Frequently Asked Questions

I often get asked the same questions over and over so I’ve put together this page to answer those questions. Please know that I am not a licensed medical practitioner, and this is not meant as medical advice. Do your own research, and read widely.

Advice for newbies

I’m interested in starting paleo but I have terrible trouble with sugar cravings and sticking-to-it-ness. Can you give me some advice?

The Primal Blueprint 8 Key Concepts
How To Succeed With The Primal Blueprint
22 Sure-Fire Tips To Beat Sugar Cravings To A Pulp

I would start there, then get a few books and read, read, read. The more you immerse yourself in the paleo work, the more it will become your lifestyle.

Also check are you getting enough fat? That is often a problem with people craving candy. Look at your intake of B vitamins. The RDA will enable you to live but won’t make you happy or energetic. If you are unknowingly compromised in your ability to absorb these nutrients, it may make it worse. Are you getting enough starch? Some good quality carbs are necessary usually to keep our thyroids up – root veggies – sweet potato, carrots, beets, parsnips, etc. Just a little if you are wanting to lose can help.

Additionally read as many as the paleo success strategies on the site (you’ll find the link in the sidebar) as you can and my book has plenty of ideas: The Modern No-Nonsense Guide to Paleo.

Takes three days to start weakening a habit (but not kick it – that takes much longer) so you may have to ask family members to hide the candy or even better not bring it in the house – the decision to eat a food item is mostly taken in the grocery store. 🙂

 

Large families and paleo

We are a family of nine, several with health issues including a boy with Asperger’s Syndrome. Do you have any suggestions to help us get started?

If you need to know what to eat I suggest the following links:
The Primal Blueprint 8 Key Concepts
How To Succeed With The Primal Blueprint

For more behavioral stuff on how to sustain it in a non-paleo world, start here:
New? Start Here

I would recommend Cooking Against The Grain by Orleatha Smith because she cooks in batches and that might help you with a family of 9. Also check out 30daypaleochallenge.com and especially Dr. Brad Fackrell. He’s the guy behind the website and has 9 kids also.
 
And lastly, a story about my family that may encourage you:
How Paleo Saved My Family From A Tragic Ending

 

Primal v. paleo?

What’s the difference between primal and paleo?

Good question! The differences are minor but the major one is that primal isn’t quite as strict as paleo as it advocates the use of some dairy.

 

Paleo v. Atkins and WAPF?

I have been doing my research on this way of living and I don’t quite understand the concept as to what the difference is between Paleo and Atkins and the principles of the Weston A. Price Foundation. Can you help me with this? I am wanting to do paleo. Thank you.

I certainly understand your confusion, there is certainly overlap. I’m going to refer you to two other sites for diagrams that clearly show the differences:

 

Sugar

I am brand new to Paleo and I have one question.  My understanding is that sugars are off limits but many Paleo recipes I find online have honey, maple sugar, stevia etc.  I know they are all naturally sources but I don’t understand which and when and how much can be used. Help?

You land on a touchy subject in the paleo community and you’re absolutely right to be confused.

Sugar sources may be natural but they will still spike blood sugar and cause inflammation, stall weight-loss etc. There are a disproportionate number of recipes containing sugar because they are fun to create and people love them. They might give the reader the wrong impression, however.

Paleo treats, including muffins, cookies, cakes, and other desserts, should be eaten only very occasionally, perhaps for celebrations or unavoidable social situations. They do not form part of a regular paleo diet. However, many people rely on them temporarily as transition foods when they move from SAD to paleo, others, including myself, use them to help their kids eat healthier. Really, the less eaten, the better.
 

Book Recommendations

I have been overweight since I was thirteen and I am now 45 years old.  I have bad knees and my back and arms act up from time to time.  I have tried every diet out there. Carbs make me hungry and sugar makes me crave sugar.  I eat a lot, and I love food.  I work in a bakery and market. I want to lose weight but more than that I want to want to exercise and feel no pain.  I am sick of tracking because that is all I have been doing for years.  I found some great recipe books that I love but not any good books on why I need to follow this lifestyle. Any recommendations?

Ooh, surrounded by pastries all day would be hard. My suggestions for books are below. You can also find a whole list in this post: The Ultimate Paleo Book Guide For The Discerning Reader

To simply explain about paleo/Primal, I usually recommend the The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation by Mark Sisson. I also like The Paleo Primer for quick and easy recipes and a straightforward skinny on the way of eating.

More detailed would be The Paleo Solution or The Primal Blueprint. And, of course, my own book – The Modern, No-Nonsense Guide to Paleo which is a behavioral book with lots of tips and strategies for sticking to it. Again, you can find out all about the main books from my guide in the above link.
 
And lastly, I would suggest T-Tapp for a rehabilitative approach to fitness. It is gentle and so great for all types of people – younger, older, fitter, injured or restricted. To learn more about T-Tapp, follow this link: T-Tapp – What Is It?
 

No longer hungry every three hours. Is this bad?

I have been on paleo for about 3 weeks. It was tough at first but now I am past the sugar cravings and feeling better! I am not overweight but do have fat to burn. I used to always eat every 3 hours so as to boost my metabolism and not send my body into starvation mode. BUT with paleo I am not hungry after 3 hours! Is this bad? By four hours I am just starting again. Maybe I am having too much fat. Bottom line: Do I need to be concerned about the 3-4 hour window as much now?

