The Primal Blueprint Refresher – A Dramatic Reading

Bright IdeasEven the advanced among us could use a Primal refresher now and then. Even the diehards could stand to bone up on the material. We’ve all been caught with our pants around our ankles when someone asks about “our weird diet.” Well, no longer. Today, you’re taking a short refresher on the Primal Blueprint. All the burning questions, little details, and inquiries people are likely to throw your way make an appearance. To switch things up, I thought it might be fun to turn it into a dialogue between two fictional characters.

Be nice, now. I’m no playwright. This isn’t trying to be “Waiting for Godot” or “Death of a Salesman” or anything like that. I’m just having fun here. Plus, since the following lines are based on bits of conversation that I’ve actually witnessed and participated in, it might actually be helpful if you find yourself in a similar situation.

SETTING: Your typical 2013 start-up tech office. Absent are the cubicle matrices of the mid 1990s, replaced by tasteful but comfortable high-end furniture, exposed brick, murals by local graffiti artists, communal desks, combination foosball/ping-pong tables, and troughs of snacks and drinks.

AT RISE: PRIMAL GUY and COWORKER are huddled around the espresso machine, the hiss of steam and the aroma of single origin Guatemalan beans heavy in the air. PRIMAL GUY wears Vibram Fivefingers on his feet and quiet confidence on his demeanor. He is fit and muscular, with a sturdy torso and sturdier legs. COWORKER is mostly thin except for a noticeable paunch. As he waits for the beans to finish, his foot taps impatiently. He seems nervous about nothing in particular, and somehow everything.

TIME: 10 AM, Pacific.

COWORKER: Man, this needs to finish like YESTERDAY. I can’t even keep my eyes open at my desk, and I just had a coffee like an hour ago.

(COWORKER smacks the lagging espresso machine, impatient.)

PRIMAL GUY: Here, have mine. I can wait.

COWORKER: Thanks, dude. I don’t know how you do it. I almost never see you drinking coffee. Where do you get your energy?

PRIMAL GUY: Well, what’s a typical breakfast look like for you?

COWORKER: That’s the thing that gets me. You’d think a big bowl of cereal, tall glass of orange juice and a granola bar or two would keep me full for more than an hour and give me plenty of energy, but it doesn’t. I’m starving and dragging by mid morning.

(COWORKER adds a half-cup of skim milk to his espresso, followed by a liberal dose of agave syrup. PRIMAL GUY wonders if he should start by saying something about the fructose.)

PRIMAL GUY: That’s because you’re basically eating pure sugar. Where’s the fat? The protein? And if that’s a typical breakfast? You’re trying to create lasting energy out of a fleeting, transient source of energy. Sugar burns and then you need more of it.

COWORKER: Uhhh, fat and protein? Are you crazy? What’s that look like – what do you eat for breakfast?

PRIMAL GUY: Either steak and eggs or bacon and eggs or steak and bacon and eggs, usually with a bowl of berries.

(This sends COWORKER reeling in obvious disbelief.)

COWORKER: Whaa? Man, I’d love to eat steak and eggs every morning, but my family’s got a history of heart disease and you know what they say…

PRIMAL GUY: I know what they say, but it’s wrong. Saturated fat is actually a benign, even healthy source of fat that’s never been conclusively linked to heart disease. It’s the most stable kind, practically impervious to the oxidative damage that’s responsible for most heart disease. As for eggs? In the vast majority of people, dietary cholesterol from eggs does not increase blood cholesterol. Heck, it even improves cholesterol in some folks, increasing “good cholesterol” more than “bad cholesterol.”

COWORKER: “Good cholesterol”? There is such a thing? I thought all cholesterol was bad.

PRIMAL GUY: The old model of the arteries getting clogged up with cholesterol like what happens to your pipes when you dump fat down the drain is wrong. Cholesterol isn’t a monolithic entity. HDL is “good” and LDL is “bad,” but even that’s too simplistic. It’s not bad. It’s necessary for optimal health! We make important hormones like testosterone out of cholesterol, and our body uses HDL and LDL particles to deliver nutrients. In fact, when it comes to overall mortality – you know, dying and stuff – cholesterol around 180-220 looks to be ideal.

COWORKER: Okay, so even if fat and cholesterol aren’t necessarily bad for you, that doesn’t mean you should actively seek it out.

