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

How to Quit Grains

Yes, they’re inextricably woven into nearly every aspect of our society. Dietary staple, cultural icon, sentimental fodder, patriotic symbol: it’s impossible to get away from them. However, just because they’re ubiquitous in our social environment doesn’t mean they deserve a place on your dinner plate. You know the multitude of reasons to quit grains. How about some strategies for kicking them to the curb?

As much as I condone, cajole and attempt to convince people to give up grains for the sake of their health, I’m not oblivious to the fact that dumping grains can be a tough and sometimes lonely slog. It’s not just the cultural thing either. For most people, physiological and habitual forces are the most demanding aspects. You’ve likely heard the term “carboholic” (used mostly in magazines and Oprah confessions for humorous, normalizing purposes), but there’s genuine truth there. Although I’m not equating the ravages of alcoholism and drug addiction with carb cravings, hard science has something to say about the physiological compulsion associated with dietary sugar and carbs (PDF).

Understanding the physical and mental impulse shouldn’t set the stage for making excuses (i.e. the carboholic joke). Though it can take some forethought and commitment, giving up grains is wholly, entirely possible and crucial to both your short-term vitality and long-term health. Ready to jump? Let’s go.

1. Study up and load up (on non-grain delicacies).

Cookbooks (I can suggest a fantastic one, actually), MDA recipes, and countless other sources can prove to you once and for all that there is life after bread. Get thee to the grocery store and stock up on the best, most appetizing Primal goodies you can find. Plan those first weeks out of the Primal starting gate to be as luxuriously delectable and indulgent as your imagination allows.

2. Know what to expect.

As immense as the rewards are, there are issues to contend with. Initially, there may be the carb cravings (usually less dramatic if you’ve already been cutting down for some weeks) and the infamous “low carb flu.” Read up on these and check out other Grokkers’ experiences. It will help you put these passing symptoms in perspective. Beyond the first few weeks, there are more “big picture” issues to address. Because we live in the culinary culture we do, cutting out grains can mean more than changing your lunch. Family barbeques and holiday menus will need tweaking. Maybe you’ll need a script for annoying family members’ digs. Once you’ve made the transition and are enjoying the advantages, I’ll bet you won’t be complaining, however….

3. Get the rest of your physiological house in order.

Think twice about undertaking this if you’re constantly burning the midnight oil, getting no exercise, and your stress level is spiraling out of control. These aren’t the best circumstances to bring to carb withdrawal. Now, this isn’t to say your life has to be perfectly ordered and stable in order for you to be successful giving up grains. Adopting a healthier diet that allows for more stable energy throughout the day can actually help you tame the other pressures in your life. Nonetheless, you’ll likely have an easier time giving up grains if you can go at the endeavor with a little more sleep and a little more emotional focus. If life is too crazy to be contained at the moment, just take it slowly.

4. Plan the logistics.

When you’re rushing out the door in the morning, kids arguing, papers flying and blood pressure rising, you’re not exactly primed to make the most rational choices. Lay out your full day’s menu. Keep Primal foods at the forefront of your cabinets. Make shopping lists and Primal backup alternatives in case you forget to take the meat out of the freezer. Anticipate the stumbling blocks (e.g. party cake at the office or the kids’ playdate) and have something Primal on hand (not a Special K shake).

If you live with grain eaters, divide cabinet spaces and come up with a plan ahead of time. Will you be making meals for them? Work out the details and come to agreements. Keeping the peace will help you stay on track.

5. Make your motivation manifest.

Have a motivation board or journal you turn to. When you’re pining after that coffee cake you’re your mother-in-law brought over, it can both remind you why you’re doing this and how far you’ve already come. (Then throw it away after she leaves.) Use whatever language or imagery speaks to you. A former Marine friend had some interesting phrasing to keep himself on the path – some of the most colorful profanity I’ve ever seen on Post-Its all over his house. No judging here. Whatever works!

6. Do it your way. Take it slowly or go cold turkey.

Although going gradually might help some people, others prefer to pull the band-aid quickly and definitely. Don’t apologize or second guess your intuition. You know how you operate. Eliminate one grain at a time or banish all grains at the outset: the end result is the same.

7. Positive Self Talk

Sit down in front of a mirror periodically and tell yourself you’re “good enough, smart enough and doggone….” Humor goes a long way, folks.

8. Join a support group.

No foolin’ here. In fact, I’d most highly recommend our charming group here. Have you visited the forum? I never cease to be impressed by the good will and good sense offered amongst fellow Grokkers. Make use of their experience. Learn from them. Turn to them. By all means, read the posts, but be a part of the community as well. A kind or encouraging response can make all the difference on a bad day. Besides, they know where to get the grain patch.

9. Pamper yourself.

If there was ever a time to indulge yourself a little, make it these early weeks. Beyond eating well, plan a light and enjoyable week for yourself. Spa visit? Hike in the park? Great Primal dinner to celebrate your new endeavor with friends? Whatever you’ve been waiting to do, do it.

10. Have patience with yourself (and the process).

If you fall off the horse, just dust your butt off and get back on. No sulking, no self-deprecating. Accept it as a temporary divergence and just do the next right thing for yourself. Then go kick an ear of sweet corn around the yard.

Now it’s your turn! What challenges did you face and what strategies, creativity and humor made a difference to your success? I can’t wait to read your ideas. Thanks for reading today.

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. One of the biggest challenges for me is going out to eat, especially for lunch. It seems that I’ve divided restaurants into three categories: 1. I can eat there 2. I shouldn’t eat there 3. I can’t eat there. It’s important to always keep in mind what you can order at certain places so you don’t find yourself in the middle of a sandwich shop.

    Every once in a while I find myself at a Mexican place eating the chips and salsa, which are my ultimate weakness through all this, and sure enough I pay for every single time with gastrointestinal distress. It’s a once-a-month thing though, or less frequent than that, so I don’t beat myself up too much.

