How To Overcome the Naysayers in Your Life

Naysayers NaysayingIt?s inevitable at some point. Beyond the safe and sympathetic community of MDA and other like-minded cadres, we move through the rest of the world on a day to day basis. It?s likely we even stick out at times. Some of us go barefoot when/where it?s socially unacceptable. Some of us (not me, thank you very much!) sleep on the floor. A few of us have squatting toilet accessories in our bathrooms. A number of us have assembled small CrossFit style gyms in our cubicles. Others store an astounding supply of lard or homemade jerky in our homes. We tend to skip the bread course in a restaurant – perhaps the most controversial of all choices…. When people notice what we?re eating or not eating, how we?re exercising, when and where we?re sleeping, they might begin to wonder (especially if we?re wearing a ?live long, drop dead” t-shirt). When they begin to wonder, they often want to ask. Many do. Some, scandalized or seized by concern, may caution, direct or cajole. Sometimes they mean well. Sometimes they?re just mean. How do we deal with the naysayers in our lives? Who are these people, and how do our responses vary given our relationships? Think for a minute. Then sit back with your Primal egg coffee and entertain these possibilities.

Your Partner/Family

You love them. They love you. You disagree on some basic lifestyle issues like whether it?s healthy to eat 450 grams of carbs every day. The disagreement itself isn?t the issue. Emotion says worry for the people you care about. Wisdom says let go of what you can?t control. What happens, however, when they?re the ones who won?t let it go and the old ?live, let live? mantra doesn?t keep the peace? If your nearest and dearest are your biggest naysayers, consider the following.

Double dog dare them to try a 30-day Challenge.

Yup. Go big or go home. This can work with the big personalities in your family or maybe your partner (if he/she relishes a good competition). Their diet against yours for whatever poundage, performance or medical measurements you want. I know a husband and wife team who did it this way and upped the ante. The Primal guy asked for a large screen T.V. as his prize. His wife, a CW-advocate, asked for a trip to New York. Let?s just say the guy will be enjoying fall football on the big screen, and his wife has a new appreciation for lower carb living. (Happy ending: they?re also planning a conciliatory trip to NYC this fall.)

Tell your success/success-in-the-making story.

Sure, you can show them the numbers from all your latest blood tests, weigh-ins, and workout routines. What matters the most to the people who love us best, however, is our happiness. Put aside logic and reasoning. Tell them what living Primal means to you – the same way you would tell the MDA community. Whether you?ve made significant strides or are just beginning, open up and let them know the motivation you have to make this happen and the good you?ve experienced. Ask for support and let them know the naysaying is raining on your Primal parade. Get them involved. Put a before photo up and ask them to take updated ones along the way or otherwise help you keep track of your progress. They still may cringe at the Brussel sprouts in bacon fat, but they?ll love the chance to bond.

Your Friends

Of course it depends on the kinds of friends. Truth be told, I don?t believe we owe acquaintances much justification, and they generally don?t expect much. Any arguments are less about your well-being and more about being right. As they say, you don?t have to participate in every argument you?re invited to. That said, for closer friends (the ones who really are motivated to care about your health and happiness), I think the answer is often one part ?caring detachment? and one part casual suggestion.

Accept (and share) that it?s not your job to convince them.

You?re not blowing someone off when you draw a healthy boundary that will keep your relationship focused on what matters – for the relationship. You won?t judge them, and you ask them to not judge you. Friendship is based on a respect for each other?s space and choices as much as it is on commonalities you share. Sometimes it really can be that easy. Most of what we think is our business in life isn?t our business, and everyone?s happier for that.

Share the fun stuff.

Sidestep the justifications, and just share the stuff that makes for good conversation (and understanding). How about making a meal for your buddies, or showing off your Primal Cravings cookbook? Keep the peace – and the fun.

Your Doctor

While we can tune out other ?experts? in our lives if we so choose, it?s a little trickier when we?re sitting in our doctor?s office stuck on the paper sheet in the ugly gown. We feel like, well, a subject. We might come armed and ready to share our latest Primal successes, but in the time it takes for the nurse to do our vitals, we can lose all sense of agency. I think the key is to first let go of the need to be on the defensive and think about the larger purpose and benefits of the relationship.

Deal in numbers.

Accept that you?re coming at healthy living from a different vantage point. It?s really okay. Just because you?ve adopted various ancestral health practices doesn?t mean you should feel banished from all modern medical care. You deserve to be there. You can benefit from being there. When differing philosophies get in the way, get back to the numbers themselves. They tell a story – a large part of your story. That said, know the numbers you should prioritize. Bond over lab sheets. Talk technical stuff where it?s relevant.

Recast the relationship.

I know a lot of people who, if they can?t find a Primal friendly doctor, will mentally recast their relationship with their health care provider. Use him/her as a resource for certain information and as a means to access certain services. It?s okay to depersonalize it that way. Health care is a commodity. There?s nothing inherently wrong with taking a consumer based view of it. Make the relationship work for you, and do the rest of your Primal work elsewhere.


Finally, sometimes we might find ourselves caught in our own web of naysaying – especially if we?re at the beginning of the journey. Understand that doubt isn?t a weakness. Recognize it instead of resisting it. Take it apart to appreciate it. My advice?

Accept it as part of the journey.

Living Primally doesn?t just happen. It unfolds. It comes together and unravels here and there and takes a new and better shape and then proceeds to the same hundreds of times over. That?s the work of any meaningful change in life.

