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Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
6 Mar

How to Go Primal with Food Allergies and Restrictions

speedbumpOver the past couple months, I’ve steadily been accumulating questions from readers with food allergies and food restrictions looking for assistance. They are all interested in giving the Primal Blueprint lifestyle an honest shot, but because they can’t eat certain foods, many of which enjoy an (real or imagined) exalted place in our community, they need help. Can it be done without eating red meat? Can it be done as a vegetarian? Can one eat Primal without eating land animals? Can a person succeed without tree nuts? Without coconut products? Are almonds essential? Can a vegan succeed on this eating plan? Are these nothing but minor speed bumps on the road to Primal, or something more serious? Let’s find out.

I’m allergic to tree nuts…and they are such a big part of the Primal Blueprint diet. Is it possible to still succeed on the plan in a healthy way without eating nuts?


Definitely. I actually wouldn’t say that tree nuts are “a big part” of the eating plan, but rather supplementary garnishes to be added as desired/tolerated. They aren’t essential. Many people who are just starting out with this stuff turn to nuts as their go-to snacks, because they’re low-carb, high-fat, and relatively convenient. This gives nuts the allure of essentiality. They are not. Nuts make a fine snack, sure, but they also tend to run pretty high in omega-6 fats. While there’s nothing wrong with some whole foods-based linoleic acid from time to time – eating a walnut is not the same as quaffing rancid seed oil, after all – making nuts a “big part” of your diet will likely result in a lopsided omega-3:omega-6 ratio. Over reliance on nuts is a common problem faced by many a Primal eater, and it’s one you’ll never have to worry about. Be happy!

Since you can’t tolerate them, you simply don’t add them to your routine. That’s fine, and you won’t be missing much. You certainly won’t be missing anything that you can’t get from other foods. In fact, I’d wager that you’ll be much better off than the tree nut-tolerant person who can’t seem to stop himself from tolerating five handfuls of nuts every single day. Because they’re so energy-dense, what begins as an innocent post-lunch snack of filberts can easily turn into a full-fledged meal rich in omega-6s.

My daughter is allergic to almonds. Is there another flour I can use in my recipes?


Absolutely. Coconut flour is probably going to be your best option, but it’s nothing like almond flour. Coconut flour is far drier, with far more fiber and far less fat than almond flour, so you can’t substitute coconut flour 1:1 for almond flour without getting a very different final product. Luckily, I did a post on coconut flour a couple years ago, and the comment section to that post contains several reader recipes. If you look around, you’ll find that the Primal recipe blogosphere is quite fond of coconut flour. Sure, you need to add a couple extra eggs to account for the drier texture (but more eggs are great!), but coconut flour doesn’t pack quite as a big of a caloric whop as almond flour. Baked goods made with almond flour can really add up fast, especially if they’re sweetened and delicious; using coconut flour in your pancakes instead of almond flour means you won’t be eating 1500+ calories in the form of a half pound of ground almonds, several eggs, a couple tablespoons of butter, a banana, and honey without really even realizing it.

Tapioca flour, rice flour, sweet potato flour, or potato flour are also options. They are higher in carbs than either almond or coconut flour, but they are largely free of possible irritants like gluten or other grain lectins. If you’re not worried about the carb load, these can be used.

Here are a few links to various flours: coconut, tapioca, rice, sweet potato, potato.

I’m allergic to bananas and avocados. What are good substitutes for these in any recipes?


Well, it depends. If you’re talking replacements for guacamole or frozen bananas dipped in 85% cacao dark chocolate, I have some bad news for you. It ain’t gonna happen (they aren’t that good anyway).

But if you’re trying to replicate the textural enhancements provided by the aforementioned forbidden foods, you have options. In smoothies, a creamy texture can be achieved via yogurt, frozen fruit, and/or coconut milk (use the cream and omit the water, if possible) infusion. And this may sound odd, but frozen macadamia nuts tossed in a smoothie provide a buttery texture that, while not perfectly analogous to that of a frozen banana or avocado, stands up well on its own merits. In a Primal baked good, unsweetened applesauce can replace mashed bananas. If you’re missing the fat content of the avocado, both olive oil and macadamia oil contain similar amounts of monounsaturated fats.

Oh, and I lied. Guacamole and chocolate dipped bananas are definitely that good. Sorry.

I have been intermittently following a Primal lifestyle, but have had difficulty transitioning my household to it because my husband is allergic to coconut, in all it’s forms. As DH has recently (today, actually) been diagnosed as having high cholesterol and borderline high blood pressure, and he has difficulty regulating his blood sugar, finding a substitute that would allow for greater implementation of a Primal lifestyle has taken on a measure of urgency; he is only 34, and I would like to have him around and healthy for several more decades icon smile I will be consulting the forums for information, and re-scouring the historical files on MDA – however, any direct assistance that can be provided would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.


Although coconuts are popular with this crowd, they are not essential. Yes, they taste good and provide healthy medium chain saturated fats, but so do palm oil and dairy fat. Both can be worthy replacements. If your husband wants the medium chain triglycerides (MCT) for which coconut is popular, he could always try MCT oil, made up of pure medium chain triglycerides extracted and refined from coconut oil. I had a funny experience with MCT oil, and I prefer coconut oil, but it’s a perfectly reasonable, completely refined alternative stripped of all vestiges of its coconut past that should be tolerated by those allergic to coconuts (but be careful and introduce very small amounts; I’m talking a quarter teaspoon at a time, just to be safe). As for palm oil and dairy fat, go with grass-fed dairy fat and unrefined red palm oil, and you get extra vitamins and nutrients along with your medium chain triglycerides.