    Learning to make baked goods with coconut flour has really helped me, too. My son and husband even really like the coconut flour “biscuits” (recipe in “Cooking with Coconut Flour”) I serve with weekend meals now.

    jamiebelle wrote on June 8th, 2010
    • Chips and Salsa. My old nemesis. I used to make an entire dinner out of that powerfully seductive combo alone. I do still miss them, but I’m amazed that I can either turn my nose up at them entirely when encountered at a non-grok-friendly outing or BBQ, or more amazing, I can have one or two just to test myself and then not have a single chip more after that! I guess I’ve actually kicked the addiction when the cravings have disappeared. That and a little bit of extinction of the old incentive learning.

      Aaron Blaisdell wrote on June 8th, 2010
      • I’m new to all of this, but I’ve found that by taking a moment before shoveling tortilla chips into my mouth that what I really wanted was the salsa. The chips were merely a vehicle for getting the salsa into my mouth. Weird as it may sound, last time I went out I asked my dining companion if it was okay and just used a spoon. I found a few bites were enough, and I didn’t miss the chips at all.

        galloway wrote on February 1st, 2012
        • This is me as well. Though I am not much of a chip person to begin with. I love salsa and hot sauce, which usually means eating whatever it is that gets it to my mouth at that moment.

          Christina wrote on April 20th, 2013
    • Chips and salsa! No Mexican places for me. I love the chips too much, even though I have a mild corn allergy as well.

      DavidC wrote on June 8th, 2010
    • The old salsa and chips craving can really be indulged when you use dried zuchinni chips or baked nori chips! :)

      Teresa wrote on June 8th, 2010
      • These are good too!

        Baked Kale Chips

        1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
        1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
        1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
        3 large handfuls lacinato kale, torn into shreds
        1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

        Preparing to bake. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Combine the salt, smoked paprika, and garlic in a small bowl.

        Wash the kale. Rinse the kale leaves, then put them in a salad spinner and spin until the green becomes a blur. Round and round, spinning and spinning — let the kale dry. After it comes out, dry it even more with paper towels. Those leaves should be bone dry.

        Oiling the kale. Put the kale leaves in a large bowl. Drizzle over 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Massage the oil into the leaves. You might need more. You might have larger hands than I do. Use your judgment.

        Bake the chips. Arrange the kale chips onto the sheet try and slide it into the oven. Bake until the leaves are crisp to the touch but still a dark green. (When they turn brown, they turn bitter.) Check at the 12-minute mark, to be sure.

        Remove them from the oven. Sprinkle with the garlic smoked paprika salt.

        Let them cool a bit. Eat.

        Teresa wrote on June 8th, 2010
        • I have enjoyed kale chips one time in my life… I made them and they were amazing. I am very surprised I have not made them again. The recipe was simple consisting of only kale, olive oil, lemon, and sea salt.

          I will have to try your recipe next time by adding the paprika and garlic!!

          My favorite green is swiss chard so I am going to experiment with that too :)

          Primal Toad wrote on June 8th, 2010
        • hey..sounds good..thanks for the tip..I will try it.

          rik wrote on June 8th, 2010
    • I do the same thing from time to time, Chips and Salsa, I would end up gorging so much on the addicting treat that it would envelop my whole dinner!

      Dave wrote on June 8th, 2010
      • I feel so much better……glad I wasn’t the only chip and salsa addict. In the summer I make salsa by the gallons. Now I just put it on my eggs and other things…….and occasionally I eat some chips but not like the 5 bags a week I used to. Now its more like 1 bag every five months!

        Aaron Curl wrote on June 9th, 2010
      • Los Mariachis…

        Chad wrote on March 20th, 2012
    • Chips and salsa was what broke me after almost 3 years of no-grain, no-milk, no-potatoes eating.

      I married my honey and we had this awesome Mexican restaurant in town…. binging there once a week brought back on the bloating, the acne, and over 2 years, that 7 pounds I’d thought were gone for good.

      Fighting my way back now, but man it’s rough.

      Coconut flour is interesting. I’ve had good success with it in cookies. My husband loves biscuits on weekends, so I’ll give that recipe a try.

      taihuibabe wrote on June 8th, 2010
    • All of you made me feel so much better about loving chips and salsa. I don’t necessarily “crave” them, but it’s impossible to resist them when they are put in front of me. 😀

      jamiebelle wrote on June 9th, 2010
    • My solution to the chips-and-salsa problem still lets me eat at Mexican restaurants, because I took Mark’s advice and decided to treat myself to something indulgent but still primal: guacamole! I order a small plain salad and eat a side of guacamole with it. Mmmmm!

      Susan wrote on June 9th, 2010
  2. For me, it took the realization that most of the bread and grains that I ate were not important to the flavor but the mode I ate. For example, the off brand muti-grain bread I ate was not a flavor boost to my sandwich but really just the way I held it. Likewise, my pasta was always the carrier for the sauce. I almost never ate grains for taste or flavor!

    Now I eat meat with home-made mayo for dipping. No bread=better more bold flavor! And those fantastic sauces are either thinned for a soup, or poured over a chicken or beef with plenty of veggies.

    Mike wrote on June 8th, 2010
    • This is exactly the way I would explain “low carb” to others when asked how I could possibly give up pasta, rice and bread.

      I called them “carriers for the good stuff” :) Just eliminate the carriers and eat more of the flavorful (good) stuff.

      TK wrote on June 8th, 2010
      • But chili, without rice??

        Stacey wrote on June 9th, 2010
        • you could serve chili over spaghetti squash or steamed or blanched veggies (spinach or broccoli w/cauliflower) or serve it as a stew with salad.

          Chef Rachel Albert wrote on June 9th, 2010
        • I eat my chili from a bowl with a spoon. (Anyone, who knows beans about chili, knows chili has no beans.)

          Michael wrote on August 3rd, 2011
        • Chili over salad…YUM!!!

          Annie wrote on November 12th, 2013
    • Totally agree here. Bread is merely the avenue for butter. Pasta exists for sauce. Crackers exist for cheese.

      My favorite switch has been to eat my lamb burger wrapped up in Romaine leaves. A little drippy, but oh so good without the bread.

