Dear Mark: Food for Skiing, Menstrual Carb Cravings, a Stubborn Teen, and More

This week, we’re back to a rapid-fire edition of Dear Mark. I enjoy honing in on a single reader question well enough, but I also like covering a smattering of questions from you guys. In future weeks, I’ll probably continue to mix it up. Which do you prefer? Anyway, we’ve got four topics today. First, I discuss carb cravings during “That Time of the Month.” Why do they occur and should you give in? Next, I provide a few Primal food choices suitable for a former Clif bar addict heading out on a five-day ski/snowboard trip. Then, I give advice to a father of an overweight, inactive teen. This is always hard, and there are no easy answers, but I have a few thoughts on the matter. I wrap it up with the safety of feeding fat to children.

Let’s go.

Mark – I am relatively new to the program. I am making a relatively easy transition to most of your suggestions. I will be going on a 5 day Utah snowboard/ski trip next week – always a rigorous trip with a bunch of guy friends. I use to live on Clif bars…I’m NOT a nut eater (intolerance)…wonder what you’d recommend for ongoing nourishment through the day on these 7-8 hour excursions in the mountains (no stops at lodges for us). Lots of fruit? Protein (? a source – suppose a shake). I have read your blogs on marathon training etc…primary curiosity is DURING the long day away from civilization. Thanks!


First off, congrats and welcome to Primal living! I’m jealous. That trip sounds like a blast. I do a fair amount of snowboarding myself, and while I’m not pulling any insane tricks or jumps anymore, I find a big breakfast of bacon and eggs the morning of (with some fruit on the side, perhaps) gives me enough steady energy to make it through a day of boarding. However, you are “relatively new to the program,” so you probably need a few snacks to hold you over, especially if you’re a younger dude going hard all eight hours. Here’s what I’d recommend:

Canned fish (sardines, herring, quality tuna, oysters): healthy fat, tons of protein, tastes great, portable, easy to open, edible bones.

Quality cold cuts and cheese: fat, protein, shelf stable by design.

Jerky: protein, portable, no chance of spilling anything; make your own.

Pemmican: this classic protein/fat combo sustained many an arctic explorer; here’s how to make it.

Fruit: bananas, apples, berries, mangoes, pineapple, anything you like.

Coconut products (milk, meat, oil, water): given your nut intolerance, these may be a problem (some people have cross-reactivity), but if you can eat coconut the possibilities are vast.

If you’re driving to the mountains, you have a few more options. You can pack a cooler with the following items:

Meat: cook a few pounds of meat, slice it up, and keep it on ice; fill a small ziploc bag with a few slices every morning; there’s nothing quite so thrilling as a mouthful of cold grass-fed beef while slicing through fresh powder.

Eggs: hard boil a couple dozen of them.

Or, just check out my previous post on eating Primal while on the road. They may not all work for you, but most should. Oh, and I hear there’s a halfway decent meal replacement shake on the market. Might be worth checking out.

My friend and I are both happily Primal and generally find the program very easy to follow, until That time of the month rolls around. We’ve both noticed that our carb cravings are significantly stronger than before we went Primal. The PMS symptoms themselves aren’t a big deal, it’s just a feeling of never being sated unless a hearty serving of carbs is consumed, and regular Primal favorites are unappealing. Any idea what might be going on? Thanks.


During menstruation, a woman’s serotonin levels are at their lowest. And because carbohydrates (via insulin) increase the availability of the premier amino acid precursor to serotonin (tryptophan), craving carbs during your period is totally natural. It probably just means that you are low in serotonin (which, according to the research, you likely are) and your body wants to make more of it.

As for whether or not this is problematic, sports science offers another clue: during the mid-luteal phase (the two weeks leading up to menstruation) when estrogen dominates, the potential for glycogen storage is maximized. What that means is that for two weeks before your period rolls around, your muscles are primed to accept and store carbohydrate as energy (rather than as fat). I wouldn’t suggest you give in to the carb cravings as they typically manifest – muffins, cakes, pizza, cookies – but this might be a better time to eat a few Primal-friendly sources of carbs. Think sweet potatoes, white potatoesyamssquash, and various types of fruit. Oh, and high-quality dark chocolate, if that’s your thing. The fact that your cravings only surface during your period tells me that you’re in a good place, nutritionally, and that these cravings are physiologically normal and expected.

