Dear Mark: Ravenous Freshman, Lipopolysaccharides, Himalayan Salt, and Squid

SquidFor today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’ll be covering four topics. First, I discuss a worrisome, troubling species: the ravenous college freshman. Is it a problem? Should this beast be culled or somehow reigned in? Next up are lipopolysaccharides, specifically the LPS that seem to arise in response to high-fat foods. Should we be worried? After that, I explore whether or not we should be switching out our normal salts for fancy pink Himalayan salt. Finally, I cover a question from a fish-hating reader who loves squid. Fish and bivalves seem to get all the love in the media and even in our community, but what about the cephalopods? How do they stack up as a replacement?

Let’s go:

Hi there,

My slender son is a freshman in college and came home for Christmas informing us that he is following the Primal [Blueprint] diet. While l have read many of the links on this site and think this makes sense, l am having a hard time getting my son to understand portion control. I have a family of five, and l can’t afford his eating habits! Yesterday I made a 19 pound turkey, since he ate most of our bird on Christmas. I came home from work today and he ate half the bird as well as the 6 sweet potatoes I boiled and mashed. This was supposed to feed us all. He is eating bags of oranges, grapes, almonds and pounds of protein at one sitting. This seems gluttonous to me! I have had to go grocery shopping every day since he’s been home. He is never full! He was always a slow eater before this and often left a plate unfinished. I can’t believe eating mass quantities of food is healthy for him! Please help me understand your portion recommendations!


This sounds pretty normal to me. It sounds like your son’s body has realized that real, actual nutrition is available and near, and he’s simply making up for all the lost years of not eating enough.

Don’t worry too much, especially if he isn’t gaining too much fat. Since he was “slender,” he probably could stand to gain some weight anyway. Also, try to resist assigning morality to one’s eating. Gluttony may have gotten that one guy in Seven killed (and even that was at the hand’s of a deranged, misguided lunatic), but in your son’s case, he’s just listening to what his body is telling him to do. The financial thing is understandable. Once he’s back at school, though, shouldn’t he have access to the dining halls? Those tend to be buffet-style, all-you-can-eat, so he’ll be getting his (your?) money’s worth.

Once his nutrient stores have been topped off, he stops growing, and/or his metabolism stops being superhuman, I imagine he’ll reduce his portion size.

But, man – he ate over nine pounds of turkey (well, I guess he didn’t eat the bones) and six sweet potatoes? Multiple bags of fruit and nuts at every meal? That’s just impressive. To be 19 and growing and hungry all the time is a special time in a young man’s life. Don’t begrudge him it. Let him continue.

Dear Mark,

Recently the Human Food Project, which you promoted, seemed to fire a shot over the bow of paleo eaters in warning that a high fat diet has been shown in many studies to increase LPS levels (lipopolysaccharides) causing inflammation and a whole range of diseases that we paleo eaters think we’re on the best track to avoid. They described however that this increase can be mitigated by a well cultivated microbiome (specifically, high levels of the species Bifidobacterium). As a result they recommended eating lots of onions and garlic which have been shown to grow these helpful bacteria. Now I think most paleo eaters know they should be eating some onions and garlic, but are we playing with fire here? Do we need to make sure we’re getting some of these everyday as well as eating a range of fermented foods or else the whole approach results in disaster? Is getting inflammation markers tested on a regular basis the only way to really be sure that a high fat diet is ok for an individual?


I’m not too worried about for several reasons:

Being Primal eaters, you guys are already eating lots of prebiotic foods, the soluble, fermentable fibers to which the Human Food Project is referring and which protect and nourish the gut and promote a healthy biome. And if you aren’t, then maybe you should start eating them.

Being Primal eaters, you guys are eating all sorts of other plant foods which may modify the LPS response to food. Oranges (their juice, to be specific), for example, have been shown to reduce LPS when added to fat-rich, carb-rich meals.

Being Primal, you guys are getting plenty of regular exercise, or even just frequent slow moving. Physical activity reduces circulating levels of LPS and down regulates the production of TNF-?.

What’s the takeaway here? Eat food, including plenty of plants, some fibrous, some orange. Get your exercise. In short, this is just confirmation that true health and wellness depends on a host of lifestyle factors – not just what you eat. Changing your food isn’t enough.

Some espouse health benefits of consuming some Himalayan salt sole the first thing in the morning. Presumably, it also provides some beneficial minerals. How many mgs of salt does it eat up our daily allowance and is it worth it?

Also, is it a better choice when salt is desired for seasoning?



Pink Himalayan salt does have some (lots of) minerals, but they’re pretty much only present in trace amounts. About 98-99% of the minerals will be plain old sodium chloride, or salt. You won’t get very much magnesium, calcium, iron, iodine, or anything else out of it. That’s not to say it’s useless and that you should use iodized table salt. I’m just extremely skeptical of any of the amazing health benefits.

Some do find it helpful to take a nice whack of salt in the morning. As I mentioned in a recent post, salt levels are depleted in times of stress, and adding salt as a standalone supplement can provide a buffer. If you find yourself lacking energy or just feel somewhat off – and you haven’t been eating much salt – consider drinking some salt water or eating a really salty breakfast. I’m not sure the Himalayan salt is the crucial factor here, though. Whatever salt you use, you’ll be getting the vast majority of your dietary minerals from the foods you eat. Trying to get them through pink salt will be impossible (and pretty disgusting).

I will say that the colored, unrefined salts have more interesting flavors and textures than plain salt. Nothing like adding a few pinches of pink salt crystals to sautéed green beans that give a little crunch with every bite.