      Christine wrote on June 8th, 2010
      • I have traded pasta for steamed vegetables with homemade “pasta” sauce. I love veggie bolognaise! And have you ever tried Nashi crackers? Simply slice off the fruit and enjoy with cheese! As for bread and butter… I now just make almond or coconut flour “cake-loaf” things like banana bread. Butter with cinnamon tastes amazing! I have found that our old ways of doing things simply need to be adjusted, own it actually results in a more delicious version than the original! wrote on October 8th, 2012
    • I have started to use Romaine lettuce leaves instead of bread to make sandwiches..! it works..!

      rik wrote on June 8th, 2010
      • Collard leaves hold up better and aren’t nearly so bitter w/sandwich stuff piled thereon.

        Stacey wrote on June 9th, 2010
      • Collard leaves are large, pliable and do not have a strong taste. They are great to use for a wrap!

        Christine wrote on December 12th, 2014
    • I’ve also started making lettuce-wiches. or lettuce burgers. I just pile my ingredients between two sturdy pieces of lettuce (romaine works well) and go to town. It’s messy, but it works.

      jamiebelle wrote on June 9th, 2010
      • My family laughs at me during the back yard cook outs. I don’t care, I’m the one who’s lost thirty pounds of fat and is gaining muscle, feels healthy and stong. Plus without all the bread the flavor is so much better! (if only I could teach the how to NOT overcook my burger 😉 )

        My fav is a big burger on romaine with a little aioli or homemade mayo with a slice of pineapple.

        Mike wrote on June 9th, 2010
      • Old post, but I’m new the PB I’ve starting making lettuce-wiches and romaine works well, intil you get to the hearts (too small), but I’ll use the hearts for a salad.

        Jen wrote on April 20th, 2011
    • yes! I feel the same way about pasta especially. One of my favorite pasta dishes was a seafood alfredo… amazing crab meat, shrimp, scallops, etc, with veggies and alfredo sauce over pasta.

      Um, why not just have a bowl of awesome seafood and veggies w/sauce? What’s the point of the pasta other than “Filler”?

      Joyful Abode wrote on June 9th, 2010
  3. I decided to go primal back on April 5, 2010. I was able to go cold turkey.


    Well, I experienced severe stomach cramps, a little IBS, somewhat low energy, and more months leading up to my decision. Oh, and I had acne!

    I bought a huge thing of steel cut oatmeal about a week before my decision. I have literally not touched the damn tin since then. Oh, I also bought a full loaf of sprouted grain bread. I haven’t touched that either.

    When you experience the pain and horrible feeling of eating grains it becomes a whole lot easier.

    I also had been reading this blog for a few months prior to going primal.

    And, now that I think about it… I was eating less and less grains prior to my April 5 decision. Nonetheless, I still ate them and decide to stop that very special day!

    I will NEVER look back. Primal Food will always win. Veggies and meat veggies and meat. What else do you need?

    Oh, and coconut :)

    Primal Toad wrote on June 8th, 2010
    • I also had acne before going primal, I also believe the 4,000 IU of Vitamin D I am taking helps! I used to wonder why my skin cleared up in the summer…

      Dave wrote on June 8th, 2010
      • Yea I was always more clear during the summer months compared to the winter months… But they say diet and sunshine has nothing to do with acne – so much bull shit its unbelievable.

        Most “experts” actually recommend to avoid the sun in order to get rid of acne! Right – in your dreams!!

        They say that so the pharmaceutical industry doesn’t go bankrupt.

        Primal Toad wrote on June 8th, 2010
        • My Derm whom I actually trust a lot recommended a sunny holiday as my cure. I have quite fair skin so when i have a spot the red mark is left for a long time. So if I have just one new spot a day they will all stay red for weeks. A decent tan means that the red spots aren’t noticeable at all. Definitely a winner.

          Jack wrote on June 8th, 2010
      • 4000 IU is twice the recommended amount – don’t take toxic levels of it! My doctor has me on 1600 IU

        AlyieCat wrote on June 8th, 2010
        • If you’re talking about Vitamin D, 2000 IU is not toxic. It’s not even close. You can generate that much in 5 minutes outdoors, assuming you have pale skin.

          It would take months of 10,000 IU per day to reach anything resembling a toxic level. In theory. The only case of toxicity I could find involved a man who took 50,000 IU per day for 3 months. Two nights in the hospital for treatment and he was fine.

          Also, your doctor probably isn’t giving you enough. A lot of doctors now recommend 2,000 per day, and the sources I generally trust the most recommend 4,000 per day.

          DavidC wrote on June 8th, 2010
        • Agreed. 4000 IU is no where close to toxic doses. 4000 IU is a starting point for most people. If your doctor has you on 1600 IU you must have a good 25(0H D) level.

          Aaron Curl wrote on June 9th, 2010
        • How many units of D did Grok take?

          Michael wrote on August 3rd, 2011
        • I’m just starting my new life of primal. I live in Alaska and I’m on 5000 IU of Vit. D, but we also don’t get a lot of sunlight here in the winter, or in the summer for that matter.

          AK Angel wrote on December 27th, 2011
        • Grok picked up as much as 50,000IU on a full day of sun. My endocrinologist has me on 50,000IU per week (Vit D is a hormone). No problems; feels great. Blood tests confirm all is well.

          Monkey Man wrote on August 3rd, 2012
      • I went primal a month ago and this is the first time I’ve been to this site.
        I can’t believe you guys are saying you “had” acne, because that is the first thing that happened to me. I’ve had acne since I was fourteen, I’m now fourty and I can finally say “I used to have acne.”

        Jim Roberts wrote on June 9th, 2010
    • I was in the same boat as you!
      Years of digestive distress, bowel problems, also I had mucus build up in my sinus (from pasteurized/homogenized milk) that I always thought were grass and pollen allergies and then took anti-histamines trying to fight it…LOL.

      I, too, quit cold turkey. I think for some it takes a drastic event to realize what’s not good for them. If I had absolutely no health problems and the only thing was to carry 20 extra pounds, I would have never given up grains.
      In fact, I would’ve never found MDA in the first place. I’d be one of those doing chronic cardio and calorie counting to get rid of it and then eventually give up and blame it on age…

      So glad I found you all:)


      Suvetar wrote on June 8th, 2010
    • Strawberries, blueberries and blackberries….that’s what else you need….lol. Well, I do anyway.

