How to Quit Grains

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

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

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

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

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

2. Know what to expect.

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

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

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

4. Plan the logistics.

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

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

5. Make your motivation manifest.

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

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

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

7. Positive Self Talk

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

8. Join a support group.

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

9. Pamper yourself.

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

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

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

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

TAGS:  gluten

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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200 thoughts on “How to Quit Grains”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      1. These are good too!

        Baked Kale Chips

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

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

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

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

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

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

        Let them cool a bit. Eat.

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

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

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

    4. I do the same thing from time to time, Chips and Salsa, I would end up gorging so much on the addicting treat that it would envelop my whole dinner!

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

    5. Chips and salsa was what broke me after almost 3 years of no-grain, no-milk, no-potatoes eating.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    1. This is exactly the way I would explain “low carb” to others when asked how I could possibly give up pasta, rice and bread.

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

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

    2. Totally agree here. Bread is merely the avenue for butter. Pasta exists for sauce. Crackers exist for cheese.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      2. Old post, but I’m new the PB I’ve starting making lettuce-wiches and romaine works well, intil you get to the hearts (too small), but I’ll use the hearts for a salad.

    5. yes! I feel the same way about pasta especially. One of my favorite pasta dishes was a seafood alfredo… amazing crab meat, shrimp, scallops, etc, with veggies and alfredo sauce over pasta.

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

  3. I decided to go primal back on April 5, 2010. I was able to go cold turkey.


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

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

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

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

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

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

    Oh, and coconut 🙂

    1. I also had acne before going primal, I also believe the 4,000 IU of Vitamin D I am taking helps! I used to wonder why my skin cleared up in the summer…

      1. Yea I was always more clear during the summer months compared to the winter months… But they say diet and sunshine has nothing to do with acne – so much bull shit its unbelievable.

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

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

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

        2. You are avoiding “the truth.”
          American Heart Association says if you eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains daily you will keep your heart healthy.
          AHA is backed by 50 years of scientific evidence. Paleo is not. You are doing a grave disservice by ruining your heart health by substituting grains for meat.
          Your heart is more important than IBS symptoms. A bad heart will kill you, IBS problems will not.

      2. 4000 IU is twice the recommended amount – don’t take toxic levels of it! My doctor has me on 1600 IU

        1. If you’re talking about Vitamin D, 2000 IU is not toxic. It’s not even close. You can generate that much in 5 minutes outdoors, assuming you have pale skin.

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

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

        2. Agreed. 4000 IU is no where close to toxic doses. 4000 IU is a starting point for most people. If your doctor has you on 1600 IU you must have a good 25(0H D) level.

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

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

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

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

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

      So glad I found you all:)


    3. Glad it worked out well for you, but not everybody has the same reaction. My first attempt at going primal was a disaster.

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

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

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

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

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

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

      1. Yes,I had a similar reaction. Soooo…exhausted. I was really hitting the coffee just to continue to work everyday. I was also sleeping 10+ hours a night with naps!

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

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

      2. It sounds like what you were experiencing was the die-off of pathogenic microbes in the gut which feed on grains, starches and sugars. As they die-off, they release toxins.

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

    Thanks for the push, Mark!

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

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

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

      1. LOL–I shouldn’t laugh at your pain, but dear god I’ve been there! And said the very same line to my husband!

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

  6. Here’s the “high-fat” diet that Dr. Tracy Bale fed her mice:

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

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

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

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

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

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

    1. Addicts are often brutal toward recovering addicts, whatever the poison may be.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  9. Blimee does it actually take that much to help people give up a “poisonous food source” …?

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

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

  11. Im wondering,if everybody would go primal,what would happen to the industry,and agriculture.

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

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

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

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

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

    1. Grain production is destroying the earth anyway, so what’s the difference. Don’t believe the lies. Farming is destructive.

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

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

      1. The unpalatable truth – we can’t sustain 6 billion people and counting – however they eat. The answer is less people, not more food.

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

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

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

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

        4. I am totally on board with the above–both the too many people in the world and the need for change in food production.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  12. I quit cold turkey.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Thank you, Mark.

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

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

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

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

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

    1. Yes to (1) MORE FAT has been the best advice, but hard to accept after years of SAD advice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    1. You’re right.
      People I have talked to react the same way. Even the ones that are already diabetic like my Mother.

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

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

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

  26. All the sucessful populations from around the world ate grains. Corn, potatoes, rice, millet sustained millions and kept them healthy and lean.

