The Psychology of Giving Up Junk Food

It’s probably the biggest thing that makes some people hesitate in going Primal. Sure, they appreciate the logic and sensibility of the Blueprint lifestyle. They value the chance to improve their health and effectively lose weight. They love the idea of having more energy. They salivate over the prospect of bacon. But then comes the proverbial wrench in the plan. “What about bread?” they ask. (Sometimes it’s diet soda, pasta, pancakes, pizza, Skittles, etc.; I’ve heard it all.) Against all powers of wisdom, self-interest, and rationality, how is it these isolated, deeply entrenched cravings hold such sway over our lifestyles – and diet decisions? Is a baguette really so enticing that it determines a person’s willingness to live a healthier, more vigorous existence? Is the de-grained life really not worth living?

It’s a common refrain I hear: “Oh, I’d love to go Primal, but I just couldn’t give up my breakfast cereal.” Okay. It’s got me thinking lately: what is it about the psychological power of (non-Primal) favorite foods?

Ever watched “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” (usually featuring the typical junk food categories)? Of course, the guests play it up for the camera, but the expression behind some of their descriptions parallel that famous When Harry Met Sally scene. Really? This level of enthusiasm for a hamburger? (I won’t say it.) Even a few of the most diehard PB converts I know still hold the torch for some pre-Primal item. Some people get attached, I guess.

Yes, there are the obvious factors that apply to most people’s favorites: the ubiquity of these foods, the subsequent convenience, the cheap price (e.g. Pizza Hut’s “Feast for Five” bucks – feast being their word). For some of us, these favorite foods (past or present) are part and parcel of our social landscape or our work environs. Then there are the more complex influences: ethnic, family or community traditions right down to low and lowly marketing forces. Finally, there’s taste. Although, as I’ve said before, most people find these foods all taste the same once they give their taste buds a chance to recover on a Primal diet of naturally-occurring foods.

So, why are some things easier to give up than others? If you told most people tomorrow that the key to good health involved forgoing asparagus, I can’t imagine most folks would consider it a major impediment to their success. Why isn’t giving up bread, diet soda or cereal the same? How does it involve more than a simple switch of intention? Why does giving up a single favorite food feel like serious deprivation for so many people?

It’s true that our tastes are established earlier than we ever thought. Experts have found that a mother’s diet during pregnancy already begin to habituate a baby’s taste. Researchers believe this happens because the habituation early on helps teach children which tastes are “safe.” If the mother has survived eating foods with these flavors, they will, too. If you come from a family in which people routinely ate a lot of pasta, you likely developed the taste for it earlier than you can remember.

We also develop deep-seated emotional associations with certain foods through early and/or recurring memories surrounding them. On a timely note, holiday traditions tend to play into these associations in a big way. Any meaningful experience can create these connections, however. Was there a special dish you always made with a parent or grandparent? Did your extended family all go to the same pizzeria at every visit? Do you and your spouse have a routine from early in your relationship that influences how you enjoy time together today?

These associations can play out in unconscious ways, eliciting cravings or overshadowing your efforts to develop a taste for healthier, Primal fare. If you’re still carrying the torch for old favorites, it can be harder to fully enjoy newer Primal tastes.

Then there are the temptations of the present. Experts say mental imagery – that which we conjure ourselves and that which we’re presented with (in ads, etc.) – plays a sizeable role in our cravings. Have you ever found yourself victim to an ad’s suggestion? Even if you normally wouldn’t touch a particular food, those marketing folks have a fantastic way of making it look good.

Our moods, of course, can influence our vulnerability to old favorites. Many of us have indulged in emotional eating, and carbohydrates figure into this equation all too strongly. There’s a legitimate serotonin boost from a carb binge, but then comes the inevitable crash and then the ongoing habit. Our desire for comfort foods, researchers have found, only increases with additional stress. (On a side note, experts have even found trends of favorite comfort foods (PDF) in men and women and in older and younger folks. Men as a whole tend to crave warm and hearty foods. Women for their part had more of a penchant for sweeter snack foods. Younger groups also tended to choose more snack rather than meal type foods.)

In terms of strategies to lessen the feeling of deprivation and associated cravings, researchers confirm the out of sight, out of mind approach. Proximity matters in a big way. The more of a hassle it is to get to that favorite temptation, the less likely you’ll bother with it. Their study includes the old candy dish at the secretary’s desk scenario. Yet, battling those mental images matters, too. If your favorite food is all over the TV commercials, find something else to do on the days or evenings when you’re more prone to suggestion because of stress or a down mood.

When you do become taken in by a sudden urge to indulge, some research suggests that taking a brief walk can help. If the cravings are more than an occasional inconvenience, you might want to ask whether there’s something hormonal going on or if you have a nutritional deficiency. Particularly if you have a history of disordered eating, you might choose to explore some professional counseling. Finally, some research shows that acupuncture can be an effective complementary measure for reducing ongoing cravings.

You might ask where the 80/20 Principle is in all this. Well, it depends. If your favorite food can be adapted to fit a Primal profile or if you can indulge moderately on an occasional basis, then you might not have to forgo that favorite altogether. If one taste of a non-Primal favorite food sends you on a downward spiral, however, it’s another story. As people get further along in their Primal journey, the slippery slope phenomenon isn’t as powerful, but for some it remains so. Know yourself, first and foremost.

There’s a potential bit of a catch here, however. Even if you know you can always go back and have it, a lot of folks – having been fully Primal for a while – find that the side effects are too great to bother with. They realize that it’s not worth trying anymore, even for special occasions. Nonetheless, some feel a bit of grief with the acknowledgment. In these cases, however, know that the food was destroying your body long before you ever gave it up. You simply know what it feels like to live without the low-grade symptoms now.

That’s the final message here, I think. A favorite food offers momentary pleasure and maybe a meaningful bit of nostalgia. But what is your life without that favorite food? More energetic? Less congested? More restful? More even-keeled? Less medicated? Just as happily reminiscent. Just as meaningful. Your taste buds are but one small part of you. If your whole body could vote on each food you put in it, what would it tell you? Learning to live Primally is about learning to listen to your body, recognizing its story, and valuing how our physical habits feed the spirit as well as the body – the vitality – we bring to each day.

Now it’s your turn. Readers, have you had struggles with old favorite foods? Do they still have a hold on you? Does the lingering preference ever trip you up, or have you found your peace with it – maybe by indulging once in a while with moderation? What do you see as the major challenges behind giving up a favorite food?

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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206 thoughts on “The Psychology of Giving Up Junk Food”

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  1. For now, I just think I will indulge my liking for pastadishes very occationally, and I do not think it is a bad idea. Every time, I will be reminded why I gave it up in the first place.
    Also, sushi. It’s such a rare and expensive treat, and I don’t feel bad afterwards, so why not.
    I file it under the 80/20 rule, and I just refuse to be a fanatic.

    1. I totally agree with the sushi falling in the 80/20. But compared to a lot of the processed crap out there I would hardly call sushi junk food.

      1. I don’t know, if you look at how they prepare the rice with all that sugary vinegar, that part is pretty processed, as is the seaweed wrap and the sauces that they put on top.

        But yes, the actual fish and veggies in it are better than eating cheesey poofs, and more importantly, I get more enjoyment out of having lunch with a friend over sushi than eating cheese curls in front of the TV while home alone.

        The food indulgences that I still allow myself are all about the people I have with me. Annual dinner out with the band, lunch with a friend every few weeks, anniversary dinner at a restaurant/microbrewery… they’re worth hitting the 20% for.

    1. Two word; Primal Cheesecake!

      I have a great recipe, in fact I made it yesterday for Mr Grok’s birthday today 🙂

      Provided you aren’t intolerant of dairy, as it includes ricotta cheese, it is a good high fat, high protein option with a small amount of carbs (particularly by dessert standards!).

      See here …, I now use just ricotta rather than a mix and usually just two lemons, but the lemon/orange mix works well too.

      1. Looks Wonderful! If anyone translates into U.S. measurements & temperatures, would you post them please?

  2. One difficutly I had when cutting down on processed carbs was in finding a functional replacement for a cracker or a slice of bread. I like pate and other spreads. My answer was “parmesan crisps”. Grated parmesan cheese turns into a great cracker at 350 degrees in the oven.

    1. There’s all kind of ways to make your own crackers out of various seeds and nuts. However I have never seen a good substitute for bread.

      1. Substitute for bread: Coconut bread: Mix 3/4 cup coconut flour, 1/2 cup melted butter/ghee/coconut oil, 2 tablespoons of honey, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 6 eggs in a food processor; preheat oven at 350; grease a loaf pan with fat of your choice, pour mix and bake for 40-50 minutes. It comes out dense – kind of like a pound cake, but it works for sandwiches or is great with butter/spreads

        1. Thanks for this recipe. I am going to see if I can adapt it to make a primal pizza crust. I love almond cheese so could I might be able to have a pizza again. That is the one thing I really miss. Well, that and deep fried onion rings. I never really had much of a sweet tooth so giving up the sugary things hasn’t been hard for me.

        2. I make a great pizza crust with cauliflower:
          1 c cooked/riced cauliflower, 1 egg, 1 c grated mozzarella, 1/4 c grated parmasan, garlic, basil, thyme, oregano, etc.
          Spread on greased baking sheet, bake 350 for 20 min, let cool. Top with favorite toppings, bake again to heat meats and melt additional cheese.

    2. Oooohhhhh! Thank you! I’ve been stumped on that one. I want to eat my sardines but since tomatoes are out of season I’ve been at at loss. I’ve been wanting to get a dehydrator just to make crackers but haven’t yet. I’m so happy you said this I can’t even tell you!

    3. I often use cucumber slices as a cracker substitute. They work well with lots of dip options, and are great for piling on smoked salmon & cream cheese, or whatever you like!

        1. Spanish markets. I live in an area with a high hispanic population – I can get plantain chips at the gas stations. They are insanely tasty.

        2. Trader Joes. I try to avoid them because I want to eat the whole bag but I have used those and they are great!

    4. I use an Italian Cheese blend (Parm, Romano and two others I can’t recall) to do the same thing.

      It’s more chewy if you pile the cheese thicker and don’t cook it as long.

  3. I found that simply knowing the physio-chemical reactions that ‘bad’ food causes in your body have enabled me to fairly easily cut grains/legumes/vegetable oil out of my diet. Why punish my body with a pizza when I could nourish it with grassfed beef and multiple vegetables? I now see taste as only a fraction of the full life cycle of food consumption.