      Aaron Curl wrote on June 9th, 2010
    • Glad it worked out well for you, but not everybody has the same reaction. My first attempt at going primal was a disaster.

      I HAD been miserable before (low energy, tired all the time, depressed, eating way too much chocolate/sugars to get through the day) – BUT – I thought I was going to die when I tried to go primal.

      I stuck with it for 8 days, each day thinking it had to get better – but I was EXHAUSTED, tired, really sick feeling, and unable to think at all. To the point where other people noticed and commented and were actually CONCERNED about me!

      It actually took me DAYS of “normal” (preprimal) eating to recover and feel ok again. It was really a disaster, and I don’t think my description does justice to just how rotten I was feeling (and non-functional I was).

      This time, I’m easing into it. I allowed myself to have bread (sprouted rye/wheat – low carb – 1 piece a day) for the first couple of days, and have since given that up.

      I’m not 100% primal yet, but I have felt much better and am starting to see the benefits (lost 3.5 pounds while eating LOTS of food, over about a week and a half – and generally feeling more energy/stability).

      :) Just don’t assume everyone is going to react just the same way you did, some of us really have genuinely BAD reactions to trying the “cold turkey” thing.

      Jen wrote on June 10th, 2010
      • Yes,I had a similar reaction. Soooo…exhausted. I was really hitting the coffee just to continue to work everyday. I was also sleeping 10+ hours a night with naps!

        As a result, I also added back a little bread (gf). I was gluten free anyway, so it wasn’t totally bad. I’ve tried to go Primal since Christmas. This is my 5th week of using the easy approach. I must say that I’m getting my energy back. I continue to “use up” a few things (rice pasta, gluten free bread, raw dairy on a limited basis, but am not replacing them.

        I am moving to Primal for autoimmune issues. I really hope it works!

        Mary wrote on January 21st, 2011
      • It sounds like what you were experiencing was the die-off of pathogenic microbes in the gut which feed on grains, starches and sugars. As they die-off, they release toxins.

        Gregtchen wrote on November 5th, 2012
  4. I’m going cold turkey. I have been slowly eeking them out of my diet and now I’m ready to take the plunge. I already am feeling the benefits. My next challenge will be to work my 10 year old twin daughters off of them, too. I don’t think the husband will ever get there.

    Thanks for the push, Mark!

    Theresa wrote on June 8th, 2010
    • You can take your husband a long way down the primal track by not cooking pasta/rice/potatoes/bread with the evening meal – if he really wants it, he can cook it. Worked for my husband anyway.

      Jac wrote on October 26th, 2011
  5. I’m in favor of the occasional cheat. It’s easier to stick with it if you tell yourself “sometime I’m going to treat myself to a plate of pasta, a couple glasses of wine, and even a little dessert. BUT NOT TODAY.” When you finally get to that special occasion, and you do have that plate of pasta, you’ll discover you haven’t missed much.

    Carl Browne wrote on June 8th, 2010
    • haha or you discover horrible stomach pain, bloating, gassiness… ALL NIGHT LONG.
      Yeah, my husband and I had a pizza about a month and a half ago. It was horrrrible. I was rolling on the floor clutching my belly saying, “If I ever want pizza again remind me of this so I remember how bad the wheat crust is!!!”

      Joyful Abode wrote on June 9th, 2010
      • LOL–I shouldn’t laugh at your pain, but dear god I’ve been there! And said the very same line to my husband!

        Now when he wants to pull my leg he says, How about pizza?

        Holly wrote on June 11th, 2010
  6. Here’s the “high-fat” diet that Dr. Tracy Bale fed her mice:

    The 4.73-kcal/g high-fat diet used in these studies was obtained from Research Diets, Inc. (New Brunswick, NJ) and consists of (by kilocalories): 7% corn starch, 10% maltodextrin, 17% sucrose, 39% lard, 20% casein, 0.3% L-cystine, 6% soybean oil, and essential vitamins and minerals. The 4.00-kcal/g house chow diet was obtained from Purina Lab Diets (St. Louis, MO) and consisted of 28% protein, 12% fat, and 60% carbohydrate.”

    There’s a lot of starch and sugar in the so-called high-fat diet. And the casein, especially when isolated from the dairy, is a very insuligenic protein. 6% of the diet was soybean oil. Although 49% of the diet was lard, I wonder if this was industrially produced which apparently has a lot of trans fat in it (I think it’s hydrogenated to improve shelf life and/or cut costs of production). AND Mice are not Humans! Even if the authors used a natural-foods based fat like real lard from pastured pigs–a diet to which humans are well adapted due to our evolutionary history–it is highly unlikely that it would have the same effect on mouse physiology as on human physiology. Mice and humans have quite different echoniches. In fact, mice are somewhat adapted to eating grains, for chrisakes!

    Researchers pick animal models too often out of convention or convenience rather than out of appropriate homologies between the model and the system it is supposed to model.

    Aaron Blaisdell wrote on June 8th, 2010
    • Caught a typo. I meant to say “Although 39% of the diet was lard,” instead of “49%”.

      Aaron Blaisdell wrote on June 8th, 2010
      • I found the fact that Mark linked to “physiological compulsion associated with dietary sugar and carbs (PDF).” a bit confusing, since all the studies posit that *high-fat* diets are the genesis of the problems being studied.
        Thanks for finding the actual diet in the mouse studies, because that does clarify things. Despite the claim of high-fat (by modern USDA pyramid standards) the mice were actually fed a diet higher in *carbs* than the SAD!

        Kansas Grokette wrote on June 8th, 2010
  7. SAY “NO” TO GRAINS :) When i quit eating grains i just plain quit, i said NO MO Grains, threw the toaster right out into the garbage :) It was actually EASY for me to do, and day to day it got easier BECAUSE: i started feeling BETTER! I don’t miss eating grains, in fact, i don’t even want it NOR think about it. Just wanted to share how i did it.