The short answer is no. Sounds like everything is working perfectly. It is called being fat adapted.

Many of us paleos fast intermittently going for 16+ hours or more comfortably although the jury is out on whether that is a great idea for women. I personally space my meals 5 hours apart, or I eat all my calories between the hours of noon and 5pm. That’s what works for me, while “eat when hungry” is the main advice.

Here is an article evaluating the benefits and otherwise thereof of different meal timings: How Often Should You Eat. And an article on intermittent fasting and women: Should Women Fast?
 

Not losing weight

I need help. I have Robb’s book, Mark’s two books, Loren Cordains’ books, so I know the way of eating!  My problem is that I can’t seem to lose weight! (other than 2 lbs down, 2 lbs back.) I am 67 years old and have VERY high triglycerides, so I really need this to work!!! Any suggestions, please?
 
My suggestions in the first instance would be to:
1. Check your thyroid.
2. Check if you are getting enough fat? If you are hungry from lack of fat, you may be taking in more calories than you think (and truly need).
3. Ask yourself if you’re eating paleo baked goods/sugars? There is waaaaay too much emphasis on these from the recipe blogs. They drive traffic but they also stall weight-loss. I suggest you steer as clear of these.
4. Consider T-Tapp at-home exercise program which has shown to kick start stalled weight-loss.
5. Check out these posts from Marks Daily Apple and see if any of this advice applies to you.

 

Autoimmune Disease

After reading about the paleo diet for autoimmune disease I would like to give it a try however I am very thin and am told to put weight on which may be difficult with this diet. Your advice would be appreciated. Thank you.

I think I would try regular paleo first – losing weight can be an issue with AIP. See if you get relief with that. If not, move on to AIP, but make sure you are keeping up with your fat intake and starch. You can eat starchy tubers such as sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, parsnips etc. Many people have coconut oil in their hot drinks, you can drink hot coconut milk drinks, and use it in cooking. Eat meat as it is so nutritionally dense and of course plenty of vegetables. Roast them in coconut oil, or if you can tolerate it, bacon grease. I wouldn’t advise bacon if you are on AIP.

For more information, check out The Paleo Mom: http://thepaleomom.com. She specializes in AIP.
 

Thank you for your encouraging words!  I’m trying this to combat some autoimmune issues and i’ve been sulking all morning because everything I’ve ever eaten for breakfast is on the NO list.  I’m hoping that with research and support, that I can make this a success and not have to resort to sleeping with big Pharma. Do you have any breakfast ideas for me?

You might find these resources useful:

 

FODMAPS

Do you know a good source of information I can turn to for information and recipes for FODMAPS?

I do have a resource for you: Agalee, Your Paleo Dietician. If you look in her left sidebar, you’ll see her FODMAPS section. She a great resource, very knowledgeable.
 

Starting a blog

I am very interested in starting a blog. I am battling sugar addiction as well as irritable bowel syndrome and following a FODMAP diet which eliminates fructose and gluten. It’s been a few weeks and some days it’s easy and some days it’s hard, therefore I would love to blog my journey. What do you think?

I think that is an excellent idea.

The first step is to decide how “big” you want to become: do you simply want somewhere online to write down your thoughts and direct your friends and family to or do you want to become “a blogger”?

If it’s the first option, my suggestion is to go with Blogger  – it’s terrifically easy to get a decent looking site up and it’s free. You could also go with free WordPress although it is a slightly less user-friendly interface.

If you want to become “a blogger” you’d be best going with a self-hosted WordPress site which would cost you a few (very few) dollars each month. It gets much more complicated at this point (if you don’t have a local technical person at home) but you have an open-ended opportunity to develop your blog.

If you choose to go free, you can still upgrade to self-hosted at a later point and migrate everything over so you’re not shutting down opportunities for yourself at this point.

I like Amy Lynn Andrews at Blogging with Amy, she has a ton of great advice and makes it all sound very doable, check out this section of her site on setting up a blog.
 

Paleo for vegetarians

I am interested in trying this way of eating, my only issue is that I am a vegetarian and find it difficult. Do you have any suggestions?

It isn’t easy, that’s for sure. Really, you have to focus on eggs and dairy. If you eat fish, that helps a lot. If you are vegan, you’ll need to supplement.

Here are a few links to help you out:

Good luck!
 

Testing blood sugar for sensitivities

I’ve read about you doing blood sugar testing and I was looking for some guidance on how to test blood sugar. Do you do it before eating? How long before? After eating?

Testing blood sugar can be helpful for learning which foods cause your blood sugar to spike and how high. This is *not* advice for diabetics but for those that are interested in learning this information as part of n=1 experimentation.

The gold standard of testing a food item is: just before you eat, and 30/60/2 hours afterwards;  four tests total. The theory is that the “before” and two-hour measurements are the same. That’s a lot of test sticks but after a while you’ll start to see patterns and can adjust your testing accordingly.

Also you’ll want to be testing one particular food item at a time, like sweet potato, and to be entirely accurate, just eat that item until you are through the testing window.