Dear Mark,

I must first off say a BIG thank you to you for all your hard work and free information on this site, seldom are worthwile things free anymore. I must also thank you for your book and all the gems contained there in, it has helped me so much with my goals of eating healthy for life, rather than on off dieting and towards getting the lean, strong physique I desire. I look forward to reading your latest release when time permits. I just wanted to ask what are your thoughts on squid vs fish in terms of health benefits (omega 3s and all that good stuff). I have tried many many times to choke down fish because of the health benefits but I absolutely hate the taste. I love squid however, and would like to know if eating squid in place of fish is giving those same health benefits? Also if this is the case, how many times a week would you advise consuming squid? I have researched this myself but the information I found is a little vague and I knew I would be able to get the clear cut facts from you. Thank you again for all your tireless work and help.

Kind Regards

Adelaide, Australia.

Squid is fantastic. Although its tentacled appearance can be unsettling for people, it’s actually an extremely mild, adaptable, nutritious source of marine protein that looks relatively innocuous in ring form. It’s chewy (very much so when cooked incorrectly) and works well with any flavor profile I’ve ever tried to throw at it.

As for the omega-3 content, it’s not quite a “fatty” fish on the level of salmon or sardines, but a four ounce portion of raw squid contains over half a gram of omega-3s. If you’re keeping omega-6s low, you really don’t need massive amounts of omega-3s, so squid can fill in quite nicely. Plus, we don’t just eat seafood for the fats. The sea minerals are also important, and squid is a very rich source of selenium and copper (PDF) – two vital nutrients for cardiovascular and thyroid health. Squid is also pretty high in cholesterol, which some may balk at, but I wouldn’t, especially if you’re trying to get stronger. Steroid hormones are synthesized from cholesterol, and one study showed that increased dietary cholesterol translated to strength gains during weight training.

Keep an eye out for squid ink, too. One study found that feeding it to chickens increased their performance and improved their antioxidant capacity (PDF).

Eat the heck out of your squid. Just don’t turn it into seed oil-fried calamari dipped in seed oil mayo. I also wouldn’t try choking down the fish. Keep searching for a fish that doesn’t offend, but don’t force yourself. I’m of the opinion that regularly feeding yourself something that physically repulses you is bound to increase stress and be counterproductive in the long run.

That’s it for today, guys. Be sure to leave a comment and thanks for reading!

TAGS:  dear mark

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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125 thoughts on “Dear Mark: Ravenous Freshman, Lipopolysaccharides, Himalayan Salt, and Squid”

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  1. That mom writing about her son reminds me of my boyfriend – he can eat a SERIOUS amount of food. We’re talking pounds of meat in one meal. The two of us TAKE OVER Smashburger. Now that he’s eating paleo, his grocery bills have doubled. But the trade off is he has lost 30 pounds, feels much better, has more energy… Worth the grocery bill? I think so.

    1. It’s obviously some kind of growth spirt, Also you may be starving your family.

      9 pounds of turkey is nothing short of amazing I usually stall out after one Leg.

      Most Mothers would have this reaction:
      Little Jimmy growin up soo fast! , just last year he’d barely finish watsonhisplate *tears* Good job eatin up all da turkey, makin mama so proud child. *tears*

      1. I think back to what we used to eat growing up (wheat-based breakfast and lunch, meat three veg for dinner with half a loaf of bread for afternoon tea thrown in for extra wheat). As coeliacs on top of this one could say we *were* starved.

    2. In response to: “If you find yourself lacking energy or just feel somewhat off – and you haven’t been eating much salt – consider drinking some salt water or eating a really salty breakfast.”

      **Warning, drinking a large glass of salt water (btw it is really hard to drink uggghh!) in the am will cause you to URGENTLY NEED to empty your bowels in about 15 minutes…


      1. I had an adrenal condition and my Dr. put me on salt water – Pink salt at that. You don’t put in so much salt it’s like drinking out of the ocean – just about 1/4 – 1/2 tsp per glass depending on how much you need/like. I really like the taste now, even though I don’t use it as often now that I am recovered.

      2. When I feel the need for salt I make “roast beef tea” from the drippings of a roast. You can add salt to that. Tasty, salty and mmmmm good. No “choking down salt water” feeling there.

        1. Just yesterday, I was feeling “off” all day– brain fog, no energy, no appetite. In the afternoon I was worried about the lack of hunger & it occurred to me to try a bit of salted bone broth. Once I got started I couldn’t stop, drank a full quart & felt so much better! I’ve been doing a lot of gardening lately in hot weather– hydrating well but must have run down my electrolytes.

    3. I have had some similar experiences. Being a college man myself (around the same age) I definitely know what its like to be hungry all the time.

      Part of the problem is also that the food they are serving in some of the college dining halls is really poor nutritionally speaking. The quality of the food is so low that when we com home, its just natural to want nutritious and delicious food once again.

  2. I have to admit… I was a little saddened but not entirely surprised at the recommendation to not eat fried calamari… Which is my favorite vehicle to consume squid.

    Also 9 lbs of turkey for the freshman is pretty ridiculous… The poor parent has to shop everyday!!! Maybe if they made the freshman do the shopping…

    1. Nine pounds of turkey and six sweet potatoes is pure gluttony. Either that or there’s something seriously wrong with his “satiety mechanism.” He might be slim now but he’ll be on the road to morbid obesity as his metabolism slows down if he doesn’t lose this habit.

      1. I think the message is that the young man in question needs to be aware of what’s going on with his body. Is he gaining fat? That’s a big warning sign. Is he gaining muscle – that’s OK.

        If eating like this is new, I wouldn’t worry about his ability to feel satiated, nor would I apply a loaded word like gluttony to his behavior. Lack of awareness of others (selfishness) maybe, gluttony, no.

        I suspect a bit of exaggeration about the amount eaten in a single sitting – putting what sounds like 12 pounds of food into his digestive system all at once and not being sick seems highly unlikely.

      2. I think you are missing the point of what Mark is saying.

        As his body stops growing and he body starts to slow down, so should his hunger.

        That is one of the main reasons for adopting primal/paleo diet. Eating this way should hopefully make you more aware of true hunger.