PRIMAL GUY: Actually, you know how you asked how I never quite need coffee? It’s because I’m fat-adapted. Thanks to my high-fat diet, I have the metabolic flexibility to tap into my stored body fat whenever I need to. See, we store body fat because it’s a fantastic energy source. It burns clean and we can store upwards of tens of thousands of calories worth. I’m reasonably lean with fairly low body fat and I still have over 50,000 calories worth on my body. Meanwhile, I can only store about 500 grams of sugar in the form of liver and muscle glycogen. It serves its purpose to be sure, but you can’t rely on glycogen indefinitely without constant refills. That’s where your need to snack comes from. It also explains why your energy levels dip an hour or two after eating.

COWORKER: Why do I need so much protein? I mean, I’m no bodybuilder, my doctor said too much protein is bad for my kidneys, and my vegetarian buddies say it’ll destroy my bones.

PRIMAL GUY: Well, you had mentioned never feeling quite full. I suspect that’s because you’re not eating enough protein. Protein (especially with fat) is the most satiating macronutrient. It fills you up, especially when you eat it in the morning. As for the kidney thing, that’s been disproven. People with existing kidney issues might need to watch their protein intake, but kidney impairments aren’t caused by how much protein you eat; they’re most intimately linked to diabetes and hypertension, both of which an adequate protein intake ironically improves. The bone health claim is really silly, as protein actually works synergistically with calcium to improve bone metabolism and calcium retention.

COWORKER: How about exercise? I mean, you’re in great shape. You must spend all day in the gym and run ten miles a day to get that kind of body!

PRIMAL GUY: Ha! Man, I spend at most two hours a week in the gym – usually much less – and haven’t run more than a couple miles at a time for years. I actually find it way more effective to make my short workouts shorter and more intense and my long workouts longer and easier. When I go hard, I go hard, and when I take it easy, I really take it easy. Hanging out in the middle, where you’re trying to maintain a high intensity and a drastically elevated heart rate for 45 minutes to an hour, is both miserable and ultimately ineffective. Sure, it’ll make you good at running, but you run the risk of joint damage, oxidative stress, and elevated cortisol.

COWORKER: Sounds good to me! What’s that cortisol stuff you mentioned, though?

PRIMAL GUY: Cortisol is the premier stress hormone. It’s basically what our body makes in times of acute stress, like facing down a tiger or experiencing a famine. It increases alertness and helps us deal with the stressful situation. Unfortunately, since it’s a signal of starvation and “hard times,” it also breaks down muscle tissue for energy and increases belly fat. All good when you’re actually starving and need the energy at any cost, a disaster when your body only thinks you’re in danger because you’re stressing out over a traffic jam every day or doing too much chronic cardio.

(COWORKER pulls out a diagonally cut cheese sandwich and takes a bite, offering the second half to PRIMAL GUY.)

PRIMAL GUY: No, thanks. Thanks anyway though.

COWORKER: Ah, that’s right! You don’t eat bread, do you? You’re always eating the sandwich interiors! What’s wrong with bread?

PRIMAL GUY: It’s not just bread. It’s grains in general. Think of it like this: unlike many other organisms, grains have no way to defend themselves. They can’t run. They can’t fight. They can’t hide. So they have to defend themselves with proteins like gluten, lectins, and other antinutrients that punch holes in your intestinal lining, allow foreign food substances into your bloodstream to cause problems and trigger your immune response, and inhibit the absorption of nutrients. You’ve probably heard of gluten, found in wheat, rye, and barley. It’s the worst of the bunch. If it isn’t degraded entirely by your gut, it can tell the junctions keeping the contents of your stomach out of your bloodstream to open up and let things pass through to the blood, where they can increase inflammation and even trigger autoimmune diseases. Some say that only people with a diagnosed gluten allergy have to worry, but there’s compelling evidence that suggests the majority of people may have sensitivities to gluten. It’s just likely underdiagnosed. Lots of people who never thought they had issues with gluten experience huge benefits when they remove it from their diet.

COWORKER: So it seems like you’re against carbs, huh?

PRIMAL GUY: It’s more that I’m against unnecessary carbs in sedentary people. When you’re sedentary, you’re usually insulin resistant with higher baseline levels of insulin. This is bad because insulin inhibits the release of fat from body fat stores. When an insulin resistant person consumes carbs, they secrete more insulin than normal, which causes greater retention and storage of fat. Athletes need more carbs because they’re burning through their glycogen stores. Plus, they can handle more because their insulin resistance is so low. I’m a fairly active guy myself, but I’m not an elite athlete or exercise addict. I find I just don’t need much more than 150 grams of carbs. Maybe a bit more on really heavy workout days. Often far less.

