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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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June 08, 2010

How to Quit Grains

By Mark Sisson
240 Comments

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.

TAGS:  gluten

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240 Comments on "How to Quit Grains"

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jamiebelle
jamiebelle
6 years 3 months ago
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… Read more »
Aaron Blaisdell
6 years 3 months ago

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.

galloway
galloway
4 years 7 months ago

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.

Christina
Christina
3 years 5 months ago

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.

DavidC
DavidC
6 years 3 months ago

Chips and salsa! No Mexican places for me. I love the chips too much, even though I have a mild corn allergy as well.

Teresa
Teresa
6 years 3 months ago

The old salsa and chips craving can really be indulged when you use dried zuchinni chips or baked nori chips! 🙂

Teresa
Teresa
6 years 3 months ago
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… Read more »
Primal Toad
6 years 3 months ago

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 🙂

rik
rik
6 years 3 months ago

hey..sounds good..thanks for the tip..I will try it.

Dave
Dave
6 years 3 months ago

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!

Aaron Curl
6 years 3 months ago

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!

Chad
Chad
4 years 6 months ago

Los Mariachis…

taihuibabe
6 years 3 months ago

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.

jamiebelle
jamiebelle
6 years 3 months ago

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. 😀

Susan
Susan
6 years 3 months ago

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!

Mike
Mike
6 years 3 months ago
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… Read more »
TK
TK
6 years 3 months ago

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.

Stacey
Stacey
6 years 3 months ago

But chili, without rice??

Chef Rachel Albert
6 years 3 months ago

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.

Michael
Michael
5 years 1 month ago

I eat my chili from a bowl with a spoon. (Anyone, who knows beans about chili, knows chili has no beans.)

Annie
Annie
2 years 10 months ago

Chili over salad…YUM!!!

Christine
Christine
6 years 3 months ago

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.

Indigo.shell
Indigo.shell
3 years 11 months ago

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!

rik
rik
6 years 3 months ago

I have started to use Romaine lettuce leaves instead of bread to make sandwiches..! it works..!

Stacey
Stacey
6 years 3 months ago

Collard leaves hold up better and aren’t nearly so bitter w/sandwich stuff piled thereon.

Christine
Christine
1 year 9 months ago

Collard leaves are large, pliable and do not have a strong taste. They are great to use for a wrap!

jamiebelle
jamiebelle
6 years 3 months ago

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.

Mike
Mike
6 years 3 months ago

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.

Jen
Jen
5 years 5 months ago

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.

Joyful Abode
6 years 3 months ago

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”?

Primal Toad
6 years 3 months ago
I decided to go primal back on April 5, 2010. I was able to go cold turkey. How? 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… Read more »
Dave
Dave
6 years 3 months ago

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…

Primal Toad
6 years 3 months ago

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.

Jack
Jack
6 years 3 months ago

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.

AlyieCat
AlyieCat
6 years 3 months ago

4000 IU is twice the recommended amount – don’t take toxic levels of it! My doctor has me on 1600 IU

DavidC
DavidC
6 years 3 months ago
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… Read more »
Aaron Curl
6 years 3 months ago

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.

Michael
Michael
5 years 1 month ago

How many units of D did Grok take?

AK Angel
AK Angel
4 years 9 months ago

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.

Monkey Man
Monkey Man
4 years 1 month ago

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.

Jim Roberts
Jim Roberts
6 years 3 months ago

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.”

Suvetar
Suvetar
6 years 3 months ago
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… Read more »
Aaron Curl
6 years 3 months ago

Strawberries, blueberries and blackberries….that’s what else you need….lol. Well, I do anyway.

Jen
Jen
6 years 3 months ago
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… Read more »
Mary
Mary
5 years 8 months ago
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… Read more »
Gregtchen
Gregtchen
3 years 10 months ago

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.

Theresa
6 years 3 months ago

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!

Jac
Jac
4 years 11 months ago

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.

Carl Browne
Carl Browne
6 years 3 months ago

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.

Joyful Abode
6 years 3 months ago

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!!!”

Holly
6 years 3 months ago

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?