Just don’t think “no coconut” is a deal breaker.

I am allergic and/or intolerant to eggs and dairy and coconut (in addition to wheat, soy, yeast, etc.). Do you think it is possible for me to go Primal in that circumstance?


Yes. You’ll likely be forced to go “strict” Primal, what with no dairy and no coconut flour baked goods bound together with eggs, but I think that’s actually a blessing in disguise. Sticking to meat, vegetables, fruit, and nuts will keep you honest, and it’ll keep you away from any potentially problematic foods (even the ones that most Primal eaters readily and happily accept) that can add up rather quickly. Check out Robb Wolf’s autoimmune protocol, which restricts dairy, eggs, nightshades, wheat, soy, and all the regular neolithic foods. Since plenty of people thrive on that way of eating, and you’re just avoiding eggs, dairy, and coconut, there’s no reason you won’t succeed.

Since you’re not eating yogurt or kefir or some other fermented dairy, which is how many people work fermented foods in their diets, you should look into lacto-fermented vegetables, like sauerkraut, kimchi, or pickles.

I can’t stand red meat. I know grass-fed beef and lamb are the bee’s knees, but I just can’t do it. Am I making a huge mistake?


Honestly, you are making a huge mistake. A grass-fed bone-in ribeye eaten on the spot, over the grill, with only your hands and a glass of Cab smeared with CLA-enriched grease to accompany you? That’s something every person should experience at least once or a hundred times. But that’s sheer animalistic pleasure-seeking. As far as nutrition goes, you’ll largely be fine.

Incorporate grass-fed dairy fat and you’ll take care of the lack of conjugated linoleic acid. Eat oysters a couple times a week and you’ll take care of the missing zinc. Make sure the animal products you do eat come from quality sources. I’m talking grass-fed and -finished, pastured, and/or wild-caught. You may have trouble getting enough carnitine, an important amino acid found almost exclusively in red meat. While the body both conserves carnitine quite well (indicating, perhaps, its importance in the body) and manufactures it internally, more carnitine has been shown to be helpful, especially in athletes and the elderly.  If you’re not eating red meat, you’re likely getting far less carnitine than most traditional Primal eaters.

If I could make one suggestion, it would be to eat a quarter pound of pastured ruminant liver every week. I know that’s a tall order, seeing as how you can’t stand the taste of red meat, but try to do it if you can. The benefits are many (it isn’t called “nature’s multivitamin” for nothing), and since carnitine is synthesized in the liver, a small weekly dose might make up for the overall lack of red meat. At the very least, include chicken, duck, or turkey livers.

I don’t eat fish. It’s not because I do not want to, but I simply cannot get over the taste after having a bad run-in with raw catfish in my less-than-primal-healthy eating days. Outside of the obvious (grassfed meets, free range eggs, supplementation), what are other steps I need to take to keep optimal and Primal?


Can you eat shellfish? Oysters and mussels would take care of all your sea-related needs, if you can tolerate them. Canned, smoked oysters are pretty mild, and I’m of the opinion that oysters are the most nutritious of the edible sea creatures. Hopefully you can keep them down.

If not, exclusively eating grass-fed meats, pastured eggs (which have a decent amount of omega-3s, believe it or not), and supplementing with a high quality fish oil will get you on your way.  I would also try incorporating some seaweed a couple days a week, if only for the iodine (which can be tough to obtain if you’re abstaining from seafood). A good way to do it is to add pieces of kelp/kombu to soups or cooking bone broth. I don’t find it influences the flavor too much, but it definitely influences the nutritional content of the dish. Seaweed salad, the kind you find in Japanese or Korean cuisine, is also great.

I’m a vegetarian for ethical reasons. Is it possible to go Primal and not eat meat?


Yes, though it wouldn’t be ideal. You’ll have to really like eggs and dairy, but it can certainly be done. Just make sure the dairy and eggs you eat are of the utmost quality. Get eggs with dark orange yolks from pastured hens who ate grass, weeds, and bugs. Get dairy from cows, goats, or sheep who ate grass; preferably, it’ll be raw. Include some fermented dairy in there as well. As long as you’re avoiding grains, refined sugar, and processed seed oils and liberally eating high quality animal products, it can be done. A quality whey protein may also help with protein needs.

If you’re the kind of vegetarian that eats fish this won’t be nearly as difficult. If you are not, I urge you to at least consider the oyster. As mentioned in the linked article, oysters have no central nervous system. If they feel “pain,” they don’t experience it like cows, pigs, and chickens experience pain. Oysters don’t have dreams or aspirations (beyond perhaps creating the prettiest pearl in the sea) that would be crushed by your eating them once or twice a week. I would also look into eating insects. Research shows that they experience “pain” differently than most other animals, and they’re a good source of protein, fat, and multiple micronutrients. They’re also extremely eco-friendly, sporting the largest biomass of all terrestrial animals. Most hunter-gatherer societies with steady access to bugs utilize them as a useful source of calories. Why not us?

Or you could hear how to do it straight from the source. Here’s one Paleohacker who manages to stay paleo and vegetarian without issues.

I’m a vegan. I don’t eat any animal products. Is there any way to be Primal and a vegan?


No, it can’t really be done very well without extensive supplementation. Where are you going to get creatine? Carnosine? Carnitine? DHA? Zinc? You’re going to have to supplement.