Keep learning.

That goes for learning about Primal living and your own physiology. In my experience, truth feels right before you end up finding the right words for it. Be your own experiment. Question, explore, test, try. Don?t ever stop learning and trying.

Thanks for reading today, everyone! How have you learned to respond to naysayers in your life? Have they learned to back off over time? Have you actually moved away from certain relationships?

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.

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113 thoughts on “How To Overcome the Naysayers in Your Life”

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    1. Sure, 100% true. But… this is a lot like telling a fat person to stop eating so much.

      It’s the “how” that matters, and there are a lot of good ideas here. Maybe you’ve got the chops to not let the disapproval of others bother you, but I don’t. I mean, I’d love to not care, and I work on it, but it’s not something that I can control that easily.

      1. I understand Julie. That caring what people think makes you a nice person which attracts others to you. (it also can help them to feel they need to criticize your choices – not the fun part)
        I do the “mind over matter” and tell myself that I’m on my journey and they are on theirs, I change me and they have the right to change if they want. I was sort of addicted to “helping” people and that thinking helped me to stop, people help themselves, I found out, only if and when they want.
        Shrug, smile and put it in a bubble and let it go……. some days it works and others not.

    2. I stopped caring what other people think a long time ago. Life is too short to put up with negative, disapproving persons, so I rarely mention the primal lifestyle or how I stay thin, fit, and healthy. If asked, I will give a brief explanation. The response is usually, “No grains? That isn’t very healthy”… or “Oh, I could never eliminate sweets or pasta.” Then I just smile and change the subject. They are entitled to their opinion but I don’t have to let it affect me.

      1. nice! I do the same thing.

        When anyone brings up particulars of my diet choices, I can usually shorten my entire philosophy into the following 5 words:

        “I don’t dig on grains.”

    3. That’s what I’ve been telling people for years in high school. They just told its easy for me because I didn’t mind not being popular and that I didn’t want to be. Which are both true, but those were just incredibly gratifying sideline benefits of my behavior.

    4. “Most importantly stop caring what other people think. Just keep an open mind and listen in case one of them starts to make sense.”

      Wonderful words of wisdom that gave me a good laugh and a lingering grin. Thanks, I needed that!

    5. “Just keep an open mind and listen in case one of them starts to make sense” is how I found this site. I link hopped and clicked on “Will Eating Red Meat Kill You?” (March 2012, guest post by Denise Minger). I figured it was a site run by some crazy vegetarian, but wanted to see just how crazy. (This was partially because my oldest had just become a vegetarian, and I wanted to see some of the propaganda she was hearing.) Very quickly, I revised my opinion to “not a vegetarian, but possibly still crazy.” Then I thought “Hmm, the crazy person is making sense… I hate it when crazy people make sense, because it means they may actually be right! Which means that what I thought I knew, might be wrong.”

      1. Good point! I also thought the whole paleo “thing” was crazy the first twenty times I read about it. I wasn’t ready for the wisdom at that point in my life. But over time it began to make sense.

    6. my classmate’s aunt makes ($)68/hour on the laptop. She has been out of work for 9 months but last month her payment was ($)20459 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Go to this web site and read more… c­a­n9­9.?­?­M

  1. I think this advice holds true for all aspects in life- professionally, as well. when you’re taking the path less traveled, naysaying is the easiest thing to do. i only have a problem with it when i start to hear it internally, then its time for a self pep-talk! also, i agree with the first comment- stop caring what other people think 🙂

    1. Charlotte, as always you have boiled it down perfectly. I find that in the professional setting you have to use these tips as well, it just makes work less stressful. The tip about talking number with your doctor and depersonalizing his/her services is spot on. That is the one that I use in the workplace sometimes as well. Most importantly you can’t let the naysayers get into your head. Trust what you are doing is right because you feel better every day.

  2. I appreciate all you do for your community, Mark, and have found great benefit from many of your suggestions…but I don’t really think that egg coffee’s going anywhere. Sorry 🙂

    1. Psshhh… That egg coffee is quite good! Gotta add some cinnamon and nutmeg.

      Anyways, thanks for the articles, Mark! It seems like most of the ones you put out are right in-line with the struggles I am currently facing on my new Primal path. My best friend has been my worst enemy concerning my dietary changes…

    2. I combined the egg coffee concept with the bulletproof coffee concept and ended up with a delicious and frothy brew. Mine had 1 Tbsp pastured butter, 2 Tbsp coconut oil, 2 egg yolks, a pinch of cinnamon, a dash of salt, touch of honey, and splash of vanilla.

      1. I combined the egg coffee with the bulletproof coffee too and it is out of this world! 2 cups of hot organic black coffee; 2 Tbsp Coconut Oil; 2 Egg Yolks; a generous lump of Kerrygold grass fed butter – over here in Ireland we have no shortage of grass 🙂 – a spoonful of xylitol if you need it sweetened or honey; stick it all in the blender and gently blend it until frothy. And top it off with sprinkled 85% coco chocolate. All organic/grass fed ingredients and it tastes like the best gourmet coffee you could ever taste. And it is total rocket fuel. I made my wife and my mother in law a cup this morning – they are both the furthest thing from Primal Living you could imagine – and they thought it was the best coffee they’ve ever had. It was 4 hours before I even had a faint twinge of hunger too.