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

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

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

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

    4. The ‘successful’ populations would be the USA atm…tons of grain consumption and how healthy are they, hmm?

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

      The pharma industry maybe?

  27. Some time back I finally saw a theory I could imagine to be true about why and how we converted to grain based farming cultures from the prior food culture: beer.

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

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

  28. Hi Marc,

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

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



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

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

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

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

  30. When I go for a long time without grains and sugar, and then eat them…I get incredibly tired and lethargic.

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

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

  32. When people ask me why I won’t eat bread or other grains I just respond,

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

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

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

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

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

    My problem is though, that I have SEVERE cravings every 4-5 days!! Sometimes, I can fight it, and other times I give in. I also do not need to lose weight. I am already at the low end of normal and have just gotten there in the last year. People are finally telling me I don’t look so frail anymore, but if I lose weight by going grain free, then that won’t be good. I am trying to eat plenty of fat, but still lose. The up side of this is, I feel WAY better!! Just need to figure out how to fight the cravings and stay at a good weight 🙂

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

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

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

      1. Sugar is very stimulating to the adrenal glands and could actually cause her weight to stay low. A lot of skinny kids are like this. But some of them balloon up later after puberty when their adrenals and thyroid finally give up after all the overstimulation.

        If possible I would look into getting her on a nutrient-dense diet. Calories aren’t everything. Meat, butter and eggs are good choices. Though less primal, raw milk and cheese can do wonders for growth too as long as they are tolerated well. Supplementing with high vitamin fermented cod liver oil is also important for children as well.

        Just start small, and make changes at a comfortable pace so lifelong habits can be formed.

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

  35. mmm – chips and salsa!

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

  36. For grains, one way to get off them is by stages: first wheat(!), then corn, then rice, then the rest of them.

    The only way to kick sugar is cold-turkey. JUST DO IT! No teaspoons of honey in your tea. If you religiously stay off it for two weeks, you will lose your cravings. DOn’t make up the difference with dried fruit, and take it
    easy on the fresh fruit, not more than one serving per day.

    Been Primal since the end of January. I’ve lost over 26 lbs. It has reset my tastes completely. Recently I was at a Mexican restaurant with my husband, and was able to avoid the chips and salsa with very little effort.

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

      Nuh uhhh!!! 🙂

  37. This is a timely post for me. I’ve been pretty good with grains recently, and when I’ve felt the urge to have some carbs, it’s usually been potatoes. But, the past two days, I had some bread each day. And, I’ve been paying for it with GI issues each time.

    I’m trying to figure out if the reactions are new since I cut way back on grains, or maybe they were always there and I just ignored/never noticed because that’s the way it “was”. I’m at a point where I can’t rule out any confirmation bias, but it seems that every time I have wheat recently, it treats me pretty badly. Just one more reason to not have the wheat, I guess.

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

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

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

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

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

  40. Wow – the number of responses shows how this post is a biggie for us all!

    Since following MDA, I’ve lowered my grain intake substantially and seen the benefits. That said, I do still allow myself the odd grain. I love porridge oats so much and feel the benefit of them outweighs any negatives.

    Just returned from Genoa, Italy. The Foccacia is to die for! It would be sad to go to such a place and not try a local speciality because you were grain free. I think we all have the self control to be sensible with grains but agree that a zero tolerance policy is easiest most of the time.

    1. MODERATION…Thats my issue. Self control is easy. Last night I found a recipe for Primal apple mini muffins using cocnut flour. When they came out of the oven piping hot, I put on a little real butter (until now I couldnt find a use) sat down with a nice Espresso (my main vise) and enjoyed the combo.Later I realized that that did not do anything for me. I guess I didnt crave it, but was curious about what to do with coconut flour. Its been almost 8 weeks with zero grain & going strong. Maybe in the future when i reach my goal, I will need that sort of snack to get me through.

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

  41. Mark, what do you think about military who are deployed? We are given limited options to what we are able to eat. I wish I could explain better the type of food we have but that would be an exceptionally long comment. I would just like some insight on what you think would be good for someone like myself. NCO–Air Force–Somewhere in the middle of the desert!