All that said, you can certainly be a far healthier vegan by implementing many Primal principles – grain, sugar, and vegetable oil avoidance, to name the main ones. You’ll probably have to include more starch, like yams, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and other roots and tubers, as well as fruit, simply for the calories, because you can’t live on leafy greens alone. You don’t have the enlarged intestines of a silverback gorilla. You’ll probably want to incorporate nuts, for fats and protein. Lentils are generally seen as the least-offensive legume, so there’s an option for protein. Quinoa is another high-protein pseudo-grain type thing worth considering. Though it contains saponins, which may have antinutrient qualities, they don’t appear to be on the same level as something like gluten. Whichever you eat, bone up on your traditional legume and grain preparation; if you’re gonna do it, do it right.

Focus on all the good Primal food that is vegan-friendly, like coconut, fruit, vegetables, tubers, nuts while making sure to pick the least-offensive grains and legumes when you eat from those categories. Avoid the garbage, the sugars, the gluten, the seed oils. And, once again, please, consider the lowly oyster.

Well, that’s it for today. Be sure to write in the comment section with any further questions about workarounds for restrictions and allergies, and I bet you’ll get some great feedback. If there’s enough interest, we can do another one of these down the line.

Thanks for reading!

Grab a copy of Primal Blueprint Quick & Easy Meals for over 100 Primal Recipes You Can Prepare in 30 Minutes or Less

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Thanks for this – all very informative. In my experience a lot of people use their allergies/intolerances/food philosophies as an excuse for not giving the paleo lifestyle a go.

    I got into this primal gig as a pescatarian (I ate fish but never meat) and just kind of figured it out as I went along.

    Needless to say, I’ve now come around to the meaty side of life :)


    Cat wrote on March 6th, 2012
    • I had the oppisite thought. I had horrible allergies that I couldn’t figure out, so I went paleo to see if I could find out what I was allergic to. Needless to say, it was successful. :)

      Kayla wrote on March 7th, 2012
      • It makes sense that once you go Paleo, you are eliminating a great deal of toxins which accompany a grain based diet. If we remember that health is a “process” and not an event, fine tuning your diet becomes simpler on a Paleo diet as you are now fine tuning a “tuned up” car instead of rebuilding a bomb, if you’ll pardon the analogy

        Tony wrote on March 7th, 2012
        • Tony, I couldn’t agree more..many food allergies/digestive problems/eczema/sinus issues, are caused by most grains. Some have problems with dairy except butter. To vegetarians: some I knew tried it, got run down and went back to fish/meats. Also, people I knew lived to around 100 who ate meat.

          laura m. wrote on March 8th, 2012
  2. You have indicated I’m on your list, but I’m not getting your postings. I have to go to google to get them. Thanks, Liz

    LizWeber wrote on March 6th, 2012
  3. I sometimes get problems with headaches and stomach problems after eating dark chocolate, I guess it’s the mycotoxins that causes the problems. Does all chocolate contains mycotoxins or are there any brands that are free of them ?

    Swedish wrote on March 6th, 2012
    • It might also be soy lecithin, which is common as an emulsifier in dark chocolate. I feel noticeably crappy after eating chocolate with lecithin in it, and feel fine after eating chocolate without it.

      cTo wrote on March 6th, 2012
    • Or you could be very sensitive to tannic acid. Do you have similar problems with tea and red wine?

      Danielle wrote on March 6th, 2012
    • Dark chocolate also contains tannins which can cause headaches and stomach upsets. Google tannin intolerance for some more in depth info.

      Britgrok wrote on March 6th, 2012
  4. First of all, kudos to you, Mark! What you are doing is fantastic, so keep up the good work!

    However, I too seem to run into quite a few issues, when endeavouring to maintain a primal diet. As it happens, I am unfortunate enough to be severely allergic not only to everything below sea level, but also to eggs of any kind, shape or form. This has been a cause for concern for quite some time now, as I have been worrying about adequate intake of the so eulogised omega-3s. I try to incorporate it from plant sources, but understand that the body can’t make optimal use of it. So, what’s a hyper-allergic bloke to do?


    Chris wrote on March 6th, 2012
    • how about a colony of hookworms?

      This guy had WICKED food allergies and beat them into remission with some worms.

      Edmund wrote on March 6th, 2012
      • That is crazy! Thankfully for me going primal was enough. I’ve had food allergies since I was a childn, the worst being to eggwhites which made me itchy everywhere and my throat would close up, total systemic response. But when we went primal that disappeared in weeks. Now I can eat eggs and dairy (although I do avoid milk for primal reasons, sticking to occasional heavy cream) without a problem. However I’ve noticed if I have a piece of regular birthday cake I need to back off the eggs and dairy for about 24 hours so my intestines can right themselves. How fascinating that a colony of worms (which used to be endemic to human populations) can do a similar thing!


        Tim wrote on March 7th, 2012
        • I’m skeptical about the hookworm cure. I had hookworms (no idea how I got them) last year and they didn’t help my allergies a bit. I have a lot of allergies and have not tried this diet yet. I haven’t had wheat in years though.

          Linja wrote on March 8th, 2012
  5. For those allergic to almonds, I’ve found that hazelnut flour works just as well. You could make it yourself in a food processor, or buy it from Bob’s Red Mill. Substitute it for the almond flour in these blueberry muffins:

    Debra wrote on March 6th, 2012
  6. But Sam, red meat is so delicious!