        1. Sorry, that should be 2 whole eggs, not just the yolks! Don’t know what possessed me to just write yolks. I’d even throw in the shells if I thought I could. 🙂

  3. The only one of these that is an issue for me is the doctor. Thankfully, I just found a doc who is ancestral friendly. She recommends avoiding grains, she measures D level and works to bring it up, she recommends magnesium, etc. She still brings up crap like statins but doesn’t push when I say no. (The insurance company hassles her about “why isn’t this patient on [fill in the blank].”)

    The doc is: Kathleen H. King, D.O.. Sacramento, California

    1. I see my doctor about once in a blue moon because I don’t believe in routine screenings, unnecessary drugs, or yearly checkups. If I have a specific complaint, I’m more likely to see my homeopath or a naturopath. If I do need to see my doctor, he doesn’t ask what I eat and I don’t bring it up. Most doctors are woefully ignorant about nutrition, so why even mention it?

      1. I don’t know if I’d go to a homepath or not, but I agree on the yearly checkups and annual screens. The point of regular dental checkups seems mostly to clean teeth and catch the odd cavity. (I knew before the “found” mine, though.) At least they do something real.

        On the other hand, it would appear the point of an annual physical is to be weighed, peered at, have your blood pressure taken, and then have the Doc ask pointless questions. If you’re really unlucky, they schedule or stick something in your privates or backside to check for cancer. Of course, they don’t ever seem to check your liver or any other organ for cancer, just the most uncomfortable/embarrassing ones.

        If you’re really unlucky, you try to hold back your astonishment at advise like “Put on sunscreen” and then immediately after “Don’t forget to supplement with Vit. D”. They really don’t like that when you look at them like their stethoscope might be a bit too tight around their neck.

        So yeah, not hepped up on annual checks. 😉

  4. Also, we should be thoughtful not to be naysayers to other persons’ diets. For instance, last weekend we went camping with our neighbors, who are full fledge white bread folks. A friend of their mother came along and as they were cooking meat and sausage on the grill, it came around that she was a Vegetarian. Well, we are in Texas and let me tell you, being a Vegetarian in Texas is almost as sacreligious as being a Veggie at MDA. So everyone was hounding on her, making comments ‘debunking’ her diet. I went and sat with her. We spoke about real foods, real butter, no GMOs. I told her that meat and bacon were dear friends of mine but I understand that everyone is on their own food Journey, and I am glad she has found something she feels is right. The fact is, the same way I have information, studies, and stories backing how I choose to eat, she also has this backing the way she chooses to eat, otherwise she wouldn’t eat this way.

    I know this article is really discussing the people closest to us, and I am trying to take a very laid back stance. My husband is not on the bandwagon, however he respects it and never gives me a hard time. I am happy that I haven’t met much resistance because I would probably want to defend myself, and that normally doesn’t end with anyone being enlightened. Let the light shine to tell the story.

    1. Great point. The more harshly we judge, the more we can expect it to come back at us. Same with compassion, yes?

    2. If more people were like you, the world would be a much happier place. I’ve never understood why some people feel the need to basically call other people idiots to their faces. I don’t agree with everyone’s choices, but if they are my friends, I support their choices. And if they’re people I’ve just met, there’s no way I would ever just come out and tell them they are wrong. When I have discussions about my eating habits, I try to say things like “according to the books and websites I’ve been reading, vegetables oils are bad because…” rather than making absolute statements or telling people they “should” do something.

    3. “The fact is, the same way I have information, studies, and stories backing how I choose to eat, she also has this backing the way she chooses to eat, otherwise she wouldn’t eat this way.”

      So the truth is on both of your sides? Hmm…

      I want think is wrong about the story (and just plain rude) is harassing her for her food choices. It’s not anyone’s business but her own. It has never occurred to me to make comments like that to a stranger in the context of eating a meal.

      Well, actually come to think of it, I have done it, but I was younger and I was wrong. 😉

      We recently went camping with friends who are vegetarians and I don’t think I brought the subject up. They also are polite and don’t come waltzing over to tell me how wrong it was to be eating Bessie.

      It’s prioritizing the relationship over the food and who is right.

      Anyway, back to my original comment: someone is right and someone is wrong about the science behind meat eating. Everyone may indeed think they’ve got science (and God) and their side, but the whole point of science to seek out the objective truth.

      I don’t think it’s necessary to mushify science into a “this is how they feel about it’ moment. Being a vegetarian for moral/religious reasons is a much more honest position than for health reasons, even if I don’t agree with the line of thinking.

  5. I feel lucky with my doctor, too – not ancestral focused, but respects my thinking (and my numbers!).

    I must agree with Mary Mac about the egg coffee. I’m pretty sure Grok liked his coffee black, unsweetened, in the way it tastes most like coffee 🙂

    For those struggling about what other people think… it might be OK to *care* what other people think, but not to *worry* about it, or let their opinion drive you (if that helps). Another way to think of it: I care about this person. That doesn’t mean I need to take their advice; eat as they do; justify my choices to them; prove anything, convince them of anything, argue about anything.

    The magic phrase I use when the bread basket (or anything else I don’t eat) goes around is “no, thank you.” Only the most committed boor will persist past the second repetition. Smile even more beatifically and say it a little softer if you have to say it a third time.