I have a son that is about 80 pounds overweight. He has high BP, addicted to video games, no exercise, eats no fruits, veggies. Will eat mostly pasta and is 18 yrs old. I don’t know what to do now. I have hired personal trainers, had doctors speak with him, tried cutting out all the bad food. Nothing works, Any suggestions?


Bring him to PrimalCon. No, seriously: do it if it’s at all possible.

At 18 years old, he’s not going to listen to his dad, a personal trainer, or a doctor. 18 year-olds are just stubborn creatures like that, and the harder you push the more they resist and grow entrenched in their ways. He probably won’t respond to outright declarative statements or advice directed at him. And he’s not going to read a blog you recommend or listen to a buff trainer trying to motivate him (unfortunately), because those seem contrived. The change has to be organic. He has to want to change. It has to develop on its own. I think if he hears from and sees a lot of healthy Primal people doing Primal things who are neither his parents nor people enlisted by his parents, he might be intrigued and even receptive to some of this stuff. It’s worth a shot, and we’d love to have you guys come out and join us.

Good luck, and if that doesn’t work out, write back and we can try something else.

Hi Mark, can you help! My mum and dad are giving me a really hard time about our 6 and 3 yr olds being primal!! Is it safe for them to eat lots of fat? I’m tearing my hair out as my mum is very against fat!!!!!


I’m sorry to hear that. Assuming you breastfed your kids, your parents must have been absolutely livid when the kids were younger, knowing that their diets consisted entirely of multiple, daily infusions of a 55% animal fat solution. Seriously, though – what do your parents think about human breastmilk? At 55% animal fat, it’s high-fat in anyone’s book. At what point does the animal fat become poison? Two years? Three? Six? It’s crazy. Just point them toward the fat content of breastmilk (which even a vegan will admit is a young child’s optimal food) and see if they come around. Otherwise, don’t worry about it. Your kids are fine.

However, I wouldn’t recommend outright limiting or restricting any one macronutrient when tiny active healthy humans are involved. Remember, these aren’t broken obese adults. Provide a wide range of healthy foods – eggs, meat, vegetables, fruit, sweet potatoes, broth, fermented items like kimchi or sauerkraut or yogurt – and your kids should be okay. And yes, if they want to reach for the stick of grass-fed butter for a little noshing, there’s not a thing wrong with it. A fun trick to pull is whipping out a marrow bone, a couple egg yolks, or any conventionally-maligned fat source when your kid gets hungry at the playground, especially if other kids and parents are nearby. From what I hear, it never fails to get a reaction.

That’s it for this week, folks. Keep sending the questions and thanks for reading!

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

86 thoughts on “Dear Mark: Food for Skiing, Menstrual Carb Cravings, a Stubborn Teen, and More”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. hah i can imagine a little paleo kid running around a playground sucking on some bone marrow. Hope that’s my kid someday!

  2. Never heard of it until now, but just ordered some beef pemmican from my healthfood store…. I know it’s an aquired taste, but figure it’s worth a try. Thanks for the idea, Mark.

      1. I’m really not sure, and didn’t know there’s a difference, Peggy-thanks for letting me know that there is one. Once they call and say it’s in, and if I remember, I’ll keep you posted 🙂

    1. Just make sure you read the label. I bought a bar labeled “pemmican” at an outdoor gear store only to realize it was vegan… in in other words it was not pemmican at all, just another sugar-laden grain brick.

      Oh well, you can’t go wrong with US Wellness, though.

  3. I have an 18 year old, though not over weight, she is still Miss Awkward! We came to an arrangement where non-primal foods are in a cupboard on their own. This place is not right in the centre of things, so it seems to often get ignored, as the fride is much easier.. ie two steps nearer to the door of the kitchen. I cook healthy and nice food and she is free to put on whatever gunk she wants.
    i have noticed that the cupboard is largely forgotten these days. She does appriciate if I make her a salad to take to school or work at weekends. My son is a harder as he’s away at uni and I know he eats C…P most of the time, though he’s quite a good cook. He is too busy to read stuff about food and health right now. He gets proper food when at home and shares the “non primal food” cupboards delights.
    i hope you find a solution too Tim.

    1. I am sure every 18 yo would appreciate stakes, cheese, deli meats. I would remove sweets,pasta and other grain foods from home. My 18 then son got interested in paleo-eating because he was with me when I visited my mom and managed to convince her to ditch bread and eat LC diet. It was amazing to see her BP normalized in days, more than 20 lb were lost. When he returned to college, he decided to cook and eat paleo-food as well. It is less expensive than eating in cafeteria, btw.