    And even better with this approach, my friends are genuinely interested when I don’t eat something. They ask “what’s unhealthy about ____” and I actually am able to explain to the pizza they’re eating isn’t an ideal energy source. I don’t preach this to someone unless they ask, and I won’t bother if I know the person isn’t really going to listen.

  4. Once I get going on a “diet”, I am pretty militant with how I approach it. Since going Primal (about 2 months ago and lost about 15lbs!), I avoid those foods at all costs. I occasionally get a sushi roll that has rice, but it is rare and I feel the amount of rice is so minuscule it doesn’t really effect me. I have also went straight got sashimi and seaweed salads too.

    I still crave things. There is a pizza place that I grew up on. They have the best pizza I ever had eaten but I won’t go there now. I know if I get a taste for it again it might be that slippery slope we are all so familiar with.

    In all, I try to eliminate as much as I can of the non-Primal foods. Yes, I get tempted, but my will power generally conquers the cravings.

    1. Also, I have noticed that since I gave up on sugar, I am almost disgusted by it now. I get a taste of something sweet and cringe. For instance, I recently went to dinner with my aunt. She like to make poor man’s lemonade from free water with lemon. She put in sugar packets and I accidentally choose her water over my water. I gagged haha.

      It is amazing how things we didn’t think twice about are now inconceivable. I would have never thought twice about drinking the sugary water, now I can’t stand it.

      1. I notice that too. I put lots of lemons in my iced tea or water without any sugar and don’t miss it a bit.

    2. Pizza was by far my favourite food that I gave up. But having my toe and knee joints in pain when I ate grains convince me I couldn’t cheat with this one anymore. I find the cravings are going a way with time but I don’t know if they will ever disappear. My Uncle quit smoking more than 20 years ago and still gets cravings. If I ever have kids I think I’ll raise them without grains and hopefully save them the headaches.

  5. Honestly, I can see why it is hard to give up something that as a culture you have grown up with. Take Perohys for instance. I practically lived on them as a kid. I miss those like no tomorrow. Perhaps it is rice, or sushi – it is hard to give up that roll.

    For me though, the issue is health. I usually like to think of it like smoking. You may not pay now, but you sure pay later. In my case, it is diabetes, so I like to think that if I eat all the cake, candy that I want, they might have to amputate my leg some day. No thanks!

    1. The whole thing is a lot like smoking to me. In the way you described but also where one can lead me. I know that if I allow myself one cigarette, it’s just a matter of time until I’m up to a pack a day again. I’m like that with non-primal foods as well. I’m so all or nothing. I applaud people who can be 80/20. Better for me to completely abstain.

      1. Not sure about the 80/20 Fad. From what I see plastered all over the Net, it sounds like “The Secret” or some other New Age Manifestation get rich quick scheme. I think chasing happiness can be as addictive as the expectations people place on their favorite foods. I also don’t think the labels attributed to this or that style of diet do us and good either. Not when we see ourselves as “Vegans” “Paleos” “Vegetarians” “Pegans” and so on and on.

        Once I discovered much of the psychology to food as mentioned above, once when I got sick enough, I just decided stop eating the crap that was making me sick. No need to join some club. In fact, I have since discovered joining one group or the other; quite limiting in itself.

        My philosophy is more based on the science of food my make up and medical history. Overall, learning to listen to be body and making decisions for myself. Unfortunately the club mentality withing the various health groups that abound, seem more about the telling for others, than thinking for themselves.

        My food psychology is to stay well away from such ritualism binding “ways” and to continue to eat according to how my body responds. Don’t let the club mentality rule you like the marketers of food.

        Good Luck with whatever you choose.

    2. What exactly is a Perohys? To myself it doesn’t sound like a common food found in the US.

      1. I think it’s spelled perogies and they are polish dumplings filled with cheese and onion, or sauerkraut and fried in butter. Oh damn…

  6. I used to have a Seinfeld-esque addiction to breakfast cereal! After 3 months of Primal, i bought a few boxes and couldnt remember why i craved it so much. It stuck to my teeth and tasted so bland compared to the heartier food I was eating. The boxes remain in my pantry, going stale…

  7. Christmas cookies will be hard. I have just begun my primal journey…about 2.5 weeks into it and loving how I feel but am a bit nervous about the holidays because baking Christmas cookies is a big family tradition and certain types are expected. I will need great willpower but plan on making some of the goodies from this site and actually love dates stuffed with walnuts so I will just stick to the good stuff. I am so enjoying seeing the changes in my body , my mood, my energey levels and my happiness that I never could have imagined all the negatives the wrong foods can cause!!

    1. I know what you mean! My family always makes peanut butter fudge for the holidays that’s to die for, but somehow, I don’t think marshmallow cream is Primal. Instead, I have a lot of fun inventing my own recipes–I made an orange dark chocolate cheesecake (no sugar needed) with almond/coconut flour crust and topped with raspberries that I think is delicious and I’m going to make that my tradition instead. Why not get attached to healthier fare?

    2. There are traditional cookies with no grains if the tradition is what you are craving more than the treat. Macaroons are basically shredded coconut, egg white, honey, and salt and totally delicious.

  8. Hey Mark,

    First off well done on this post, it is very well written, to the point, and reads very clearly.

    Secondly I think my food would be cookies, the more chocolate in them the better. I think the out of sight out of mind definitely helped me the most in giving them the final heave ho.

  9. It took STRONG coffees and teas to break me of my soda habit. And similar to soda, all the neolithic foods I have given up I do not crave any longer. And having tried many of them since I no longer see their appeal.

    Now if you ask me to stop eating my pastured bacon, I am going to headbutt you!

    1. I had to taper soda out of my diet, similar to the way a doctor will take someone off of a drug that can’t be immediately stopped. I was drinking about 2 cans per day, so I went down to 1 can per day and then started skipping days. Once the last can in my final 12-pack was gone, no more soda for me. I had cravings for a few days, but thankfully those went away. Now soda tastes awful to me.

      I agree with your comment about bacon. Nobody’s taking my bacon away! 🙂

      1. I’m on Day 2 of tapering off a serious diet soda habit — one of my lingering bad dietary choices. Headaches, irritability, ugh; I’m praying that, like you folks, I’ll eventually come to dislike the flavor enough to stop craving it! …My main problem with coffee & black tea is that I prefer both with milk and sugar to reduce the acidity. I’m trying to drink green tea now, but it contains much less caffeine, as my aching head will testify….

        1. Speaking as someone who vary much prefers green tea over white — if you have caffeinie worries you can brew it significantly less strong and it can still be good.

          I know they have decaf too but that tastes weirder to me than a mild caffeinated tea.

        2. Coffee mixed in equal proportions with warm coconut milk (my current favorite food) tastes like a fancy coffee shop latte and I (former sugar fiend) was able to drink it without any sugar at all while I was dropping some other food habits that I needed to be distracted from.
          If it’s any consolation the headaches will go away after a few caffeine free days.

    2. Soda has been insanely hard for me to give up. honestly I haven’t completely phased it out. I still indulge lightly on the weekends. And it is very much a social thing. Saturday night is D&D night – and Mtn Dew is practiacally required gaming fuel. (No tea at the GM’s house because his well water tastes really, really bad.) It’s very similar to being a social smoker. It probably nudges me a little closer to 70/30, but it’s a vast improvement from where I was. A two liter lasts me a week now. I used to have a 2 liter a day habit – embarassing to admit.

      1. Hmm, bring a bottle or thermos of water? Pre brew some tea and if you like it hot, microwave? Gotta be some workaround.

        Or just water. Freeze some in the bottom half of a bottle, fill before you go over, and it will be refreshingly cool for a long time. Or freeze the whole bottle (with expansion room) and si the melt-off, could help you pace it.

        It’s easy to drink a lot as you sit there for hours… Hope you can find a way!

      2. I know this is an old post, but my husband is also a D&D player and we recently discovered a soda called Zevia, it’s sweetened with stevia and they have a “mountain” flavor which is amazing.

  10. I definitely think that advertising holds more sway on us than we realize on a sub-concsious level. But that doesn’t mean we can just blame any shortcomings on the marketers. I think that the 80/20 principle is great for introducing yourself to this style, but it’s true, after time you do want less and less garbage. At the same time when you start eating it, it can have the opposite effect.

    Personally, I will only be able to never give up my Angelo’s pizza. I don’t eat it much (especieally moving away) but if you grew up where I did, you wouldn’t have a choice: This pizza is basically it’s own religion. And then there is some corn on the cob for the 4th of July, and mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving! So long as I can keep it to that kind of a minimum…. I’m happy!

  11. Our family traditions revolved around good crusty bread. Giving it up has been difficult, but not impossible.

  12. I suppose that it’s a lucky thing to have 85% dark chocolate as the most powerful craving. We indulge nightly, and it contributes to our quality of life greatly. Giving up the dark chocolate raisins wasn’t as hard when we knew that we could obtain a high quality dark chocolate bar and enjoy that instead.

    1. I have not seen 85% dark chocolate. What kind is it and where did you find it? I need something to indulge in on occasion. I end up eating too many cashews.

        1. The 90% bar has only 3 carbs per serving (four squares). I find the 85% too sweet. It’s amazing to eat chocolate and not have a sugar rush. Walmart also carries Lindt.

        2. I find them at Walmart, too. Bought a whole box of them and nibble each evening – LOL

        3. It’s quite a popular chocolate bar. I like %80 or less. Any more and it tastes like bakers chocolate: gross.

  13. Oh how timely an article. Son turned me onto this site a few months ago and I am very gung ho. Not a ridiculous stretch for me as we have always tended to eat ‘healthy’ (lots of fresh veggies, grass fed beef, homemade foods and so on – thanks to MY mother who came well before her time). My probelm IS however, the breads (granted, they are the hearty all natural kind), rice, pasta and so on. I have been tripping, stumbling, crashing, rolling downhill with these types of foods in the past two months of trying to eradicate them from my diet (sigh). To the point of abject disgust and discouragement. I continue to try, try again. Nice to know I am not alone.