    Donna wrote on June 8th, 2010
  8. If you live in a very closed minded area expect to find a burning cross in your front yard, so you might need that support group. Just joking about the cross, but not much. In our neck of the woods, Poptarts, Nerds and Dr. Pepper are regular fare for preschool aged children. Our son came out of autism 3 weeks into a grain-free diet but the inlaws have been pretty brutal about it. Their white flour diet has worked well for them (obesity, depression and diabetes aside)and they even had my mother in-law afraid someone would call CPS on me. I know some people who have just tried to cut junk food out of their kids diet and gotten the same response. For better or for worse your grain-free whole foods diet might bring out a different side of those around you.

    Tracee wrote on June 8th, 2010
    • Addicts are often brutal toward recovering addicts, whatever the poison may be.

      Vegans are persecuted. Paleo’s are persecuted. Even mainstream healthy dieters get a little persecution. I don’t get it why it’s so hard to leave someone alone. It’s their life, not mine.

      DavidC wrote on June 8th, 2010
      • Vegans are not a good example… especially if they’re raising their kids vegan.

        Tuck wrote on June 8th, 2010
      • Who is being persecuted? If you are challenged, challenge back. Don’t back down.

        blaze wrote on June 8th, 2010
      • Thank you, I think you are so right.

        Tracee wrote on June 9th, 2010
    • That’s sad. There should be a difference between Holocaust deniers and Halloween deniers.

      Aaron Blaisdell wrote on June 8th, 2010
    • How did you get your son off the grains? Did you ween him or just not have them in the house anymore? I need to get my kids eating better, but I have one who would literally starve himself before he ate a vegetable.

      Jenny wrote on June 8th, 2010
      • Childrens intestines cannot handle the harsh fibers from vegetables.
        The only vegetable that they can process properly is lettuce types.
        Also peel apples and whatever else has a semi hard skin.
        For children it’s animal fat, animal meats, fruits, salads and herbs.

        For breakfast kids like fruit mashed up in a bowl (leave a few pieces intact don’t mush it up all the way) and poured over with whole raw goat’s milk.
        NOT cow milk.
        Raw Goat’s milk is alkalizing (unlike cows milk)and is actually very beneficial to the growth of children regardless of what Mark says about dairy.

        Apple slices (peeled) dipped in almond butter is another good breakfast although I would not feed that on a daily basis knowing that nuts are just like grains and throw your Omegas out of wack.

        Strawberries (whole or cut up or made into mush) in coconut milk (high fat content)

        suvetar wrote on June 9th, 2010
        • I don’t understand this. I have two children both of whom eat lots of different types of vegetables, and have since they were babies, and don’t have any apparent intestinal difficulties. Do you have a source for the assumption that children’s intestines cannot handle vegetables other than lettuce? Thanks!

          Shauna wrote on June 9th, 2010
      • We started the SCD diet, very similar to the Primal one. My son was extremely picky, and still is but not as bad. The only thing he would eat was crackers. He loved anything shaped like a star at the time. So I used metal star shaped cookie cutters to make chicken nuggets (with a little added veggie puree) and mufffins made in star cupcake liners, etc. And crackers made from almond flour.

        Tracee wrote on June 9th, 2010
    • Oh boy do I hear you on that. My mother is one of the hardest on me about the fact that my kids do not regularly consume sweets and candy. In her mind, it’s a right of passage. She defies me every time, claiming it’s her right as a grandma to be able to load her grandchildren up with sugar and then send them home for me to deal with the aftermath. :( We’re not completely grain-free yet, but we’re going cold-turkey this week after 2 months of significant reduction in grains. I’m just waiting for my mother to give me crap about it… even though the diet she raised me on has led to a life of obesity. I’m looking forward to releasing the weight and feeling good about myself regardless of what anyone says.

      Dana wrote on June 9th, 2010
      • I was told once that I was a horrible mother because I would allow my dd 1 piece of candy at a time (usually once or twice a day) from her Halloween candy and how dare I not let her have all she wanted! Course, this was years ago, before I became primal, and she very rarely gets anything except dark chocolate now (she is 16)

        Spinner wrote on June 9th, 2010
    • I would love to know more how the grain free diet affected your autistic son. My ASD son is obsessed with grains, cereal, bread, you name it. I don’t buy it but when he has a change to eat it, he pigs out. Any advice you can give me? THANKS

      KS wrote on December 7th, 2012
  9. @Donna. That reminds me.. does anyone want my toaster?

    Lars1000 wrote on June 8th, 2010
    • I’m tossing out my toaster…or selling it.

      Canadianwoman wrote on June 15th, 2010
  10. Blimee does it actually take that much to help people give up a “poisonous food source” …?

    The hardest part I think is finding enough other foods to replace the all the grains (which come in so many forms).

    Oliver wrote on June 8th, 2010
  11. I gave up grains and went Primal in late March, 2010. Since then 31 pounds melted off my frame, I am 176 now, and I will reach my target weight any day. My wife, bless her, went primal with me. She did not need to, but did it to support me. I have not had IBS in that time, my “allergies” have eased up, and life is a lot more pleasant. I suggest you set a bedtime and stick to it too, rest is vital to get you over the hump. I will say carbs are like nicotine, it has to be cold turkey. Eat good fats like coconut oil, it seems to help.

    Mike K wrote on June 8th, 2010
  12. Im wondering,if everybody would go primal,what would happen to the industry,and agriculture.

    Not to mention the amount of livestock needed to sustain the planets primal needs.

    Would it be possible to feed the entire planet a meat and veggie diet?

    I thought the whole point of introducing grains in our diet,is so we dont have to hunt all day and wait for certain fruits and veggies that only grow a few seasons a year.

    Because we didnt have to keep busy getting food day in and day out,we were able to establish ourselves and build towards our modern day society.

    I understand the physiological reasoning behind the paleolithic lifestyle,but I for one hope it will never go mainstream unless it becomes technologically feasible for everyone to eat like us without causing a immense adverse effect on ecology..

    Abraxas wrote on June 8th, 2010
    • Grain production is destroying the earth anyway, so what’s the difference. Don’t believe the lies. Farming is destructive.

      Feeding the entire planet a meat and veggie diet is doable but requires a lot of restructuring from the current model. Wouldn’t be all that problematic since society wouldn’t shift all at once.