  4. RE: ski outing & snacks
    mixed nuts, dried appricots, dark chocolate. Those are my 3 top pick of quick fix snacks to keep me going whether in the skin track or lift serve skiing. Pack small, tasty. A ‘big’ breakfast of eggs, bacon and w/ a avocado helps power me up without ‘weighing’ me down or feeling sluggish. My Ski après is a whey protein drink.

    shred some pow!

    1. too bad this freakish spring has cut the pow supply 🙁
      Don’t forget scotch eggs!!! ya a bag of your favourite “trail mix” will tied you over til you can grill a good steak after 😀

      1. OMG I wish we could get Scotch Eggs over here, I seriously love them!

        1. There is a recipe for scotch egg’s in Well Fed, by Melissa Joulwan.

        2. There is a recipe for Scotch Eggs here at MDA – check the archive.

    2. A very easy handheld primal meal for us is just leftover grilled hamburger patties….portable, tasty, good fat and protein, filling. You can wrap them up individually in saran wrap. Heck, throw a slice of raw cheddar on top, and you should be good to go for a while.

  5. People have commented on the amount of fat my kids eat. Thing is–they love it! We cook up pig skin with its fat and render our own lard. Then the skin becomes really crispy and pops like popcorn. We just leave it on the counter and the kids snack on it. They love it! Of course, we do this about once a month. It also makes a great snack for the road. And, best yet, the butcher gives it to us for free. 🙂

      1. Mine are 2 and 7.5 and they love fried up chicken skin!! My 2 YO will eat just about anything… the 7.5 YO is another story.

  6. Thanks Mark for posting the letter from the pulling her hair out mom. It came along at just the right time. My family has been primal for almost a year. I have an 8 year old who just has annual trip to the pedi last week. He came in at under 5th percentile for weight—lower than it’s ever been–but his height is still where it’s been since the day he was born (25th percentile–he comes from short stock). The pedi suggested I put him on pediasure–I’ve never read the list of ingredients, but told the doctor flat out that probably wasn’t going to happen. He promptly asked me “You’re not vegan are you…???” sounding like that would be a fate worse than death. After I stopped laughing, I let him know we are the evil opposite of Vegans–but could we negotiate something else as I could not get on board with the Frankenfood. We settled on a daily smoothie with berries, bananas, coconut oil, almond butter, coconut milk, whey protein, raw pastured egg….he fully supported my idea. I think Catherine’s mom would blow her stack if she knew what I feed my kids!!!

    1. My two year old is the same!! He is under the 5th percentile for weight and 10th for height!! Always has been. I ate primal when I was pregnant with him and his little body is a machine!!! He its more than is 4.5yr old brother most of the time and just burns through it!! He eats eggs, steak, chicken, cheese, yogurt, almonds, avocado, bananas..etc…he is 100% Primal…in fact when he was about 12mo the peditrician suggested cooking his eggs in butter and whole milk to help him gain weight…I laughed her and said “done and done….” I think he is never going to have to worry about weight like his father and I did…. I happy for that!

      1. Not to get too personal, but regarding epigenetics/nutrigenomics, I’m wondering if you/your husband went primal/paleo before the 2 yr old was conceived?

    2. “We settled on a daily smoothie with berries, bananas, coconut oil, almond butter, coconut milk, whey protein, raw pastured egg….he fully supported my idea.”

      I have an underweight 10-year-old I am sloooowly transitioning to Primal, and he drinks a daily smoothie similar to this that has really helped him pack on muscle and necessary fat for growth. We used to put in Boost, but he hates the taste, so now we mostly do this: frozen strawberries, a banana, scoop of coconut oil, whole milk (he tolerates dairy well), 11% greek yogurt or double devon cream or a scoop of coconut cream (the thick stuff that coagulates at the top of the coconut milk can), spinach leaves (can’t taste them once blended!) and sometimes protein powder too.

      He has gained 3 lbs in the past two months and grown more than 2 inches. 🙂

      We have also gotten him off regular bread and onto sprouted grain bread, working toward gluten-free bread next, and eventually off bread. We have eliminated breakfast cereal and crackers from the house. He eats a hot, egg-based breakfast with meat every morning. We’re getting there!

    3. “evil opposite to vegan” Love it!