  14. For me its the occasional bit of sushi, or a tortilla chip or two, a slice of thin-crust pizza, or a gourmet hamburger (though I can do just as well without the bun). Oh yeah, and maybe the odd beer…

    Its rare to eat anything like this anymore, but I’ve found since going fully primal a year ago that I’m not as sensitive as I used to be! The odd bit of gluten doesn’t cause me the same trouble. I’m lucky to have enough discipline to keep it very moderate (like, twice a month, and in small quantities). And really, I only ever do in social situations where’s its expected, and sometimes I still stick to my guns!

    I think when people start out they should be VERY strict, but once you’re body becomes accustomed to primal foods and you have your appetite in check (fasting is key here), the odd bit of grain or sugar is fine – just keep it to special occasions and don’t binge! If you can’t handle that, you’re better off without them at all.

  15. My office brings in bagels, muffins and donuts (and some paltry fruit) every Friday for breakfast. When I started Primal it was easy to stay away, but now months later having lost a chunk of weight it seems far too easy to reward myself with a pastry.

  16. I found that I have a habit of eating out of boredom. House work is done, little one is in bed, not quite time for me to crash, watching tv/reading.. I start to look for the Peanut M&M’s to munch on. I’m not even hungry.. just bored. LOL

    1. UGH! Peanut M&M’s are like CRACK to me! I don’t even like the taste any more but they were once one of my favorites. If someone at work has a bowl of them and I pop JUST ONE in my mouth, I find myself shoveling them in but never actualy enjoying them. 😛

      1. Peanut M&M’s were also one of my favorite mid-afternoon snacks. I’ve replaced them with a square of dark chocolate and 6 – 8 cashews. The substitute I’ve found for the Dr. Pepper I used to drink with the Peanut M&M’s is a cup of unsweetened Stash Yumberry Blackcurrant tea.

  17. I was having a conversation about this on Monday with a friend that does massage therapy for me. She has converted to Primal over the last six months or so having seen how well I am.

    She has faultered on and off but is now firmly on the wagon. She comes from an Irish family where bread and potatoes and baking for the family has a really strong social tradition.

    However, she has spent years and years with eating disorders and with digestional distress. Cutting out the grains immediately sorted her digestive problems and every time she falls from the wagon she spends the rest of the day in the smallest room!

    I said to her ‘is it really worth that fleeting moment of ‘pleasure’ when the foods is in your mouth compared with the hours of distress that follows?’.

    I think if you suffer fairly immediate physical effects it is easier to quit the grains/carbs. For the emotional/social hooks (especially if you have no obvious physical response) it is much harder.

    My brother found the best way (and he’s just lost 90 lbs going Primal) was to see food as fuel and nothing more. Often at the beginning that meant doing other things when people were eating their ‘regular’ meals and eating Primal alone when he was hungry. Now he can happily join/or not social meals without difficulty and sticks to his Primal foods.

    For me it’s being so well now (mentally/psychologically/emotionally – having recovered from bipolar since becoming Primal). I would never want to go back to where I was, because now I’m calm, happy and sane I can see how insane and how much damage my carb-fuelled behaviour caused before. So it’s easy to keep off the bad stuff.

    It’s really about a psychological shift you need to allow to take hold.

    My 80/20 comes by sometimes eating more Primal food than I actually need!

    1. “…compared with the hours of distress that follows?” that’s a very cruel and inappropriate thing to say to someone “…that has spent years and years wih eating disoreders…”

  18. Cravings are weird. Every once in a great while I get a strong craving for Coke, like I can almost taste it. The strange thing is that I primarily drink water but if I were to choose to drink a soda, it would be root beer or orange soda. Coke was never a soda that I liked!

    And yet I have these incredibly strong cravings out of the blue. (Maybe once a year, if that.)

    1. I have the same Coke craving too. Maybe once per year my husband and I will buy a can and split it. Just a small taste is good enough for us. There’s definitely nostalgia behind it.

    2. I used to LOVE pop but decided to quit drinking it a few years before I went primal. Doing this simple thing can help MILLIONS of people out tremendously.

      I don’t get any pop cravings anymore but a few others are still popping up and I have been primal for 8 months now.

  19. I’m so glad to see this post! I’m new to the site (I just found it yesterday) and I’m very interested in this “primal” way of life. But this was the one thing making me hesitant. I’m just not sure if I have enough self control to give up some of my old favorite junk foods. I’m hoping if I make a gradual transition and slowly cut out the different types of junk food, that it will stick.

    1. The great thing about the non-primal foods is that they’ll always be there. That bag of m&ms is not the last on Earth. If you want it that bad you can go get some later. It’s the same with birthdays and dinner parties and holidays. There will always be something. Try no junk for a day and see what you think. I bet you’d surprise yourself.

    2. So, don’t give them up. Just give them up today…and tomorrow… That is, the key with cravings is to say “If I still want it in, say, a week, I’ll have it.” You pretty much never still want it in a week.

  20. Cravings can be really intense. For me, the threat of diabetes and heart disease are a good motivator to keep my cravings in check.

  21. uhhh this was in the UofI pdf, “People in happy moods tended to prefer healthier foods
    such as pizza or steak (32%).” Pizza, healthy eh?

  22. I think a big part of temptation for me is convenience–easy to drive through a cheap, authentic Mexican place and get a carne asada taco. (Yeah, I know, I could throw away the tortilla, but once it’s in my hands, that’s rare.) Wouldn’t a primal drive-thru be lovely??

    My favorite Primal snack–those amazing Almond Meal crackers from the Primal Cookbook–yum!!!! That recipe alone makes it worth the price (although there are many other great recipes).

  23. For me, it’s not a specific type of carb that’s killer, but a specific time of the week – the WEEKENDS. That’s when my carb cravings intensify. When I’m working, my diet’s clean, but as soon as the weekend rolls around, primal gets significantly more challenging. However, it is gradually improving by planning for those moments of weakness ahead of time.

  24. The foods I eat now are what I spent years craving, so I am more than willing to trade in pasta, bread and other junk for some steak, venison and coconut. I believe in this diet so much, and have seen enough changes because of it, that it is honestly hard for me to imagine craving junk food.

  25. As a fairly young person (I’m 19), and a primal eater for more than two years now, I feel I have an advantage in that those emotional and psychological connections to carb-and-sugar heavy junk or comfort food perhaps aren’t as fully developed as they would be if I were older. Therefore I see a bowl of what used to be my favorite cereal and all I can think about now is how much it looks like cat food. On the other hand, an omelet stuffed to bursting with veggies, bacon, and goat cheese illicits a considerably different response…

    1. Several weeks after I gave up eating wheat, cereal, pasta, bread, etc., I got a craving for cereal. We had Rice Chex in the pantry which is gluten free. I thought to myself “rice is not great, but the Primal diet can accomodate rice occassionally” so I poured myself a big bowl of the stuff.

      I got so sick to my stomach that night and into the next day. It was a great lesson and helped curb that particular craving. 🙂

      1. By the way, I’m not even saying an occassional small bowl of Rice Chex is going to kill a person. I have much worse vices than Rice Chex. 🙂 Rather I ate that as my main meal for supper, and I had 2-3 large bowls of the stuff. Not a good idea and I won’t be making that mistake again!

  26. Speaking as a biochemist, I’d have to add into there some info on beta endorphin and dopamine in relation to sugary foods and white carbs- the addictiveness of the hit of endogenous opiates can be really hard to get away from. The work of Bart Hoebels is worth a look, as is Kathleen Desmaisons concept of sugar sensitivity though she advocates wholegrains as the alternative. Cravings are not just psychological, they are also biochemical, and an understanding of what is going on can help to plan effective ways to get free and stick to paleo food. Also it is helpful for us to be aware that some people are more vulnerable than others due to their own natural biochemistry, so what is an easy choice for one person can be a real battle for another, and that’s not about lack of willpower.

    1. As one who has dealt with food addiction my entire life I can certainly agree on the willpower thing. Cutting out all grains and sugar, I do eat occasional fruit, has been a great help, but sometimes the cravings are beyond reality. I’ve found eating protein and fat help moderate cravings, but still have to be very careful or it’s off to the races.

      1. I know what you mean. My craving for grains has more or less disappeared, but sweet still shows up. I try to contain carb creep with very dark chocolate and blueberries with cream, but the size of the serving wants to grow. Holiday goodies are no longer a problem.

    2. I think that’s what my problem is. I get so mad at myself for compulsively eating something that I don’t even think tastes good anymore! After I’ve eaten everything in sight and determined that, no, I did not get any satisfaction from it, I think, “This has to be biochemical or something.” It feels more like a physical addiction than a psychological craving. I think I will change strategies and treat it like an addiction!

      1. Yep, funny how the 13th doughnut has no taste due to the sugar burn in your mouth, but ya still fuc*in’ eat it!

        The science is solid on addicts having different brain wiring and chemistry and I believe it. I find no difference between sugar cravings and those I had when I still drank. OA has been a great help, btw

        1. Amen on that 13th doughnut, lol. How about “donette gems”? They are TOTALLY disgusting and NOT tasty, but I always associated them with gas station stops on long road-trips. Which are hard to handle in primal mode, coolers or not.

        2. Louise D…those are my weakness on road trips too! And of course I would have to eat all 6 of them. I am close to growing out of that nostalgic craving.

    3. Thanks for pointing this out, Katherine.

      I totally agree on the biochemical component to cravings and individual variances in their intensity.

    4. Thank you! As chief Christmas cookie baker in the household, I’ve likened it to asking an alcoholic to mix the drinks at the party! A nip here and there, and you’re a goner!

      However, I spent some time yesterday researching alternatives (thank you Elana!), and I think I”m good to go for next year, and subsequent years as I slowly phase out the toxic ones.

    5. From my own experience with addiction (alcoholism) I can attest to the biochemical nature of addiction. The work of Dr. John David Sinclair in the field of the opioidergic system/alcoholism/addictive behavior connection changed- nay- SAVED my life. I was skeptical but desperate so I tried the Sinclair Method of alcoholism treatment and to my surprise it worked beautifully.
      His research also shows a link between the opoid system and food cravings. A lot of which, I believe to be influenced by a genetic predisposition for certain addictions. It has been postulated that the Sinclair Method may have some use in the area of food addiction as well.

