Here’s a question you probably come across from time to time:
“What can I eat on the primal diet? There seems to be disagreement.”
Perhaps you’re asking it yourself. I know that I have. It doesn’t help that there are different versions of the diet — paleo, primal, New Evolution, etc — and some in-fighting about particular foods. I’d say that this is a good thing because it shows inquiry and science at work. If there was one guy that had a revelation about the diet and said we had to eat exactly as he said with no variations, then I’d be a little worried. (Unless he had kool-aid.)
I think it’s important to keep in mind that we’re not trying to re-create exact conditions from long ago. Rather, we are trying to eat foods that are healthy for our body.
Of course, there are certain foods that serve human bodies well, and there are certain things that harm them. And like all life in the universe, our bodies are products of the ceaseless evolutionary process, and so there are foods that our bodies have been designed to eat, and other foods and things that will almost assuredly harm our bodies if ingested.
So, just what is it that’s healthy for our bodies? There are many lines of agreement in Primal World: Eat lots of healthy meat, fish, fowl and vegetables. Get lots of sleep. Get sunshine. Laugh. Go outside and play. Avoid grains and sugar like the plague.
Importantly, every person is an individual, and they may react different to different foods. Plus, with international trade, an advanced economy and modern cultures, we can enjoy all sorts of foods never dreamed of by our ancestors. That’s a good thing.
(Of course, it’s a good thing when it comes to real foods like avocados shipped from Guatemala to your local grocer; it’s a bad thing when it comes to edible food-like substances like GoGurt and twinkies and donuts.)
As for the foods on the margin — the ones stuck in this Primal Fight Zone — I say the key is this: How does your body respond to them?
If you’re not eating them now and would like to, then try them out and see how your body responds. If you are eating them now, consider eliminating them for 30 days and see how your body responds when you reintroduce them.
Fair enough, you may say, but give me some specifics. What does The Primal Challenge suggest we eat?
Okay, with everything above in mind, I’m going to toss out this definition:
- WHAT YOU CAN EAT IN UNLIMITED QUANTITIES: meat, fish, fowl, eggs, vegetables, water.
- WHAT YOU CAN EAT IN MODERATION (IF YOU’RE TRYING TO LOSE WEIGHT, OTHERWISE HAVE AS MUCH AS YOU WANT): fruit, nuts.
- WHAT YOU CAN EAT IN MODERATION (REGARDLESS OF OBJECTIVE): dairy, alcohol, dark chocolate, supplements, herbs & spices.
- WHAT YOU CAN SNEAK OCCASIONALLY: beans, legumes, potatoes, rice.
- WHAT YOU SHOULD TRY TO AVOID AT ALL COSTS: grains, added sugar.
- WHAT YOU SHOULD KEEP IN MIND: 80/20 Rule.
Personally, I’m going for 100% primal right now. When I allow sneak meals, I tend to sneak more often than I should. Plus, I want to completely remove all grains from my body. I’m not having any dark chocolate, and barely any alcohol. They just seem unhealthy to me, even if that’s not true. (When I do drink alcohol — at social events — I only have red wine.) But I’m drinking a lot of milk. I find that it’s an awesome addition to a post-exercise meal, and I exercise a bunch. Pretty much every day during lunch, and then often after work. So it’s fair to say I’m consuming milk more than “in moderation,” but I’m cool with that, and my body seems to be as well.
Mark Sisson has a Primal Overview PDF flyer that’s falls pretty much in line with what we’ve outlined above. It’s ideal for printing up and posting. Consider adding it to your frig.
Does this help? Other Primal Challengers, is there anything that you would change or word differently? How about anyone else? Feedback is most appreciated!