      We have friends who are vegan, and yeah, that’s a good description 🙂 – we are so far in the other direction that we actually overlap in some ways – like lacto-fermented veges, kick-ass salads, and never going near white bread, chicken nuggets, or any sort of ‘food’ from the middle of the supermarket (aside from canned tomatoes).

      Still haven’t worked out a way to have dinner together, but snacks are a snap – fruit, nuts, dark chocolate 🙂

  7. Hi Mark, I am new to primal life (Dec 2011) and since I have lost 16 pounds. I feel better and stronger then ever at 51. I am glad to see your take on jerky. I have made my own for over 35 years. I slice my meats, marinade during the day and just before bed I place them on the clean oven racks. Dry at lowest temp and it is done by morning. I have never had any go bad and I keep it at room temp until gone. I dry my Apple slices with cinnamon sprinkled on top in my dehydrator they are my chips when I need a sweet.

  8. Interesting and informative read like always. Prefer a ‘smattering of questions’ rather then just the one. Look forward to your next post.

  9. lol! So glad to hear about that last one! We’re less than a month into a primal pantry. Two days ago I found my boys (3 & 5) hiding with a stick of butter each and the biggest grins on their faces!!! They used to hide with a box of crackers or bag of cereal, so I’d guess this is an improvement!!!

    Thanks for the great post(s)! I’ve become quite obsessed with your blog and all the great information. Very happy to break my kids of only eating some form of wheat and cheese for every meal so young!

  10. I find sweet potatoes and, strangely, parsnips to be good carbs to eat pre-menstrually. They satisfy me and give me enough sweetness.

    You say “during the mid-luteal phase (the two weeks leading up to menstruation) when estrogen dominates..” Shouldn’t that read “progesterone?”

    1. Hi,
      Parsnips are full of sugars, that’s why they make such a good carb choice. Slow cooked in a stew and they are yummy, in moderation,

        1. Slice in sticks and toss in butter, salt and maple syrup, then grill. Depending on size, you may need to blanche them first. Clearly not an all-you-can-eat dish, but yummy. I have never suffered from parsnip hating, but most ppl I know don’t even know what they are. My husband calls them dwarf noses.

        2. I use them in my chicken soup, and they are yummy simmered in chicken stock.

  11. When I first told my family that we were now eating Primal, my grandmother got crazy sacred!! She posted to me on facebook one day a very long note about how she really thinks that feeding our kids RAW meat is just terrible. I laughed so hard….in her mind us eating like our ancestors meant that we no longer cooked anything! LOL….of course I like my steaks pretty pinks…but I quickly told…No we don’t feed our kids raw meat!

    Our family really just doesn’t get the change we have made in our lives, and its been two years!! We’ll go home this summer for all our summer vacation travels and without fail my step mom will try to force feed her crappy oreo cookie bars to my son, my mom will try to make us pasta….thankfully although my MIL doesn’t 100% get the Primal thing she is pretty receptive to it and even tries the recipes form my blog. She does try very hard to stick to meats, veggies, fruits and nuts when around us (and even on there own too!)

    It can be really tough with little kids (mine are 3.5mo, 2yrs & 4.5yrs) and the rest of our family! They kinda just think we are nuts. But we keep trying to “educate” them!! lol

  12. My two year old son requests spoon fulls of grass-fed butter from time to time. He likes it and it makes for a super easy snack! I love it when we’re at a public gathering and he eats the butter right off of the table. People are usually dumbfounded.

  13. Living in Vail, I ski a lot, obviously–I eat the same as I would for any other physical activity…

    Concur on the Pemmican as the best (and best tasting) portable fuel for skiing/mountain biking–holds up a bit better in the winter:)

  14. Thank you so much for especially the one on ‘That time of the month’! Hopefully I can get through a bit of a more healthy craving the next month! Been eating like crazy the last couple of days…

  15. OMG thank you for posting the pre mens response. I have the exact same issue during that time. I buy 80% cacao chocolate melt it and pour it over walnuts sprinkle sea salt on it and pop in the freezer. Then I break it up in squares and eat one whenever I have that carb attack!

  16. Funny about the PMS carb cravings. Before going primal my carb cravings would so strong at that time of the month, I used to think that if I was out in the wild and all there was was honey, and there was a bear between me and the honey — the bear had better watch out. But since I was in the city and you can’t go a block without tripping over someone selling cookies and sweets, those cravings were way too easily satisfied.