    Abel James wrote on March 6th, 2012
  7. Super helpful post! I’d add that being allergic to eggs doesn’t mean you can’t have the occasional sweet baked good – flax seed, homemade applesauce, yogurt, and sour cream all serve similar purposes and depending on what the eggs are in a recipe for (binding, leavening, etc) the substitute can change and adapt.

    Kerry wrote on March 6th, 2012
  8. Me and my boyfriend are going primal and i have already tried out some of your recipes ( they are awesome by the way ! ) just wondering where you get the spices for your dishes !?

    irene wrote on March 6th, 2012
    • I’ve seen Mark foraging in the hills of California for his spices…

      I’d try farmer’s markets or if fresh spices are not an option, checkout Penzey Spices. They ship and are top notch quality.

      liberty1776 wrote on March 6th, 2012
  9. Vegans remind me of the episode of South Park where the Prius owners enjoyed smelling their own farts because they were so much better than everyone else they didn’t stink.

    Grokitmus Primal wrote on March 6th, 2012
    • Because insulting them is always a great way to help them be open-minded to your side of an argument. Nice.

      cTo wrote on March 6th, 2012
      • I have yet to met a vegan who is really open minded. Mind you, I know one vegan engineer. Engineers tend to be fact oriented and data driven. The issue I see with this engineer’s view point is he knows little to zero about biochemistry. So the data sources he goes to and references all state grains are great, do not eat meat, fat is evil, yada yada yada. His “analyze-the-data-and-think-independently hat” is nonexistent when his vegan position is disputed and he does not have any valid, logical retorts.

        I’m with Grokitmus Primal on this one.

        [Sniff]. “num num num num num num”

        liberty1776 wrote on March 6th, 2012
        • Just to nip potential vegan arguments up front, I am sure open-minded vegans exist. I personally have not crossed paths with one and I went to a really “liberal” university and live in the really “liberal” part of the country.

          I think most people dabble in veganism because of their social/political views rather than their desire to seek out an optimal diet for great, all around health. If this is the case then one cannot logically rationalize an illogical position/stance.

          Kinda like religion.

          liberty1776 wrote on March 6th, 2012
        • I always enjoy asking those people how many vegans & vegetarians do they think actually survivde the Ice Ages?

          The correct answer is ZERO! Their brain chemistry is so deficient they rarely come up with that, but the quizzical puzzled looks on their faces are priceless. :-)

          cancerclasses wrote on March 6th, 2012
        • I was a vegan for three years after my nine years of vegetarian lifestyle didn’t lower my cholesterol from 322. (CW told me high cholesterol was caused by meat.) My doc told me I could either eat a chicken breast once a day or go into the hospital for a blood transfusion. (anemia) I was so open minded that I changed doctors; different practice, different medical group, etc. I got similar advise from the new doc. Now we “discuss” statin drugs. However, anemia is no longer a health issue for me.

          Lynn wrote on March 7th, 2012
        • Most vegans choose to abstain from animal products for ethical reasons. If it was just a diet thing, then they wouldn’t have a problem with wearing leather. Because they feel that killing animals and other products of factory farming are wrong, you cannot argue with them about the shortcomings of the nutritional content of their diet. They are acting in line with their morals. You shouldn’t judge.

          However, those militant vegans that want to try to force their beliefs on others or vilify those who don’t agree with them can suck it. They aren’t any better than those wacky Christians that set up their soapboxes and megaphones in pedestrian areas in order to blast me with their message that I will go to hell if I don’t find Jesus.

          antibarbie wrote on March 7th, 2012
      • I agree with CTO here. You don’t make friends and influence people by being judgmental about their most cherished ideals. Live by example: be healthy, be happy, talk about how you always have so much energy and nothing gets you down and don’t say WHY until you’re asked.

        I was vegan for more than a year, so I understand some of the thought processes involved: I wanted to be the best global citizen I could be, I wanted to do what’s right, to lessen the pain of the world, even a little bit. I’ve since learned that primal is a better way, but it took time. You grow a movement with open arms not wagging fingers.

        Tim wrote on March 7th, 2012
        • Very well said.

          SusanA wrote on March 7th, 2012
        • I agree with that. I have a really good friend who is a raw vegan, and while she thinks that it is the best diet ethically, globally, and economically as well as it being the best diet for herself personally, she doesn’t freak out at other people. We agree to disagree and move on.

          On closer inspection, with the exception of sprouted buckwheat her and her boyfriend’s diet is 100% paleo-friendly. They don’t cook, so grains and legumes are out. They don’t eat any animal products, so it’s dairy free (for the dairy-free cavepeople), and all the sweeteners they use are the 100% natural, organic kind. Mainstays are nuts, avocados, and coconut, and the food they un-cook is fabulous and delicious.

          Kristina wrote on March 7th, 2012
    • The name or the car as it has come to be known is actually a result of an uncorrected typographical error, the real original name is the Totally Pious.

      conrack wrote on March 6th, 2012
  10. I have been primal for almost a year now and I have to say that most of the concerns brought up by people cited here have been a complete non-issue for me. I dont like nuts that much so I rarely eat them. I feel weird after eating eggs so I also have them rarely (although I’ve come to believe its because Im allergic to the egg white, so ive tried just cooking egg yolks with better success). Also–and I know this is blasphemy–I dont like avocados that much so I rarely have them too.