(COWORKER visibly wilts at the thought of eating fewer carbs. PRIMAL GUY notices.)

COWORKER: How do you get carbs without grains?

PRIMAL GUY: Well, you can eat fruit, vegetables, tubers like sweet potatoes and regular potatoes, roots. There are tons of healthy sources of carbs that don’t come with the antinutrients found in grains and legumes. Eat them as you see fit.

COWORKER: This sounds pretty doable, to be honest. Eat more meat, eggs, vegetables, and fruit. Focus on fat and protein. Avoid grains, legumes, and too many unnecessary carbs. Don’t exercise too much. Okay! I’ll start right now!

(COWORKER pulls out the bottle of community soybean oil from the kitchen cabinet and begins frying a couple eggs he finds in the fridge.)

PRIMAL GUY: Oh, about that. You probably don’t want to be using soybean oil. Or heck, any seed or vegetable oil for that matter. Or trans-fats.

COWORKER: Trans-fat I knew about, but isn’t vegetable oil supposed to be healthy?

PRIMAL GUY: Remember what I told you about saturated fat? How it’s actually healthier and more stable than other fats? Polyunsaturated fats – the kind found in soybean and other seed oils like corn oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, and grapeseed oil along with margarine – are the exact opposite: highly unstable when exposed to heat, oxygen, or light. So when we cook with them, we’re damaging them, if they haven’t already been damaged by being stored for months in a warm warehouse waiting to be shipped. Oxidized polyunsaturated fats can lead to oxidized LDL particles, which are a big risk factor for heart disease. Plus, our bodies take the polyunsaturated fats we eat and make inflammatory or anti-inflammatory signaling molecules that form part of the stress response. Omega-6 polyunsaturated fats found in vegetable oils are inflammatory precursors. We can offset this by eating more fatty fish, which contain the anti-inflammatory precursors known as polyunsaturated omega-3 fats, but it’s better to just reduce the overall intake of omega-6s.

COWORKER: What do I use instead?

PRIMAL GUY: Use buttercoconut oilolive oillardtallowAfrican palm oilmacadamia oil, avocado oil, or ghee instead. Those are all more stable cooking fats. They’re also really, really delicious.

COWORKER: You mean to tell me that butter is okay to use? That not only is it okay, it’s encouraged?

PRIMAL GUY: Yup. I never said this Primal stuff was hard, now did I?


Thanks for reading (out loud, with a partner?), folks! Take care and Grok on!

TAGS:  humor

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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104 thoughts on “The Primal Blueprint Refresher – A Dramatic Reading”

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  1. I wish my co-workers were like that.

    COWORKER: It’s cookie day!
    ME: No thanks, I don’t really…
    COWORKER: Oh yeah, you’re on that freaky diet thing
    ME: It’s not really a diet it’s just…
    COWORKER: Have a cookie, it won’t kill you!
    ME: Not one, no… but the thing is…
    COWORKER: So just eat one! Jeez. You don’t have to rub this diet thing in our faces… I was just offering you a cookie
    ME: I errr.. *British mode* Sorry, yes thank you very much – I’ll have this later with my coffee. Yum.

    My office dustbin really does have a bad diet 🙂

    1. I don’t understand why people push food on others after they’ve declined. I find it terribly rude. It’s like they think you’re trying to show them up by being the “best dieter”. Your refusal of food becomes all about them.

    2. Remember a previous comment (sorry, can’t find who it was) but something along the lines of ‘I just feel better when I don’t’ then it’s not about them, but about your personal choice.

      Great post Mark, now I just have to memorise my lines!

    3. I have actually grown to love the dubious looks and bad attitudes expressed by people when they find out how I choose to live. Perhaps it is the curmudgeon in me but I get immense satisfaction out of the masses thinking I’m wrong when I know I’m right. 🙂 Bask in your freakiness!

    4. Coworker: You’re not having a slice of birthday cake?
      Me: No thanks.
      Coworker: But you’re so skinny
      Me (in my head): Because I don’t eat cake

      1. That happens all the time with my parents. My mom says I look sick because I am no too thin for her own comfort!

    5. Hilarious! Yeah, I get “Oh, that’s right, you’re a “Caveman!” with complimentary head shake.

    6. Maybe us Australians (or just me) are a bit more blunt. I just say “I don’t eat that crap” if it’s highly processed, out of a packet, supermarket bought rubbish.
      I’m a bit more tactful if it’s homemade!