Aaron Blaisdell
6 years 3 months ago
Here’s the “high-fat” diet that Dr. Tracy Bale fed her mice: “Diet 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,… Read more »
Aaron Blaisdell
6 years 3 months ago

Caught a typo. I meant to say “Although 39% of the diet was lard,” instead of “49%”.

Kansas Grokette
Kansas Grokette
6 years 3 months ago

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!

Donna
Donna
6 years 3 months ago

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.

Tracee
6 years 3 months ago
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.… Read more »
DavidC
DavidC
6 years 3 months ago

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.

Tuck
Tuck
6 years 3 months ago

Vegans are not a good example… especially if they’re raising their kids vegan.

blaze
blaze
6 years 3 months ago

Who is being persecuted? If you are challenged, challenge back. Don’t back down.

Tracee
6 years 3 months ago

Thank you, I think you are so right.

Aaron Blaisdell
6 years 3 months ago

That’s sad. There should be a difference between Holocaust deniers and Halloween deniers.

Jenny
Jenny
6 years 3 months ago

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.

suvetar
suvetar
6 years 3 months ago
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… Read more »
Shauna
Shauna
6 years 3 months ago

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!

Tracee
6 years 3 months ago

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.

Dana
Dana
6 years 3 months ago
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… Read more »
Spinner
Spinner
6 years 3 months ago

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)

KS
KS
3 years 9 months ago

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
Kamila

Lars1000
6 years 3 months ago

@Donna. That reminds me.. does anyone want my toaster?

Canadianwoman
Canadianwoman
6 years 3 months ago

I’m tossing out my toaster…or selling it.

Oliver
Oliver
6 years 3 months ago

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).

Mike K
Mike K
6 years 3 months ago
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… Read more »
Abraxas
Abraxas
6 years 3 months ago
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.… Read more »
DavidC
DavidC
6 years 3 months ago

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.

Kelda
6 years 3 months ago

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.

Kris
Kris
6 years 3 months ago

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.

Robert
Robert
6 years 3 months ago

funny note on the farming and grazing thing (http://inhabitat.com/2010/06/02/operation-hope-wins-100k-buckminster-fuller-challenge/) 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.

Aaron Curl
6 years 3 months ago

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!

Holly
6 years 3 months ago

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.

Shauna
Shauna
6 years 3 months ago
“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… Read more »
Joanna
Joanna
6 years 3 months ago
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… Read more »
Ebice
Ebice
6 years 3 months ago

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.

Dana
Dana
6 years 3 months ago

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! 🙂

Michael
Michael
6 years 3 months ago

Licking the plate? My dogs do that.

Joyful Abode
6 years 3 months ago

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.

Gerri Hynes
Gerri Hynes
6 years 3 months ago
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… Read more »
zach
zach
6 years 3 months ago

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.

Dana
Dana
6 years 3 months ago

A friend shared a link with me for making cauliflower pizza crust… have you ever tried it? It looks MIGHTY good!

http://www.examiner.com/x-355-Low-Carb-Examiner~y2008m6d4-Cauliflower-Pizza-Crust-Worth-its-Wow-in-Gold

Jen
Jen
6 years 3 months ago

Oh – wow – that looks good! I’ve bookmarked it to try later, thanks!

Simone
6 years 3 months ago
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… Read more »
Hi Plainsman
Hi Plainsman
6 years 3 months ago
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… Read more »
BendB
BendB
6 years 3 months ago
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… Read more »
chironsdaughter
chironsdaughter
4 years 9 days ago

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.

chairdr
chairdr
6 years 3 months ago
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… Read more »
Eva
Eva
6 years 3 months ago
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… Read more »
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Hannah
6 years 3 months ago
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… Read more »
Carla
6 years 3 months ago

These are great tips even for those of us who’ve been living primally for a while now! Thanks so much!!!

Peggy
Peggy
6 years 3 months ago

not eating SAD makes me HAPPY!!

Dave
Dave
6 years 3 months ago

Some good anti-grain meals I love are meatza, and tacos with an iceberg lettuce shell!

EvadneFrances
EvadneFrances
6 years 3 months ago

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 🙂

Wyatt
Wyatt
6 years 3 months ago

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?

AlyieCat
AlyieCat
6 years 3 months ago

CURIOUS ABOUT THIS TOO

Michael
Michael
6 years 3 months ago

Google “stock photography.”