      3. I agree. Sounds like his Leptin is way off. He is eating way too much fruit to ever feel full. Less fruit, more butter and coconut oil. Instead of eating everyone’s food, have him make a plate of mixed veggies and meat sauteed in expeller-pressed coconut oil and let everyone else enjoy their meal.

        1. As the parent of two teen boys I have to make sure any meat dish is stretched with veggies and fat or broth.

      4. Uptake his fat content. Make everything in lard and butter. Offal cuts are usually cheap, good luck eating a lot of liver, heart, tongue, kidneys, etc. These things are nutrient dense and more affordable.

        Check out Sisson’s chopped liver recipe: it has liver, hard boiled eggs, onions, and ghee.

        Satiate the nutrient demand and his metabolism will follow.

        1. Ditto on the fat. It doesn’t sound as if he’s getting enough fat. Try doubling or even tripling the fat (butter etc.). VERY satiating! Butter goes with almost anything!

      5. Perhaps he’s dehydrated? If he were to drink two glasses of water with whatever he ate I doubt he’d be eating that much. It also sounds like he’s only eating meat, nuts, and fruit and skipping on the veggies. Leafy greens or broccoli would fill him right up. And eggs are always a solid source of cheap protein.

      6. No sometimes they just need it. I remember my brother at that age and he made that seem like a snack. So my mom took him to the doctor and the doctor said he was actually underweight for his height and frame. He was eating out of genuine hunger. We who don’t need volumes of food projected our own needs onto him. As time went by he started to eat less and no he is now 30 6ft 4in and 200lbs lean. So, it depends on the person and their needs. Late teens and early twenties tend to be a growing time for many young people and as such so are their dietary needs.

        We don’t say this in general to children hitting their growing spurts because they are still small in realtion to adults so even when they pick up the amount of food they eat it is still not as noticible as with young adults. Would you tell a lean 8 year old that eat double what they used to eat to put it back? Even when they are hungry? i remember what it was like and being told to eat less when i waas truly hungry. Now I do have a weight problem and am always concerned if, i am eating too much most likely beacuse I was constantly told I would get fat by doing so so I did the opposite and went hungry for a great portion of my yound adult days. Now that I am eating when I’m hungrry and stopping when not the weight is finally coming off.

      7. Yeah that is a ton of food. I am your pretty typical tall/skinny kid with a huge appetite, but maybe the mother was exaggerating when she said 9 pounds of turkey and six sweet potatoes. That’s gotta be 3k calories… and that was his afternoon snack?

    2. You can eat fried calamari, but you are going to have to fry it yourself because very few restaurants are going to use coconut oil, ghee, or a high quality animal fat to fry it in. Deep frying is probably the least healthy way of cooking, but it is the peanut, soy, corn, canola ect. oils that make it something you should never eat.

      1. Deep frying is not the problem, it’s the oil that you use, the adulterated pre-oxidized processed vegetable oils are the problem.

        There is there is absolutely nothing wrong with deep frying in pure lard, coconut oil or even peanut oil, although I tend to stay away from deep frying in any poly unsaturated oil.

        If you haven’t done so, you have to try chicken fried in coconut oil or even making your own tortilla chips, there’s hardly anything better, except for the carbohydrate content of the chips themselves they’re really tasty, and no nasty adulterated processed vegetable oil to worry about either.

        1. Those oils still have poly- and mono- unsaturated fats that can oxidize in the high heat of frying, so they aren’t completely benign, just several times less bad. Frying also produces advanced glycation end-products (AGEs), and while I’ve not seen anything definitive about what the AGEs we eat do to our bodies, they are definitely something you would want to minimize your intake of.

    3. Try salt and pepper squid fried in coconut oil, dipped in a homemade non seed oil garlic aoli. More than one way to skin a squid:)

  3. I think the college freshman could learn to contribute in some way rather than just sucking up the entire family’s food like some kind of mindless vacuum hose. Surely he’s old enough to learn how to acquire and prepare food, especially if he’s just taking it easy during a school break.

    1. I agree. I’m also a college freshman, and I’ve been cooking almost all my own food for over 3 years. I agree with other commenters that if he’s really that hungry and nutrient-starved, he SHOULD eat a lot, but he should definitely help out with the shopping/cooking/cleaning. As far as the expense, eggs are a pretty cheap source of protein, and possibly canned fish. Potatoes are relatively inexpensive, too.

      1. yeah, i think the kid is being a rude pig (not a glutton), eating the WHOLE family’s rations by himself. i also think there’s some funky family dynamics going on as well — my husband and his brothers seem to be similarly competitive, and the kid’s behavior seems to have some rivalry quality to it!

        on the other hand, it COULD be that the kid needs more good fats in his diet. pot roast of beef would probably be a lot more filling (i.e., self-limiting) than turkey….

        1. tess,

          You are totally off base. I see most of the criticism of this young guy is coming from women. You don’t know what it is like to be a college-aged male.

          I used to stuff myself at dinner in the dining hall, go back to the salad bar for seconds, and then 3 hours later call Little Caesar’s for 2 pizzas, which I would finish off before going to sleep.

          If your body needs it, it needs it. Has nothing to do with “rude”

  4. In defence of the college freshman who has a bottomless pit, if you eat nutrition-less crap all your life, you could be bound to go wild on nutrient dense food when you acquire it.

    In my experience, when I switched over to a whole food nutrient dense diet, I had a period when I had multiple platefuls at every meal. After the course of a year, I slowly started to eat less to now where I eat one or two meals a day.

  5. That kid reminds me of me when I was his age. I could eat a full meal of 1500 calories or so and be hungry two hours later. I never put on a pound. I miss those days.

  6. Mark, you have dated yourself. All the colleges that I know of no longer have dinning halls. All the food services have been sold off to fast-food franchisees. It is a real problem for a college student to eat healthy. Students are forced to pay for a meal plan, which are coupons redeemable at any of the fast food stores on campus.