  6. I’ve been fortunate that my siblings and even a neighbor have come on board with the Blueprint. I like to think my high energy and positive attitude rubs off. It’s gotta be better than brow-beating and judging. And as Groktimus said, “stop caring what others think”. I think that’s easier for us that are in our 40’s-60’s. You stop a lot of that peer pressure crap in it’s tracks…

  7. It’s actually pretty easy to overcome the nay sayers as I do not let nay sayers in my life! My entire family is very active and all of the people I meet will learn firstly that I am all about health, nutrition, and eating right. If they don’t like that, well then they can just MOVE ALONG! I don’t need negative people who don’t care about their health in my life anyways.

  8. I have had very little naysayers in my journey however have kept the primal lifestyle relatively quite. I have been getting more positive comments on my energy levels and improved mood and when they ask me how I do it I tell them I don’t eat grains, move often at a slow pace and lift heavy things once a week. The normal response is ‘that can’t be enough’. But they never try it for themselves. As Mark said going primal unfolds it’s not an overnight thing. but they never try it. I am lucky to have a very supportive girlfriend who is now in her first week of her paleo diet.

    P.s. I stick out when people see me eating a stick of butter with two boiled eggs for lunch and they look at me horrified like I will drop dead the same afternoon.

    1. “P.s. I stick out when people see me eating a stick of butter with two boiled eggs for lunch and they look at me horrified like I will drop dead the same afternoon.”

      After a while, you kinda get a sick thrill out of that reaction. They look at you like you’re at the top of an unfinished skyscraper in bad weather, while wearing shoes made out of bananas. You of, course, realize you’re sitting in your Laz-Boy in the suburbs.

  9. Great post. One extra thing that helps is to write down what your goals are and write down your progress. Keep it to look at every time someone doubts you. You’ll have it to look at and use it for motivation to keep you going.

  10. I haven’t come across many Naysayers…just the usual reaction of “I can’t live without my bagels!” Grains are so intrenched into the SAD diet that people can’t seem to think you can live with out them. I will share all the amazing benefits and they see the results, many just can’t get past the old programming of what is considered a “healthy” way of eating.

    1. ‘I can’t live without my bagels!’

      Oooh, I needed a good chuckle.

      1. My grandfather, a farmer, refuses to believe bagels are fit for human consumption. His reasoning? “Even our pigs wouldn’t eat them.”

  11. My response? “It’s “reduced-carb”– I eat tons of fruits and vegetables. Also, I’ve found that if I go back to a high carb diet for several days, such as the BRAT diet when I’m sick, my vision gets worse, and I have to increase the font size on my computer. I’d rather see than eat pizza any day.”

    1. Helen, the issue with your vision is extremely interesting to me. I recently had surgery and have been eating ice cream non stop to counteract the pain I feel in my throat from being intubated, and my vision is NOTICEABLY worse than ever before…… Guess I need to stop that asap!

      1. Ashley, the doctors told me I was just fine the first time it happened (as in, no discernable problems they could see), but it was quite noticeable for me. My eyes were back to normal after about 3-4 days on reduced carb (no grains, sweets) diet.

        1. I notice my eyesight is much worse if I have anything with too much sugar in it…even a clementine will do it. I work in a large, square building, and when I can’t see the picture at the end of one of the halls, I know I’ve overdone it. My Mom,who is diabetic, always said that if her blood sugar was too high that it affected her sight. Of course, I still can’t get her to stop buying donuts, but at least she is on board with my food choices.

          If I really over-do it, my feet will itch so bad at night, that if I don’t take an allergy pill, I’ll scratch the skin off trying to get relief. Happened all the time before I went primal.

  12. All the naysayers stop when they see results. When I was pregnant I had a lot of naysayers but when people saw me before and after pregnancy (i looked no different before and after) and saw the healthy primal baby all the naysaying stopped.

    1. Agreed!

      People are all bark, but when you show them some bite (AKA results), they run away with their tails between their legs.

      1. Or you see them compute and then divulge the old “I wish I had good gene’s” defeatist excuse…

        Thats the one thing I can’t stand when you watch someones logic reduce your results down to something outside of one’s control like we lucked ourselves into some results.

  13. I think we’re living in a society where we are obligated to try and convince people that not only is our way the right way, its the ONLY way. Personally, it’s taken me 3 years to step off that merry-go-round. The only thing I’ve asked for as I start this journey (and I’m just starting), is that my family not fight me or make it hard for me to eat the way I’m choosing.

    At the end of the day, the only person responsible for my journey is me. And I’m only responsible for mine. I can’t make anyone else change. Why try? It’s not worth the energy.

  14. I’m still not eating insect granola bars LOL. Yeah, I’ve lost 30 pounds over the past 18 months by cutting back on / nearly eliminating grains and doing an IF protocol (I always exercised regularly). I don’t try to evangelize, most people make a host of excuses and rationalize their behavior … “I could NEVER stop eating bread, you just have good genes, I read an article that you should have seven helpings of grains a day, your health will suffer in the long run” yadda yadda. I do think leading by example works best. Kudos to Mark (don’t agree with him 100% of the time but he is one of the more gifted people out there IMO) on all he does to promote good health.

  15. I have found the best thing is to just not discuss it. Just make your food choices and keep them private. If someone comments on what is or isn’t on your plate just say it all looks so delicious and keep eating. As for doctors, thankfully this way of life keeps you from having to visit them much. Thus far I have avoided the statin thing by being young. Sooner or later he’ll write the prescription and I’ll file it in the round file. Deflect, dodge, bob and weave. It’s none of their business. I let Mark’s SEO magic do the prosthelytizing for me. As for the fitness aspect, I share that with people. They are usually not too offended by the kinds of workouts you like to do.