Darrin Brunner
6 years 3 months ago

The photo above is File #: 5369773 at iStock Photography.

cathyx
cathyx
6 years 3 months ago
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… Read more »
suvetar
suvetar
6 years 3 months ago

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!

madeline
madeline
6 years 3 months ago
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… Read more »
StarMcDougaller
StarMcDougaller
6 years 3 months ago

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.

madeline
madeline
6 years 3 months ago

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 😉

blaze
blaze
6 years 3 months ago

Lame..and false.

Diane C
Diane C
6 years 3 months ago

Wow, what are you doing here? Trolls aren’t even trying any more… bye!

Scooter
Scooter
6 years 3 months ago

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.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1604860804/ref=s9_simh_gw_p14_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=0WKSPTSTDFYX5EY6VF3A&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=470938631&pf_rd_i=507846

suvetar
suvetar
6 years 3 months ago

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?

slacker
slacker
6 years 3 months ago
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… Read more »
BillP
BillP
3 years 9 months ago

Excellent thought-provoking post.

epistemocrat
6 years 3 months ago

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’?

Best,

Brent

thehova
thehova
6 years 3 months ago

yes!!!! I’m not exactly sure why, but they definitely helped me with my carb cravings.

Holly
6 years 3 months ago

Ditto. Those first two weeks I was scarfing almonds like crazy. Now, not so much.

Shauna
Shauna
6 years 3 months ago

This is funny to me because I am in the middle of week 2 and am “scarfing almonds like crazy” also. Ha ha!

Jessica
Jessica
6 years 3 months ago

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.

blaze
blaze
6 years 3 months ago

Sugar is an incredibly difficult drug to get off of. We’ve been using it since we were in the womb.

blaze
blaze
6 years 3 months ago

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.

trackback
6 years 3 months ago

[…] For those of you who are thinking about taking a paleo type approach to eating should read this article. Scratch that, EVERYONE should read this article. Mark from MDA writes up another gem. How to quit grains […]

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[…] How to Quit Grains Click here to cancel reply. […]

Lojasmo
Lojasmo
6 years 3 months ago

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.

nathan
6 years 3 months ago

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.

Chef Rachel Albert
6 years 3 months ago

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.
http://donmatesz.blogspot.com/2010/04/practically-paleo-perspective-rice.html

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[…] trouble kicking the grains to the curb? Check out this post from Mark's Daily Apple. As for #8 in his blog post, CrossFit Beaumont will fill that role nicely! […]

Giancarlo
Giancarlo
6 years 3 months ago

I believe it’s called “maning the f*** up!”

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

Kimberly
Kimberly
6 years 3 months ago
I’m fairly new to the grain free diet–like only this past month, and gradual at that. I did go grain free for a few months a little over a year ago, but went off of it. Anyway, now I’m back because of severe digestive issues. I have Celiac, IBS and have been told by my GI Dr. that it still could be crohn’s. So, going grain free for me is a life or death thing. I have no stomach pain when I don’t eat grains–unless I get gluten through something else.(oh, and I can’t do dairy–AT ALL) My problem is… Read more »
curiousalexa
curiousalexa
6 years 3 months ago

I’ve often wondered about this, weight gain instead of weight loss.

I live with a friend and her 8-year old. The munchkin is all of 43 1/2 pounds! The docs say her development is normal, just a couple years behind schedule. She eats a lot of sugar just to get the extra calories into her, since she burns off everything else. Any suggestions on how I might influence her to a healthier diet *and* put some weight on her bones?

She loves the take-out style beef and broccoli recipe, but otherwise rejects most veges.

Elizabeth
6 years 3 months ago
Sugar is very stimulating to the adrenal glands and could actually cause her weight to stay low. A lot of skinny kids are like this. But some of them balloon up later after puberty when their adrenals and thyroid finally give up after all the overstimulation. If possible I would look into getting her on a nutrient-dense diet. Calories aren’t everything. Meat, butter and eggs are good choices. Though less primal, raw milk and cheese can do wonders for growth too as long as they are tolerated well. Supplementing with high vitamin fermented cod liver oil is also important for… Read more »
Mama
Mama
6 years 3 months ago

Keep on this diet. It makes a huge differnce. Last year I was 5′ 8″ and only 114 pounds. Sticking with this diet– resolved my digestive tract issues and I have gained 23 pounds. It takes time but your body will be where it should be if you resolve the inflammation problems. Good luck!