    When I first started going primal, I’d still get the feeling that the meat and vegetable meals weren’t fuly satisfying, and so I’d eat lots of nuts.

    Gradually, the more I got into it, and the more I read, the more I upped my fat intake, & the cravings went away.

    But before I got to that point, the coconut chocolate mousse recipe from marksdailyapple saved the day many times!

    Now, when I have a craving for whatever reason, I take a bit of whatever I’m was craving (usually chocolate) and add lots of fat to it:

    For instance, a 90% dark chocolate dipped into a couple tbsp of coconut oil.

    (I like it better when the coconut oil is not too soft/runny.)

    High fat dairy’s not a problem for me, so I got into this snack at first by mixing a tbsp of cold, high fat yoghurt with the coconut oil. But now I eat it without the yoghurt.

    1. Extra fat like this works for me too. Usually it’s after I eat my dinner, and there’s “something else” I want, but I don’t know what exactly, usually something sweet/crunchy, I’ll have a spoonful of butter, or coconut oil. Sometimes with salt. This fixes it. Once I started on a trace mineral supplement, that really helped too. I think we (women) need different amounts of fat depending on where we are in our cycle.

  17. I definitely like hearing your answers to a smattering of questions rather than just one. Am definitely going to look into making my own pemmican and jerky. Luckily I have some friends out here that already do that!

    1. Oh, and thanks so much for addressing pre-menstrual carb attacks! It’s insanely nice to know I’m not the only one that craves carbs before that time of the month! I always tried to address them with dark chocolate and macadamia nuts but if they were out of stock in my cupboard (I live in a VERY small town and the closest place a vast array of healthy foods is available is 50 minutes away) then I have to resort to the next best thing…sweet potatoes!

  18. I like the smattering of questions instead of just one…

    About the ski trip – I went on a snowshoeing hike a couple of weekends ago and packed some hard boiled eggs in an outside pocket of my pack. The cold air kept them very well and they gave me a great boost of energy when I needed it.

    About the PMS cravings – I seem to crave bread or toast, not just carbs per se. My answer is to bake a loaf of almond flour bread (Paleo Comfort Foods cookbook has a good recipe). A couple slices of that toasted with pastured butter makes me feel much better and the rest goes in the freezer!

  19. Kids.Need.Fat!!! all the poor little obese children I see are drinking skim milk, eating low fat everything. Their poor brains/bodies are starving! Hope you can set some people straight, Mark! Thanks as always for the great info.

    1. I think grand-parents could be tamed about a fat issue is they could be convinced to read the Weston Price book “the nutrition and physical degeneration” which available free on line. Or buy it and make them see pictures at least.

    2. Amen. My pediatrician measured my daughter’s cholesterol when she was 2 and it was “borderline high”. We were sent home with a sheet of paper telling me what she should eat, and what needed to go away. A prescription for the SAD, with 2% milk or skim, etc. etc. etc. Limit cheese. All that. Her weight shot right up in response to the restrictive diet as she started to sneak candy and gorge on the healthy whole grain pasta I was allowed to give her. We went paleo/primal end of last November, and she is so dang happy, trimming down, energy levels wonderful. Sit-down meals. Same pediatrician told us to keep doing what we’re doing. He hasn’t tested cholesterol in years. She’s 9 now. We’re on a good track.

    3. I agree. I honestly don’t see how most people can drink regular milk, let alone skim milk. Nowadays it just seems so watery I can’t imagine that regular everyday store milk is anything close to the original thing.

    1. After I started ketogenic diet(for managing migraines), I lost all my craving for chocolate and sweets before my period and PMS symptoms.

  20. Although I totally agree that high fat diets for kids are not unhealthy, I think the general agreement about the macronutrients of human breastmilk vary greatly from those listed above. Human breast milk is about 85% water, 8% carbs (lactose), 6% fat, and 1% protein. Other mammalian breastmilk does indeed have higher fat content. Wenda Trevathan does a wonderful job exploring the evolutionary roots of mammalian breast milk in her book “Ancient Bodies, Modern Lives” if anyone is more interested in the female perspective on evolutionary medicine.

    1. Sarah,
      you have to exclude the water because there is no calories in water. now looking at the calories you see that its nearly 50% fat,using your numbers!

      the numbers vary by mother of course and by length of lactation by as much as 10% in studies.

