Thinking About Going Primal/Paleo for the New Year: What Does That Entail?

Going primal/paleo is about adopting a new lifestyle that emphasizes building new habits to clean up our diet, exercise more optimally, have better sleep hygiene, and learn how to manage the stress in our lives. It focuses on adopting an ancestral health approach. 

Embracing a primal/paleo lifestyle means we apply ourselves to mimic the way our ancestors lived, as reasonably as possible, within our modern world boundaries. 

We want to eat whole foods rather than processed foods, get enough exercise and low-intensity movement throughout the day, get adequate sleep, and minimize stress triggers on top of learning how to better handle overall stress. 

It is important to carve an optimal lifestyle for ourselves that works along with our ancestral roots, not against them. 

So What About the Food?

When it comes to the primal/paleo-approved foods that are okay to eat for most people, here’s an overview of the main staples you will want to have on hand (as highlighted in The New Primal Blueprint, by Mark Sisson):

  • Baking ingredients: coconut, almond, or other nut flours, tapioca starch, and arrowroot powder.
  • Beverages: water, unsweetened teas, full-fat coconut milk, or unsweetened almond milk (great for smoothies).
  • Coconut products: butter, flakes, flour, milk, and oil offer medium-chain fats; good substitutes for dairy, refined vegetable/seed oils, and wheat flour.
  • Dairy: raw, fermented, high-fat, and organic products are best (cheese, cottage cheese, cream cheese, kefir, whole milk, yogurt) –  to eat in moderation.
  • Dark Chocolate: my favorite snack/treat! It has to have a cacao content of at least 75 percent, ideally 85 percent or higher.
  • Eggs: local, pasture-raised, or certified organic for high omega-3 content. If you buy eggs from pasture-raised chickens, the yolk is going to have a deep-yellow/slight orange color. This color is a sign of a nutrient-rich egg.
  • Fats and oils: I like to use avocado and extra virgin olive oil. Coconut oil, grass-fed butter, and animal fats (bacon grease, chicken fat, lard, tallow) are best for cooking.
  • Fish: wild-caught from remote, pollution-free waters. Small, oily, cold-water fish are preferred: salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and herring (SMASH). Certain farmed fish are okay (domestic Coho salmon, trout, and some shellfish – not shrimp). Check the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch ( for up-to-date recommendations.
  • Fruit: locally grown (or wild), organic, in-season preferred. Berries are best as they are low-glycemic. Go strictly organic with soft, edible skin fruits. Moderate intake of higher glycemic fruits.
  • Meat and Fowl: local, pasture-raised, or USDA-certified organic. If you must eat conventional meat, choose the leanest possible cuts and avoid consuming the fat as it is where some of the meat toxins are stored, not in the liver. 
  • Nutritious carbs: go for abundant vegetables, low-glycemic fruits, nuts and seeds, dark chocolate, sweet potatoes, yams and other starchy tubers, quinoa, and wild rice.
  • Prebiotics: cooked and cooled white rice and white potatoes, green bananas, raw potato starch.
  • Probiotics: fermented foods like kefir, kombucha, pickles, sauerkraut, and yogurt, and even dark chocolate!
  • Snacks: berries, avocados, canned sardines, dark chocolate, hard-boiled eggs, jerky, nuts, olives, seeds, and other high-fat and/or high-protein, low-carb primal food.
  • Vegetables: locally grown, organic, in-season is best. Opt for strictly organic for large surface area (leafy greens) and soft edible skins. Eat the rainbow!

To get a nice sum-up of the above list of primal/paleo-approved foods, you can check out my post about The Primal Blueprint Food Pyramid.

Happy New Year!


Sisson, Mark. The New Primal Blueprint : Reprogram Your Genes for Effortless Weight Loss, Vibrant Health, and Boundless Energy. Oxnard, Ca, Primal Blueprint Publishing, 2017, pp. 480–1.

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Why olive oil?

How about a big colorful salad of mixed lettuces and greens with a diced avocado and a few other in-season picks? Then add a couple of sliced hard-boiled eggs, a can of fish, a few pieces of cut-up roasted chicken, or any other protein for that matter. And for the homemade vinaigrette, use extra-virgin olive oil only. Did you know “that we cannot absorb some of the most important nutrients in salad greens unless the dressing or the meal it’s eaten with contains some type of fat”? To this statement, Jo Robinson, author of Eating on the Wild Side, adds that according to a 2012 study, olive oil turns out to be the best oil to use in order to get those nutrients.