    Honestly, I rarely rarely rarely do any of the complicated “paleo hack” recipes, like paleo baking and such. Ive just learned to cook real recipes with meat and vegetables, and its been absolutely wonderful (been doing a lot of roasting this winter). One just has to approach the details of “conventional” recipes with common sense, like replacing bad cooking oils with good ones, and ignoring instructions to remove fat after you cook the meat, or add wheat flour to thicken sauces.

    The most hilarious thing is when I come across recipes that are trying to be “healthier” by doing things like subbing low-fat yogurt for butter, and other idiocies. I’m like, eff that, and add the butter back to the recipe.

    cTo wrote on March 6th, 2012
    • Totally. I do the same things. I love preserving the delicious fat to spoon over the steak as I serve and/or make a lovely butter and wine sauce with. This is what the word ‘sumptuous’ was invented for!

      Tim wrote on March 7th, 2012
  11. Goats are related to deer NOT the cow and reach up for their foods. Goats can die from a diet of grass. They nibble on willow leaves and branches, bark, mostly weeds, blossoms and fruit.

    Goats easily get parasitic infections when forced to eat grass off the grounds. They are not immune like cattle.

    Just wanted to clarify that, since you threw in the goat as part of a grassfed animal.

    Arty wrote on March 6th, 2012
    • I think its more that “grassfed” has become a catch-all term for local-sustainable-humanely-raised meats that are fed their nature-intended food and forage. I mean, people will also refer to grass-fed pork sometimes and pigs definitely dont eat grass.

      cTo wrote on March 6th, 2012
      • Um, yes they do. Agree on the catch all term, but pigs eat grass…. along with rooting. Goats eat grass, just not much. I raise both. I know these things.. ;o)

        Kari wrote on March 6th, 2012
      • “Pastured” is probably a better (though still imperfect) blanket term.

        Kris wrote on March 6th, 2012
  12. Thank you for this wonderful roundup. We’ve just discovered we have some major allergies with our kids (dairy, eggs, soy, wheat) and while strict primal takes care of most of these, I’m finding the egg allergy discouraging.

    But these tips on how to make primal work, even with allergies, is so encouraging!

    Anne wrote on March 6th, 2012
  13. Oh, I just posted a recipe for making your own raw fermented sauerkraut! That might be useful to the people who can’t tolerate fermented dairy.

    Angie wrote on March 6th, 2012
  14. Great post! We actually stumbled into Primal eating accidentally when my daughter and I were diagnosed with multiple food allergies. She can’t do dairy or eggs, and that DOES make it more challenging…but not impossible! The benefits we’ve seen in our short 2-3 month stint far outweigh the extra effort I have to put forth in the kitchen :)

    Erin wrote on March 6th, 2012
  15. I have several vegan friends who I think would appreciate this info; I plan on sending it their way. Thanks, Mark!

    Daniel Wallen wrote on March 6th, 2012
    • Good for you. I have some as well, very sincere well-intentioned people. We both just need to tell them to ingnore the childish, vegan-bashing comments.

      Chris wrote on March 7th, 2012
      • Oops…that’s “ignore”. I feel lucky to have found this site, and want to pass it on to others

        Chris wrote on March 7th, 2012
  16. “In fact, I’d wager that you’ll be much better off than the tree nut-tolerant person who can’t seem to stop himself from tolerating five handfuls of nuts every single day.”

    -Agreed! It’s tough to only eat a small handful of nuts. Macadamias are best and if I could afford them more often then I would almost ditch all other nuts completely.

    Primal Toad wrote on March 6th, 2012
  17. How timely. I love nuts, but I had my first full-out anaphylactic reaction to pecans this past weekend. LOL I can’t eat dairy, soy, or most grains and grasses, either. Strict paleo does really suit my body. My body is so happy eating mostly meats and veggies.

    Katherine wrote on March 6th, 2012
  18. Meat, fish, fowl and vegetables.

    I think those four foods, as lacking in fun as they might get after a while, are all you really need to get most of the benefits of going Primal.

    In moderation chocolate, nuts, eggs, and dairy have their benefits, but I don’t think I can consider these foods purley Primal. Beneficial to one’s health and tasty, yes, but these foods were not in abundance in the Paleolithic era, nor should they be in a Primal diet. Abundance is the key word here.

    This means that a vegetarian trying fulfill optimal protein requirements with eggs, dairy and whey, is going to have an abundance of Neolithic foods in their diet. Unfortunately, I think this kind of diet will spell digestive troubles.

    We should also keep in mind, if not just for the sake of a thought exercise, what life would have been like for a vegetarian or a vegan in the Paleolithic era. Carbohydrate sources were not in abundance, so precious calories came from protein and fat from animals. Where would you be if you neglected that? What I can picture is blique at best.

    Matthew Caton wrote on March 6th, 2012
  19. This article is very handy, as i’m trying to help my MIL switch over to a bitter diet…she has stomach cysts and issues with certain foods, she can’t eat red meat or pork – I did get her to eat more fish though, and chicken. And to take some fish oil. It’s slowly trickling through, lol.

    Nion wrote on March 6th, 2012
  20. I used to be able to tolerate some dairy but now that I’ve been on PB I can’t have any. They immediately make me sick whereas before they would occasionally if I hadn’t consumed them in a while. Cheese is slowly starting to do the same, sadly. I’d try the organic diary but it’s illegal in my state (and illegal in SC for human consumption, I think, so it’d be pointless to drive down there).