      1. I’ll check it out. I cut sugar and grain cold turkey at the beginning of this (back on both now, aiming to get off again), and I found that I drank a lot more alcohol while sugar free (only cane sugar, not honey or other sweeteners). It was a bit disconcerting, to be honest. (And I’m not much of a drinker, I”ll have maybe one or two cups of wine a week, I was easily doubling the wine, and throwing in a beer or two while sugar free, and I don’t like beer that much (and yes, I know it’s a grain…)

  27. What worked for me was a four week elimination diet to make sure I didn’t have any food sensitivities. That was a powerful enough reason for me to get through the first tough 10 days or so of cravings. I didn’t want to have to start this all over so I was 100% on board.

    Now six week in, I still haven’t had any grains, yeast, or nuts, and have found no sensitivity to eggs or dairy. I will eventually try wheat again, but since I don’t miss it so far I am in no rush. I now make my own ice cream and have only had one small scoop at Thanksgiving, without the typical desire to eat a sink-full immediately after the first bite.

    Progress, but not perfection! That actually is perfect for me!!

  28. Everyone is different of course… which this post covered. But assuming that “breakfast cereal” or one can of “Coke” per day is the hold up, I’ll argue that it’s much better to switch to a primal diet and keep the one vice. For example, eat healthy all day long, but have your can of Coke.

    Obviously that’s not the ideal situation, and even just drinking one can of Coke every day has consequences. Yet it’s undoutably better than having that can of Coke plus eating unhealthy during all the day’s meals.

    Plus if you can say to someone “fine, drink your can of Coke, but go Primal in every other aspect of your life” chances are better they’ll give it a go. And chances are good they might just give up that Coke eventually after experiencing the benefits associated with the rest of their conversion to Primal living.

  29. I think there’s a huge variety in people and their reactions to food. Some of us are “supertasters” and for us, food is an overwhelming sensory and sensual experience. For such people, giving up part of this experience can obviously be very difficult. Some of us are “subtasters”, people who barely have enough tastebuds to register the difference between an asparagus and a pizza. They probably have a much easier time. My husband is a subtaster. He says he wishes he didn’t even have to eat, if he could just get nutrition through an IV he’d be dine. For him, going Primal is a no-brainer and a non-struggle. I’m a supertaster, and the textures, temperature, and subtle flavor differences are all part of a wonderful sensory experience when it comes to food. Not surprisingly, I miss a lot of the non-primal foods a LOT more than my husband does.

    Then again, even though I only smoked cigarettes for 6 months when I was a teenager and haven’t smoked one in over 25 years, and even though I know how terrible they are for the body (way worse than a baguette), I still crave them sometimes. The whole sensory experience of smoking is something I’m not sure I’ll ever get past wanting. So I don’t hold out a whole lot of hope that the non-Primal food cravings will ever go away for me. They have definitely lessened though, at least for many things. Bread and pasta are no longer an issue. Breakfast cereal is what I definitely miss the most. Especially since it’s so quick and easy in the morning!

    1. Spot-on reply Robin…I wonder if more women (than men)fall into the “supersensoral” taster category? My husband and I have the same relationships toward foods…I still miss the sensoral experience of the cigarette a only smoked during a year of my life…and I still miss CRUNCH …specifically in a crunchy granola …yet the bread/pasta “soft”carb cravings have waned considerably…

  30. Great post Mark! As a ‘primal’ nutritionist working with individuals and groups, this is the toughest bit of my job. Convincing people to eat more vegetables and bacon – easy. Giving up margarine & legumes – easy. No longer having breads, cereals, and sweets – bloody hard!

    Along with all the points you made, people have to acknowledge that to give up those foods, they are dealing with an physiological addiction in many instances. It is getting shown time & again that substances such as gluten and sugar are hard-wiring themselves into people’s nervous systems. It can be hard going.

  31. interested that you point out the “grief” that goes with giving up the foods you crave. I am a sugar addict, pure and simple. I find it HARD to give it up, it’s what i always “fall off the wagon” for. I feel enormously better when I don’t eat it – and I adore berries and thick cream as a treat instead. I doon’t even miss bread and pasta and rice. BUT – I do have a sense of loss, almost like a bereavement. Something I have clung to for comfort all my life turns out to have been a deceptive and deadly traitor. But I miss it. Bacon is great, butter on my veggies is fantastic, but they are not sources of emotional comfort on a bad day. I know sugar would kill me if I let it – but I so miss it!!

  32. Almost every Friday for the past 15 years has been pizza night. Oh boy!

  33. For me it’s all about the family/childhood connections. My mother was a good cook, and there are definitely many great memories bound up for me with the foods she made or bought for us and the times of the year. I am especially susceptible to desserts; I really don’t miss or crave bread/rice/potatoes all that much.

    Generally speaking, if I am “on” for a good while, my desire to eat most bad stuff goes away entirely. I am not even tempted by the junk food at work. But if I break for a favorite homemade food, suddenly those cheap Hershey bars become appealing again.

    I don’t really struggle with any issues with weight or health, but I do notice my performance in CrossFit going down when I’m eating poorly. That said, while my commitment is to be more 80 than 20 next year than this year, I fully know that I will not be able to (nor want to) be 100%. Not everything we enjoy is good for us, but if we know the true impact of our choices that is the best we can ask, and it helps us make the right one more often than not.

  34. My mantra – that has gotten me down 20 + pounds and still counting (2 lbs/week) is


    Pass it on!

    1. You might want to be careful with the quote.

      It was said by a woman who is 6 inches taller, and 10 sizes smaller than the average woman. I don’t think Kate Moss should be a good role model for going primal. I doubt she could even do one air squat without feeling faint!

      Like I said, just because careful!

    2. You might want to be careful with the quote.

      It was said by a woman who is 6 inches taller, and 10 sizes smaller than the average woman. I don’t think Kate Moss should be a good role model for going primal. I doubt she could even do one air squat without feeling faint!

      Like I said, just be careful!

        1. Hmm, how about “nothing tastes as good as HEALTHY feels” as a variation, then…

    3. Watch out with that mantra….This is the rallying cry of any anorectic…and is well-known…Think health, not thin as the ultimate motor behind the Paleo lifestyle…Paleo HELPS me to turn my back on unhealthy food restrictions…to embrace taste, mouth-feel and nourishment…One can lose weight on any restrictive diet…only Paleo seems to propagate perpetual physical and mental health in very positive, life-affirming ways…

  35. Some of this is about the very human tendency to ignore long term consequences in favor of short term pleasure. It’s the same reason why people smoke cigarettes, don’t wear seat belts, or don’t buy life insurance. We’d rather please the “Present Me” than take care of the “Future Me” since the future seems to never come. So you’re not just battling culture, advertising, your upbringing, prevalence, and habit. You’re also fighting your human nature a bit.

    For me, I’ve been trying to place awareness in between my choice to eat something non-Primal and actually eating it. I’m trying to remind myself of just how sick I always feel afterward BEFORE I taste that slice of pizza. Nine times out of 10 that does the trick. I’ll chalk up that other one time to being human.

  36. Before going primal/paleo in my eating, I loved bread in all of its forms. I had a bread machine, tons of recipes for breads, etc. I could never pass up the bread basket at my favorite Greek and Italian restaurants. I always ordered thick crust pizza. Bread had many happy memories for me since my grandmother and I often shared it when I was a child, especially her amazing homemade biscuits.

    I now can’t stand the smell of bread baking. I used to love that smell and now it produces a slight nausea. Coupled with eating what’s right for humans and retraining my biochemical responses to food, knowing what eating all of those carbs does to my body’s chemistry killed the bread craving.

    Feeling good and being stronger and lighter is powerful medicine and a message I can’t ever ignore. Over time, my desire for processed sugar and carbs has gone away. Eating primally has changed my taste buds for the better. For sure, there are stressful days when a big slice of chocolate cake looks good, but then I think about what that stuff was doing to my body. Thinking about old blood work results is enough to stop me.

    It’s interesting to try to explain to family why I don’t eat this or that anymore.

  37. I find that smells can trigger cravings for me more that the sight of food. Like today, one of the banks brought our office a tin of popcorn for the holidays. Inside the tin is a bag of plain, one of cheese, and one of caramel. I opened the tin, and was overwhelmed by the smell. Now, every time I look at the tin, I think about that popcorn. And it’s not even one of my favorite foods, it’s just that sweet smell of the caramel corn which triggered a craving. (I do not plan to eat any of it, either.) I heard one time that stores put duct work in so that the smell of the bakery wafts to the front doors of the store, to get you hungry, which means you’ll spend more money. There’s big bucks in food styling, making that hamburger or pizza look so tempting. They never look that good in reality!

  38. For me it’s not really a “junk” food. It’s oatmeal. I’ve been eating it twice a day so it doesn’t really fit into the 80/20. I’m biting the bullet and giving it up, but boy it’s hard!

  39. I find that most cravings are really for something I can eat, at least under 80/20. If I crave pizza, it’s mostly for the toppings. The crust is wonderful, but I can live without it. Same with craving a triple burger with cheese and bacon. I wish I could eat the bun, but I have no trouble asking the waiter to leave it off.

    I must admit that I had already fought the wheat battle a few years ago. But before Primal, I would sometimes indulge, mostly from laziness, e.g. not picking out the croutons from a salad.

    I should also say that I eat some white potatoes, white rice and corn tortillas in moderation, i.e. a serving or two of one of them about 5 dinners per week. I am doing well and see no reason to give them up.

    All of the no-no junk foods taste just as good as ever to me. They just don’t control me.

  40. I’ve been rather successful in giving up the grains, but the hardest for me has been pasta, which I love in all its various guises. I try to limit my pasta intake to about once every 10 days, so perhaps it falls into the 80/20 category, but I’d love to be able to cut it out for good.

    1. I made a delish lasagna yesterday using very thin layers of scrambled egg in place of noodles

  41. I haven’t found it difficult to drop grains but I don’t live in my home culture which I think makes it much, much easier for me.

    My husband who hates the fast food joints with a passion and vowed never to take our kids there would routinely take them to Krispy Kreme until I pointed out that it wasn’t healthy or in line with his beliefs.

    It had never crossed his mind because Sunday morning doughnuts was what his family did.

    I have also started to notice since going Primal that there are even primal foods that are like drugs for me – for example, grapes, nuts. I can’t stop eating them if I start. I’d never noticed this before.

    1. Alison,

      I share your feelings about Grape-Nuts cereal. One thing I’ve discovered is that even though it’s been touted as “healthy” and only has a few ingredients, it’s sweeter than many of the highly sugared kid’s cereals!!