      There are modern techniques for raising animals and vegetables in concert with the earth to feed more people and protect the land. They aren’t high-profit models, but they work well.

      DavidC wrote on June 8th, 2010
      • The unpalatable truth – we can’t sustain 6 billion people and counting – however they eat. The answer is less people, not more food.

        Professor Richard Dawkins spoke about this last week in Inverness; we are Earth’s pests out of control with no natural predators.

        Kelda wrote on June 8th, 2010
        • Unfortunately this is right on – and with estimates showing us at 9 billion by 2050… I think the world is going to look very different by then, so it makes a lot of sense to me to learn *now* how to procure and eat the way our ancestors did.

          Kris wrote on June 8th, 2010
        • funny note on the farming and grazing thing ( this guy figured out the way to keep the grassland from going to dessert and to bring it back, was to graze the heck out of it with superdense herds in migratory patterns. The Conventional Wisdom on how to restore grasslands and on cattle and grazing is wrong too! And using these patterns you can actually have feedlot type cattle density supported by natural grasslands if done correctly.

          Robert wrote on June 8th, 2010
        • So true! This world was not designed to have this many people on it! People think I’m a nutjob when I say humans (not all) are horrible, destructive beings! We think we are so smart but yet we are the sickliest of all species!

          Aaron Curl wrote on June 9th, 2010
        • I am totally on board with the above–both the too many people in the world and the need for change in food production.

          People look at me & my husband a little funny when we say we don’t eat bread, but the most flack comes from our decision not to have kids. Neither of us want them, and we feel there are plenty of other people in the world. We enjoy our nephews, instead.

          Our families are pretty cool about this, but casual acquaintances and well-meaning strangers can been pretty aggressive about it.

          Holly wrote on June 11th, 2010
    • “I thought the whole point of introducing grains in our diet,is so we dont have to hunt all day and wait for certain fruits and veggies that only grow a few seasons a year.”

      I won’t touch the issue of land resources, but raising pastured animals doesn’t take any more time than cultivating grains, fruits, and vegetables. The grasses eaten by pastured cattle grow without help from us – the animals can simply be rotated onto various sections of land. So while our ancestors may have spent all day hunting, that certainly and obviously wouldn’t be necessary for us from a time standpoint.

      Shauna wrote on June 9th, 2010
    • Abraxas wrote: “I thought the whole point of introducing grains in our diet,is so we dont have to hunt all day and wait for certain fruits and veggies that only grow a few seasons a year.

      Because we didnt have to keep busy getting food day in and day out,we were able to establish ourselves and build towards our modern day society.”

      Although this is a conventional myth, research into current hunting and gathering groups, as well as bone records and other ways researchers have of looking into the past all deny this theory. H/G groups of people actually spend much less time “working” than agricultural people have AND the food supply was more predictable and reliable than it was for Ag people.

      Bone records of two different peoples living in the same place at different times, one H/G and the other Ag, showed that the Ag people had more infection and more irratic and devastating starvation patterns, H/G people had more robust health and regular, small starvation patterns associated with the end of winter.

      No one, as far as I can tell, actually has the answer as to why we shifted in the first place–life didn’t get better with Ag–it got more laborious, more disease ridden, less diverse and therefore more risky, and created a class system with specialization. But some did get rich and powerful, and that might be the key–economics.

      There were people who were busy day in and day out producing food, but there were others that were freed up for other pursuits.

      Joanna wrote on June 10th, 2010
  13. I quit cold turkey.

    I did miss the convenience of a sandwich. It is such an easy way to hold meat and cheese. I also had to find ways to soak up the remains of eggs, meat and sauces. Now I use chopped cauliflower and broccoli, or, if I’m at home, I lick my plate. Thou I’m still on the lookout for something else to soak up sauce.

    Ebice wrote on June 8th, 2010
    • LOL, my DH is a plate-licker. I laugh every time. It’s funny to watch him when we’re out in public and he can’t lick his plate. It’s painful for him to leave that good stuff on the plate. Thanks for smiles! :)

      Dana wrote on June 9th, 2010
      • Licking the plate? My dogs do that.

        Michael wrote on June 9th, 2010
        • haha my dog only gets it AFTER i do. If there is significant egg yolk on the plate, I want it! Especially now that we’re buying eggs from “happy chickens” who run around and eat bugs.

          Joyful Abode wrote on June 9th, 2010
  14. I echo Primal Toad’s experience. I had been experiencing failing health for the past few years–joint pain, herniated discs, brain fog with extreme fatigue, IBS with all of it’s wonderous varieties! Every time I went to see the doctor about these, I was told to ‘eat more grains’ for the IBS?? For the joint and back issues I was put on massive amounts of medications (which made the IBS worse) and for fatigue and brain fog I was told I was ‘getting old’!! CW at it’s best!! I went cold turkey in February 2010 and like Toad I haven’t looked back. The joint pain is gone, my back is getting better (thanks to MDA’s blog about the Back Wisperer) and all of the other issues literally disappeared within 3 day! Going back is not an option. Anytime I eat anything with grains in it I pay dearly, so it’s just not worth it! That makes it very easy for me to stay the course! Of course I miss them…I ate bread every day of my life since I grew teeth, but the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages. I’m just so grateful that Mark and all of his creative and supportive associates are here to help everyone! Thanks to all!

    Gerri Hynes wrote on June 8th, 2010
  15. I’ve been grain free for almost a year and went cold turkey from the beginning ( not counting the 2 times I’ve had pizza in the last year). I have no regrets. I lost fat and got rid of chronic sinus problems. Pizza is my only temptation, and it is but a slight one because a big juicy steak with butter and a salad really is better anyway.

    zach wrote on June 8th, 2010
  16. I went primal last year april/may 2009 and lost 25lbs with minimal effort, mostly walking my dogs regularly. Somewhere in the fall I slowly slid off the bandwagon. Never enough to say I was back to “my old ways” but enough that weight loss ceased (only 10lbs to go!) and my headaches, body aches, tiredness and irritability have been slowly returning.
    Owning my own business (several actually) and having to work part time on top of that to make financial ends meet has put such a stress on me that I have had a hard time focusing on returning to full primal but this post was the final push I needed to get back to it. I had such boundless energy and I bloody well need it back!