    I guess my body is telling me that’s the way I am or supposed to be. Heh, not really missing it anyway because coconut milk in my coffee with Tennessee honey is surprisingly good. :)

    Judolizard wrote on March 6th, 2012
  21. I’ve had to be extremely strict Primal for several months, due to a candida overgrowth. I was getting frustrated when my skin wasn’t improving, (dermatitis on my chin) but realized, I was eating parsnips and sweet potatoes still! Even carrots are a no-no.

    My candida caused some food intolerances: chocolate, eggs, milk dairy. Due to candida, I also cannot drink ANY alcohol (hello, fermentation!), cannot consume ANY fruit or sweetener or ANY kind, and no vinegar or mushrooms.

    I’ve also upped my probiotic intake, and increased my omega-3 fatty acid intake. In less than a week, and cutting out extra starchy tubers, my skin is almost completely clear! Eating loads of coconut oil, and coconut milk has helped a ton as well.

    I will continue my strict eating until I feel physically better, and my skin heals completely. It’s a slow process. Eventually, I will add eggs back in, and chocolate. I do not really miss alcohol, thankfully. But no eggs and chocolate make this chicki twitch!

    You CAN be Primal with restrictions! It’s not forever either!!!

    Thank you Mark, for this brilliant post!

    pat wrote on March 6th, 2012
    • Pat,
      I also have a candida intollerence that effects my skin and my stomach. The fruits that I have found to be the worst culprit are berries due to their high sugar content.
      I also have to stay away from alcohol. On the few occasions that I did decide to drink, the feeling on my skin and internally as well, were not worth having that one drink (yes, it only took ONE drink to make me feel horrible).
      Also, once I went primal, I slowly added vinegar and mushrooms back into my diet. I have yet to have a problem with them. Have you tried adding them back in? I did this after about a year of being completely candida free (no vinegar, fruit, etc.).
      Hope you are able to enjoy some of these foods again, they are delightful!!!

      Beverly wrote on March 6th, 2012
      • Hi Beverly!

        No, I haven’t added vinegar or ‘shrooms back yet. It’s too soon still, I believe.

        When my dermatitis completely clears up, I’ll go back to my naturopathic doc and get food tested again. I want this candida gone! ForEVAH!

        pat wrote on March 6th, 2012
        • It’s a horrible problem to have, for sure! I hope you are able to get past this and can eat normally again. I’ve had such great success after going primal, I only hope you have as much! Good luck!!!!!

          Beverly wrote on March 7th, 2012
  22. Also: my fiancé and I are going to LA for our honeymoon this July!

    If I see Mark picking wild herbs in the hills of CA, I will giggle. A lot. Then hug him.

    I will also be making sure we hit up as many Primal-esque restaurants and blogging furiously!

    pat wrote on March 6th, 2012
  23. It’s nice to hear how flexible the Primal diet is for people with food restrictions.

    George wrote on March 6th, 2012
  24. Thanks for the post Mark. I have to say, I was diagnosed with alliergies to pratically every food I could have imagined about 2 years ago (except meats, veggies, tree nuts and most fruit!!!!). I was sick all the time and food was the common denominator.
    When I started eating Primally, I found that the few allergies they said I had to items such as eggs and dairy, were non existent once I completely quit eating gluten, wheat, oats, legumes, sugar, yeast, etc.
    I added back in the eggs and high fat dairy such as greek yogurt into my diet once I went primal and have not had one single problem since! It’s amazing how our bodies react to good foods when we have cut out all the bad foods. I don’t know how I lived for so long without eating eggs, but I’m SO glad I reintroduced them into my diet because they have definitely become a staple.
    This said, I honestly think Primal is one of the easiest routes to take when you DO have a food allergy! Thanks again for the great post today!

    Beverly wrote on March 6th, 2012
  25. This seems like the flip side of yesterday’s conversation.
    Is there any one food that is so perfect that it’s all we need? NO.
    Is there any one food that is so important that we can’t do without it? NO.
    The key to covering all your nutritional bases is variety!

    Chris wrote on March 6th, 2012
  26. Great post Mark. I do not have any kind of alliergies to any food, what I think it is great. However, I know people, close to me, who have this problem.

    John wrote on March 6th, 2012
  27. Thanks for this post. There are so many great-looking recipes out there (even on here!) that I’ve had to pass on due to my almond allergy and lack of time to make flour out of other nuts (breakfast bars, for example *wistful sigh*). It’s good to be reminded that the almonds really aren’t that big a part of the total package, that there’s plenty more to work with. :-)

    deb wrote on March 6th, 2012
    • Deb -

      I have almond allergies too and have been frustrated by some of the recipes – someone suggested replacing it with hazelnut flour, but my boyfriend is allergic to that! I’m just starting to experiment with coconut flour.

      I found a grain-free granola bar recipe that you can use any combination of nuts, seeds and dried fruits, so you can customize them….and they are awesome!

      Here’s a link to the recipe:

      When I made them I accidentally put 2x’s the salt, but we actually like the bars that way – it makes it a crunchy, salty(just slightly) sweet snack. I have found that its best to keep them refrigerated or else they get really soft and crumbly.

      Carol wrote on March 7th, 2012
  28. “Oh, and I lied. Guacamole and chocolate dipped bananas are definitely that good. Sorry.”