      1. But as an Aussie Ive also found that when you say ‘no thank you’ most of the time I don’t get asked repeatedly, rarely do I get asked why not

    7. I am a registered nurse and every day at our clinic I have to navigate past the donuts, bagels, cookies, cupcakes, candy bars, potato chips, and pizza. On occasion it’s tempting, but mostly it doesn’t even register to me as food. Sometimes I am thankful for the health issues requiring me to be grain and dairy free because I have to say no to these foods.

      1. When we have to wander in the modern world, away from our house, I think of it as going into the food wilderness. It’s very tough to get enough calories Paleo style if you’re trapped in an airport, etc. So we just go with it — eating was probably not an absolute daily event when we hunted and gathered.

      2. That’s right! Those goods are no longer food the more time I spend being Primal.

        I now crave meats, bacon, and a lot of fruit!

    8. For sure, overcoming the social pressures we face every day is the hardest part of eating primal IMO.

    9. Awesome (and very true) comment 🙂 Say no with a confident smile! Works like a charm and improves the health of a dustbin near you 🙂

    10. Omg…this is what happens to me EVERYDAY. I hate how people always think I am on a “diet”. I despise that expression. Primal living is not a 5 week crash diet plan. It’s a way of living, a lifestyle that I pursue and enjoy!

    11. I would have a hard time not getting angry with that person! Enough is enough, and you’re not bothering anyone by eating different foods. I really wonder if people try to do this to vegetarians or vegans? “Oh yeah, it’s an animal product but it won’t kill you to eat it…” So rude! I’m sorry you have to put up with that!

      1. “Enough is enough, and you’re not bothering anyone by eating different foods. I really wonder if people try to do this to vegetarians or vegans? ”

        Yup, they do.

    12. Eating 1 evening meal/day with daily IF has made these conversations a no-brainer for me.

      Co-worker: come celebrate all of these birthdays and holidays with bagels, cookies, pies, and cake at 9AM with us!!
      Me: No thank you, I don’t eat until night time. I’ll come and mingle though.
      Co-worker: Don’t eat, you mean you just snack?
      Me: No… no snacks, well. Water, and an occasional black coffee.
      Co-worker: Isn’t that bad for you?
      Me: No, not really.
      Co-worker: I thought breakfast was the most important meal of the day?
      Me: Hmmm… break…. fast…. yep, I agree. I just break my fast at night instead of when I wake up 🙂

  2. Although I totally agree with everything PRIMAL GUY says, I have to say I kind of want to punch him in the face a little. If someone actually spoke like that to me (if I wasn’t primal of course :P) I don’t think I would like it. Good thing I’m already primal!

    1. Yes, this might make a better play than actual real life conversation. 🙂

  3. Agreed, it’s never that easy to explian to someone who doesn’t have a valid interest. I think there is good opportunity when someone compliments on weight loss, or when they mention they didn’t get great news after a check-up. Pizza, doughnut or cookie days are good opportunites to go for a walk around the parking lot…with an invitation to others.

    1. The conversation reminds me of those cheesy HR videos they make you watch about harassment when the corporate pendulum starts swinging in that direction.

  4. Mwuahahaha, I’m the Primal Boss…a whole different narrative!
    Too bad I have such a small company, I could be putting the pressure on a whole fleet of workers…but on the other hand, 33% of my workforce (the bookkeeper) started paleo and Crossfit this year… 🙂

  5. I ‘m a manager at Starbucks and started a Primal lifestyle in February – This presents many challenges, not only with my co-workers but also with the customers:

    CUSTOMER: So, I need a little help making a decision – would you recommend the non-fat Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino or the skinny White chocolate mocha?
    ME:Ummm…well, why are you ordering it skinny to begin with?
    CUSTOMER: Well, I’m just trying to watch the old waistline..
    ME: (oh boy, here we go again) Well, there’s actually nothing healthier about non-fat dairy, what, with all the sugar that the drink already has… – ur umm..I mean, go for the pumpkin one – It’s Delicious!!!

    1. ugh. people don’t realize how bad those coffee drinks are for the body. it’s funny how many people I see in workout clothes at the coffee shop. same goes with the fro yo places too.

    2. If I decide to fork over good money at Starbucks I order a Americano with heavy cream and add a package of stevia to it.

      1. Do they have heavy cream at your Sbux? I haven’t found anything but half-and-half.

        1. Yes! Sometimes they look confused when I ask, if you say “whipped cream” they understand. BTW they don’t have stevia, I bring my own.