  42. When your doctor says to go grain-free or die, it’s easy…have worked out all my life, lifted weights, been a runner, skater, bicycler…taken all the best vitamins…but found out during routine medical testing for other things that I am gluten intolerant…had started getting the “runs” all the time as a result. Doc insisted I call sick off of one of my flight attendant trips in order to attend a seminar on the topic…(I thought he was nuts)…the lecturer stated that over 90% of women who have osteoporosis and osteopenia have those maladies because they are gluten-intolerant…hmmmm, I thought…wonder if I have one of those…Imagine my shock at finding that I have osteopenia even after YEARS of lifting, supplements of the best quality, hard-impact aerobics…blah, blah…let’s end this story…got off of grains, hired a trainer to help me with the very painful rehab of my back, especially…started taking medical-grade MCHC by a company called Trivita, which is the ONLY calcium proven to rebuild bone, and my numbers have improved to the point that I now have the bones of a healthy young athlete…and I am 61 years old…get off of grains, folks!!!!

    1. I want to meet your doctor!
      Don’t find many honest doctors these days, most know and don’t want to explain and just send you off with a prescription for something else that takes you down.

      Congrats on your recovery, it’s priceless.

    2. Hey Cj,
      This fascinates me! I too have recently been diagnosed (at 30) with Osteopia in my spine and femur. I’m going to mention this calcium supplement to my doctor. Would love to learn more about your results since been on it. I also have cut out grains and already feel much better.

  43. Oh, and to add to the above post, I have lost 16 pounds, 18 inches total, have built muscles on my muscles…and I am not a guy…I am a 61 year-old woman…I don’t miss the grains at all. Love this!!!!

  44. I had no idea how toxic grains were to me personally until I went Primal in April. No gut issues for the first time in YEARS. My husband still won’t do this and insists on eating like Korg — and I figure that he’ll come around when he’s ready. So I am still making him home made whole grain bread and serving him whole grain pasta (it’s what he wants and arguing doesn’t work with him) and I find I don’t crave it at all. What a miracle! (Personally: down 11 pounds without effort and great energy. Most importantly, NO MOODSWINGS!

    1. Joellyn, it gives me such joy to read what a Primal diet has done for you. I also have a family for whom I still prepare a lot of whole grain foods, and I have shared your experience of having little trouble resisting eating those foods. This is really shaping up to be a wonderfully doable eating plan, so far, with many benefits!

  45. I went cold turkey on grains just to give it a try for 30 days a little under a month ago in an attempt to get off my blood pressure and cholesterol medications.. If you saw me before you’d have thought, “here’s a fit active guy” — but looks are deceiving. Even on meds my BP was in the high 130s over the high 80s. Not terrible, but enough that my MD thought it should be treated after trying “conventional lifestyle changes” for a couple of years. I ate low-fat and whole grain everything. Also, my total cholesterol remained high, but not stratospheric. Still, I was put on Lipitor. I dislike the idea of depending on pharmacueticals when I think there are other avenues so I started looking into alternatives. Now, I don’t think my MD is a bad guy but I do think he took me at my word because of my physical appearance when I told him I thought I was doing all I could to lower my numbers through lifestyle. Especially since many of the other patients I see in the waiting room look like walking illness.

    I have been tracking my BP twice daily for the last month and am happy to report a significant drop (while deciding myself to halve my BP meds). While not my goal, I also have lost nearly 15 lbs. while eating just as much as I did before (I don’t go hungry). Now my P90X results can show!

  46. if you loved bread, I’ve made a fabulous grain-free Rosemary Olive Bread from The Gluten Free Almond Flour Cookbook by Elana Amsterdam. Bread eaters love it too!

    She has other amazing recipes. Click here for pictures of recipes from her book.

    I’ve also made some phenomenal Paleo Pumpkin Muffins with blanched almond flour (also on my blog)

  47. if you don’t have gluten allergies, is there a reason to avoid grains?

    1. Yes. From bloating to wrinkles. I posted a link but it’s still “waiting for moderation” if you go to “” There you can click at the top right corner where it says “should you be” & lists a number of reasons why.

  48. I was baffled by the PDF linked to this post. Although the lead-in sentence described it as providing data about the ill effects of a high carb diet, the studies findings claimed harmful effects of various kinds from a HIGH FAT diet. While it doesn’t specify fat type, it certainly is not about high carb or insulin management. Any insights?

  49. Someone above said they are still looking for something to soak up the juice on the plate…I make some almond flour biscuits occasionally from healthy indulgences ( a low-carb, gluten free blog). Lauren, although not Paleo, has a lot of great recipes. Here’s the recipe I like..

    It’s helped me a few times when I needed SOMETHING comforting, but on plan.