    Love it!

    maddieaddie wrote on March 6th, 2012
  29. Great post…it is always good to hear hear answers for these questions from the guru… helps to gather key talking points when you get questions from family or friends (usually when family tells friends your “doing that primal thing…”)

    My wife is vegetarian and she is slowly coming around to the idea of eating primal…i even bought her a pair of vibrums that she now wears to work! I dont think she will ever abandon vegetarian eating, but she did give up sugar for lent….its a start!

    Ed wrote on March 6th, 2012
  30. OMG thank you so much Mark! This post is SO helpful. I would Like to mention that I use your website instead of google now.
    I’m a vegetarian (by childhood trauma) and I recently starting including eggs in my diet thanks to you. Am I on the right track by consuming 2-3 eggs a day and about 2 oz of cheese?

    Ro wrote on March 6th, 2012
    • Good for you for making progress on your issues!

      “On the right track” is a bit of a nebulous question. I don’t really pay attention anymore to things like protein prescriptions since going primal, but as a big, active guy, I’d be wasting away on that amount of food. 3 eggs, 2 oz. cheese, butter, cream, nuts, and fruit would be a good breakfast for me. Are you hungry? Do you eat other calorically dense foods (primal or not)?

      I guess the answer is, you’re making great strides, just continue to cut out the junk and replace with good stuff as much as you can, and be open to experimenting with even more new foods when you’re ready.

      Kris wrote on March 6th, 2012
      • Thanks for replying Kris!
        You’re right about protein prescriptions and going with one’s instinct IS what all this really is about; I shouldn’t have doubted myself because everyone around me has been going hard on me telling me I shouldn’t eat this many eggs daily (i’m a girl, and not big at all). But when I started eating eggs, my body started craving them!
        I eat lots of nuts and avocados and add olive oil for satiety, as well as insane amounts of veggies, fruit and salad.
        Since ditching the hummous and bread, and cutting back on lentils, there was nothing left but dairy and eggs. Maybe one day I’ll work my way up to oysters.
        Thank you for your support!

        Ro wrote on March 7th, 2012
        • I love oysters, but I’m a bit surprised to see Mark recommend them as an intro meat. The texture can be difficult for people, and they are expensive. I feel like most “reformed vegetarians” would find muscle meat or fish an easier sell and move on from there to organs, shellfish, etc.

          Sounds like you might benefit from some diversity in fat sources, especially because of the high omega-6 content in nuts. How are you with coconut products? Could you do pastured butter, cream, full-fat greek yogurt? What about cooking your vegetables in something like pastured lard?

          You can always try the universal gateway meat, bacon! Save the grease for cooking!

          Read more:

          Kris wrote on March 7th, 2012
        • Grr… comments are killing me today. I accidentally posted the above reply as a new post. Then when I copied it back to the correct thread it added that link for some reason.

          Could a mod remove the original post and the link from the post above? Thanks!

          Kris wrote on March 7th, 2012
      • Reply to post below: haha I laughed so hard at your bacon comment but I’m not ready for flesh yet! I don’t know if it ever will be possible but I promised myself if I am ever tempted by it I will go for it. Thanks for the suggestions!
        I absolutely do full fat yogurt, labneh, cream and butter (though I haven’t gotten my hands on any pastured butter yet) and love coconuts and coconut milk, but coconut oil is not available in my country for some reason. I know about the nuts, but I guess they’re kind of a transition food, until I find my balance.
        Also, a note for other vegetarians out there: since I started eating eggs and taking fish oil supplements, a fog has been LIFTED OFF MY BRAIN- no joke, no exaggeration.

        Ro wrote on March 8th, 2012
        • But apparently I’m still a bit foggy because I didn’t get that the reply will automatically post itself below haha

          Ro wrote on March 8th, 2012
  31. PLEASE consider the GAPS diet for allergies! It’s nutritionally complete, very Primal, and though it takes 1.5 – 2 years to complete, life without allergies might be worth it for many people.

    As food allergies and intolerances are autoimmune in nature, they can only get worse over time, so it’s probably best to nip them in the bud.

    Jade wrote on March 6th, 2012
    • GAPS is one of the best things I did for my health. Most of my sensitivities are gone now!

      Jennifer wrote on March 6th, 2012
  32. I came to primal while I was stumbling around the web, trying to figure out what to eat after being diagnosed w/mulitple food sensitivities…including eggs, coconut, dairy, wheat, tomatoes, etc, etc.
    And at MDA I found all sorts of people who were eating meat, veggies, sweet potatoes and nuts on purpose! And feeling better than they ever had! I put down my rice-flour & canola oil & egg-substitute muffins, picked up a steak knife, & haven’t looked back since. Oh, and I can eat coconut, butter, & eggs in small quantities now.

    fitmom wrote on March 6th, 2012
  33. Can’t see any posts??

    Beverly wrote on March 6th, 2012
    • Beverly, I couldn’t see any comments either when using firefox. The comments magically appeared when I switched to IExplorer….But, how will you see this reply unless you figure this out for yourself? lol