    3. I have similar issues selling Girl Scout cookies, except with guilt. If I don’t sell, the troop doesn’t make their “numbers” and the girls miss out on some rewards. Even when I chip in *more* money than the girls get from their percentages, to make up for my failure to toe the line.

      I try to make up for it in fall nut sales. At least there, I can sell plain pistachios…

  6. Umm, just a quick question. Given that omega-3 is also unsaturated, and therefore unstable, how come it’s good for us?

  7. This happens everywhere. I can’t seem to have an appropriate-not rude response for all my family members (all obese-in medical terms) who insist that I have “one” cookie, soda, flour-tortilla taco, etc., will not harm me in any way. That moderation is key. Clearly they are not the best picture of health, neither am I but I AM seeing results. It’s a little frustrating when they just won’t hear you out. But little by little I have been able to get through a few of them and got them to get on the 21-day challenge. Hopefully, they will also see good results and be enlightened about the great benefits of eating/living Primally.

  8. Awesome post, was just going over a few of the common ones with a new client today. This can be my new reference sense you have many of your other posts linked! Simple!

  9. The fictional dialogue sounds good in theory, but it’s been my experience that most people don’t like to be “educated” about their food choices by someone who doesn’t have a title following their name. If specifically asked, I’ll say I stick with a Paleo diet, but I don’t go into detail about it unless the person is really, REALLY interested. Otherwise, I never mention what I eat. Selfish, maybe, but far less of a hassle.

  10. This is sci-fi, isn’t it? No co-worker / friend / relative / person_just_met would ever let you finish a sentence more than 10 words longs that preaches in favor of fats and animal proteins.

    It is easier to say that I have lucky genes.

    1. I agree about the 10 words, but I disagree about saying lucky genes. I would tell them I eat a lot of fat and few carbs. If you say lucky genes, they can say well I have unlucky genes (like my Mom whose first “food” of the day is a Coke). I get a kick out of telling people it’s what they do, not their genes.

    2. My *Father* thinks that I have “lucky” genes. Yeah, between the PCOS and all the allergies I certainly got an “awesome” set. Ah, well. People are just in different places in their lives.

  11. Great review of the principles. I can also picture a version of your drama for Elementary School play productions… It would require some kid-size offal costumes!

    1. This is my fave comment so far!!!

      It’s 8:00 p.m. and Mom is tucking the child into bed.

      CHILD: Mom, tomorrow is the Primal food pyramid play. I am supposed to dress up as liver.

      MOM: Okay. . . raw or cooked?

      1. LOL!! That would be wonderful! The ‘healthy’ lunches from Wok Box, Subway, Papa John’s Pizza and Extreme Pita that my 6 year old son’s school offers a few times a month is ridiculous!!

        I pretty sure that he’s the only kid that has steak and salad with avocado oil for lunch.

        I’m waiting for a letter of concern regarding what I send to school for his lunch!!

  12. Love the last line. Reminds me of the last time I made a real, genuine effort to go primal (I’m recently back on the wagon), my grandmother called me all upset because Easter was coming up and according to my mother, I wouldn’t eat anything. My response? “Oh, grandma, it’s not like I’m a VEGETARIAN or anything! I’ll eat the meat, I’ll eat the veggies, but I might not have a Crescent roll or dessert.” She was comforted.

  13. Thanks Mark, I love it!

    When people at work offer me cookies and cake and pie and doughnuts, and they are really persistent, I say something like “Do you have a porkchop? I’d rather have a porkchop.” Stops them dead. One time someone brought me a pork roast, though. That was a happy day!

    1. I do the same thing, except I ask for bacon. It’s a little more like the primal version of candy or cake to me.

      1. When the office brings in breakfast, they always bring me bacon!!

  14. Great post Mark!
    My family, friends, and coworkers think I’m odd for eating like a cavewoman and wearing fivefingers :p They’re always trying to convince me that bread is good & healthy. When I first went Primal in May 2012, I had a hard time eating out because restaurants wouldn’t accommodate my “diet”, now I just tell my server that I have a severe grain, soy, and legume allergy 🙂

    1. “You need to eat some bread with that, to make it more filling” is what my mom always says…

      1. Same here. To which I usually answer “I do not want to feel filled, I like the sensation of being lean and dynamic”.
        People do not appreciate the advantages of eating food which is small in volume and high in nutrients and calories. CW said you must feel like a stuffed toy, so it must be.