    1. My college (UNC-CH) has a dining hall! Three, actually. There are a couple fast food places, but you can’t use meal swipes for them. That’s not to say the food is top-notch, but it’s definitely all-you-can-eat.

      1. That’s good to hear. Daughter is at UK (KY)and it all fast food. Other colleges she visited were the same way.

    2. I’ve been to a lot of college campuses, and I’ve never seen one without at least one buffet-style dining hall, and most have more than one. Maybe this is a regional thing?

  7. Jim E,
    In my experience, the dining hall is still alive and kicking at many campuses. The University of Florida has a lot decent dining hall choices along with the fast-food franchises, but at least you have some choice. At my last school, the University of Alaska Anchorage, the dining hall was pretty pitiful though. I guess it probably depends on the size of the school.

    1. Shout out to Miami University Alexander Dining Hall. Best scrambled eggs, bacon, and fruit bar in the world.

  8. Sounds to me like he’s finally appreciating what real good/healthy food tastes like and enjoying it while he can! At school he’s probably not able to eat the same kind of quality, home cooked food that he knows is primal (since he sees it being prepped at home) without an ounce of worry. Sounds like more of a compliment for your cooking Mom ;). You should be proud that he is not only forward thinking enough at his age to realize that food out of a box is not real food, but that it’s completely detrimental for your health. He is embracing a lifestyle that will undoubtedly add years to his life so don’t focus on the short term, just rejoice!

  9. I feel Donna’s pain with her bottomless-pit son. My husband is the same way. He’s a big guy, very fit, and eats A LOT. Our grocery bill is ridiculous. I always try to cook enough to have leftovers but it doesn’t happen too often. I’ve stopped getting annoyed by it, and have accepted that this is what his body needs. I’m just happy he’s eating primally now!

    1. Yeah, my number one reaction with a family of 5 would have been “We can’t afford this!”, especially if it was new thing to me.

      Our grocery bill is ridiculous when compared with every other ongoing expense. Interestingly though, we’re not off the charts according to USDA (we do eat conventional a lot of the time) for a family of 4 and our medical bills certainly are low.

      Add to that we have a lot of energy to DIY (and those things are enjoyable because we’re not dragging) and the grocery bills seem like the great value they are.

      I totally would involve the 19 year old in fetching in his groceries, etc, etc. If he doesn’t slow down his consumption in the least there’s peace of knowing that really does need it because he’s pitched in to help.

      1. Take the Joel Salatin approach: If your house contains liquor, tobacco, a nice car, designer clothes, cable tv, video games, lottery tickets, etc. and you cannot afford higher quality food, re-prioritize. Otherwise do what you can.

        1. Our “youngest” car is 10 years old, no cable, no liquor (although it sounds great right now), thrift store clothes. The kids do have a Wii but they get video games only on birthdays and Christmas. I those read the “ways to save money” web articles only usually to discover we’re already doing it. We do what we can. 🙂

  10. Thanks for the LPS info. Sounds very important. I do eat lots of garlic and onions, and some bananas, but have avoided oranges and most fruits.

    1. There is no need to worry about LPS as long as you eat lots of coconut oil. It consists of mostly short and medium chain fatty acids, that is why it is so healthy. Instead of worrying about the numbers of gut bacteria fermenting fibers into SCFA, why not eat the SCFA directly? High fat diet does not necessaryli mean high pork fat diet. Cod liver, fat fish, coconut oil, rapeseed oil are well represented on my plate. Instead of breakfast, eat a big spoon of coconut oil and fast, it will keep your autophagy going and promote the creation of ketones, not to mention give you a lot of SCFA.

      1. Thanks Einstein! I just broke my morning fast with onions, garlic and pastured eggs (and curry powder) fried in coconut oil, topped with live, organic, pastured whole milk yogurt.

        I will try the idea of a spoonful of coconut oil when I get up. I think I have done it a couple times.

        1. I mix a spoonful of coconut oil in with my morning tea. Yummy and it keeps my energy up. I really notice if I miss it.

  11. All that turkey and sweet potato…I’d buy him a jar of ghee or coconut oil and tell him to “have at it”. That will satiate the hoover vacuum cleaner. But,I was 5-8 and 140 back in those days and would order 2 of everything off the menu at Taco Bell and then went to Baskin-Robbins for a double scoop to top it off. So who am I to talk! LOL!

  12. Argh, I’m all worried about the prebiotic/LPS thing now. Our meals are pretty much eggs & salmon for brekkie, cheese & veg/salad for lunch, meat & veg (& potatoes for the kids) at dinner. I make soup every week which has some garlic & mince which has onion & garlic, but that’s it. The kids also eat a lot of fruit. I’ve kept meals simple as with two small kids & the organisational abilities of a concussed cucumber, it’s that or lose it.

    So am I risking bad LPS levels feeding everyone like that? Every time I think I’ve got it nailed, I find out something else to complicate it all…. :'(

    1. I can’t tell you the whole LPS levels thing. 🙂

      I personally try not to worry the latest micro-biochemistry study of the day. Science is wonderful, but it’s critical not to lose the forest for the trees.

      People eating primally and traditionally in the Arctic, by necessity, eat tremendous amounts of fat, moderate protein and very little vegetable matter. The absolute best substitute we’ve come up with for human breastmilk is meat based formula. I’m pretty well convinced we are heavily into the carnivorous side of omnivorous continuum. Brains are extremely expensive, calorie wise.

      Sure, if you can squeeze more veggies in, do it. Cats eat grass here and there too. 🙂

      But if everyone is active and thriving then you’re probably doing it right. Inflammation and most chronic diseases are not really “silent”. (Inflammation, especially) Most of them only sneak up on people because they’ve ignored the symptoms until it’s a big problem for whatever reason.