Dave S
Dave S
6 years 3 months ago

mmm – chips and salsa!

I take a bag of pork rinds to our favorite mexican place for salsa dipping. The restaurant doesn’t care and I don’t feel tempted. Works for me!

ColoGrassFed
ColoGrassFed
6 years 3 months ago
For grains, one way to get off them is by stages: first wheat(!), then corn, then rice, then the rest of them. The only way to kick sugar is cold-turkey. JUST DO IT! No teaspoons of honey in your tea. If you religiously stay off it for two weeks, you will lose your cravings. DOn’t make up the difference with dried fruit, and take it easy on the fresh fruit, not more than one serving per day. Been Primal since the end of January. I’ve lost over 26 lbs. It has reset my tastes completely. Recently I was at a… Read more »
suvetar
suvetar
6 years 3 months ago

Wha…! Taking it easy on fruit with spring and summer around the corner?

Nuh uhhh!!! 🙂

Damon
Damon
6 years 3 months ago
This is a timely post for me. I’ve been pretty good with grains recently, and when I’ve felt the urge to have some carbs, it’s usually been potatoes. But, the past two days, I had some bread each day. And, I’ve been paying for it with GI issues each time. I’m trying to figure out if the reactions are new since I cut way back on grains, or maybe they were always there and I just ignored/never noticed because that’s the way it “was”. I’m at a point where I can’t rule out any confirmation bias, but it seems that… Read more »
gt
gt
6 years 3 months ago

Someone mentioned the lack of low carb options in restaurants. Been traveling lately in the south and Cracker Barrel has a full page low-carb menu.Not ideal but it’s better than the country fried steak and chicken fingers. Just stay away from the corn bread!

BigD
BigD
6 years 3 months ago

Call me a black sheep here but I have resided that I will never fully kick grains out.

I think the primal approach is great for day-to-day eating but there is too much good food out in the world to dismiss grains completely. Anything from indian curries with rice and naan bread, to pastas/pizzas to Apple pie with vanilla ice cream.

I love travel and food in an Anthony Bourdain kind of way so it is very hard for me to eat primal to begin with!

chairdr
chairdr
6 years 3 months ago

Aren’t Bats & Cockroaches Primal?

Elizabeth
6 years 3 months ago

You’re no black sheep. More like a regular human being (I know because I’m one too!). 🙂 Sounds like you haven’t gotten wrapped up in the dogma that commonly surrounds nutrition. Stressing out over avoiding foods is just as unhealthy as eating the bad stuff, though that’s rarely acknowledged. Healthy eating is great. Obsessing over it? Not so great.

Luke M-Davies
6 years 3 months ago
Wow – the number of responses shows how this post is a biggie for us all! Since following MDA, I’ve lowered my grain intake substantially and seen the benefits. That said, I do still allow myself the odd grain. I love porridge oats so much and feel the benefit of them outweighs any negatives. Just returned from Genoa, Italy. The Foccacia is to die for! It would be sad to go to such a place and not try a local speciality because you were grain free. I think we all have the self control to be sensible with grains but… Read more »
chairdr
chairdr
6 years 3 months ago
MODERATION…Thats my issue. Self control is easy. Last night I found a recipe for Primal apple mini muffins using cocnut flour. When they came out of the oven piping hot, I put on a little real butter (until now I couldnt find a use) sat down with a nice Espresso (my main vise) and enjoyed the combo.Later I realized that that did not do anything for me. I guess I didnt crave it, but was curious about what to do with coconut flour. Its been almost 8 weeks with zero grain & going strong. Maybe in the future when i… Read more »
Jan
Jan
6 years 3 months ago

Sliced cucumbers make great “chips” with salsa!

Joanna
Joanna
6 years 3 months ago

So far the best substitute I have found for corn chips is raw sliced jicama. Simply slice off the skin and slice the remaining interior into chip-sized wafers. It is crunchy and delicious – load it with guacamole and salsa and shredded chicken. It keeps refrigerated for days. Absolutely delicious and so simple!

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6 years 3 months ago

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