    Thank you, Mark.

    Simone wrote on June 8th, 2010
  17. I was doing very good eliminating carbs from my diet, even with travel and restaurants,etc. etc. And then I began to “cheat” just a bit here and there and here and there became every other day (just like an addict right, I can quit, when I want too).

    So back to little to no carbs at all except through veggies and I began to feel sluggish, hungry 45 mins after a meal, lack of focus etc etc. Chalked it up to “carb flu” withdrawls.

    Read yesterdays blog and began searching for anything that would add fat into my meals. and I’m 100% better today.

    So my 2 pieces of advice:
    1)Eat more fat to stave off or minimize carb flu

    2) when someone harasses you for not eating carbs, explain you have developed an allergy to grains……… they make me lazy and fat!

    Hi Plainsman wrote on June 8th, 2010
    • Yes to (1) MORE FAT has been the best advice, but hard to accept after years of SAD advice.

      I eat small slices of pastured cultured butter sprinkled with crunchy kosher salt…

      Or, take a spoonful of coconut oil and sprinkle a dash of cinnamon, salt, cocoa, stevia, whatever flavor you crave even garlic, spicy, whatever…

      Finally started making mayonnaise from pastured egg yolks and EVOO, and/or coconut oil, mac nut oil, bacon grease… and it’s great with tuna, eggs, lettuce, celery sticks

      Just a little more fat, a teaspoon here and there, gets your ratios in line and makes it easier not to overdo protein while avoiding carbs

      BendB wrote on June 8th, 2010
      • Huh — I never thought of making mayo with bacon grease. Do you strain it to get the bacon bits out, or what? Making mayo is easy though, and considering the “ingredients” in a commercial brand (you tell me why it needs sweeteners) it’s worth it. I read in another one of these articles from a woman who uses one of those little “stick” blenders to make up small batches fresh every day. Easier to clean.

        chironsdaughter wrote on September 18th, 2012
  18. I am a recovering “Carboholic”. For many people it is like a drug. For me going Carb free is quite easy. It’s the “just 1” slice, or cracker,etc that I cant handle. I did no carb before & lost 95 lbs. As soon as I started to eat them again, it was all over for me. I put back 35lbs in a year. Now that I have the proper tools like adding fat,& no chronic cardio. this is working well for me. 27 lbs. in seven weeks. I now know my biggest problem, & I plan to not eat another grain as long aspossible. Last week was my turning point. all of a sudden I have endless energy. & feel great. )BTW got my 5 fingers today.) Love the plan “grok on”

    chairdr wrote on June 8th, 2010
  19. The hardest for me is eating out. I like eating out! Years ago, many places had lowcarb options on the menu, but not so much now. Although some steak places will let you pick your side dishes from a large selection thereby making it easy to stay lowcarb. For pizza, I can just scrape off the topping and don’t eat the dough and the same for burgers and sandwiches. I also discovered shirataki noodles for home cooking. The kind I get are 20% tofu which makes the texture very similar to regular noodles. The rest is all fiber and extremely low carb. It’s made from a root that is sometimes translated to English as ‘yam’ but is not related to actual yams. This is the only tofu intake that I partake in and it fulfills my occasional hankering for noodles. The trick with shirataki is you just want to slightly heat and eat, don’t really try to cook them much as they get rubbery when overcooked. I just open the package, rinse them and then fling them into the sauce in the last 30 seconds of the cooking process. Shirataki do not soak up any fluids like regular noodles do so make sure your sauce is plenty thick on its own or add some thickener. Shirataki are found in the refrigerated noodle section of most health food grocery stores. They have minimal taste on their own and are mostly a vehicle for the sauce they are in. I especially like to use these when cooking for nonlowcarb eaters so they can have their noodles and I can have my lowcarb.

    Eva wrote on June 8th, 2010
  20. I went cold turkey last June (it’s getting very close to a year now!), and lost my taste for nearly all bread/grain products almost immediately. I “tested” myself a few times of course, and had terrible reactions to bread and desserts, and less terrible reactions (though still uncomfortable) to corn and rice. I didn’t have much trouble socially, because after I had such awful reactions to wheat I could honestly say that I have a gluten sensitivity and won’t eat wheat anymore.

    I had already cut out most added/processed sugars prior to starting PB, so people at work/parties/etc. were already accustomed to my not eating the cookies/cake/candy left in the breakroom at work.

    Once your body is feeling better and working properly, it’s so very obvious what foods cause inflammation/gastric distress/afternoon slumps…and it makes it so much easier to avoid them!

    Hannah wrote on June 8th, 2010
  21. These are great tips even for those of us who’ve been living primally for a while now! Thanks so much!!!

    Carla wrote on June 8th, 2010
  22. not eating SAD makes me HAPPY!!

    Peggy wrote on June 8th, 2010
  23. Some good anti-grain meals I love are meatza, and tacos with an iceberg lettuce shell!

    Dave wrote on June 8th, 2010
  24. I previously tried cold turkey on grains, but had a crazy reverse psychology response. I was overwhelmed by cravings and when I inevitably gave in, the whole nasty guilt cycle came into play big-time. Now on a second try I’m giving myself permission to do it gradually, and find that I am actually eating almost no grains anyway with none of the previous psychological drama. Go figure :-)

    EvadneFrances wrote on June 8th, 2010
  25. Mark I wonder where you’re getting all these pictures! Do you just find them on the net, or is your operation large enough that you have a segment which actually takes all original photos for each day’s post?

    Wyatt wrote on June 8th, 2010

      AlyieCat wrote on June 8th, 2010
      • Google “stock photography.”

        Michael wrote on June 9th, 2010
    • The photo above is File #: 5369773 at iStock Photography.

      Darrin Brunner wrote on June 9th, 2010
  26. People tell me that I look great and fit and ask me what I’m doing, I must jog or something. I tell them that I don’t jog, only walk, but I look this way mostly because of my diet. Then when they ask me about that, I tell them that I don’t eat grains or sugar and the immediate reaction to that is to say that there is no way they could give those two things up.
    I think people just love those two things so much, that there is no way they would consider giving them up. They don’t realize that if they did give them up, they wouldn’t crave (want) them anymore.

    cathyx wrote on June 8th, 2010
    • You’re right.
      People I have talked to react the same way. Even the ones that are already diabetic like my Mother.