      1. Human breast milk is renowned for its anti inflammatory lauric acid and SCFA content. The same is true for coconut oil.If you want the best, go for extra virgin. Eat lots of it like the Kitawans do, who are among the healthiest people on Earth. Most of their caloric income comes from coconut oil. High fat doesn’t have to be high animal fat. Not exclusively anyway.

        1. Thanks to both yourself & Amy above. Between the eternal mummy-guilt & a slightly obsessive nature, the Primal way of life (which is awesome I hasten to add) can seem like a micro-macro-nutrient-chemical minefield sometimes…makes me want to break out in spreadsheets!

          Cheers guys. Advice heeded.

    2. SFJL, I agree with the above commenter that it sounds like you’re doing great, and don’t worry too much about the little details!! As long as your family is healthy and happy and thriving, why rock the boat? I think you can rest assured that you’re feeding your kids better than the VAST majority of Americans.

      Also, the ‘concussed cucumber’ made me chuckle (:

  13. Mark, your advice regarding the ravenous freshman, the financial aspect, was given like a true upper middle class (to rich?) person. “Ha ha ha! Just buy more food.”

    I came from a lower middle class to upper poor class family. No one person in the household (two parents, five biological sibling and one adopted) could have gotten away with eating nine pounds of turkey and six sweet potatoes. Going to the store and buying more wasn’t an option. There was just so much food and we all had to share it.

    But I always had enough. I know that because when I asked for more I was told “Nope, you’ve had enough.” I ended up, at age 18 (lo so many years ago) at 6’3″ tall and 180 pounds and strong from doing farm work.

    1. We all speak out of our own experiences don’t we? (I’ve heard it called a prisoner of our own experiences, but that seems pretty negative. 😉 ) I suspect that Mark has been that 19 year old. However, I can totally relate to Donna, never having been a 19 year old male myself (shocking, but true!), but having to feed a family with limited funds.

      Having the 19 year old put in some work and maybe some of this own greenbacks towards his food consumption is probably a good idea. He maybe genuinely hungry, but he may also not fully appreciate the money and time spent in having food appear on his plate. How much effort he puts into feeding himself would be a great gage into how well he’s learned to interpret his body signals.

    2. I think that’s a bit unfair. This woman didn’t ask Mark what to do about her budget – she asked about the portion sizes. Mark was just saying not to worry about the amount he’s eating in terms of his health. It’s up to her whether she should worry about the amount of money it’s costing and what to do about that. Mark is a health and nutrition expert – does he need to get wrapped up in people’s finances as well?

      1. You’re right that Donna didn’t directly ask about budgeting or money.

        Given how she phrased the question, though, there’s a strong possibility that she was asking about portion sizes precisely because she was at least partially worried about the money. Mark even addresses the unasked question at the end.

        The idea of gluttony takes on a whole new shades if eating out sized portions causes undue financial burdens on the whole household or, in the worst case scenario, others go hungry. Then it’s no longer just a “personal sin”, for lack of a better phrase, where the only consequence is you get fat and lazy. 🙁

      2. She did, though. She wrote that she could not afford to feed him.

      3. I believe I can see where the bug is….Mark indeed answered purely as an health and nutrition expert and I an see the health benefits claimed however in this case, it does seem unrealistic because of the financial constraints that the majority of the family with kids are living with.
        I share Mitchell and Amy’s thoughts truly and if I think of it I cannot fully see the benefits of this diet (excluding lifestyle) for this young man if he will be unlucky to dont find a job after finishing school…the worst instance will be to live off cheap food and feeling guilty of not doing it the right way because of realistic financial constraints

        A better answer should have been more balanced and Mark if you don’t come up with a more realistic food pyramid I am afraid this diet will be just for a restrictive number of people and far from being adopted globally.

        Don’t take wrongly my comment, I did not plan that after 3 years of reading MDA will have to comment this but I speak from personal experiences and hearing that the biggest reason people do not stick with primal is because is relatively expensive. I have two growing boys myself and from my hands they eat paleo/primal but to keep costs down I eat little portions but have to add lots of rice to keep me full AND I will have to do it for good years but what a mum will not do!!! (Sorry for the long post just had to take it out)

        1. Being at college, the lad may not have any of his own $ to contribute, but that doesn’t mean he gets to do nothing and just eat.

          My suggestion, is send him out to the store, armed with $40, to buy all the food for himself and the family, for a day. Then he can face the challenges of cheap v expensive food, while still trying to eat primal. If he’s smart, he might work out that the cheapest primal calories you can buy are – butter!

          And the cheapest nutrients are beef liver

          And the cheapest, filling veg are usually broccoli..

          but the point being, to buy enough for him and everyone.

          he is still part of the family and has to consider the rest of the family. At college, and in later life, he will be part of various “teams” – hoarding stuff for yourself, without contributing anything in return – will get you voted off the island pretty quickly

        2. I seem to remember about the people of Guam eating a lot of white rice but not having the weight or health problems of Americans. So there’s more to it than just the carbs in rice.

    3. I agree that Mark’s response should have touched more on finances. I also think the kid is disrespecting the amount of sheer *work* that goes into cooking that much food. Making a turkey? There’s a reason I only do that once a year. Eating all the sweet potatoes his working mother had cooked for the whole family? That’s just disrespectful. If I’d cooked all that food, I would have sat down and cried from frustration.

      He needs to contribute not just to the cost of the food at this point, but to the effort of preparing it. And he should ask his mother if she’s saving a dish for the whole family before he digs in.

      Seriously, who looks at a turkey in the fridge and thinks, “Half of that is for me, half is for everyone else!” and then goes to town?

  14. I love squid, too–we’ve got a fish market in DC that is pretty fantastic, and we go there every so often for squid, octopus, and fresh fish. I might have to experiment with upping the squid intake while increasing my strength training.