  42. Before I started the Primal diet, for 9 months I had been on a very healthful weight-loss diet. I ate more vegetables than I ever had before, and stopped eating anything made with white flour. I found that getting off white flour made the mid-afternoon slump go away, as well as the craving for sweets.

    So by the time I discovered the Primal diet, I was half-way there in terms of weaning my self from my beloved bread and pasta. By that time, eliminating grains from my diet completely was not really a problem. After three weeks, my heartburn went away, and I felt clear-headed for the first time in memory.

    That was enough to make me avoid grains on a daily basis. I eat organic produce, grass-fed beef and pasture-raised chicken and turkey(which I hadn’t before going primal. From day to day I don’t miss the old favorite foods, and I go by the 80/20 concept in regard to eating at restaurants and having holiday meals or going to parties.

    Maybe giving up bread wasn’t hard for me because I had already given up one form of it. As someone who once considered bread an essential food, I am fine without it.

    1. Agreed, Paula. My afternoon sleepiness went away completely when I gave up flour. I also had digestive “issues” that are also gone.

  43. I gave up soda years ago back in college. I was drinking a few 20oz bottles a day and just decided to see if I could give it up cold turkey one Sunday night. Haven’t drank it since. Same thing with breakfast cereal (and I LOVED cereal). Chips, pretzels, Doritos, etc were never my thing, so they weren’t hard to give up. But now I’m still working on giving up the desserty sweets. That’s been a struggle, but I am getting away from them … just slower than I wanted.

  44. I’m Sicilian, need I say more?? I always fending off the constant pasta and bread-i-licious dishes my family throws at me. It’s no big deal though when you learn some kick-ass recipes like primal pancakes and pizza! On the other hand homemade chocolate chip cookies are the devil.

  45. It’s only that artisan wholegrain organic sourdough, toasted and slathered in butter… I can’t resist when it’s in our kitchen. Just one slice with a giant veggie omlette and a big rasher of bacon… and espresso. 80/20?

  46. I still have issues with donuts. My husband loves them and buys them. They are always around the house. It SUCKS. I love them so much, and I don’t have any side effects when I fall off the wagon which makes it much more difficult. I think if i felt like i was going to throw up or had bad headaches after I would eat crap, then it would make it easier.

  47. I have failed to fully convert, but one food that definitely gets me: Popcorn. And once I start eating it, I shovel mouthfuls as fast as I can eat them until suddenly the whole bowl is gone. What’s worse, is it really upsets my gut, and I know this while I’m eating it. Ugh. Evil popcorn!

  48. I am totally Primal….18mths-also being a Type 1 diabetic and follow Dr Biernstiens food lists for Diabetics- no fruit………I MISS Fruit but I feel like crap when i eat it with BGs all over the place….lol…..So I dont indulge at all -not tempted- just accept that I miss it.

  49. Three Words: Sour. Patch. Kids.

    I have to literally put my hands in my pockets when I walk by them in the store.

    Then again, I’ve only been primal for about 3 weeks.

    1. Your sweet tooth does progressively dial down with a primal diet… That’ll help. If and when you do indulge, pay attention to that point where they don’t taste so good anymore, then toss the rest. My husband finds he hits a limit after just a couple sips of soda,for example.

  50. I find that as long as I stay Primal, my blood glucose levels allow me to resist temptation very easily (although I have occasionally been known to SNIFF the Friday morning office doughnuts!) Was never really a sweet eater, but man, did I love me some pizza! Now, when a craving hits, I work out a substitute…the “meatza” is great; we make a fantastic (maybe not primal but definitely ultra low-carb) cheesecake, and although I’ve made satisfying parmesan/flax/sunflower crackers, GG’s Scaandinavian Crispbread is a daily staple.
    My philosophy is to enjoy the food that is NATURALLY low carb & primal..don’t try to duplicate the high-carb tastes you THINK you want with poor imitations; you’ll be disappointed (well, other than the occasional hook-up w/Dreamfield’s spaghetti).
    My Nesco dehydrator is my best friend (nothing beats home-made jerky) and I’ve lost over 70 #s in
    2 years; 20 more to go, but that’s the wine I can’t seem to give up!

    1. Lol!! I totally sniff the Friday donuts! I think they smell better than they taste, anyway.

  51. Get a bad systematic and chronic candida infection! That stopped me!

  52. quick recent experience –

    for 2 months i’m 90%- 95% off (or more depending on item) wheat, white sugar (using xylitol and raw honey when necessary), off bread, off any oil but coconut or olive, off most of the no-no veggies, and off my life-long cookie munching (i’m a healthy 56).

    few days ago during a incident-related stress, i did a poorly judged “self-medication” – chomped some sugary chocolate bar and 3 Rachels gluten-free BUT with lotsa **sugar** – immediately got nauseous, irritable and realized it

    – on just 3 not so big cookies! i used to down a box of these no prob –

    so – insulin sensitivity must be up, and i learned…

    …the cookies will not be there on top of the fridge next time (they’ll be still on the store shelf…)


  53. People use junk food as a replacement for sex – no doubt about it. Ever hear how people talk about certain foods? try it. The next time someone is talking about thier favorite food it sounds an aweful lot like….well, you know.

    Sex everyday keeps the junk food away 🙂

  54. Maybe we should revamp that Kate Moss quote into something more useful. I’d propose “Nothing tastes as good as *healthy* feels.” I get a lot of psychic benefit, not just enjoyment of taste, out of eating fresh veggies or salads, and knowing that I’m helping my body.

    On the other hand, all of my family’s special occasion and ‘comfort’ foods were SAD, and speaking of SAD, I do suffer from inherited seasonal depression (Vitamin D helps, but it doesn’t cure, especially if life stress hits me at the same time). Given the family history of comfort eating, I do pretty well on Primal eating most of the time, but under stress I have a mixed track record of resisting the urge to splurge on definitively non-primal foods like donuts, pasta, burgers, etc.

    On a brighter note, I’ve found a really good substitute for corn chips if you like them (or crispy fries) with chili. A good hearty helping of chili (sans beans, preferably), smothered in shredded cheese, goes down real nice if you use pork rinds in place of chips. Of course, it does help to really smother that chili on there, to make sure that the taste is, (ahem), consistent. But the little added crunch can’t be beat, and it’s an easy, hearty ‘snack’ for those cravings, to say nothing of convenience. Make a big pot, buy a big bag, and hit it for most of the week.

  55. Someone posted about how her brother views food as a means to fuel your body… I’ve been saying that for years. Most people (in my opinion) view food as a means of entertainment. We grill, have family over, go to dinner, order takeout, etc…, all the while eating to their hearts content, without thinking what they’re ingesting is doing to their bodies. I’ve mananged to drop the entertainment thing for the most part, although I have to admit, earlier this year I injured myself in the gym, twice… and the second injury really put me down. I spent spring and summer recouperating and gaining weight (back to viewing food as entertainment)… that’s when I found this site. Thanks to everyone here, I’m back on my “warpath” to getting healthy, only this time, I’ll be even healthier. 7.3% body fat (again) is on the horizon. 🙂

  56. funny, I was craving big fluffy blueberry buttermilk pancakes this morning. Other than that oatmeal would be my weakness, I love it. I very rarely miss things like bread, cake, crackers or chips. There are so many great primal substitutes to most of the grain based foods, and I enjoy knowing that they won’t make me ill. I honestly think that I wouldn’t be able to even finish a plate of pancakes without feeling horribly ill later, its simply not worth it.

  57. Great! Now, how do I get my beloved family members (and everyone else I care about) to read this post? I’m betting they’ll be as reluctant to read this as they are reluctant to give up their grains…

  58. Now I may be the only on crazy enough to do this, but when I am craving something sweet and utterly delicous, I go to one of those big box store bakery areas. where they have the custom cakes, the cookies, cupcakes, cheesecake sampler dish’s, basically anything you could want. And instead of buying them, i can look at them, close my eyes and imagine the texture and sweetness of eating them. i do this for like 3-5 min. after that amount of time i feel like i have eaten it, and the ‘sugar crash’ happens and i think about how sweet it is, how quickly it would all turn to fat, how it would make me groggy to eat it, how expensive it is for how nutritionally empty it is. so i feel better by not eating it, but i also feel like i did eat it because i could visualize it so clearly and strongly.

    Add that to the theory of avoidance lol

    1. Nope, you’re not. This reply caught my eye because I end up, not intentionally mind you, wandering through the baking section of every store I go in. Just breathing it in and looking at everything I used to eat, I never indulge, but reminisce and I can taste and feel them in my mouth. It is something I catch myself doing quite often and kind of laugh at myself when I do.

  59. Having recently completed Diane Sanfilippo’s “21 Day Detox” program (successfully, I might add, this article makes all the sense to me. I have found that I’m even less interested in grains & starches and sweet carbs than before. When people ask about my eating habits, they always say they can never do without _______. I always tell them I had the same cravings/wants before I made-the-decision-to-change.

  60. I have been able to forgo most temptations but as part of my 80/20 I have a really hard time passing up a dark stout or super hoppy IPA. Mostly microbrews or anything sam smith brew from England!

  61. I’m half Italian, half Japanese; it should be obvious what I struggle with. My parents and sister were more than happy to empty my pantry of pasta and 25lb bags of rice. I now invest in my local CSA and bask in the bounty of fresh organic produce.

  62. I have a hard time this time of year! I have always loved my Christmas cookies. But I figured out what I really like, its the baking…the all being in the kitchen, and setting out cookies for Santa (which we probably won’t do, maybe a Primal Chocolate Truffle for him instead!) My way to get around it, I bake for my churches cookie walk. So I spend all day with my favorite old cookie recipes, pack them all up in fun Christmas tins, and then bring them all to my church for them to raise money. Of course we all have one cookie, but that’s it!

    This is most defiantly the hardest time of year, but I have to thank the Primal Blueprint Cookbook for offering tasty dessert to satisfy our nostalgic needs!

  63. Removing grains from my diet has over the long haul proved harder than I thought. They are just everywhere, and as a high calorie eating/burning athlete, I am ALWAYS hungry.

    The less often I eat grains now, the worse I feel when I do indulge.