    1. Yes. I think that talking about one’s health or diet, unless directly asked about it, is kinda bad manners. No one wants to know. Seriously – do you want to hear all about a complete stranger’s kidney function or that horrible bowel problem they have or how they get terrible belly bloat from eating wheat? I know I don’t.

      I just don’t tell people. For years, I didn’t tell anyone at all. Now, my parents know, because my mother is trying the same thing – I actually got her a copy of Mark’s book. Other than that, my health choices are private.

  16. I am a doc which makes some of this easier. With fellow docs, i tell them about the various studies (the A to Z study is great; low carb is the best weight loss diet and also does not screw up your blood lipids. The Art and Science of Low Carb Living by Phinney and Vogel is good for docs, very technical. Low carb has more science to it than primal/ancestral from the pure medical point of view.) When the bagel/bread thing comes up, I tell people that you have to focus on the positive in anything. If I said every morning, making the sign of the cross, “No bread. No bread. No bread.” I’d have fallen off long ago. Hey, if you don’t like bread you’re buying crappy bread!

    Instead, my line is,” yeah it’s tough. Coffee with heavy cream. Bacon, eggs stir fried with peppers, jalapenos, spinach. All the salt I want. I’m eating every day like most people eat when they’re on vacation. And by the way I’ve shed twenty pounds and my HDL went from 50 to 77.” Also I plan on being a pain to my grandkids, and enjoying my beautiful wife, for as long as possible.

    1. This: “I’m eating every day like most people eat when they’re on vacation,” is awesome.


    2. Thanks for mentioning the book Doc. I’m currently a med student, have been going low carb for almost a year now (lost 25 pounds) and recently started reading MDA regularly (implemented primal fitness and now I’m getting ripped too)! I’ll try to fit in the read before I started classes for second year in a few days. Really needed a resource that would help bring this all together on a scientific level so I can implement these practices as a professional someday and teach my patients (to-be) how to help themselves.

      Thanks Doc!

  17. My friends are the worst naysayers I have to deal with. They are constantly on my case about how I am eating, or not eating, and it drives me nuts. But I guess I just have to keep on trucking and not let them get me down.

  18. This hits a little close to home. Most people are curious, there are a couple of like minded people. But for the most part they are so set in their routines and conventional wisdom, they can’t see following it themselves.

    The part that bothered me the most was my sister, who has yo-yo’d for a few years, was betting how long it would be before I regressed – even though I’ve continued to lose for almost 3 years now. It’s as if she is just waiting and hoping for me to fail.

    I’m actually fairly tired of talking about my transformation with people. Instead of being productive, it usually just ends with people getting upset and it has never ended up with people trying it.

  19. I don’t bother explaining or telling anyone anything anymore.

    They don’t care. They are content in their infirmity.

    At my age, it’s more cool to talk about your doctor appointments and joint pain anyway.

    I need new friends.

    1. Yeah, why is that? Why are some older folks so happy when some infirmity slows them down even more so they can say “I’m gettin old.” My mom loves her sicknesses and my dad totally wants wellness but is too entwined with her to really go healthy in a primal way. He sees my joy in it, and wants it, talks about it, but in the end soap. At least they do not naysay all over me. I wish they felt better, though.

  20. Great article! My friend asked me about health and he also asked someone more CW-minded and I didn’t really know how to handle it-almost debating with his other source. This kind of puts things in the right perspective for me.

  21. And as far as the situation, the other person he was talking to thought pretty much the same things as me about health, minus getting the majority of energy from fats-sat and mufa.

  22. “(Happy ending: they’re also planning a conciliatory trip to NYC this fall)…”

    Of course they are. And guess who would NOT be getting a conciliatory flat screen if the 30 day challenge had gone the other way… 😛

  23. “Be your own experiment” – best line in the whole piece. It’s easy to read about stuff, tihnk about stuff, hear other people’s opinions about stuff… until you try it on yourself – whether it’s a dietary change, training change, or other – you don’t KNOW anything.

  24. Mark, regarding modern medical care. Can you share a little more about how one can maintain a primal lifestyle and still benefit from advances in medicine? I’m interested in the broad question but also have a specific concern. I was born with bad feet and it sucks. Primal squats are a real chore and very painful because of the misalignment of my bones and the shortness of my calf muscles. Running and particularly sprinting are nearly impossible without a lot of pain and days of recovery. I’m having surgury next week to elongate my calf muscle and shorten as well as realign the second metatarsel (sp.) of my left foot. I am 11 weeks postoperative from the same surgury on my right foot and it already is less painful then my left foot naturally. My hope is that after I am fully recovered I will be able to more fully embrace my primal urges (sprinting etc.) but I have a lot of angst in addition to the obvious pre surgury nerves. My concern is that it is so invasive and will sideline me for a bit. Can you give you your thoughts in general about my predicament and maybe some tips on how to maintain stability in my weight and fitness when my activity level will be curtailed for a few weeks? As usual I find myself asking…What Would Mark Do? Thanks!!

  25. I wish I knew how to convert my sister. She’s seriously against animal cruelty – I mean, she doesn’t care that my beef was humanely raised because we killed it in the end. And she loves soy fake meats and beans. I’m okay with the beans but the soy… yuck! Ah, I give up.

    1. I don’t think there is a way to “convert” anyone, especially close relatives.. My sister is CW all the way…despite the high blood pressure (+ pills) at 35. Past attempts at conversation only resulted in her digging in her heels more. We generally just try to ignore the subject at family get together.