  15. I can appreciate the limited budget/ravenous teenage boy combination – my brother was a bottomless pit for what seemed to be forever – he could wipe out the family dinner as an after school snack! My mother, raising 3 children single-handed on an elementary school teacher’s salary, took a dim view of this but didn’t want the poor lad to drop of starvation – did I mention that he was skinny as a rail through all this? So she set up a snack bin in the fridge and a shelf in the pantry – kept them stocked with yogurt, tuna fish, bananas, peanut butter, cold cuts, bread, etc (this was in the dark ages, pre paleo) – whatever was in the bin or on “his” shelf was fair game, but when it was gone it was GONE, so keep your mitts off the leftover pot roast that is destined for the family dinner tonight – your sisters gotta eat too, y’know!? Somehow he survived, and the happiest words I ever heard him say, after about 18 months of devoting most of his waking hours to eating, were “I’m full!”. So stick with it, it will come to an end.

    P.s. Oh, and make him clean up after himself! If he wanted to make a couple of extra bucks shoveling the neighbors drive, and throw it to the food budget, it wouldn’t do him any harm – except that shoveling might work up an appetite… Maybe not such a good idea!

  16. I have a 17-year-old son who runs high school cross country. He’s able to plow through $200 worth of groceries in 3 days. College is starting to look cheap ( especially one with an all-you-can-eat plan.)

    1. To the worried mom: Eating like your son is nothing out of the ordinary for a young man. He actually compares favourably in his food intake with many other young men his age, who eat even more. Young men burn an awful lot of food, they may still grow, they may fill out (gain muscle), and they are usually more active. As long as the food he eats is good food. Turkey, fruit and sweet potatoes are also way too lean to be satiating. Adding tons of fat will turn off hunger and provide healthy nourishment for an active and growing body.
      Healthy eating is expensive, period! I am a mom too, and I know how expensive it is to feed teens and young adults. I often have to restrict myself in order to feed the children. I want them to be strong and healthy, and I do not want them deprived of good food.

      1. Don’t call it restriction, call it periodical intermittent fast, at least that what I do!! 😉

      1. I’m amazed that hockey leagues don’t offer financing deals. 😉

    2. This freaks me out! I have two boys (and three girls) and my 8 year old son eats more than my husband and I and he is lean! (in sports though, so that probably makes him hungry) I can only imagine how much he is going to eat in highschool!! Already for breakfast he wants four eggs and four peices of bacon and probably would eat more if I said it was ok, then wants lunch an hour or two later.

    3. I had a 98-pound daughter who ran cross country in high school. She could easily out-eat her dad. I’m talking a full rack of ribs and two or three baked sweet potatoes in one sitting. Now she has become a vegetarian and I miss the days when she’d eat half a cow without thinking twice about it.

  17. By the way (in addition to my 2 posts above), the LPS thing is just one more reason to use stevia instead of sugar as a sweetener. Since inulin is a prebiotic and it is the carrier in the famous “Sweetleaf” brand, the best thing we can do to promote the growth of the bifidobacteria in the gut, is to use “sweet drops” for sweetening. Just saying.

  18. I agree with Mark and others that the “moralization” food consumption does no good. Saying this 19-year-old is “gluttonous” is like saying that obese people are “lazy.” It confuses effects with causes, and it obscures the physiological and social contexts within which people make choices. The kid doesn’t eat a lot because he has a character defect called gluttony; he eats a lot because he’s a nineteen-year-old young man and probably nutrient starved! Guide him, educate him (he shouldn’t eat other people’s food), nourish him, celebrate him. Don’t call him immoral.

    When I was his age I was 6’1″, 160 lbs., and my buddy and I got thrown out of all-you-can-eat night at Pizza Hut because the manager said they were losing too much money. I think I was at 16 slices, and my buddy was at 21. Now, 25 years later, I am 170 lbs. and I eat two normal-sized meals per day. Do I eat less because my character improved? No, I eat less because I’m in my forties now, and metabolism changes with age.

    If the young man starts becoming obese then of course it would make sense to see if there is a disruption in his satiety system. But I doubt that’s the case. As for the time and money issues, just tell him the truth. Show him your budget and tell him you work schedule. Say that you need help buying groceries and/or preparing food. Treat him like an adult and I bet he’ll act like one.

    1. “Guide him, educate him (he shouldn’t eat other people’s food), nourish him, celebrate him. Don’t call him immoral.”

      I’m torn about this idea.

      I know adults older then then me that know better. They have literally had all the advantages of education, middle class upbringing, etc.

      But their character was sorely lacking and their life has been somewhat of a disaster. At some point endless education and nourishment becomes enabling behavior that’s bad for them and hurts others, sometimes profoundly.

      In the context of limited resources, eating far more than your fair share heedless of the effects on yourself or others deserves to be one of the deadly 7 sins. It *is* immoral if your actions cause others to suffer needlessly, regardless of your age.

      Is that the case here? I really don’t know and where I agree with you and Mark is that I’d be very slow to label it. All I know is what Donna writes about her 19 year old son, an age known for being somewhat ravenous and heedless.

      Maybe she’s never seriously talked to her son about the impact of wiping out the family fridge. (Nagging with no intention of follow through doesn’t count here.) Maybe “the talk” has happened every day while he’s been home and she’s reaching out to Mark for help. Who knows? There’s a lot of context missing.

  19. It’s not necessary to eat fish to get omega 3’s, they are exclusively plant oils made by photosynthesis in either land or aquatic plants.
    From the Wikipedia article about Omega-3:

    “Although fish is a dietary source of omega?3 fatty acids, fish do not synthesize them; they obtain them from the algae (microalgae in particular) or plankton in their diets.”

    If you want Omega-3 in your diet but don’t like fish just take flax oil either liquid or capsule form, but don’t take more than 1 gram a day which is around 1 third of a teaspoon only. Too much Omega 3 thins your blood out too much and can cause hemmoragic stroke, excessive bruising and bleeding etc.