  64. I love to cook, and now that I’ve gone Primal, I get to make wonderful foods from all the great recipes out there, as well as my own ingenuity. That being said, I wonder why humans (or maybe it’s just Americans?) always feel the need to find a replacement or substitute for something that we either cannot or should not have. For example, after being diagnosed with Celiac and lactose intolerance, the gluten free group I joined spent hours going over what kinds of bread or flour we could use to substitute. And we obsess about sugar substitutes– stevia v. splenda v. aspartame, etc. Why can’t we just go without? I think IF is a great way of practicing this. Fast for a day or so, then make sure to eat the good Primal stuff, then fast again. Pretty soon, junk food and substitutes won’t matter, eating the good stuff will!

  65. refined carbs: cookies, muffins, scones. The usual coffee shop fare. I’m a college student and spend a fair amount of time studying in coffee shops and am a sucker for the pastries. Funny thing, as soon as I have one, it leaves me craving sugar for the next 24-48 hours.

    1. Exactly. I’ve never liked sugar a lot, but pasta, oh yeah. Now that I rarely eat it anymore, I’m never hungry. Sometimes I find myself being a bit foggy, and I think ‘why, what’s the matter, why am I feeling faint?’ and then I realize ‘oh, I haven’t eaten in 16 hours, that must be it’. It’s really strange being able to miss meals and either not notice or not care.

  66. I’m finding the hardest thing to give up at the moment is mixers for spirits – cola with my Morgans Spiced….tonic with my gin…We don’t particularly drink very often at home – maybe once a week where we have wine – great rich reds or our beloved cava (accepting that it’s sweeter than red) – but when we go out I can get a bit bored of wine and like to have spirits. I also like a lot of mixer in my drink (and ice) – keeps it nicely diluted – which just means more diet or ‘full fat’ junky liquid!!! I switch between naturally and artificially sweetened as both trigger the insulin response and weight gain for me – I can never make my mind up which is ‘worse’ so spread the load…! I went out for my office Christmas ‘do’ yesterday and probably had 2 litres of the stuff… 🙁 Am out for a belated birthday tomorrow and will have the same problems then… Giving up bread, grains, pulses/legumes, just about all milk, pasta, pizza, fries, rice, baked sweet things, junky chocolate…easy… Mixers with my favourite spirits… Tough one! (To be absolutely honest I also still drink water flavoured with small amounts of sugar free squash (cordial) – there’s only so much plain water I can drink – even if it’s sparking or has lime in there….).

  67. Hi Mark,

    A small suggestion: There is A LOT of interesting information and articles on your webiste and reading it all is simply hard to get down to. Also, scanning new articles isn’t that easy as information is spread over a lot of words. So one thing that would be really helpful would be a short one paragraph summary or “In conclusion:” either at the top or bottom of each page.

    Thanks for leading the primal way!


  68. I went Primal 6 months ago and lost 30 lbs., back to my athletic HS weight in my 64 old body. I don’t eat grains with one proviso. I will eat 1 or 2 buttered Wasa Sourdough crackers with 3 sunny side up eggs for breakfast, fried in a coconut/butter melt. I’m betting that Wasa’s sourdough process eliminates most of the bad things about grains (phytates, lectins, etc.)and the net 7 g of carbs/cracker is acceptable for me. This breakfast combo for me satiates any cravings and is very convenient as I purchase them from the local food market.

    Considering the psychological element of this satiation, as a child my mother would cook me sunny side up eggs for breakfast in her cast iron pan with real butter, a good thing, and would instruct me to make sure I ate toast with it so the egg yokes would not make me nauseous, a bad thing. Wow, talking about an implanted life long psychosomatic reaction to a otherwise very healthy breakfast. The sourdough cracker has eliminated the problem.

  69. The Dolorian in “Back to the Future” needed high power uranium for the Flux Compasator to work, in the past. But when Doc returned from the future, it ran on garbage and it did not even need roads.
    So maybe if we adapt to all the garbage that is around us, maybe we can run on it more efficiently and maybe even fly in the future.

    BTW: I enjoy the Primal Blueprint and the thought behind it. Thank you for putting effort into educating people.
    I also enjoy my 20 percent!

    What is worse in your opinion, to eat gluten or to eat “unhappy” meat?

  70. Much has been written about the benefits of high cocoa chocolate. The problem is making it palatable without any sugar. I satisfy my chocolate cravings with an easy to make drink using 100% Natural Unsweetened Cocoa such as powders made by Ghirardelli or Hershey. They are of the un-Dutched variety, Dutched cocoa being cocoa treaded with sodium hydroxide to make it mix in liquid, easier. Yuck!

    For 2 cups (1 cup is too little for me):

    1 heaping teaspoon cocoa
    1.5 cups of hot water
    0.5 cup coffee from your morning brew
    0.5 teaspoon stevia
    Heavy cream to taste

    I will sometimes add a 1/4 teaspoon of of cayenne pepper powder to add a nice kick.

    1. I do something similar:

      1 cup coffee (I use organic)
      .5 oz very dark chocolate (Lindt 90% or Scharffenberger 99%, for instance), cut into shavings
      2 T organic half and half
      1/8th to 1/16 t (to taste) each of:
      cayenne pepper
      ginger (could also use fresh grated)
      SweetLeaf Stevia to taste


  71. I was just thinking about what my dietary “wishlist” would be. Right now I miss very dark chocolate (at least 85%), baked granny smith apples, daiya cheese, and coconut ice cream. It’d be nice if there wasn’t so much trash talking on cashews too, but, alas, Candida is a hungry beast.

    But the cravings really do subside after just a few weeks, and things like broccoli, zucchini, etc become delicious. If you asked me to give up broccoli, I’d be mad.

  72. I’ve been paleo for about 4 years now and never found giving up carbs to be very difficult- but I do still struggle with cravings for NUTS! I can go through a jar of almond butter like a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. The best solution I’ve found is the out-of-sight method, because once I start it is all down hill. (and it throws off my digestion for days and days!) I think I may be super lectin sensitive…

    Anyone else go nuts for nuts?

    1. Yep, roasted almond butter, can’t have it in the house. On a turn around night where I stay up as late as I can so I can change from day shift to go into night shift the next evening, I will destroy half the jar with carrots or my finger. I’ve done this more times than I’ll admit. What’s half the jar? Like 2100 calories? Haha.

    2. Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that. Very hard to keep the calories down. I buy only walnuts, almonds and macadamias. Cashews are not safe in my presence, or maybe vice versa! No peanuts allowed, either. Of course, they’re not actually a nut and that might be why they’re addictive.

  73. Back in the day I used to cook 2 POUNDS of whole wheat pasta for my family of four, and we ate the WHOLE thing! I thought I was feeding them nutritious food. While we were all very active, and none of us were overweight, my husband and I both had high blood pressure, and I suffered from non stop headaches and joint pain.
    So nearly 3 years ago, I decided to try a low carb approach. (I have now “evolved” to a more primal approach.) Anyway, initially, I thought I would have to find some way to include pasta. I never bothered, because for me it was amazing how the cravings melted away. However, I have purchased a product for my mother in law called miracle noodles. They are made from soluble fiber from a japanese yam. I think a serving is listed as 1 carb. She really likes these with her favorite pasta sauces.

  74. I’ve been enjoying a few items as bread/cracker substitutes. They also happen to be raw and vegan. They’re pricey but I use them sparingly. The Love Force products are probably the cheapest:

    Brad’s Raw Chips (about $8 a package): (I like the “Cheddar” and “Indian” flavors best)

    Rayo de Sol Gluten Free Essene Breads (about $10 a loaf):
    (I’ve enjoyed the “Havest” and “Rye” so far) They’re the size of cocktail loaves, more or less.

    Love Force Raw Organic Breads (about $5 a package):
    (I’ve had the “Sun-Flax Rye” and loved it. It’s somewhere between a bread and a cracker, hard but chewy).

  75. I finally have it under control. Before I found Final Blueprint, I had lost weight using South Beach Diet. I was good for a while, but then old habits began creeping back. Maybe I had way more rice than I knew I was supposed to have with dinner. Or, maybe I indulged in a brownie binge, telling myself I’d be back on the wagon the next day only to find it easier to have more goodies because I did the day before, and what’s one more day?

    I began struggling to keep off the weight loss, I saw a few pounds creeping back on after all the hard work I had done to get rid of it. I had begun at over 150lbs and 37% body fat, and got down to 125, about 23% body fat- but was then creeping up to 130 again. Doesn’t seem like a big deal but if you’re tall and thin (after losing your weight) and like when your jeans fit like a glove, 5lbs makes a big difference.

    It was very frustrating and I began yo-yo-ing badly. I could barely maintain 127- I was excercising every day for an hour- grueling workouts, to try to offset the desserts and extra carbs. But I could not out-excercise the food, even if I was fanatical.

    Near the end of last year, I googled something about food and Primal Blueprint popped up. I began reading, and I ordered the book. I read it, and decided that New Year, I was going Primal. I went 100% Primal and the extra pounds dropped right off. I got real lean and fit into a size 2! Not anorexic, and not starving, either. I allowed some very dark chocolate after dinner sometimes. I very rarely allowed it, but did occasionally have rice, corn, or beans, but very, very rarely. Once a month for rice, once every 2 months for corn. Beans here and there.

    6 months in, I was at a wedding and saw bananas foster. I felt I could trust myself with it- I knew this wasn’t the kind of thing where I’d go back again and again, like an addict. That’s when I realized there ARE certain foods I do that with. So right then, I realized it and I banned those things, forever. No cookies, cakes, pies, brownies, or ANY cake like thing or flour containing dessert. Things that I know I can have once and be satisfied, like a little ice cream or a piece of chocolate, or a pudding- fine. I know I won’t go back to have 5 more bowls of ice cream like I would cookies.

    I’ve done very well with this ban. I am going on one year since going primal and at all times I’m in the 85%-95% range. When I went primal, my weight settled around 123 and I have weighed this all year, fluctuating only mildly. I went from yo-yo and extreme frustration and struggle to maintaining a consistent weight so easily.

    So, I am almost reaching the anniversary of when I gave up those hostage holders- the cake, cookies, brownies. And I do not bake anymore, either. I bought a cake for my son’s B Day this year and did not have any. (I had some candy, though, which suprisingly made me SO sick.) I don’t bake because it’s not fair to expect that from me- I thought about it and I’m not going to feel obligated because of holidays.

    Anyway, I don’t miss them. They occasionally look good, but, I don’t actually want it.