    2. Just this morning my wife and I were having breakfast at a Broken Yolk restaurant. My wife declined the grain options offered with the omelet. The very nice server asked, “Is this because of the gluten, because we have some gluten-free items, or is it a no-bread thing?” My wife replied, “No bread.” The server said, “Gotcha.”

      So this server, at least, was knowledgeable about some of the finer distinctions regarding eating choices. It was nice to hear.

  15. Cake day at work. No one had to twist my arm. They made me cut it… so I cut a little peice and enjoyed the heck out of it! I also put a little bit of store bought, soybean oil mayo in my otherwise paleo broccoli salad last night. Shhh… don’t tell anyone!

    Sometimes it’s a windy road, and we have to be forgiving with ourselves. I am probably 85% 15% primal… but these little details/hiccups/willpowerfails/shortcuts really get to me sometimes.

  16. When I first started my primal lifestyle everyone questioned it, thought it was a fad, my friends would poke fun at me for ordering a burger with no bun (to be fair I would tease them about other things) or salad when we all went out for pizza.

    Then I lost 65lbs, was more active and healthy. Now 80% of my friends are full on primal and the others make an effort to eat more primal.

    Now when people question me about it I tell them how much I used to weigh. Give then a quick rundown of the primal lifestyle and then tell them to go MDA for more info and if they are really interested to buy the primal blueprint and read it cover to cover.

    I still get some doubters and rude comments.. That’s ok I’m not a missionary, I’m not out to convert anyone unwillingly, but why not share the primal love if someone is interested.

    Stevemid I love that story! Yep I forcing my diet upon you by abiding by it and not saying anything to you about it at all.

  17. At work they already know I’m allergic to wheat (I was actually diagnosed with an intolerance but try explaining that to people…) so they never offer anymore (well, hardly anymore). That helps!!

  18. Goodness I received a weighted vest yesterday as a b-day gift and cannot wait to get it on this afternoon.

    see what I did there? And yes I know it was off topic.

    Paleo/Primal is more fun that I ever thought possible 10 months ago.

  19. Well, that’s a lovely play: have you considered its potential as a musical? Everything’s better with an enthusiastic dance number.

    Honestly though, I can hardly imagine it playing out like that in real life. I’ve come to the conclusion that talking about diet and nutrition is a little like bringing up politics and religion: people get extremely testy about it, and no matter how many facts and evidence you thrust into their faces, they’ll never change their minds unless they come to those conclusions by themselves. And everyone hates a proselytizer.

    1. Yep. It was a very good play, but very much in the realm of fiction. 🙂 It might happen, but you have to catch your co-worker on the one day they are ready to change.

  20. While I doubt anyone would every have this entire conversation, this is helpful to glean bits and pieces for random, smaller conversation. I’ve found that I’ve said most of this, at some point, to my parents (and others), but definitely not all at once (I chuckled on the line of COWORKER where he easily summarized the PB….good memory that man has!).

    You’ll probably never get a chance to explain everything, but you will come across opportunities to explain SOME things. You never know what little line or piece of information will spark a person’s interest to start digging on their own. I never pass up an opportunity to share an aspect of the PB.

  21. I just tell my coworkers that I have food allergies (which is true – I have gluten intolerance and am allergic to casein)…
    Loved the imaginary conversation though.

  22. My employees have learned-I don’t eat chocolate and thats everyones fav. In my office I just get sorry but it has chocolate frosting. Okay by me. it keeps me primal!

  23. The worst mistake I made was telling people I wasn’t going to eat pizza with them. It just wasn’t part of my diet. Then the questions came, so I answered them. Then the next question came. “You mean you don’t eat bread?” “You’re supposed to eat bread!” Any explanations after that are useless. I’ve been told everything from “bread is supposed to be 50% of your diet” to “the bible says you should eat bread.”

    I found the best thing to do in the work place is tell people I just don’t like what they are eating. I get a lot less confrontational attitudes from the people I work with.

  24. What a great way of condensing a lot of information! I love it! And I wish I worked with primal guy, or better yet had a primal boss. Or had both a primal boss and primal co-workers. I live in hope!

  25. A fun, conversational approach to explaining and reinforcing the primal lifestyle … bravo, bravo.

  26. If you must participate in workplace gatherings here is a decent recipe:

    Spiced Bacon Twist

    1 cup packed coconut sugar
    4 tablespoons dry mustard powder
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    2 pounds sliced bacon
    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set a wire rack over the foil. Use a baking sheet that has sides to catch the grease.
    2. In a small bowl, stir together the coconut sugar, mustard powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper. Press each slice of bacon into the mixture until coated. Twist each strip a few times and place on the prepared baking rack.
    3. Bake until bacon is browned and crisp enough to hold its shape, about 30 minutes.