    1. Not to mention too much flax oil might help develop prostate cancer. i do not think that flax oil can replace fatty fish (which consists of EPA and DHA thus no need for the body to manufacture them from the essential parent oils). Omega 3’s are polyunsaturated fatty acids and as such they are prone to oxidation in the body if they stay in the system too long. However if they are taken during a fast, they are quickly metabolized for energy and do not float around too long.

  20. His hunger my be just a growing time but as a mom of a Type 1 Diabetic that was diagnosed at 18 out of the blue please bank this and be watchful.

    Some people will have no symptoms before they are diagnosed with diabetes.

    Others may notice these symptoms as the first signs of type 1 diabetes, or when the blood sugar is high:

    Feeling tired or fatigued
    Feeling hungry
    Being very thirsty
    Urinating more often
    Losing weight without trying
    Having blurry eyesight
    Losing the feeling or feeling tingling in your feet

    My son became very hungry and thirsty. At first we didn’t think much of it. Then he started having leg cramps and started dropping weight like crazy – he is 6’4 and weighed 150 lbs. Diabetes is not on either side of the family and he has always been a healthy conscious eater. No junk food or soda. This really hit us out of the blue. Type 1 is not Type 2 and has become an epidemic in the way that it is hitting people older, like late teens to early 30’s , like never before. It use to be called Juvenile Diabetes. The name Juvenile is now being dropped.

    1. yep this is great advice. you can definitely still have blood sugar issues on paleo/frimal ESPECIALLY with tons of fruit and any other carbohydrates

      1. I don’t agree with Paleo allowing tons of fruit on the menu. As far as I know 2-3 pieces/day max. is what is recommended.
        I never have more since that would mean just excess calories and too much fructose (bad, bad thing!) in the body. Go for veggies instead.

      2. Just to clarify. Type 1 Diabetes is NOT the same as Type 2.

        Type 2 is related to lifestyle and weight issues and may can be controlled through diet and exercise if not let to get out of hand.

        Type 1 is an Autoimmune Disease. There is no cure. The pancreas, the organ that secretes insulin, is destroyed by autoantibodies, that’s why people with type 1 diabetes always need insulin, either injected or through an insulin pump.

  21. I have only one comment…Why doesn’t that 19 year old college freshman have a job? Even a part time job would pay for extra food. I speak as a (female) ravenous, 19 year old college student who works full time and lives on her own. Hand the boy some job applications!

  22. As a mother to two teenagers where we all follow a gluten free, dairy free diet. I do a paleo diet but my children want rice and other things. My suggestion for the teenager is vegetables. When my children are ravenous like that I have no objections but they must eat a full serving of vegetables before they can have more. For example my teenage daughter was eating shredded chicken for lunch today and was having a small bowl full, I objected and made her add in a cup or two of lettuce to make it a salad and at least one other vegetable so it was a real meal. As a result she was satiated and enjoyed the meal much more. Same with my son, if he is hungry after his first serving of something they both know they must eat a handful of carrots, an apple, some lettuce or some other vegetable before consuming anything more.

    I had made a turkey recently when I had extra teenagers at the house, with potatoes and vegetables to round out the meal they still consumed most of a 14lb turkey between 3 teenagers and 2 adult women. Not much was left for the next day. Yet they were all pleasantly full and were not starving within a few hours of eating.

    1. Very well said Stephanie. By the way no problem with white rice and potatoes. Albeit not strictly Paleo, they are a worthwile Paleo Cheat and totally in line with the Perfect Health Diet, toward which I am inclining more and more lately. But that’s just me 🙂

  23. I’ve got some squid in the freezer, waiting to be cooked up, but I don’t know what to do with it. Does anyone have really good squid recipes?

  24. Mark, your reply did not address what seemed to me to be the mom’s critical issue: her son is consuming the food budget for the entire family, and they can’t afford it. Perhaps some of you here can give her some tips on how to stretch her primal budget so she can keep him fed. I think the “gluttony” comment got us all off-track – this appears to be a financial issue, at least in part.

    1. That I completely agree with, which is why I suggested vegetables. A big bag of organic carrots from Costco is not that expensive and if they are not willing to eat cups of carrots in addition to the other things then it can also be a taste issue. Vegetables are a key part of the primal diet and I did not see her commenting about him eating those. Seriously vegetables can give you a lot of bang for your buck nutritionally and lots of fiber to fill you up. I personally go through a bag of spinach every 4 days and we count that as cheaper than the crap I used to eat.

    2. Totally agree – most of us over eat when we first go Primal, partly because we’re told it’s okay to eat and partly because we have to fill in the space that carbs previously went. I think the mum should read the Blueprint so she understands what her son is doing and maybe where he is going wrong, and then, as others have said, make sure his new diet is full of fats and vegetables as well as the protein. His over eating should then start to calm down, even as a growing boy (I have a couple myself!) Personally I would find it hard to eat that much turkey, too dry! (I never said I was a great cook!)

  25. From the article on sweet potatoes Mark linked to:

    “For me, and I’d suspect most people reading, keeping carbs on the low end is high priority, and thus these starchy tubers are a welcome addition only every once and awhile and in moderation when they are added.”

    Combine 6 sweet potatoes with ‘bags of’ oranges and grapes at ‘a sitting’, and it sounds like he’s getting way too many carbs (and possibly consequent blood-sugar roller coaster).

  26. The cost of groceries used to be an issue with me. Until I though about it. My current and future healthcare cost are considerably less, therefore saving me money in the long run.

    1. That is exactly how I look at it also, Ben. Its like preventive medicine – its a lot cheaper than a lifetime of Lipitor, anti-depressants, treatment for diabetes, dialysis, etc. Feeling better today has its benefit to0

      Plus, when I have a freezer full of grass fed beef and pastured chicken, I’m a lot less likely to eat out.

      1. Although I probably couldn’t have afforded it when I was younger, and I understand why it is difficult for many people, I should add.

