP and I was… Read more »
Nancy
Nancy
4 years 6 months ago
Just wanted to add my 2 cents. Before I started going primal (I’m not all the way there yet, but I’d say I’m better than 50/50), I could only eat eggs more often than every three or four days. If I had even one daily, after a few days, shall we just say that even I didn’t want to be in the same room with me. As well as abdominal cramping, etc, etc. Since I’ve completely gotten rid of the grains, I seem to be able to eat eggs whenever I want without being anti-social and in pain. I had… Read more »
Susan Alexander
4 years 6 months ago
Glad I read this post, especially the part on carnitine, which I didn’t know about. I’m not keen on red meat either, and there’s no way I’m eating liver. I’ve managed to make an exception for bacon (took me a while, but I didi it). I have these questions: 1) Is carnatine present in bacon in a significant-enough amount? 2) Has anyone figured out a way to cook bacon so it doesn’t smell up the whole … apartment? Note: I live in NYC, there’s no exhaust vent in my kitchen, and I’ve already tried oven vs. stovetop. I’m open to… Read more »
Imogen
4 years 6 months ago
Himalayan salt rock lamps, lit pure beeswax candles, loads of plants, all give off negative ions that trap air-borne particles and weigh them down so that they fall as dust, and thereby stop being odours in the air. I had a stove catch fire internally, and electrical wiring reeeeeks, BUT after only an hour of one huge beeswax candle being lit in the kitchen, on the extinguished stove- so close in proximity to the source of odour-, not only was the smoke cleared, but the smell was gone, too. When we fry bacon or salmon cakes, there is a lot… Read more »
Joanna
4 years 6 months ago

You always give me so much to think about. I’d forgotten about smoked oysters (hard to believe, I know) I’m going out to buy some right now.

ButMadNNW
ButMadNNW
4 years 6 months ago

I consider myself pretty lucky that the only “food” intolerance I seem to have is to MSG. Of course, eating Primal (fresh food, actual food in my food, no preservatives or “flavor enhancers”), this is not an issue! 😀 *om nom nom*

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Phil McKenzie
Phil McKenzie
4 years 6 months ago

I am allergic to fruit of any kind. Even those vegetables that “act” like fruits such as cucumbers and fresh tomatoes. The only time I can eat any of these is when they boil, fried or fruit that has been processed and by that time….what is the point. Is there any relief to this? Any suggestions?

Sandy
Sandy
4 years 6 months ago

Goggle a product called “Histame”. It is an enzyme that I take before eating any fruit, avocado, or tomato and a few other foods. It has helped me eat again. I had never heard of this and neither had my allergist. She said I was allergic to these foods. But that was incorrect, they are just pseudo allergies. I stumbled on this a couple of years ago as it was just coming over from Europe. Maybe this will help you too.

Lyn
4 years 6 months ago

I have shellfish allergies but can eat fish. But so many people around us have nut allergies that our family has to limit them out of consideration for others. One kid with a bit of peanut butter residue on their fingers can go to school and cause a life threatening reaction to other kids. We can’t send nuts in lunches for the same reason.

Hardy
Hardy
4 years 6 months ago

2) Has anyone figured out a way to cook bacon so it doesn’t smell up the whole … apartment? Note: I live in NYC, there’s no exhaust vent in my kitchen, and I’ve already tried oven vs. stovetop.

And this is a problem how? LOL Best smell in the whole world! Followed closely by bacon wrapped scallops. I love when that one lingers too!

sphinx
sphinx
4 years 6 months ago

I wonder, how do you do paleo when you take anti vitamin K pills, which you take on the long run after embolies. My mother will take it for the rest of her life. I am resistant and it doesn’t protect me so I had to quit (hourray!) but when you take it you can’t eat food rich in vit K (leafy greens, salad, liver, red meat, cruciferous etc…).
I was absolutely unhappy for the weeks I took it. My mother lives on pasta, rice, potatoes, eggs, chicken, very little doses of vegetables… how do you do paleo with this?

Patrick
4 years 6 months ago

I don’t understand the phrase “which you take on the long run after embolies”. I’m unsure what you are asking. How does your mother do Paleo, or you?

sphinx
sphinx
4 years 6 months ago
My mother doesn’t “do” paleo, sadly, I can’t convince her in part because of her medication. I do Paleo 70/30 going on 80/20. When I took those pills for a few weeks before I had recurrences of blood clots, I couldn’t figure it out. This med is prescribed after blood clots in the lungs or in legs. You take it at least for 2 years but she has been on it for 5 years… I wonder how you can do Paleo when you cannot eat a lot of vegetables, as is her case. I guess you can do Paleo without… Read more »
Michelle F
4 years 6 months ago
So… What if you can’t eat: Nuts (except cashews) Seeds (except poppy) Meat, unless VERY fresh Offal Avocado Banana Tomato Mushroom Seaweed Dairy Coconut Olive oil or olives Anything old (no aged, fermented, pickled, or even old produce, no canned, no dried, no frozen) Most fish (some clams, oysters ok) Most egg (some ok, in small amounts) Kale, chard, or other leafy greens, or Gluten My diet is pretty much screwed up. I’m allergic to amines. It’s not an easy diet, but I’ve learned to cook for it quite well. I would love to incorporate more Paleo into my diet,… Read more »
Sandy
Sandy
4 years 6 months ago

Maybe you are Diamine Oxidase insufficient and not really allergic to the amines. Read up on the product “Histame”. My food list used to read like yours. It will not help true protein allergies like gluten, dairy, soy shellfish, and nuts. But now I can eat Primal easily.

Amanda
Amanda
7 months 26 days ago

Hey, just wondering whats the brand of that histamine product? Thanks Amanda

Vanessa
Vanessa
4 years 6 months ago
HI, I think this was a very useful post and timely as have had the notion I was allergic to eggs for a long time and after reading your post about egg whites causing problems, I knew it was certain. But I didn’t feel like you gave many options in this post for people who are allergic to eggs. This is especially unfortunate as almost ALL paleo/primal breakfast recipes center around eggs. Yuck. Makes my stomach turn just thinking about them. I’ve been mainly eating sliced meats, bacon and cottage cheese or yogurt.. sometimes with vegetables (tomatoes, cucumber) and black… Read more »
Meagan
4 years 6 months ago

I have never met an open-minded vegan. Just saying. And I used to be vegan, so it’s not like I don’t know what I am talking about.

Kitt
Kitt
3 years 11 months ago
I have to wonder if by “open-minded,” people mean “willing to convert and start eating animal products.” When you talk to these supposedly close-minded vegans, are you willing to think about dropping primal and trying their lifestyle? If you’re not, then guess what? You’re doing the exact same thing. I used to be vegan too, but I was always open to discussions about nutrition and health – which is why I’m now on this forum. A lot of these comments about vegans (not this particular comment, just others on this article) are really shameful and unfair. I think it’s sad… Read more »
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Malena
Malena
4 years 6 months ago

I just found out I’m allergic to eggs (whites and yolk), almonds, all dairy and grains. I’m having a hard time with breakfast. I know dinner leftovers is a good choice, but don’t always have them. Does anyone have any good suggestions? I miss my egg breakfasts!

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