      Meesha wrote on March 7th, 2012
  34. I started eating primally due to severe IBS. Though my IBS was almost entirely held at bay with the primal eating (and I experienced many other health benefits coincidentally), I still had some problems with the IBS, even eating primally. When I heard about the FODMAP diet, I looked into that and ended up eliminating the primal foods that were FODMAPs (short chain carbohydrates). For me, this meant I had to give up avocados, watermelon, onions, garlic and a few other things. (But I found I could tolerate small amounts of hard cheeses, a “yellow light” FODMAP and I was happy to give up the other foods in trade!) I already had given up soy, wheat (but not all glutens–beer works fine for me, though it’s not primal), dairy (except heavy cream) and sugar (including fruits that have any signicifcant amount of fructose–berries and citrus work OK for me.) So for sure, one can adjust the diet and it still “works.” I think the main thing is, to get the benefits, eat a lot of meat and leafy greens and study and use the carbohydrate curve. Also, another thing I’ve done is to track my diet and put the info into a site such as to make sure I am getting all the vitamins and minerals I need. When I found I was low on something, I searched for foods that contained it that I could eat and added those to my diet. I am able to get everything I need even with my very restricted diet and I feel great. I can’t use very many of the recipes on this site due to the FODMAP restrictions, but I can often alter them or just use them for creative impetus. I view my diet as “jeans and t-shirt” apparel. Simple, but I’m happy with it. I no longer ask myself, “what would I eat if the docs were to fix my problem and I could eat anything?” because they aren’t going to fix it. I already fixed the problem by eating this way and I’m healthier for it. It’s been reported in this blog that studies indicate people with heartburn and reflux disease who ignore their bodies’ warnings and eat foods that irritate their digestive tracts are more likely to develop cancer of the esophagas and stomach. High consumption of carbs and corn syrup in particular is also associated with these cancers. That point hit home for me a couple weeks ago when my mom was diagnosed with that type of cancer, after years of continuing to eat foods that aggravated her digestive tract, including sugar-laden Gatorade. No matter how you eat or what intolerences you may have, you don’t need sugary drinks. Ditch those and the grains for sure.

    DThalman wrote on March 6th, 2012
  35. Just wanted to add my 2 cents. Before I started going primal (I’m not all the way there yet, but I’d say I’m better than 50/50), I could only eat eggs more often than every three or four days. If I had even one daily, after a few days, shall we just say that even I didn’t want to be in the same room with me. As well as abdominal cramping, etc, etc. Since I’ve completely gotten rid of the grains, I seem to be able to eat eggs whenever I want without being anti-social and in pain.

    I had cut out wheat, rye and barley about 10 years ago after an allergy elimination diet showed they weren’t something I should be eating. I started trying to lose weight last summer and cut back grain products and realized a bit before Christmas that my stomach was feeling a lot better. I’ve been on prilosec for a few years, and I would normally notice within a few hours if I missed my morning dose. Since cutting out all grains, I haven’t needed to take it. Cutting way back on sugars has also improved my arthritis; we went to the movies on Saturday and I fell off the wagon so to speak, and could hardly move Sunday morning.

    Nancy wrote on March 6th, 2012
  36. Glad I read this post, especially the part on carnitine, which I didn’t know about. I’m not keen on red meat either, and there’s no way I’m eating liver.

    I’ve managed to make an exception for bacon (took me a while, but I didi it).

    I have these questions:

    1) Is carnatine present in bacon in a significant-enough amount?

    2) Has anyone figured out a way to cook bacon so it doesn’t smell up the whole … apartment? Note: I live in NYC, there’s no exhaust vent in my kitchen, and I’ve already tried oven vs. stovetop.

    I’m open to input and ideas. Thanks!

    Susan Alexander wrote on March 6th, 2012
    • Himalayan salt rock lamps, lit pure beeswax candles, loads of plants, all give off negative ions that trap air-borne particles and weigh them down so that they fall as dust, and thereby stop being odours in the air.

      I had a stove catch fire internally, and electrical wiring reeeeeks, BUT after only an hour of one huge beeswax candle being lit in the kitchen, on the extinguished stove- so close in proximity to the source of odour-, not only was the smoke cleared, but the smell was gone, too.

      When we fry bacon or salmon cakes, there is a lot of smoke, and the candles clear it by the time we’re sitting to eat. Just be sure that the wax is pure, and the wicks are pure as well (some contain lead and other toxins that are spewed into the air, which the ions would grab, but then there are fewer available for bacon smoke! ;) .

      Any source of negative ions will do this, and there are many; these are just my favourites. :)

      Imogen wrote on March 7th, 2012
  37. You always give me so much to think about. I’d forgotten about smoked oysters (hard to believe, I know) I’m going out to buy some right now.

    Joanna wrote on March 6th, 2012
  38. I consider myself pretty lucky that the only “food” intolerance I seem to have is to MSG. Of course, eating Primal (fresh food, actual food in my food, no preservatives or “flavor enhancers”), this is not an issue! :-D *om nom nom*

    ButMadNNW wrote on March 6th, 2012
  39. I am allergic to fruit of any kind. Even those vegetables that “act” like fruits such as cucumbers and fresh tomatoes. The only time I can eat any of these is when they boil, fried or fruit that has been processed and by that time….what is the point. Is there any relief to this? Any suggestions?

    Phil McKenzie wrote on March 7th, 2012
    • Goggle a product called “Histame”. It is an enzyme that I take before eating any fruit, avocado, or tomato and a few other foods. It has helped me eat again. I had never heard of this and neither had my allergist. She said I was allergic to these foods. But that was incorrect, they are just pseudo allergies. I stumbled on this a couple of years ago as it was just coming over from Europe. Maybe this will help you too.

      Sandy wrote on March 17th, 2012
  40. I have shellfish allergies but can eat fish. But so many people around us have nut allergies that our family has to limit them out of consideration for others. One kid with a bit of peanut butter residue on their fingers can go to school and cause a life threatening reaction to other kids. We can’t send nuts in lunches for the same reason.

    Lyn wrote on March 7th, 2012

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