  76. Yes, my sweet-spot is my mom’s homemade peanut butter cups.. I also love making them for special occasions, and I tell myself I won’t eat one, but then I do. And then I eat another. And another, and another until I feel sick and eventually get sick. And then I’ll have a downtime where I feel like I absolutely need another one. I swear, sugar is worse than crack. (Not that I would know). For me, personally, it’s better to stick to the course and never give in. I just don’t seem to have the ability to only try a little bit.

  77. I just wrote a two part series on how highly palatable foods affect our brains. It’s something that has become so much clearer to me through my own experiences with giving up all sweeteners for a month and then trying to add them back into my diet in moderation. I can’t do it. One day of sugar on Thanksgiving made me miserable for days, like I was starting over again. Not worth it.

  78. Barf. I don’t mean to sound snobby, but I feel like one would have to have an EXTREMELY messed-up relationship with food that they would actually prefer junk food over real, fresh, gourmet food.

    I like to think about junk food the same way as I think about condiments: they taste nice (or rather, they taste STRONG), but you’d be insane to try to make a meal out of them. Could you imagine a diet based on mayonnaise or pancake syrup? To me, that’s basically what a junk-food diet looks like: not real food.

    The real issue here, I think, is that there are plenty of people telling the American population WHAT to eat, but nobody telling them HOW to eat!

    I think about a study they conducted in two different inner-city elementary schools, where the kids, who were all on subsidized school lunches, had terrible eating habits and claimed to prefer junk food to healthy food. In both school cafeterias, they introduced a salad bar, complete with healthy dressings and local, seasonal produce. In one school, they just left the kids to their own devices, and the salad bar went unused; in the other school, they had a registered dietitian come in give the kids a lesson in how to make a salad. And what do you know! The kids who got instruction in how to make salads preferred the salad bar option at an astronomically higher percentage than those who didn’t receive instruction in how to use it.

    Gee, Mark – you ever think about a school tour? If only you didn’t have to worry about CW-saturated parents mauling you alive…

  79. I’m 5.5 months pregnant with our first child, and I’m eating more unhealthy than ever!

    My husband and I were really great about eating Primal/Paleo before I got pregnant, and now we’re both off the wagon because of it.

    And it’s not just the cravings (which are stronger than ever). I find that so many healthy foods turn me off! I used to eat one avocado every day for lunch, with grilled chicken. Now the thought of avocados make me gag. Same with broccoli and a few other veggies. Same with healthy nuts.

    Or, I make a healthy dish, and I’m so proud of myself, but if I make again and again, I get sick of it real quick.

    I know I should be eating healthier than ever for our unborn child, but it’s just. So. Hard!!!

    Maybe if I had been paleo/primal for longer BEFORE I got pregnant, it would be easier to eat paleo/primal DURING pregnancy?

    1. Pregnancy cravings are weird, for sure! With my first child, I went from eating a junk food diet to clean eating because healthy foods were what I craved. But with my second child, that healthy diet went out the door and I began craving foods I never normally would have even when I ate junk.

      Best wishes with the pregnancy! 🙂

    2. I doubt that a longer primal diet would help your cravings. When I was pregnant, I craved tater tots and McChicken sandwiches. I ate them, relished them, and didn’t crave them again. (In fact, after the initial tater tot craving, they seemed gross to me. I only eat them once in my first trimester- both times) Especially the first trimester, eat what you crave, what you can keep down. (FTR, in the second trimester, I was all about beef- HUGE roast beef sandwiches- I’m telling you that Jimmy Johns unwiches with extra meat were the BEST! (I’d get two at a time- this baby grew like crazy in the second trimester) In the third, I couldn’t eat much- I had no appetite- I ate fried potatoes topped with cheese and sour cream. And it was really to carby for me, but it was one of the few things I had an appetite for. Pregnancy is weird, but I advocate following your body’s signals, and using common sense (and don’t restrict anything!)

  80. I have a question related to this topic…

    …as a devotee to the 80/20 principle (though in practice, I would say I’m more like 90/10), I can and do indulge in occasional paleo no-no’s.

    For instance, I reserve Thanksgiving for a carb splurge. I know it’s going to make me sluggish, tired and not feeling optimal, but what the hell, it’s once a year, and it’s a family bonding experience.

    I think there is something to be said in OCCASIONAL indulgences in non-primal foods. It breaks up what can turn into a monotonous routine (as much as I love bacon every day, I do have to take a break every now and then…I find a little abstinence makes it taste better when I resume eating it again)If you really do keep it occasional, you can enjoy the taste bud effects and mild reactions to the neo-lithic junk food.

    That being said, there are somethings I absolutely do not include in the 80/20 principle.

    Partially and fully hydrogenated oils.
    Monosodium Glutamate.
    High Fructose Corn Syrup
    Soybean Oil and Hydrolized soy proteins.

    i.e. – additives and frankenfoods of he food processing industry.

    So if I occasionally want to make a loaf of bread for sandwiches, I’ll dig out the bread machine and make my own bread. Yes it has grains in it…but I also make it with wholesome oils (butter and macadamia nut oil) and none of the garbage that is found in 99% of all commercially baked bread like High Fructose Corn Syrup, margarine and Omega-6 imbalanced vegetable oils that is found in almost all breads in most grocery stores.

    But my question for Mark is this: if I’m going to occasionally eat a grain based food as my “20%” what do you think is the lesser of two evils – refined carbs that spike your blood sugar, or un-sprouted/non-fermented whole grains that are full of anti-nutrients, phytates, lectins etc.?

    Since my weight has not been an issue for over 3 years now of 80/20 primal eating and regular exercise, I say if your gonna occasionally indulge in some grain products, go for the better tasting product – like IMO, white pasta simply tastes better than whole grain pasta. Conversely, whole grain breads taste better than refined white bread.

  81. I started eating more primal months ago, but junk food still tempts me (especially with family telling me to “go ahead. a little won’t hurt”). Like last night, my family wanted to pick up some snacks while we watched a movie later. My husband saw my old favorite holiday candy (those mint m&ms) and encouraged me to get a bag (a big bag, unfortunately because that’s all the store carried). I had some and felt like crap afterward. But then I felt compelled to have some more this morning.

    Why would I do that to my body??? And I can’t just throw the m&ms out because my husband hates wasting food. So I threw some mustard and dish soap into the bag to prevent further senseless eating. I feel ashamed to have to go so extreme. I wonder if my primal instincts will ever be able to overtake my old junk food habits. Can anyone relate? Does the junk food habit fade over time? 🙁

  82. Its a good question, and the answer is simple: PLEASURE!

    The pleasure people get in the “moment” of eating these tasty junk foods the first reason its so hard to give up.

    And its due to this ‘pleasure’ that people then become ADDICTED to such foods. Thats the second reason people find it so hard to give up.

    Also a good angle on it can be found through a concept called Supernormal Stimuli:

  83. Researchers believe this happens because the habituation early on helps teach children which tastes are “safe.” If the mother has survived eating foods with these flavors, they will, too.

    Seems to me this is yet another reason that low carb is impractical for most. People are epigenetically already adapted to eat carbs to some extent. Is it not more practical then (for that reason among others) to shift to a healthier carb based diet rather than try to change your metabolism and tastes to function more on fat??

    1. Also carb based “cheats” are less damaging when your body is adapted to handle carbs.

  84. I am lactose intolerant, and I shouldn’t probably eat dairy products so much but I just can’t give up greek yogurt..I tried for a week and made me miserable! For years, I eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner..I wonder if a nutritional deficiency or the fact that my entire culture depends heavily on yogurt is the reason for such an attachment.. After all we drink yogurt, make kebap with it, use it as sauce for meals, we even have a yogurt soup!

  85. I found that TV commercials would really make me start craving “bad” foods. We cancelled our dish and just watch Netflix now (no commercials!) and believe it or not my evening snacking has cut way back. There are also several foods that I thought I could never give up that I have lost a taste for. For example, I had a Christmas cookie yesterday and could only eat half of it. WAYYYY too sweet- like unbearably, need a glass of water, sweet.

  86. I found it was more convenience for me. A few years ago, I didn’t lead a healthy lifestyle at all, so I’d go out on the night out and eat a really bad pizza at 3a.m! I stuggled to start my health hourney because I was too impatient at the time and I couldn’t imagine me in 8 months time so I didn’t start. Finally, I pushed myself through it and I don’t regret it!

    I think it’s convenience that leads people to keep eating poor quality foods. It’s quite sad that a takeaway is considered a ‘treat’ in most households

  87. I have removed almost all my lousy choices. I am a diagnosed Celiac so much of my choice was made for me. I hate rice and all the gluten free garbage so the no grains is A-OK with me. I don’t even miss my Pizza binges anymore as I really just like the toppings. I have removed nightshades, beans and just about anything that can’t be identified when you hold it in your hand.

    I am GUILTY as CHARGED though when it comes to Skittles (funny you should mention them). I don’t do it often but once in a while (6-8 weeks) I just grab a bag and eat them.

    I often ask myself if this is a rebellion against my willpower or just the kid in me wanting some fun, colorful, processed crap.

    Likely the latter as I am a VERY immature 48 year old. I have cut down but can’t honestly say I will NEVER eat skittles again.

    I anyone knows a SKIT-chiatrist, let me know 🙂

  88. Skittles!

    Everyone seems to have one downside though. Mine is dark chocolate (not as bad as some, but still!)

  89. “Experts have found that a mother’s diet during pregnancy already begin to habituate a baby’s taste. Researchers believe this happens because the habituation early on helps teach children which tastes are “safe.” If the mother has survived eating foods with these flavors, they will, too.”
    I have often wondered about this since I have 3 boys and ate differently at each pregnancy. I ate a ton of broccoli during the first and he cannot get enough of it. I ate a ton of high fat, sugary foods with the second and he is a sweet tooth junkie. The 3rd go around, I craved nothing but salads. To this day he will eat an apple over apple cake. Thank you for the confirmation

  90. I am 2 weeks new into eating Primal, and I have gone pretty much 100%. The reason for this is that I have such a horrible sugar/carb addiction, that to eat such things is like poisen to my body. I could literally sit down and eat a whole box of granola by myself in one sitting. I would feel sick as a dog, be so mad at myself, but 2 days later, I’d be at it again. I have always eaten healthy, low-fat, exercised. I look every bit the fit female athlete. But my dark, dirty little secret was my carb addiction. I couldn’t figuer out what was wrong with me. Since being carb, sugar, grain, bean free, I feel so much better. I don’t crave carbs as bad as I use to, I can pass by cookies without thinking about them all day. My problem is when I do start craving things, I have had to resort to eating nuts, and spoonfuls of nut butter, and cheese to satiate me. Sometimes I think I am out of control. Sometimes I will eat veggies dipped in guacamole, but I can eat a whole container of guacamole. I can’t think that this is healthy either. Can anyone relate to this? Or could it be that on some days, I don’t get to eat very much because I am busy and there is nothing around to eat, so the next day I am making up for the lost calories? What is the dealio, Emelio?