  21. Parents are a hard sell. My mom nearly swooned when I told her that I cook primarily with coconut oil. And when she found out that I’ll take a spoonful of the stuff and plop it into a smoothie, she nearly had a heart attack! She recently lost a lot of weight (too much, if you ask me) and lowered her cholesterol through “diet” and exercise. Now she eats nearly no fat (so unhealthy) and she’s a cardio-fiend.
    She thinks her “diet” is dead-on right and her doctor thinks she’s a genius. Of course, all he is interested in are her numbers, cholesterol and weight, and not the fact that there is no meat on her bones and no fat whatsoever in her diet to protect her brain function as she ages.
    She eats microwave popcorn “for the fiber” and doesn’t understand why I deny my children whole grains and diet coke.
    Needless to say: we are both driving each other crazy!

  22. Hi Mark

    I’ve been getting your weekly advise for over a year now and have bought 2 of your books.
    I live in the UK and can’t get some of the things to eat you suggest on your website.
    To be honest I’m so unwell and have been for years. In and out of hospital with “cancer”, “ulcerative colistis”, “coeliac disease” the lot. I’ve had tubes shoved up and down my body and still they can’t find what’s wrong (my stomach bleeds). Over a year ago I started doing your recipe and the very first one I used cauliflower instead of rice I had no symptoms. NONE! However, after a couple of months the symptoms came back. I don’t know why but it might be that I didn’t vary the food enough? I don’t know. I now have put on so much weight I don’t know where to start again? Can you help? I’m 44 years old, look 30 years old but feel about 55.
    I really am desperate for help. I no longer trust “the establishment” and haven’t for years but need serious help.
    Many thanks, I think you’re great!


    1. Becky, I used to have bad digestive problems, got a preliminary diagnosis of IBD, then Crohn’s disease. I also gained distrust of the doctors, and a horror of the drugs they waned to put me on – those steroids can kill you, or permanently injure. I did my own research and found many people with my problems and others, such as UC, said they had success with the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, which is really pretty close to Primal/Paleo eating, maybe a touch more restrictive. Really gut healing. I tried it and it totally worked, though I had problems if I tried to add any of the unacceptable foods back in. I finally went to a naturopath who put me on a gut-healing supplements regimen for a few months and it’s been about 9 years since I had any significant gut issues now, even with occasional indulgences.

      Sounds like with your initial success, maybe you’re just still running into some of the foods that trigger your problems. The SCD bans all sugar except small amounts of unprocessed honey (you MUST buy raw, and should buy local honey), grains (including ANY grains of any kind, whole or not), beans, starchy veggies like potatoes/beets/other tubers, dairy except hard/aged cheeses, or yogurt that you make YOURSELF to process all the lactose out of it. The book has all the details – “Breaking the Vicious Cycle” by Elaine Gottschall. You can probably find the information online if you don’t want to buy the book, but it’s pretty cheap. Anyways, it helped me a lot, and maybe it can help you figure out if there’s some food still in your diet that’s upsetting your digestion and why. I now don’t have to be so restrictive and eat pretty Primal, and continue to be fairly well. Best of luck to you.

      1. Oh, sorry I misspelled your name, Becki! I was trying too hard to remember what I used to have to eat. 🙂

      2. Gottschall was (is?) the inspiration for GAPS, by Natasha Campbell-McBride. Whether SCD or GAPS is better for you I couldn’t say, but NCM is in England so her resources may be more available to you. Good luck (and don’t discount the possibility that short IFs may help you heal).

    2. You should also check out GAPS diet which is gut healing and aimed at restoring normal gut flora.

  23. Great post Mark,
    I have just started reading Big Fat Lies, by David Gillespie, an Aussie. He hasn’t gone far enough, but the Aussie perspective is interesting and so is the economics of the SAD diet and all it’s props. In there he mentions a very high fat diet that some physicians use to control child hood epilepsy that can’t be controlled by drugs. The diet reduces seizures, and some kids are able to ditch the meds and lead a normal childhood. The low fat fever is a huge uncontrolled species wide experiment which is only going to end in tears, it is so frustratingly sad. Keep on writing and we will all keep on trying to save ourselves and our precious children,

    1. Hi Heather,
      ‘Sweet Poison’ and David Gillespie was my reason for giving up sugar in the 1st place, haven’t read ‘Big Fat Lies’ yet. Would be good for an Aussie comparison. He has done a brilliant job and stirred up much contraversey.
      Baby steps…

  24. L LOVE the idea of pulling out a marrow bone – pity mine are too old for that now!! The visual picture made me roar with laughter. I’m still working on getting my 26 and 30 year olds more ‘primal’ – their main problem is very low incomes – but they do see their Mum looking younger than nearly everyone else the same age – and appreciate why.