      She thinks if we don’t consume sugar we will fall into a low sugar coma and die.

      Now I’ll just keep it all to myself, let them all get sick and die…more meat for me!

      suvetar wrote on June 10th, 2010
  27. I think that if word gets out in talk shows & news people may change. Since its not a big deal then it will stay low. I live in Austin (yes!) The healthfood stores here offer many gluten-free foods & lots of the many alternatives. We went against the grain last yr & like many others just feel great, lbs came off, son enjoys so many varieties that he’s never had & trys to keep open lol. He likes almond butter, ghee & I use this to flavor up some veggies. Through trying out ideas found here & elsewhere you can keep the little ones healthy. Be creative & think outside the box has helped me. I love this community cause it really does help you keep motivated & we aren’t alone. I’m stubborn & skeptical yet open minded so I keep informing fam & friends until they too see it for themselves & feel like I’m feeling. Which is just Awesome! “Say no to grains & yes to fats” (good ones ofcourse).

    madeline wrote on June 8th, 2010
  28. All the sucessful populations from around the world ate grains. Corn, potatoes, rice, millet sustained millions and kept them healthy and lean.

    I do not understand the sentiment agianst grains. The answer is simple. A starch based diet and less animal products. Dr. McDougall has some great information, and I hope more people hear his message.

    StarMcDougaller wrote on June 8th, 2010
    • A starch based diet? Sorry. But that makes people gain more weight. Animal fat is the best there is. Animal provides many benefits that plants alone or starches don’t have. I feel so much better w/ out the starches & grains. No more I B.S for me thank you 😉

      madeline wrote on June 8th, 2010
    • Lame..and false.

      blaze wrote on June 8th, 2010
    • Wow, what are you doing here? Trolls aren’t even trying any more… bye!

      Diane C wrote on June 8th, 2010
    • Interesting counterpoint to this article. I would just suggest to anybody who believes that a starch-based diet is best should read ‘The Vegetarian Myth’ by Lierre Keith. She makes powerful arguments that 1) an animal based diet is optimal and 2) agriculture is the biggest contributor to the destruction of our environment in our world today.

      Scooter wrote on June 9th, 2010
    • The ‘successful’ populations would be the USA atm…tons of grain consumption and how healthy are they, hmm?

      Getting cancer by 50, being diabetic by 40, having bones fall apart after 60, joints probably sooner….this is indeed quite a success story for someone.

      The pharma industry maybe?

      suvetar wrote on June 10th, 2010
  29. Some time back I finally saw a theory I could imagine to be true about why and how we converted to grain based farming cultures from the prior food culture: beer.

    Originally, the labor involved in scraping together enough grain to do anything with was huge. Old wild grains didn’t produce much and were hard to harvest. One of the ways they got processed was by people chewing them, spitting them out and then fermenting that. (YUK) But, eventually the technology got improved and the grains got bred a little. But, it was still horrible work farming and gathering and processing them, and nobody would do that voluntarily. The theory is that beer came before bread, and those with power/might were willing to force others into agricultural slavery or serfdom in order to provide beer!

    I am very curious to know what kind of cities, if any, there were before grains. I have read that cities require grain-fed economies. It is an interesting question.

    slacker wrote on June 8th, 2010
    • Excellent thought-provoking post.

      BillP wrote on December 26th, 2012
  30. Hi Marc,

    I think it is interesting that Melissa McEwen and I came to the same conclusion: nuts are a good transition food on this front. I’ve tended to eat fewer and fewer nuts the more time that passes since I last consumed grains (about three years ago). I still like some nuts, but I noticed that I ate more nuts (relied on them more) back when I first stopped grain consumption.

    Wonder if others have experienced the same ‘trick of the trade’?



    epistemocrat wrote on June 8th, 2010
    • yes!!!! I’m not exactly sure why, but they definitely helped me with my carb cravings.

      thehova wrote on June 8th, 2010
    • Ditto. Those first two weeks I was scarfing almonds like crazy. Now, not so much.

      Holly wrote on June 11th, 2010
      • This is funny to me because I am in the middle of week 2 and am “scarfing almonds like crazy” also. Ha ha!

        Shauna wrote on June 11th, 2010
        • I had really bad carb cravings myself during the first few weeks in transition, and having some almond butter really helped me through! Now the cravings are pretty much gone, so I don’t have to do it anymore.

          Jessica wrote on June 11th, 2010
  31. Sugar is an incredibly difficult drug to get off of. We’ve been using it since we were in the womb.

    blaze wrote on June 8th, 2010
  32. When I go for a long time without grains and sugar, and then eat them…I get incredibly tired and lethargic.

    I had the most energy in my life on a carnivore diet..but I lost too much weight and had to add carbs in.

    blaze wrote on June 8th, 2010
  33. After four months of 90/10 primal, I am doing a 24 day run of ketosis. I will never have a grain craving again. Thefew strawberries, and vegetables I am able to eat are like mana. When I go back to primal, my diet will feel so varied and rich, I’d be loathe to imagine I might crave tasteless grains.

    Lojasmo wrote on June 8th, 2010
  34. When people ask me why I won’t eat bread or other grains I just respond,

    “grains don’t agree with me” then point to my ass, I mean stomach.

    It avoids all the low-carb talk with people who don’t actually know what carbs, protein and fat are.

    nathan wrote on June 8th, 2010
  35. Here’s a link to info presented in The Garden of Eating: A Produce Dominated Diet & Cookbook on p. 36 and on the Primal Wisdom Blog by Don Matesz.

    To make the chart easier to read, click on it and you’ll see a larger version of it. This was written by my co-author on the book.

    Chef Rachel Albert wrote on June 8th, 2010
  36. I believe it’s called “maning the f*** up!”

    3 1/2 months strong, all from cold turkey.

    Giancarlo wrote on June 9th, 2010

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