  27. Wow! This has been somewhat helpful, and amusing as well. As the mom of the hungry co- Ed, I was really asking for portion recommendations. And no, I’m not exagerating about the volumes! This is my youngest and third child in college. He informed me of his diet prior to break, so I made sure to have those foods readily available when he arrived home from school. I just didn’t expect them to run out the first few days he was home. Now with that said,2 my oldest is a Senior at the Naval Academy. Since we live relatively close to Annapolis, in the past 4 years there have been many weekends that my home was filled with hungry, thirsty Midshipmen longing for a home cooked meal. I have been most happy to oblige and keep the kitchen open. Aside from baked goods, the boys have had a healthful selection of choices that would agree with the “blueprint”. What shocked me most was that my 5’8″ son could out eat every last one of the Navy boys!
    So here’s what I’ve come away with…let him eat all he wants as long as its in the “blueprint”, but by increasing the veggies and fats, he might be satiated sooner. I do think this diet is beneficial, and my other two college kids are being more conscience of their choices. And folks, he does have a job…and has even offered to help pay for the groceries. I’m very proud of my son’s desire to eat and live well..but 9 pounds of meat??? Glad his school does have an “all you can eat” dining hall. Maybe he will outgrow this by May, otherwise his school will go broke next year!

    1. Hi Donna. I don’t think anyone has addressed the emotional aspect of your son’s eating. What could give a young man a better and more secure sense of being at home, loved, and cared for than good home cooking from his own mom? In my opinion your son is just soaking that up because he has been away from it for a few months. This is fairly normal home holiday eating for a young man I think. Were he to remain home, his eating habits would quickly level off. Since his behavior has a mostly subconscious basis, there is really no reason to worry or intervene unless he has a health problem, or his holiday eating causes financial hardship.

    2. I am very surprised that no one, including Mark, touched on the topic of micro nutrient deficiency. I remember back in my ravenous days that I just wanted to eat and eat and eat. But if I popped a multi, my hunger would diminish. Do you guys eat seafood? Zinc, copper, selenium, dha, epa. All things a growing, hungry teen needs. K2, Magnesium, maybe even salt. Is his flora messed up? Do you guys eat fermented foods, or just add a decent probiotic for a week.

  28. Hmmmmmm — to change the subject — As to the salt suggestion — be careful about drinking salt water — that’s one way to make yourself vomit.

    1. Seamen used to die from drinking salt water as it can lead to kidney failure. Unless it is a tropical day and one is sweating a lot, I would not do it. One has to let his taste guide him. We have a powerful reward system inbuilt to ensure the body gets enough salt. If the salt water tastes good, one probably needs the salt. If it does not, better avoid it. Can’t be forced down the throat against one’s will unless he wants to puke.

      1. Well, they used to die because they drank nothing but salt water, but if you only drink one or two glasses a day I think you would fairly safe!

        1. Check out this article about Salt and Adrenal Fatigue. (The salt part is near the bottom, but the excessive thirst and swelling is part of the equation). Einstein’s comment about the salt water tasting good is true. A person with Adrenal Fatigue craves the salt and salt water is the best way to deliver it to your body.

  29. perhaps the freshman had been smoking some medical marijuana and had insatiable munchies

    1. 9 pounds of turkey and 6 sweet potatoes?? Especially in the context of financial difficulties, this looks more like rude, self centered and insensitive behavior than a kid with growing pains!

  30. Regarding the concern of LPS levels, what if you’re on a FODMAP meal plan? That removes a lot of the regulators you mention. Thanks!

  31. Freshman son seems homesick and Donna must be a great cook, too. That being said, Kerrygold butter is your friend. He’ll slow down when everything is dripping in butter.

  32. I’m sorry but that is just rude for that college freshman to eat the whole family’s dinner.

  33. Hi Mark. Thank you very much for covering my squid question and for the great info, I really appreciate it. Ill be adding it in to the diet a bit more often. It will be interesting to see if it has any effect on strength. Thanks again.

    Kind Regards
    Craig (Adelaide)

    1. Hey Craig, also a fellow Adelaide Primal eater here. Just wanted to mention that we have copper-rich soil hereabouts – which can cause issues with blocking absorption of zinc. So if you’re eating locally grown produce and eating loads of squid it might be worth getting a molybdenum-zinc supplement. This is advice I got from a local guy who works in environmental medicine.


  34. I recommend celtic sea salt. it’s awesome taste. use the big chunks in cooking and get a mortar and pestle to grind up some for table salt.

    as someone who does physical work, I NEED that salt and it makes a huge difference in how I feel.

  35. +1 to the lazy = fat and hungry/growing = gluttonous. I am so tired of people making meaning out of things, where there is none. I often come home to a bare fridge cause my 20 yr old son “visited” and ate my dinner. He’s not malicious, he’s just hungry. Im a student, and I often DO fast because I cant afford food. My son doesn’t even live AT home anymore, out earns me and wouldnt think twice about eating anything from any shelf in my house without permission. Im a single mum, and I often skip meals so my kids can eat, or to avoid overspending on the budget. You CAN do primal on the cheap. Is it perfect? No. But Im still healthier and happier than I ever was eating two minute noodles and pasta dishes night after night. I’d rather fast than eat how I used to eat. I am still sure I used to spend a lot of money on boxes of food that were very expensive.. such as breakfast cereal at $9 a box. Somehow, I make it work. Where there is a will there is a way…

  36. PS Early in going primal I suffered from postural hypotension and read I needed salt. I was at work and the only salt in reach was table salt, which I added to a glass of water and sculled. It fixed me immediately and ever since I’ve recommended it to anyone who’s feeling a bit bleh or dizzy or faint. However what amount is considered safe in one hit like that? Anyone have any idea?

  37. Those squids in the picture look so yummy! I was born in Ecuador and currently live in Oahu, Hawaii, and I can’t even begin to list the many ways that you can prep squid. From South America, my favorite way is ceviche, while from Hawaii, my favorite way is poke. Have you tried prepping squid in either of these 2 ways?