    1. My partner used to buy 85% and 99% bars and stow them around the house. When I’d start showing signs of impending PMS, he’d sidle up with a hug, a kiss, and a wonderful bar of dark chocolate.

      Interesting how if we get out of our bodies’ way, they tell us what is right to do, and healthy.

  25. Re the crazy carb cravings during period: As Mark said, this may be related to low serotonin levels. To make serotonin, your body needs an amino acid named tryptophan. You’re body can’t make this amino acid on its own, so needs a dietary source of it.

    Some primal-friendly foods high in Trp: Egg whites, seaweed, dried fish, mozzarella (sorta primal), pumpkin seeds, game meat. Try eating some of these to satiate a carb craving.

    To find more, use and select ‘Trytophan’ in ‘highest in’ dropdown tab. Hope this helps!

  26. For lift served resort snowboarding I’ll just happily wait to eat until I get back to the ski house later in the day. Get in 30-40 days a season and this seems to work fine. I’ve done more of a Leangains style eating template for over a year so is pretty easy, it’s not hard to adjust to exercising while fasted.

    In the backcountry I do like to carry food for safety if nothing else. There’s a huge amount of energy expended in skinning your way up the mountain, esp. in rough weather. Any good fats (coconut, nuts, pemmican) and a sweet potato or two are great to toss in the pack.

    The pemmican and coconut oil really only work in winter. Even spring skiing gets too warm.

  27. To Tim with 18 y-o: Your house, your money, your rules. And it’s also your fault he’s in the predicament he’s in. Sorry, but both of you need some tough love. Don’t buy or make what you don’t want him to eat or don’t want to eat yourself. And don’t give in and feel sorry for him. You’re providing/paying for his drug of choice and it’s killing him. If you insist on making pasta for dinner, only make enough for one small serving and provide the rest of the meal in vegetables/salad/meat etc. If he’s cooking the pasta meals himself, then don’t have it available. If he has his own money to buy the junk, there’s nothing you can do about it. He’s going to have to suffer the consequences for his own actions now and needs to decide for himself what type of life he wants to live. I have two nephews who were exactly the same way, and it was upsetting to hear his parents complain about it because they’re the ones who allowed it to happen. My 16y-o daughter said she didn’t want to give up carbs (my 13y-o-d has a-reflux and scalp dermatitis–my reasons for changing an otherwise healthy diet). I’m fine with that. She’s very healthy and slim and does extremely well in school. We decided instead to just make restrictions and focus on healthy natural foods while trying to restrict carbs in the younger one. My house, my money, my rules. I tell my kids all the time when they complain, that when they get their own house and their own money, they can do whatever they want. But until then…

  28. For ski days, in order to “go hard” all day through heavy snow I find it absolutely necessary to carry a few snacks to eat on the chairlift. I carry chocolate, dried fruit, or my fave, yam pancakes. This is how I make them: roast yams in the oven. Scoop out flesh and mash. Beat in eggs (one egg per yam), a good dose of cinnamon, and a pinch of salt with a heavy whisk. Spoon into hot pan oiled with coconut oil, and spread out a bit into pancakes with the spoon. (You can make them big or “pocket sized”.) Cool on a wire rack. I make big batches of these at a time; they’re super delicious and easy to digest during and after exercise.

  29. Whenever anyone balks at the amount of fat my son eats, I just point out that he has a tiny little six pack, more focus and more level energy than any other five year old I’ve met. When I switched him over to primal his behavior became almost angelic. He’s never been a crazy kid but something’s I thought were “normal” were not (Thanks Peggy The Primal Parent!). I am also a professional potty trainer. More and more kids are having trouble pooping, especially kids who eat “healthy” (ya know…whole grain goldfish). I also recommend upping the fat by a lot and the poop problem resolve in very short amount of time. You can tell your mom you’re feeding them fat to ease their BMs. If nothing else, it may keep her quiet for a bit 🙂

  30. Catherine, not even conventional pediatricians would recommend putting children on a low-fat diet. Point them in the direction of these reviews (just google the titles):

    Hardy SC, Kleinman RE. “Fat and cholesterol in the diet of infants and young children: implications for growth, development, and long-term health.” J Pediatr. 1994 Nov;125(5 Pt 2):S69-77.