  27. I’ve never heard the phrase ‘monolithic entity’ in everyday conversation… But I think I’ll try to use it more now…

  28. Mark,

    Why not making a movie explaining the PB principles exactly this way? Instead of showing boring graphs, researches, interviews, guests, etc? Or even worse, hairy cavemen running after antelopes and doing IF just because they failed.
    I recently attended a seminar that explained how storytelling is one of the best, and btw one of the most primal, ways to transmit knowledge. This post undeniably confirms it but don’t expect anybody who is not already a paleodieter to read it all. While a movie…

  29. I was having a conversation with a colleague yesterday about his mid day oatmeal snack, he wants to bulk at the gym and he was pouring semi-skimmed milk into his oatmeal.

    Took a while for me to explain to him that if he didn’t avoid fat he could actually eat less food and feel less bloated.

    He thought fat was called fat because it makes people fat. lol (Well if fat doesn’t make people fat why is it called fat then!) That made my day, and a few seconds later he realised how dumb what he said was.

    We agreed on simple terms (so that he would understand) that an excess of calories made you fat (whatever the calories are, obviously not 100% correct but I had to keep it simple for him), and finally understood that if you ate fat but stayed within your calorie limit you wouldn’t actually get any fat, because in layman’s terms lets say that 1000 cals = 1000 cals, he was surprised to find out that if he ate 50 grams of fat, he would get as much calories as 110 grams of carbs, “You mean I could eat less food and get the same calories”!

    That was a fun convo, maybe I can slowly show him the light, lol

    Although this morning he did dig into the semi skimmed milk again, ah well…

  30. I’m pretty lucky. I work with several people that are paleo or try to be. One of them is off the wagon though and keeps bringing in donuts. Most of them remain uneaten by the end of the day though. No temptations here though.

  31. My office is still divided into cubicles, I don’t have the enviable physique, in fact I gained 15 lbs in the last year if not more, I tire easily, can’t get good sleep, get hungry as heck, and some of my vegetarian/vegan co-workers still look like million bucks and make me drool with envy. I wear VVFs though, that part is true.

    1. It seems like you’ve posted on the wrong forum. If what you say about yourself it’s true it doesn’t sound like your following a primal diet. Otherwise I believe your health and physique would be slot better. But it does sound like you want to follow a vegan diet. So why don’t you give that an honest shot and let us know how that works out for you. Good luck.

  32. “(COWORKER visibly wilts at the thought of eating fewer carbs. PRIMAL GUY notices.)”

    LOL!! Hilarious. I laughed, I cried, it was great, Mark.

  33. Occasionally my parents insist on buying boxes of chocolates for me. I’ve given up saying no sugar (they clearly have a mental block understanding it) and accept their offering with good grace. I save them and take them to work for my colleagues to eat…I just wonder, is this wrong? Not so much the parent thing…the work thing…

    1. I don’t think its wrong. Better then going into landfill right?

    2. Well, ideally, your parents would bring you bacon to share, and you wouldn’t have this problem, but we don’t live in an ideal world, so…

      I actually deceided to do the same thing, next time someone brings me a big box of some ‘treat’. I live alone, so i’d rather share it with a lot of people than cave and eat the whole box myself. I’d probably serve it with an off-hand comment along those lines, too.
      And although I hope close family and friends will understand, sooner or later, what appropriate treats for me are, there will always be that aunt I only see occasionaly and I’m not gonna offend her if she brings something. It’s the thought that counts, after all.

  34. My coworker brought in Brownies today as a “Thank You” for helping with her son’s school fundraiser. She came to my office and said, “I know you don’t eat brownies so I brought you a banana.” I loved that! Even though no one in my office is primal, at least there are few that respect my lifestyle! (Which is a step in the right direction in my opinion.)

    The best part is that I’m not even slightly tempted by those brownies. 🙂

  35. I wish it was this easy to convince my husband. I sent him to the store for bacon and bananas, he returns with those plus cookies and lemonade. *sigh*

  36. I wish sometimes it was that easy to get an audience to truly explain what the Primal lifestyle is.

    There is no way people understand this here in Mexico.

    When people ask why I’m thin and starting to build muscle up and I try to explain that I quit grains and dairy, their eyes go blank and the answer I hear over and over again is: “No, I don’t think I could do that.”