    I also make some yummy ‘crackers’ I use in place of chips ..served with salsa/guacamole or with organic pate…

    1/2 cup almond flour, 1/4 cup flaxseed meal, 1/4 cup sesame seeds, 1/2 tsp sesame oil, 1 egg white. Mix it up until a stiff dough forms. Grease the back of a cookie sheet REALLY well then put the dough on it. Top with a greased sheet of waxed paper and roll the dough as thin as you can with a rolling pin. Peel back the paper and score the ‘dough’ before baking at 375 for 10-13 mins (or until brown)…let cool and break into crunchy pieces. Store in an airtight container.

  50. I don’t know what I will do without my mom’s mashed potato. I guess one time a year at Thanksgiving will suffice?

  51. You mean give up bread? Or give up all grains? ALL, like quinoa, teff, amaranth, millet, Basmati rice?

  52. This might be strange for some of you, but i keep a grainy protein bar in the shelf with the nuts and dates i snack on all day. just to know its there if i ever want it.

    But seriously, knowing what it does to us and reading ingredients lists kills temptation quick anytime. the first clue that is that it has an ingredients list.

    Im also concious of when i stray back to harmfull foods and like plan that in advance.

    Just eating enough to not get any cravings seems to work for the 80 / 10 / 10 crowd. but thats a totally different thing.

  53. My health had declined so much the few years prior to me going Paleo/Primal that I had the total opposite effect to ‘low carb flu’, I actually found I had more energy, clearer head, less pain than I’d had in recent memory and my IBS all but disappeared. I know now that I am gluten sensitive, but all grains seem to bring on a swift and painful response, so the truth for me is that Paleo/Primal is the ONLY thing that makes sense, and in fact I’d say that I feel 10 years younger since I started eating this way, which is almost a full year now since I was fortunate to discover Cordain’s book and then Mark’s website…together it’s been relatively easy…I order food in restaurants without breads/grains–I smile at the funny looks I get, I completely revamped my kitchen–grocery shoping is simply a walk around the perimeter of the store–no need to go near anything packaged, boxed, canned, etc. (I found that part quite liberating), and I make things in large quantities so I can enjoy leftovers for lunch the next day. I’ve never looked back, I don’t regret giving up grains because all I remember is the pain they caused me. Thank you Mark for the great work you do and all the help you provide!

  54. My problem here is that I don’t like food…but I tolerate grains. I eat at least one bowl of pasta every day and often granola, dry oatmeal, and sometimes rice. I like the stuff because it’s bland and it doesn’t taste like much. I really don’t like food, and people tend to gasp and ask me what’s wrong with me which neeeever gets old. I’d love to go primal–not really for health and fitness reasons as much as evolutionary cultural reasons–but I don’t want to give up the only thing I don’t dread eating….

    1. Try a mindfulness exercise, take a mouthful of food and watch your reaction. Is this pleasant, unpleasant,or neither. often the actual taste of the food is pleasant, until sufficient has been eaten when it becomes less so. There may be a whole bunch of other reasons you have your particular response to food, and examining that may reveal the answers you are looking for around eating for better health.

    2. You could well be low in zinc, which would account for lack of appetite and could easily be caused by eating grains, because the phytic acid in them blocks mineral absorption. Try supplementing with zinc and increase your vitamins A and D from good fats and see whether you don’t start finding food more appealing.

  55. I’m fairly new at the primal thing. About 6 or 7 weeks ago, I dropped most of the carbs out of my diet (including a large amount of soda). I’m not perfect at it – I pig out every saturday somewhere and usually do eat a chicken biscuit or two before I go work out. But my pig out meals and preworkout meals are the only times I eat bread, potatoes, or rice. Thus far I’ve lost 22 pounds (putting me down to 175), without significant difficulty. I did have a little trouble early on with just being hungry all the time and had to adjust portion sizes accordingly. I found almonds to be an excellent way to stave off the worst of the hunger as I was adjusting my portion sizes to the new diet, but I’m tapering off on those now. I feel great and have a ton of energy these days. I have no trouble sleeping and my moods are better. A friend gave me a mountain dew a week or so ago. I tried to drink it, but was pretty grossed out after the first sip – at one point I used to drink a liter of that a day.

    One thing I have difficulty with on the whole primal thing is making sure I have enough energy when I’m working out (hence the chicken biscuits). I usually do pretty close to an hour of kettlebell exercises at least twice a week (that’s a habit I’m trying to establish along with fixing my diet). I’m thinking about maybe replacing the biscuits with some dried fruit or something. I’m also not certain whether it is an issue of getting the right food in before the workout or the timing of getting that food in and I’m not sure how to figure it out.