    “Is it wise to restrict fat in the diets of children?” Olson RE. J Am Diet Assoc. 2000 Jan;100(1):28-32.

  31. I’ve been following your website for only a short while, but am enjoying reading the questions and answers, as well as the primal success stories.

    Thank you for the response to the question regarding menstrual cravings. I was wondering that exact thing, because my experience over the last three cycles (which is how long I’ve been following a primal diet) is that I’m fine until shortly before my period starts, and then I just want to eat carbs like crazy. What I’ve done is just about exactly what Mark suggested: add some sweet or white potatoes (with lots of pastured butter, of course), bake something with coconut flour, or eat something with sprouted grains or raw almond butter. And lots of dark dark chocolate. It’s nice to know that I’m not just imagining all this. Thanks for the encouragement.

  32. We just got back from a ski vacation in Jackson Hole/Grand Targhee WY. We’ve perfected ski day/on the hill nutrition! First, eat a big breakfast (eggs, meat, and some fruits and veggies). We take along jerky or pemmican (ordered our latest batch from US Wellness Meats and it was amazing!) or canned fish (mackerel or sardines). Dehydrated fruits or a Lara bar round out the meal (skip the Lara bar if you’re not good with nuts). Tons of energy to get you through the second half of your day! Once you’re off the mountain, eat a giant steak and all the awesome sides! Have a great trip!

  33. What do you recommend to someone who has rigorously followed the Paleo Plan for 6 weeks without any change in weight? No other positive changes felt in digestion; and energy and mood level is depressed. Do you believe Paleo works for everyone?

    1. I would track calories for a week or so. You could just be eating more calories than you’re burning. or are a couple of good sites to help you track and they have apps too. I use My fitness pal. Figure out how many calories you’re consuming and then reduce calories or get more active. Good Luck!

      1. Erika, thanks for your sincere suggestion. However, eating less is what sets off a slower metabolism; and exercising more actually makes you hungrier – that’s the way the body’s automatic self-regulating thermostat works. This is the reason that 95-98% of all diets fail; because they rely on this mis-information that unfortunately, is widely believed despite the statistics that prove it doesn’t work! There’s another mechanism going on here – one to be determined. I’m thinking it has to do with stress or adrenal exhaustion.

  34. Shark week cravings mystify me. I’ve never had them, even before going primal. I eat a bit of dark chocolate every day, so no difference there. Overall, I’m hungrier and moodier. Maybe crave more salt than usual. Salt me up some chocolate and you’re my new best friend for the week!

  35. What ? I’m allowed to eat some carbs 1 or 2 weeks per month ? Thank God, I’m a women ! LOL

    In some spiritual point of view men can have a mini metaphoric PSM, so let’s say that my husband will be allowed to eat like me if his body really tells him to do so lol

  36. Re: the 18 year old who is overweight and stubborn about changing. Show him the sexyness of food. Find ways to get him involved with cooking food (even if it is not uber-healthy just yet) and growing food and enjoying food. Food porn, baby! There are tons of shows and cookbooks with hot chicks and dudes who are chowing down on delicious, healthy food and loving it. Sometimes we get caught up in the things we can’t do but be sure to show him the things he can do that are fun, tasty, sexy and cool. 🙂

  37. Hey Mark, I was just watching the “Female Fat Loss Formula” Webinar from Dr. Jade Teta and he was saying that during the follicular phase (the week of menstruation and the week after) the body is better able to use carbohydrates because the increased levels of estrogen during this time make us more insulin sensitive. This contradicts what you said above that the two weeks leading up to menstruation is when the body is primed to use carbs (also attributed to increased levels of estrogen). The cycle chart that he showed depicted estrogen at it’s highest during the week after menstruation (follicular phase) and progesterone as the dominant one during the mid-luteal phase. Therefore I’m a little confused. Can you clarify?

  38. My bub teethed on drumstick, ribones and, her favourites, old pieces of bridle leather 🙂 A few ladies were concerned she might choke on the drumstick when I was shopping & my parents shook their heads smiling at the leather (I am a hippomaniac!) but I never got any flak. Gnawing on an old piece of cowhide was primal instinct at its finest! 🙂