      The most serious problem is if she’s always commenting about the whole animal cruelty thing. The next time she brings it up, ask her to estimate how many small rodents were crushed by the harvester alone that helped bring the soy beans to her table. Anyone eating from the modern food supply has killed some animals, regardless of the actual food consumed. That ought to at least keep her quiet. 😉

      1. or that less than .05% of the biosphere on this planet fall under the mammal category at all.

        The rest of all living matter is feeding off of each other in order to perpetuate all the same, the plants are eating dead plants it out competed underneath it in order to grow etc…

        Theirs no way to continue on living without consuming something that was living. Circle of life and all that…

  26. I just don’t tell people. Most of my friends and family have no idea. I don’t want my food choices to be the subject of commentary. It’s not a good conversational subject, and it’s bad manners to talk too much about one’s health, anyway. It’s no one’s business what I eat and don’t eat. The best way to signal that your dietary choices are NOT a fit subject for commentary is to not talk about them yourself.

    In fact, I’d rather break the diet than get myself into a situation when I’m required to discuss my food choices in detail. My way of practicing the 80/20 idea is that the 20 is limited to social situations where I would otherwise have to disclose and discuss my dietary restrictions. Fortunately, they don’t come up all that often.

    1. Great post, and I like the 80/20 idea applied this way. I have a bunch of great friends and a great wife who have been supportive, but outside of that I practice the notion of “concealing my nonconformity.” If anyone gives me some grief about how or what I’m eating, I simply say I feel a lot better eating the way I do. The 36lb weight loss in the last four months is hard to argue against too.

  27. Fantastic and timely post. Thanks as always, MDA. I recently convinced a co-worker to do a Whole30 with me this month. Why? I don’t know. It validates me to have someone else I know (and respect) say “Hey, that makes sense.”

    Otherwise I just try to keep it on the down low. I am tired of the “BUT YOU NEED WHOLE GRAINS THEY”RE GOOD FOR YOU” mantra of the others so I must refrain from bugling my elation at finally succumbing to Primal eating (and even a Whole30 #letsseehowthatgoes)

    Spousal unit of course notices what I don’t eat but he’s pretty quiet about it. And that’s fine. He sees the progress, appreciates the journey and we don’t get up in each others’ grills about our respective choices. Dude.

  28. Great post. I realized a while ago that I used to put too much energy into explaining this Primal thing. There’s no upside when the listener is the impenetrable, contrarian sort who won’t let in anything new, even for a minute to think it over before saying the usual stuff we’ve all heard a zillion times.

    It’s so much more peaceful to just be myself and do my own thing and not discuss this stuff – except with people who are open to what’s completely new to them and would take some doing to try out (read: relatively few people).

    In short, I’ve come to realize I’m not up for the debate. The main reason is that it never really is one. It’s essentially this:

    well-researched, verifiable information vs. platitudes

    A discussion in that format serves no useful purpose, so it’s better to talk about books or movies or something else entirely. 🙂

  29. I have a hard time NOT sharing what I know about the Primal Blueprint and my way of living now, ESPECIALLY with those closest to me. I’ve been Primal a little over a year now, so maybe I’m still very excited about it and want to share it with the world. But heaviness (and diabetes) runs in my family, and I want to help those I love find a way to health. I try not to bombard and overload and overwhelm, and instead show them what I’m doing, cook amazing primal food for them, and carefully explain why I don’t eat certain things. I’m lucky to have parents that are willing to listen, especially my dad who always thoughtfully considers what I have to say. I’ve been able to get my sister partially on board after suggesting that her allergies and congestion could be linked to grains (she suspects that it was). I love the “show the fun” idea, because that’s exactly what I try to do.

    The hard part is the extended family, since my mom likes to brag about my success and tell them that I’m “primal” and don’t eat grains. So, on the rare occasion I might have a piece of pizza, I have the aunt who stares and replies, ” ithought you didn’t eat bread.” Sigh.

  30. Not caring what others think was hard for me until my 30s. I’m not sure why but it just got easier by itself after that. And I remember caring a hell of a lot in my 20s. So just hang in there?

    1. You spend your 20’s learning how the world works, I think. It’s the era when people become self-supporting. By the end of that process, hopefully most people have figured out a)I need my time and energy devoted to keep this ship called my life afloat and b)people spend most of their time thinking about themselves anyway. If they have either a positive or negative reaction (rather than just indifferent), then that’s really more about them then you.

    2. Anna, true, we all care about what others are thinking about us when we are young. I heard someone say “When we are 20 we worry what others are thinking about us, when we are 40 we really don’t care what they think, when we are 60 we realize no one was even paying attention to us in the first place”. I remember in my 40’s that I changed from caring to “well, if you don’t like what I’m doing then turn your head and don’t watch”….. very liberating.
      I guess that’s one of the best things about getting older, we feel free to do the right thing whilst we look the naysayers in the eye with that “huh? What?” look in our eyes that shows we really don’t worry about it any more.

  31. When someone asks why I’m eating this way I give them the quick primal/paleo brief, tell them of my benefits, and then leave it at that! So far that strategy has gained me/us about 7 converts (my mom and dad have went full bore with it!!). Really like the put up or shut up idea for a 30 day challenge…think my wife and me will have this out in the near future!

    Thanks Mark!!