    I only really got onto this site a few weeks ago, so I’ve yet to buy the book. I started out initially with the Four Hour Body stuff, but it dovetails pretty nicely with what I see here (and the approach here seems more straightforward). I plan on getting the book on my next shopping run, along with some new clothes since the old ones are big enough now that they look like hand-me-downs from an older sibling at this point.

  56. Someone asked why we went from H/G to Ag? I saw an article that hypothesized that agriculture was started in order to make alcoholic beverages, like beer and wine.

  57. Having a Budhist moment, I remind myself that an extreme view is probably “wrong thinking” so trying to convert the world to Paleo may not be skillful. I gave up grains while thinking I was being extreme and harsh to myself, but as things started improving healthwise imediately there were no second thoughts about it. no bloat, lethargy and easy weight loss,made the change over easy. Energy even through the day, no post prandial slump, alert thinking, better sleep, ( and then into the OMG moment when things are so good you just want to tell everyone…) so I consider giving up the grains to be the single best thing I have done for my health in the last 51 years of looking after myself… a bit of planning is required to have snack foods, nuts fruits and paleo oriented fast food to hand tide over those habitual times where biscuits or sugar would be automatic. It gets to be natural and soon people notice how much slimmer and vital you are. I find it quite hard to restrain my enthusiassm for this way of life.

  58. None of you will be true disciples until you go out and kill an animal and eat it raw or seared over a fire with blood running out the corners of your mouths. Mmmm! Now that’s primal. Cease with all the counterfeit carb replacements.

  59. Why all fitness and health sites recommend low glicemic grains like oatmeal, corn etc ? Would anyone clarify this ? I personally lost 46 pounds regularly eating Low GI carbs (grains too) and exercising.

  60. I’ve found quitting grains surprisingly easy. I’ve had the odd item here and there – but no more than about three serves over about three weeks. I haven’t had any cravings, and in fact, I get such bad bloating, wind and general stomach discomfort from eating bread and grains that I realise what I’m NOT missing! 🙂

  61. I started low carb last year and I was about 6 weeks in, a little bit of cheating in the form of a biscuit now and again and a bacon roll of those days where I was in a hurry. I was progressing doing a lot of exercise, people kept saying I’m looking great and I felt great I had mega muscles forming in my arms.

    Then I had an unwanted pregnancy(I also couldn’t work and was in chronic pain), the smell of meat made me vomit and I could hardly eat anything, and the only thing that would stay down was carbs. I ate a couple of cream crackers, a carrot and ice lollies to keep me hydrated. I really wasn’t having a good time, I just wasn’t myself.

    I took the decision to not keep the baby and had a procedure. I started feeling better almost immediately. I was HUNGRY and just craved and indulged in cheese sandwiches and giant packets of crisp and pizza I lost most of my gained muscle front being sick and not being able to keep down any sufficient protein.

    Reading this website really makes me feel I can start doing it instead of thinking about doing it and getting depressed. I felt like a bit of a failure even though it wasn’t my fault the pregnancy was effecting my so badly. Finding PB really helps because I don’t want to launch myself back into the crazy exercise routines I was doing and have more time to have fun.

    We are more than the daily grind!

  62. I truly love pasta, grains, bread, and all that kind of stuff…
    Yet, I instantly see its negative effect on me – burning fewer energy, feeling full all day (not a nice feeling), feeling like something sticky is all over me and I can’t get it away… So I just reduced the amount to one such piece in months…
    I fact, almost none. If I take a bite, that’s all, just to taste it makes me satisfied, I don’t need to gorge on it.
    Overall, I’m trying not to stick to any particular taste, hence I can allow myself different tastes all over the day so that I don’t feel that crazy caving. And it works at some point. If a person eats mostly plants, raw food, etc, his receptors become so fine that each time you taste pure clear natural food it becomes more and more tasty and you feel how it energises you… I prefer that before the taste of bread and pasta… 🙂

  63. HI,
    I just wanted to ask if Maize Meal would be considered healthy or does it fall into the Grains category?

    Thanks a million!

  64. Quinoa—pronounced keen-wah—is not yet a staple in American diets as of 2011, but it is quickly moving beyond specialty health food stores and onto chain-supermarket shelves. Quinoa’s health benefits, palatability and versatility have increased demand for this protein-rich seed in the United States.

    Quinoa is often considered a grain, but it is actually a seed from a species of goosefoot plant, which belongs to the same family as beets and spinach. It was first cultivated throughout the Andes in South America thousands of years ago.