The composition of olive oil

We usually consider olive oil to be a monounsaturated fat because it contains 77% monounsaturated fatty acids, but it also has 13.5% saturated fatty acids, and 8.4% polyunsaturated fatty acids. The book Superfuel emphasizes that “[o]live oil, particularly high-quality extra virgin olive oil, contains oleic acid and polyphenol, which can dramatically reduce the susceptibility of LDL to oxidation and promote healthy lipid content.” So the higher the polyphenol content, the better. And a recent Ben Greenfield podcast highlights the fact that oleic acid, as well as DHA found in fish/fish oil, are the two fats most beneficial to the brain. Furthermore, Fat for Fuel, by Dr. Joseph Mercola, lists the following health benefits regarding olive oil:

  • Antioxidant powerhouse
  • Heart protection
  • Anticancer activity
  • Anti-aging benefits
  • Bone health

How to shop for olive oil

Shopping for olive oil requires a bit of vigilance as “[e]ven ‘extra-virgin’ olive oil is often diluted with other less expensive oils, including hazelnut, soybean, corn, sunflower, palm, sesame, grape seed and/or walnut. These added oils will not be listed on the label, so most people will not be able to discern that their olive oil is not 100 percent pure,” state Dr. James DiNicolantonio and Dr. Joseph Mercola in Superfuel. The “use by” or “sell by” date for olive oil is not the best indicator of freshness. It’s the “harvest” date” or “pressed on” date that is to look for on a bottle, and it should be under six months old. In the same way, you want to consume olive oil within six months. Also, it is best to only buy “extra-virgin” olive oil because when the label mentions “pure” or “light” oil, “olive oil” or “olive pomace oil,” this means that the oil has gone through “chemical processing.” I like to use the unfiltered Bragg organic extra virgin olive oil.

How to use olive oil

As olive oil is sensitive to air, light, and heat, you want to keep your bottle(s) in a cool area away from light and right away put the cap back on the bottle after each use to minimize oxidation of the oil. If you have a high-quality extra-virgin olive oil with a high polyphenol content, it can be used for cooking at moderate temperatures. Otherwise, it is best to use olive oil for dressings and to drizzle over your food, as mentioned in my article about The Primal Blueprint Food Pyramid. If the olive oil tastes rancid, has a fusty, moldy, wine, or vinegar flavor, you should discard it. These are the basics to know about olive oil. As a final note, I would highly recommend the above podcast which goes further into details about What Olive Oil Should Taste Like, The Scary Truth About Olive Oil, Can You Cook With Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Much More! To your daily dose of olive oil!


Dinicolantonio, James, and Joseph Mercola. Superfuel : Ketogenic Keys to Unlock the Secrets of Good Fats, Bad Fats, and Great Health. Carlsbad, California, Hay House Inc, 2018, pp. 88-93.

“Extra Virgin Olive Oil: What It Should Taste Like & What To Look Out For.” Ben Greenfield Fitness – Diet, Fat Loss and Performance Advice, 8 Feb. 2020, Accessed 15 Feb. 2020.

Mercola, Joseph. Fat for Fuel : A Revolutionary Diet to Combat Cancer, Boost Brain Power, and Increase Your Energy. Carlsbad, California, Hay House, Inc, 2017, pp. 90–92.

Robinson, Jo, and Andie Styner. Eating on the Wild Side the Missing Link to Optimum Health. New York Little, Brown, 2013, pp. 37-38.

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Bacon seems to be an unlikely “healthy food” to eat when in fact it can be healthy depending on the source (if sugar-free and with no additives). How to source pork is the same as how to source beef, the topic of my previous post. Since pigs consume pretty much anything, sourcing pork is very important, especially because pigs are highly reactive to mold toxins in food.

That being said, well-sourced pork is perfectly fine to eat when eating primal/paleo and even keto diets. In the book Keto Answers, written by Anthony Gustin and Chris Irvin, they give a list of keto-approved pork products as listed below:

  • Bacon   
  • Ground pork
  • Sausage
  • Bratwurst
  • Pork rinds
  • Tenderloin
  • Pork loin
  • Pork shoulder
  • Ham
  • Pork chops
  • Prosciutto                    

Bacon doesn’t contain a whole lot of nutrients but is fine to eat every now and then, which I happily do without feeling guilty anymore. If you want to have pork rinds as a snack, the brand EPIC is a great option. And the links I shared in my previous post to find good-quality beef are valid for pork too. How about a nice bacon and eggs?          


Asprey, Dave. The Bulletproof Diet : Lose up to a Pound a Day, Reclaim Energy and Focus, and Upgrade Your Life. New York, Rodale Books, 2014, p. 172-73.

Gustin, Anthony, and Chris Irvin. Keto Answers : Simplifying Everything You Need to Know about the World’s Most Confusing Diet. Middletown, De, Four Pillar Health, 2019, pp. 151-52.

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