    1. I think you have to accept that eating your face off every now and then is not only okay, but a good thing.

      The idea isn’t to starve yourself, it is to eat different stuff.

      Imo while you are getting off the carbs/sugar, don’t try to calorie restrict yourself, it just makes things harder than they have to be.

      1. That makes me feel better. I feel like a freak, because I am not sure if I am really hungry or not. I think I am, but I think my body is craving carbs, and I don’t want to give in to the craving to eat a box of cereal. So, I eat a ton of almonds, or walnuts. Or guacamole with brocclie and cauliflower. I am also trying to adjust my cardio/strength training so that I am not so hungry for carbs all the time. It is hard changing one’s life when this is the way I have lived for so many years. But I am tired of the treadmill, of always feeling hungry, never feeling satisfied because I have always deprived myself, and then of course binging because I was starving my cells. I have felt sooooo much better, and when I am satisfied after eating A LOT of nuts, than I am satisfied, and I don’t think about it anymore. Thanks for the input. I will stop stressing about it.

        1. Michelle:
          I feel exactly the same way. Everyone always commenting on how “healthy” I was, how “healthily” I ate. I cut out grains about a month ago and am feeling so much better about not having the weekly urge to lay flat on my back and never getting up again after eating box after box after box of cereal. I’m still having trouble with chocolate, and nuts, (yes LOTS of nuts) but I do think the nuts are better than the chocolate, no matter how dark it is. Actually just came to this post because I have a tummy-ache from chocolate.
          Rob, I really REALLY appreciate your comment regarding the eating a ton. I’m less interested and consumed by eating overall, but there are still times (like the one just past) where I mess up. Sadly, these always seem to coincide with thoughts about exercise 🙁 I guess the trick is to go out and play first, then to eat later when I’m actually hungry! (easier said than done, but I’m beginning to think anything’s possible when living primal!)

  91. Chocolate is my downfall so I was very interested to read about the Lindt 85% chocolate. I live in New Zealand but a little research shows that it can be bought at our CountDown Supermarkets so I shall definitely try some.

    Thanks to the earlier commenters who mentioned it.

  92. wow, judging from the response, Mark hit a chord. i think junk appeals because it’s carby and carbs appeal because we evolved that way…it was all about survival for primitive man: eg., not starving. carbs weren’t all that available but when they were, they provided a ready source of calories and “locked up” ones fat/triglycerides for later use (think: eat those berries, long winter ahead). Those who took advantage of carbs (craved them/pigged out on them) were less likely to starve…they survived, bred, had their DNA spread down to us…where the inclination now kills us

  93. I’m not grokin’ it yet. As for Mark’s comment on the out of site out of mind theory… That works pretty well for me, but I will march into any store to get more Diet Coke. However, I wanted to mention the fact that non-primal folks (like me) feel that primal eats are primarily out of site (and therefor out of mind) most of the time. I’m just not presented with enough opportunities to eat even partially primally.

  94. Eating primal is definitely a lot more work than not eating primal. You can’t just buy processed primal…..that’s the point. It’s not processed, hence it is much better for you. If you want to keep on keeping on with the processed junk that fills the grocery store, than go ahead if that is what makes you happy. As for me, I want to feel good, and maintain my health for as long as I am able. For me, that means eat healthy, and stay away from processed garbage that feeds my muffin top and starves my cells. BTW, I am a nurse, and you do NOT want to be requiring serious health care into the near future. Just a thought.

  95. I’ve found that I tend to romanticize certain foods (and drinks) along a tradition narrative. It’s part of having a good time, being with friends, celebrating holidays and other occasions. Then comes the hangover. Time reveals the folly of such thought patterns and justifications. As much as possible, I try to think farther into the future, just at the point where I’m going to regret what I’m about to eat. Sometimes it works, sometimes not.

  96. I think that I am actually pretty lucky. I am not one that craves sweets. However, I do like breads. I am not sure of the psychological motivations…I’ll have to go inside and explore a little more, but I like my soups in a bread bowl. This is more of a more recent trend (in the last 5-6 years), so it’s not some nostalgic thing. But, it’s definitely something emotional…

  97. My experience has been:

    Step one – go low carb ‘cold turkey’, using a lot of will power to actively decide what I put in my mouth.

    Step two – the old habits fell away, new habits took their place, will power was no longer required, except when my food choices were challenged by other people
    > Don’t you want some fries with that ?
    – No I don’t.
    > Why not, they’re great.
    – They make me fat
    > You’re not fat
    -That’s right. I intend to stay this way
    > You’re weird, man

    Step three – Every now and then I will have something from the dark side. My new habits are so entrenched a slice of birthday cake won’t overturn them. Most times I don’t even enjoy it, my body expects me to provide it real food these days.

    1. Robbo, how long does this process take for you? I was Primal for about a month, fell off the wagon (“Eat some cake, it won’t hurt you!”) and have struggled ever since to stay Primal without falling off the wagon. I think if I got it in my head to stay Primal for a set amount of days, to know if I can will my way through this, the cravings will go away. The cravings may always be there for me, because I am a sugar junkie, but maybe I can get to the point where I don’t want it anymore. I was to that point and then I ate the cake, “cuz it wouldn’t hurt me.”

  98. I’m normally really good, but if something sweet catches my eye when I’m hungry, its real difficult to avoid it. I’m rarely in that position, but I’ve been known to scarf down some ginger snaps when it hits me.

  99. I’ve been primal for well over a year.
    I used to indulge here and there (in the beginning) in ice-cream or some other past-life treat/craving.
    Now I don’t bother except on the absolute rarest of occasions. One of the amazing reasons is that I’ve been absolutely disease free for over a year. Even when friends around me are sick as dogs….I haven’t had a cold, flu, sniffle, not a thing. And I’m curious to how long this will last.
    I feel great, and have boundless energy. What’s not to like?

  100. As long as I’m getting the results I’m after (which I am) I just think “once the junk food gets past my taste buds my body has to deal with it” and I don’t even consider eating crap!

  101. To stop eating junk food is about ones discipline in fighting the habit. Junk food is too tempting but if one is determined to fight the habit and he/she is disciplined then the habit can be brought to a halt.

  102. Reading this post and everyone’s responses reminds me of my future sister-in-law’s bridal shower last weekend. We had to get up and out of the house to make a ferry over there, so I didn’t get a chance to eat a healty breakfast. On the way over, I listened as my aunts gushed about the “cake tasting” for the wedding, and as one of them practically swiped a bag of cookies from a passenger on the ferry (she’s a sugar-addicted vegetarian). I was trying to stay neutral despite my opinions. Anyway, arriving at the bridal shower, what was on the menu? 3 different types of scones, white bread tea sandwiches, chocolate truffles, and sugar cookies. I had no choice, I was starving, but it made me feel like 1000% crap! I thought I would miss these types of foods when I starting eating paleo/primal style, but this honestly shocked my system. At the end of the day, the foods aren’t as hard to give up… for me it’s been more difficult to explain my changes to family and friends without making a big deal about it…

  103. My only weakness is sugar and sushi; if I could find a good substitute for candy and salmon rolls and seaweed salad, I’d be so happy.

  104. Baked (white) potatoes are difficult for me to give up. They’re so filling and good (ugh). But surely having them once/week would fall under the 80/20 rule. They’re definitely a ‘treat’. 🙂

    And yes, occasionally I will do sweet potato fries, which are yummy, but not the same.

  105. woot, thankyou! I finally came to a site where the webmaster knows what they’re talking about. Do you know how many results are in Google when I search.. too many! It’s so annoying having to go from page after page after page, wasting my day away with thousands of people just copying eachother’s articles… bah. Anyway, thankyou very much for the info anyway, much appreciated.

  106. I’ve only started going primal a month ago but I’ve been struggling to fight sugar ( and overall addiction to sweet carb-packed foods) for a very long time before that and I’ve noticed that there is no “everything in moderation” with sugar for me. One bite of cake and it may as well end up being half a cake, some cookies and chocolate. As long as I don’t see it, smell it or have it nearby it’s ok, but it’s almost impossible to achieve). The thing that has changed since going primal is that I feel that I’ve cheated almost right away (headache, sleepiness, GERL) and that makes me resist it more easily. Now I stick to very dark chocolate and dried fruits if I want sweets or I make some paleo treats.

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  108. I live with my aunt and cousins and I’m not going to convince them to quit the vegan donuts or other ‘healthy desserts’ any time soon. I feel like a smoker that’s trying to quit cold turkey while living inside a tobacco store. PS: I also work at a dessert shop.. Am I fucked? Any advice?

  109. This topic has been a problem my entire life (since teens at least).

    I’ve tried everything from counting calories to weight watchers and the one thing that always beats me is the junk food. I end up knees deep in mcdonalds, chinese, indian, chocolate, ice cream and lots more.

    Whats the solution?

    Simply put, you have to “grow a pair” and go through the pain and get past it.

    It’s the same as giving up drinking or smoking, in the sense that, if you “give in” you’re back to sqaure one. And if you’re as addicted as me, allowing a “little” bit of junk wiill ruin it, in the same way a smoker can’t just “have a few puffs”.

    Don’t delude yourself that anything is going to replace the junk food. Sorry, but until you get over it, nothing will give you the hit a mcdonalds (or whatever your vice) will. Heathly food simple doesn’t have the sugar, fat, salt and calories of chocolate, cake, KFC and so on.

    I had to make a life long decision: no junk food at all for 3 months and from then on I’ll allow ila “junk” meal maximum once a month.

    Not going to lie, I failed many times but eventually did it.

    How? The health scare. As I hit 30 I worried about dying young, so I would watch videos daily of heart surgeons and doctors explaining the reasons junk is bad.

    Good luck to anyone who follows the same path. Its very difficult at first, but after the first 3 months you’ll be past it ans no longer held hostage by food.