    And that’s it. They lose interest and change topics. Even worst, I have gotten people angry at me. Envy, perhaps?

  37. Yeah, I don’t know, the Primal guy here sounds like a bit of an asshole. Who likes being told what to do with their life and lectured at? (never mind the fact that the lecture is far longer and more awkward than any human conversation could possibly be) I don’t, and I assume other people don’t either. Particularly at a moment when they’re feeling tired and hungry!

    A simple ‘I find I feel a lot better when I eat this way, and from what I’ve learned about food it makes sense’ might be appropriate if someone actually ASKS, but otherwise, it seems as rude to make comments on what someone else is eating, or make them listen to what I think about their food as it would be if it was them going on about what they think is wrong with what I eat or drink.

    I suppose it’s not meant to be any kind of real scenario, though (at least I hope not!) just a writing tool to provide a way of giving a summary of information to readers.

  38. I think a lot of folks just don’t have any concept whatsoever in regards to eating healthy. Most of the time when you try to strike up a conversation with someone about food they slip into a zombie mode and only become further zombie like when things require explanation. On the other hand there are plenty who do have an ear and will listen and take home some helpful information which is good. It’s a long road and I’m glad to be on the one I’m travelling.

  39. I wish Mark would write a similar dialogue assuming the “coworker” is an extremely intelligent and critical person with a strong background in chemistry/physics/medicine.
    I personally work in academia and telling some astute fellow mathematician / chemistry professor etc. that grains are unhealthy “because they can’t run away” (then carrots are unhealthy too, right?) or “because they contain proteins that punch holes in your intestinal lining” (how?) would only earn me pitying looks and uncomfortable questions.

    Actually, I’m myself starting to be less and less convinced by the standard arguments given for primal/paleo. I don’t need a bunch of publications (I couldn’t read them all thoroughly anyway), but some plausible (plausible for critically and analytically thinking people!!) explanations would be nice.

    1. Seconded. (my audience: molecular biologists at a food&agriculture centered university.) I dread the day my colleagues start asking questions about why I eat what I eat. So far, I’ve only occasionaly been asked *what* I’m eating, and answering “beetroot and feta salad” or “papaya” was sufficient.

      So although I can explain about nutrient-denseness or avoiding insulin-spiking and sugarcrashing, I’m not sure how to base the claim that slow carbs are still too fast, and I’d dig my own grave trying to justify the amount of eggs I eat for the cholesterol they contain. Sure it’s a cell wall component and hormone precursor, but all animals (including humans) biosynthesise and recycle the stuff, and I doubt you’d need much to meet your hormone requirements…

  40. I have faced this situation so many times. Despite my best efforts to explain why they should seek to question conventional dietary advice, my colleagues will not understand that their diets are doing them harm. On Friday when everyone else was queuing for “healthy” couscous salad and whole grain bread I pulled out a tuna and egg salad with home made avocado oil mayo. Everyone at work knows I am trying to lose weight and I got the worst lecture of my life about why I was spoiling a perfectly healthy tuna salad with all the cholesterol and saturated fat in the eggs and mayo.

    Despite my best efforts to tell them otherwise and even point them in the direction of this website, all I got was pitying looks.

    I think I might send them all a link to this post. If nothing else at least they might stop telling me off for snacking on meats and high fat foods!

  41. I wish people would listen when you try to explain it to them. I have recently been traveling around for a project and meeting lots of new people, and sticking to primal was hard, not just because i had to figure out a way to either prepare my meals on-the-go or find the best options in supermarkets and railwail stations, but also because there were always free sandwiches and SO many people were wondering why I didn’t eat those. Even the people who had heard of low-carb or even primal diets were thinking that it must be because of weight loss (it is, but only in part), and a lot of them have all sorts of diets confused and were thinking I must also be a vegetarian, or macro-biotic, or that it is some kind of fad. And the one thing I heard the most: “Well, everyone is different! It’s nice that it works for you but my body couldn’t function that way” or even “Our bodies can adapt to anything and it doesn’t matter”. How do you even respond to that without being rude?

  42. I find it ironic that in everyday social interactions, the ones knocking it are the ones who arent really open to new things any way. Its never been about educating people but good grief the results me and my significant other have gotten sure has people asking and asking and asking some more. The conversations are basically fragmented versions of the conversation written here. Especially having to explain that something coming from the “earth” does not equal healthy, especially things that have no active defense system(grains and legumes).