  32. Depends how much value you put in how other people think you should be living your life.

    If you know what you’re doing and it’s what you want to do, do it unapolagetically, otherwise you’ll spend your life explaining yourself rather than being yourself.

  33. Great post Mark! This area is way too often overlooked when people are making changes in their lives (even if for the better), you’ll always having nay-sayers.

  34. I admittedly on the read the title so far, but I have two words that will shut the naysayers right up: GET RIPPED!

    When they see that six pack poppin’ while you forgo the bread and house the house salad and porter house instead, they’ll be left scratching their heads and questioning everything conventional they’ve heard till now. If not, oh well… be green with envy!

  35. I do not have this problem any more. I think it’s b/c of karate. Ah, but alas I’ve got a lot of things figured out. Guess what though, I don’t skip some bread at a wedding. (I skip the pasta though b/c I am personally grossed out by pasta).

    I can brag to people that I don’t have to worry about food and the way I present it they interpret it on a global/ethical level about how people in developing countries would have to fare ie. I say “I don’t have to worry, I live in Canada. I can go w/o eating if I need to”. I don’t know, but I pass it off really really well. Never get ridicule.

    Last year I was in a rabbit hole and I also had to endure cajole/ridicule. It was hard. I made it out alive though. I ventured down some other paths but here I am and I am glad to say that I don’t have any issues at.all. Not a word of a lie.

    However I don’t wear five fingers, too expensive. I don’t take supplement xzy (although I did for a period b/c I needed them as medicative), too expensive. I don’t buy ‘fancy’ paleo things or even grass-fed, too expensive.

    I can live on eggs, meat, veggies, fruit, sweet potatoe or regular potatoes and rice (b/c I’m living at home). I don’t eat bread on a daily basis b/c I don’t want it.

    Yes, all of my life choices I pass off really really well, b/c ‘it’s me’.

    Good luck folks to the ones who are still in the struggle.

  36. I’m a firm believer in instant karma, so when naysayers “attack” and throw out belittling comments, I just smile and move on…….

  37. I am used to naysayers. I breastfed my kids for 2 years each. I used cloth diapers. They co-slept in our bed when they were newborns. I made their baby food. All organic. They still eat mostly homemade food and I homeschool them. People probably just think this is one more of my dirt-crunching-tree-hugging-Druid ways.

    1. Similar here, I am used to being questioned in terms of cloth diapers, tandem breastfeeding and co-sleeping. The home school is something I don’t need, living at a place with many choices in terms of education.
      Being a foreigner, I think many people leave me alone for the fear of not offending my culture. It works, even though people of my own culture question me even more 🙂

      1. Yep – just one more crazy thing to add to the pile! I had both kids at home, BF older one till he was 3 – just weaned my younger at 3.5. Did some cloth diapering and no vaccines. We co-slept with both of our kids and still do sometimes. We eat mostly local and organic and I went GF due to my grain allergies. Going Primal was a no brainer!
        It’s still tough, though, when after years of going without bread, etc. family still offers it to me! It’s not a choice, people – I just can’t eat it!!! Chances are these are not going away so what makes people think I’d go back to grains??? No, it’s not all in my head!! I guess unless some people see a rash or an anaphylactic reaction they don’t believe your allergies are real. Oh well….

  38. I have a hard time convincing my parents of paleo. My mom is a dietician who was trained during the primetime of gluten and grains, and won’t even listen, and my dad is borderline vegetarian/vegan. Makes for some lively debate at least.

  39. I just got off the phone with my Mother in law, asked if she was still using butter, yes. YAY, we are the Mrs and Mrs Buttertons for sure!! I told her that she should try the bullet proof coffee, my FIL is starting to show signs of dementia…. could it be the statins that his doctor has him on? Why worry about cholesterol if you actually need more as you age? So maybe they will start on the BPC tomorrow, she wrote it down and has a blender. I’m going to visit my mom, who has memory problems and will introduce her to coffee with FAT to see if she likes it. Who wouldn’t right?
    I tell everyone who will listen about primal/paleo eating. Last week a server who was studying to be a dietitian asked about it…. she said that her teacher encouraged the class to try out all types of diet. I hope she’ll try our lifestyle, it seemed that she was interested as well as looking at losing some weight as well.
    I work with an Asian who cannot even think about giving up her rice and she runs marathons besides several miles each morning….. however, she has a tummy and struggles with her body shape. She knows that I don’t eat grains but she doesn’t want to give them up yet. It’s ok, I play and give her a hard time now and then about it but tell her that if she wants to keep it up she can. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t MAKE them drink if they don’t want to…. even when they are dying of thirst.
    Off topic, made some pork chops with apple, shallots and cinnamon tonight…. hubba hubba. Good food!!!!!!

  40. When you start with the paleo/primal lifestyle, it is hard not to start preaching about it, because you yourself feel so good and so transformed. After a while you realize that only the ones who want to make changes will make them. You cannot force anyone.
    My excuse for not eating grains or sugary treats when somebody asks is that I don’t do well with gluten. It is partially true, I am not a celiac, can digest the occasional pizza crust here and there, but eliminating most of the gluten sources from my diet did make a big difference. It usually shuts people up and they ask no more. And if they do ask and are genuinely interested, I tell them about paleo and primal way of living. But only if they ask.