    At one time, quinoa was known as the “Gold of the Incas” because Incan warriors believed it gave them strength. Legend says that warriors subsisted for days on “war balls,” which were balls of fat rolled in quinoa.

    Although no longer the stuff of war balls, quinoa remains a superfood, providing nutrients that other whole grains lack.

    Lisa Matsunaga, a California State University, Long Beach, graduate student who is preparing for a career as a certified dietitian, called quinoa a good addition to anyone’s diet.

    “Quinoa is one of the few vegetarian protein sources that contain all essential amino acids,” Matsunaga said. “It’s a complete protein. Since quinoa is one of the few food sources that contain complete proteins, it’s a great food for vegans and vegetarians.”

    Matsunaga added that quinoa is high in protein, fiber, potassium, vitamin E, iron and magnesium, among other vitamins and minerals.

    Read more: Ancient Grain, New Trend |
    what do you think about this product?

  65. I went cold turkey on grains and sugar (ANY sweetener, really, but since I didn’t have a sweet tooth, that wasn’t difficult) for almost 2 months without any real thought. Easy. No cravings, no longing for past deliciousness, no guilt or defensiveness (even though my husband doesn’t agree with the whole thing. And then …

    I had a request from friends to make a pie when we went for a sailing lunch, and I did it because my pies are what I was known for and I didn’t want to disappoint them. I haven’t taken the time to research non-wheat flour methods of making crust (if there are any) so I did it the standard way. And I had a piece. And ever since then (a month ago), I’ve had constant daily cravings for crackers, bread, sweet stuff, you name it. I didn’t have a sweet tooth before, but somehow I have one now. Ever since that day: I’ve gorged on chips and salsa at our favorite Mexican restaurant, ordered pizza, ate sandwiches with bread, desserts, even candy — which I DIDN’T LIKE BEFORE.

    Very demoralizing. No idea how that happened, but now I have to fix it.

    Anyway, we eat out very rarely, but the few restaurants we go to have fortunately always had non-grain-involved meals. I like Red Robin for the fact that you can get a burger there on lettuce instead of buns. They even call it the “high-protein” version. Bless ’em. And they’ll hold off on any sauces if you ask (since there’s no way of knowing if they have sugar in them).

    Anyway. This has given my the backbone I need to get back where I was. Thank you.

  66. I’ve lost 16 following the primal diet as well as possible. I don’t eat grains anymore and my appetite is right down-must be because my body is finally getting the nutrition it needs. I believed all the lies about healthy wholemeal before I found this site. My body fat is down several % and my muscle mass has increased. I’ve just turned 30 and I’m in best shape of my life. I want to mention though that when I used the forum on here some people were not at all helpful or supportive. There were lots of condescending, sarcastic and downright rude remarks made to me for not totally understanding the diet straight away, even though I’d mentioned I suffered depression. A few people were helpful but the overall tone was the “smug know it alls hostile to newbies” Mark claims he doesn’t want the site to feel like. Perhaps the forum needs a bit more monitoring/moderating to ensure it is a supportive, friendly place.

  67. I want to start with gain-less diet…but grains are integral part of our diet and I am not sure how to start. I am vegetarian …can some one tell what kinds of foods people are eating with out grains. I don’t want to stress too much about this, i want make it as easy as possible for myself. Also we eat a lot of lentils, beans , are those considered grains?

  68. Grains suck but so does animal protein and fat. Animal protein is linked to all the main causes of sickness and disease In our society. Carbohydrates are the body’s main fuel source. All cells in your body require it. If you don’t eat enough carbs, you’ll end up eating a lot of fat. Fat makes your blood thick and slows you down. Then you need drugs aka caffeine to function which will overuse your adrenal glands and end up wIth adrenal fatigue. We are frugivores by nature. Eat tons of carbs but replace refined carbs and damaging grains with fruit. Treat fruit like a meal instead if a snack.. I do and I feel superhuman. All I eat is fruits and veggies depression gone. Anxiety gone. Fatigue gone. My desire for any type of drugs or alcohol gone and I rec over frown exercise

    1. Recover from exercise faster. Sorry my Samsung s3sucks at typing. Time to go out for about eleven mile run.

  69. I have 2 obstacles- 1: budget. I shop only at wholefoods. Their 365 line of products allow me to afford buying organic, gmo free items. However, many of those practical, affordable options are in the grain family. 2: Italian. We make fresh sauce every Sunday. Not dipping a few slices of handmade Italian bread that my daughter and myself make will be hard to do.