What Can You Eat on a Primal Diet?

Somehow I managed to forget, until now, to tell you what we can eat on a Primal Diet. Most of what follows this paragraph is excerpted from and based on the notes that John and I made while planning this experiment (on an incredibly long drive through the desert). All of our notes came from what we’ve learned from reading the Mark’s Daily Apple blog and Marks’ book: The Primal Blueprint. We highly recommend both resources.

What We Can Eat On a Primal Diet:

Luckily many of the foods that we already enjoy on a regular basis are perfecly okay on a primal diet. Here are a few of the foods that make a regular appearance on our primal shopping list -

greens, meat, eggs, vegetables, nuts and seeds, seasonal fruit, coconut oil, olives, butter, water, nut butters

Some days my grocery list really is that general. Like most of you, we too have a grocery budget, so I wait till we get to the store to see what is on sale and quickly plan the meals in my head. If I were really on top of things, I’d check the store circulars online ahead of time….but I’m just not that on top of things =)

If we were even more primal, we’d do most of our shopping at farmers’ markets and local farms and only buy local, organic and grass-fed. Due to the amount of traveling that we do, I haven’t managed that either. But, if we do find a farmers’ market or roadside stand, we shop their first.

What We Can’t Eat On A Primal Diet:

The primal diet is naturally gluten free, but it goes further than that and excludes all grains. Eating no grains is probably the biggest mental and physical adjustment for most people. The carb withdrawals during the first few weeks are incredibly intense. But, I have to say that it’s completely worth it.

Once we got past the carb withdrawal stage (which we did many months ago while on the Slow Carb diet) John and I both noticed distinct, unpleasant physical symptoms whenever we ate gluten free grains. We’d never noticed these symptoms when we ate gluten free grains on a regular basis, so we were excited to be able to isolate how these gluten free foods affected our bodies.

Here’s the list of what we’re not eating during this Primal trial:

no grains, no legumes, no dairy (Mary and kids), no PUFAs, no soy, no sugars

PUFA is the abbreviation for poly-unsaturated fatty acids which includes, among others, soybean oil and canola oil. We have not successfully eliminated all PUFAs from our diet, but I’m not using canola oil for cooking anymore. The areas where we are slipping up are pretty well limited to mayonnaise, salad dressing and hummus. I could make all of these at home with primal-approved oils, but I’ve been putting that off until I can get my food processor or mixer out of storage.

Some dairy is okay on a primal diet, though raw and fermented dairy is recommended. The kids and I are not having any because our bodies do not seem to like cow dairy products other than butter. John is enjoying heavy whipping cream in his coffee each morning since he doesn’t seem to have any issues with it.

If you haven’t realized it already, this list of no-no’s pretty much excludes all processed, manufactured foods. That means that I cook all three meals every day. It is doable; it just takes some prioritizing of our schedule. David (our 6 yr old) is learning to cook and has taken over some of the breakfast egg-scrambling duties. This is a good thing because our 3 kids can easily eat 9 – 12 eggs in one meal!

Can Kids Eat A Primal Diet ?

Our three children are eating primal, but their daily food intake differs from ours since they do not need to lose any weight at all. Basically, they eat what we do, but with unlimited access to the higher calorie, Primal options listed below.

more seasonal fruit, trail mix with dark chocolate and dried fruit, quinoa, starchy tubers, wild rice, more emphasis on fats, some legumes (e.g., hummus),

The kids eat the same supper that we do, but I generally add a side dish of potatoes or sweet potatoes for them. They also eat at least two snacks each day, which is where the extra fruit and trail mix come in. They are not yet big salad fans, so they’ll generally have hummus and veggies in addition to whatever meat we’re having for lunch. Nut butter and avocados are generally part of the lunch or snack routine too to make sure they get plenty of good fats. Breakfast is usually scrambled eggs or omelettes, but they have all tried my Chili Turkey this week =)

I think that’s it for what we can and cannot eat? Would this diet be doable for you? If you have any questions about what we’re eating or how we make it work on a daily basis, please let us know in the comments.


  1. I was thinking, how do you get the kids not to be attracted to all the junk food. I think that the snacks you mentioned are great, but how do you handle the pressure of all the marketing that surrounds all the “bad” food so to say. As a person interested in the Culinary Arts I would like to promote a healthy life style and this diet sounds great, for adults and kids alike.

  2. Hi Roxana,

    We have a three-fold strategy. First, we don’t have television so that eliminates most of the marketing right there. Second, if a food is not suitable for our diet it does not come into the house. Third, if they ask for something that is not Primal, then we explain that it’s not Primal (our 6 yr old understands this is an 30 day experiment) and offer them a Primal alternative.

    Over the past year we have been slowly weaning our kids off grains and sugars, reintroducing meat and expanding the numbers of vegetables and fruits that we offer. Over time this has resulted in them being much more open to a variety of healthy foods.

    I do admit that we have the advantage of having our kids with us 24/7. If children are in daycare or school it’s much harder to control the food that is available to them. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to create a habit of healthy-eating before setting our kids loose into the madness that is the general American food culture.

  3. Lynne L says:

    Sadly, I cannot go paleo. I have low blood sugar & dropping out the carbs like that & eating low or no carb put me in the hospital once before. It doesn’t work to sub out grains with me. I guess my body just needs them. I would suggest that anyone with low blood sugar consult their healthcare professional before attempting a low/no carb anything. I love the recipes & 2 day plan though & I plan to dive right in…just not eat like that all day, every day. I would have to throw in some gf bread or something at least once in a 2 day stretch. Good luck with your journey. It sounds wonderful!

    • Lynne, I suspect there’s something else going on with you–perhaps a food sensitivity–that prevents you from being successful with the paleo diet. Many with low blood sugar find this way of eating is exactly what is needed.
      As one who also faces a low blood sugar challenge…along with overweight/obesity, it has allowed me to stay at my ideal weight and wear a size 8 instead of an 18 (the latter straining at the seams LOL).

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