  41. God grant me the serenity
    To accept the things I cannot change;
    Courage to change the things I can;
    And wisdom to know the difference…

  42. If you think explaining a primal diet is tough , try giving up alcohol , the peer group pressure is unbelievable .

  43. I say that my doctor has told me to avoid gluten and sunflower oil (because I have a terrible sunflower allergy). That right there eliminates breads and most of the gluten free packaged foods because nearly everything has sunflower oil in it. This is all perfectly true, it’s just that my doctor is more of a holistic doctor, but I don’t mention that. She specializes in hormones/thyroid (I am hypo). Most people shut right up after the words “my doctor says…”

  44. Nice post! I thinks it human nature to care about what others may think of us, especially those we love like friends and family. But equally it’s important to tread our own path through life and not try to live in a way that may satisfy others. Provided we live a life that is not hurting other people then what’s the problem?

    I personally tell everyone I know that I follow a paleo/primal way of eating. I’m not ashamed of it – quite the opposite. If I can convince a few others to try then I think that’s a good thing. But ultimately it helps people to understand me and my food choices. I think we should all just accept each other.. and each other’s differences and be open to different people’s ways of living and lifestyles. Diversity is what makes this such a great planet!

  45. Great relevant topic Mark!

    Amongst friends/acquaintances I typically hear something sarcastic like, ‘oh, we can’t go there because Bryan can’t eat the food’. Then I have to remind them again that we can go anywhere we want and that I’ll CHOOSE to eat whatever the hell I want. Their comments flirt with jealously, ‘put your shirt back on’, ‘I suppose you’re running a race this weekend’… we all know the kind.

    Amongst family it’s very different. They’re all respectful of the changes that I’ve made, and my ‘diet’ (I remind them it’s a lifestyle) is a part of that. They still remember the former me as a 270+ lb fat guy from three years ago, so when they see me now they’re supportive. When we gather as a family I’m typically the cook/grill master so everyone gets a dose of primal eats.

    When or if I do issue a challenge to anyone, it’s a three week commitment. Commit to being primal for three weeks and see how you feel.


  46. Loved the post! I can relate on every level. I feel like an outcast in my Family. I guess I suck really badly at communication because I have tried these techniques with no avail. Even leading by example does not work. My family says that the reason why I am in good health/shape is because I work out. They also say that because I am young is another reason. Not that eating a primal/Paleo diet is the reason. Too much fat, you eat too many eggs and your Cholesterol is going to be too high. And on…and on….blah…I guess they are sheep….baaa….Any comments or advice?

  47. i’ve lost 20 lbs and a goiter the size of a golf ball. people who have not seen me in a while tell me how great i look. my frame of mind is in a much better place these days too. if people ask what i’m doing i tell them a short version. if they want more i tell them more. if they present an argument i just don’t get into with them. i lead by example.

  48. We have been almost evangelical in our zeal for sharing about our primal lifestyle. I bet some people want to slap us in the face with a cinnamon roll sometimes. But we are starting to infect our close circle of acquaintances as they have seen our whole family change and see the amazing real food we eat. Love to you MDA!

  49. I have the excuse of food allergies to justify my diet, so I thankfully don’t have to deal with many naysayers, except for those ubiquitous old ladies who call you “too skinny”. *eye roll*

    Side note, I clicked that web page for “primal friendly doctors” and the featured member is in the town that I’m moving to in a month!!! What what!?

  50. There is only one group of naysayers in my life, and they are coworkers.

    I am a firefighter, and eating Primal in the firehouse is comparable to being a vegetarian in rural Texas.

    Ironically, I’m the only person on the crew of 6 that is not obese.

    Even though I’ve never talked negative about other’s diets or physical condition, there is a lot of ridicule, talking behind my back, and negativity from those who are supposed to be “brothers”. Luckily I only have to deal with this 8 days per month.

    The ethos I have adopted is to not say anything and let my health and physical abilities deliver the message.

    Stay positive,

    Fire Grok

  51. Thanks for this article. It couldn’t have come at a better time.

    The snide comments I receive are from acquaintances and not-so-close friends. They seem to ignore that Primal/Paleo diets are inspired by our healthy ancestors, not a literal reenactment.

    So, I’ll get comments and questions like, “So…you think broccoli is Paleo, huh?” (it’s not). Or, “Apples didn’t come into existence until such-and-such a period — they aren’t Paleo.”

    They pride themselves on feeling very smart with their facts. Good for them.

    By the way, did I mention that these folks are fat, fat, FAT?

  52. Very topical post. My partner’s reading the China Study. So I get shown graphs from that book that say New Zealanders (as we are) eat 350g of meat/day and have the highest bowel cancer rate in the world. Well, according to studies, we actually consume 51g meat/day for a start…

    The topic gets acerbic and is constantly brought up by him. I’ve suggested that he cook his own meals but he’d rather eat meat than cook! I have said that quite a few paleo people used to be vegan but got so unwell. And I’ve said it may be a question of genotypes. With my low B12, folate,(?MTHFR issues) low Vit D and iron, there’s no way I’m going to entertain a vegan diet and with my hypothyroidism, there’s no way I’m going to eat soy.

  53. To be honest there’s no way to completely eliminate naysayers except by moving away from them. But even then you should be drawing your emotions from within and not relying on other people’s opinions on your actions.

    Ideally you want to surround yourself with people who encourage you and know how to motivate you to be the best self.

  54. Would be helpful if anyone can give advice for how to handle criticisms from family members not on board with the Paleo thing when my child is involved. I get implicated that I’m harming my child even by feeding him this way. Has anyone any tips to share to help this specific situation?