the smell of my desperation has become a stench

More about this fad diet humans ate for millions of years

A couple of weeks ago when I wrote about changing my diet, only a few of you griped! What is up with that? Only one of you accused me of bragging, and then only one other told me I was susceptible to fads! Where is all the spit and vinegar? YOU GUYS. I AM BULLYING YOU WITH MY DIET.

A lot of you had some questions for me, so I thought I’d actually collect them all and answer them here, for those interested. For those who just can’t be bothered, well then, SCADOODLE. Go attend to your more pressing matters. Like that poo you need to take.

Do you just eat pasture-raised beef?

I wish I could say that I only eat the meat of the cow I’ve raised in my own backyard. Billie Jo, that’d be her name. And she would taste lovely. We’d give her a proper goodbye complete with a slideshow of her life, and then as we grilled her flanks we’d reminisce about how she used to stand there, eat grass, and poop.

I try to eat only pasture-raised beef. Yes, it is more expensive and not always easy to find. And then when I do find it I inspect the label and see that it has been shipped from Uruguay. Which means that the fuel used to ship it here sort of defeats the purpose of trying to save the world.

I guess you could say that I do the best I can with what I’ve got. I recommend watching Food Inc. to understand that enormous change needs to happen in this country when it comes to our food supply. Since I can afford to buy meat that has been raised humanely and without hormones or antibiotics, I do. I think I have a responsibility to do so.

How did you feel after that tostada?

While I was shoving that tostada in my mouth it tasted better than anything I have ever eaten. Twenty minutes later I felt like I might die. In fact, death sounded like fun.

What do you eat before working out?

Since I always work out in the morning, my fuel is breakfast. I’ll be totally honest here and tell you that I don’t know if I could continue to eat this way if it weren’t for Larabars, and no, they did not pay me to say that. In fact, after I wrote about going Paleo they actually contacted me and said, hey, do you know about our bars? And I was like, um… I have sex with your bars every morning.

The bars are gluten-free and contain no GMOs. I buy them in bulk at Costco. Some mornings I’ll have the apple pie bar (raisins, walnuts, almonds, apples, dates, and cinnamon) plus a fruit shake made with bananas, strawberries, and a little bit of orange juice.

And then! Sometimes I will go all out and do something like this:

You go right ahead and get your mind out of the gutter!

Rico’s is a local company, and they make the best guacamole and salsa that I can find in town.

We use these eggs because the chickens are cage free, but I’m hoping that once Kate’s chickens start laying their own eggs that she will let me shop at her house.

And these are the best sausages in terms of ingredients we can find. YES. SAUSAGE. SAUSAGESOME.

Where can I find good information on it?

Here are some of the resources I used:

Paleo Plan
Paleo Diet Lifestyle
Robb Wolf
Latest in Paleo
Mark’s Daily Apple
Living Paleo
Everyday Paleo

Is there a limitation on the amount of food that you can eat?

Nope. Not at all. It works because the foods I’m eating are totally satiating, and I notice that where before I would want a second serving, I’m now full before I finish a meal. This, for me, is the best part of living this way because I’m no longer walking around all day looking at the sofa or the coffee table and thinking they might taste good with a whole bunch of salt.

How did you manage this in Bangladesh?

Cooked meat. Plus I smuggled an entire box of Larabars in a plastic bag duct-taped to my torso.

How is this affecting your poop or lack thereof?

People, I have never been more regular. Some of you used to tell me that you would go poop at least three times a day, and I was all, SHUT UP YOU POOP BRAGGER. Not possible. You’re stealing someone else’s poop and claiming it as your own.

Since this website is loaded with information you did not need to know, I’ll just go ahead and tell you that I poop at least three times a day. My poop is totally better than your poop.

How did you make the leap? Was it a gradual change? If so, what did you start cutting out first?

The first thing I cut out was processed food. No more “bagged” food like chips. Then I cut out white bread and switched to whole grain pasta. Then I cut those out of about 80% of my meals. Then I discovered Paleo and cut them out entirely. I wasn’t eating that much sugar to begin with (I prefer salty things like French fries and George Clooney’s hair), so I dropped sugar, dairy, and legumes cold turkey AND NOW I’M JUST BRAGGING.

What were some of the difficulties?

Don’t hate me for saying this, but there haven’t been any. This has been the easiest change I’ve ever made in terms of what I eat. I love eating this way. Wait, there has been one difficulty: Tyrant’s incessant mocking. I fully expect to walk up to the office one day only to find a dead cow lying across my desk.

Has this lifestyle change affected your psych meds?

No. I am not willing to risk going off any of my medication. Period.

Is Jon participating?

No. He’s still recovering from gallbladder surgery and the tiniest thing can make him feel sick. One day a salad put him in bed for the day. But he’s been really nice about it and isn’t standing over me crumbling gourmet cheese onto my forehead.

And there you go! My diet and poop are better than yours!

  • greeblemonkey

    2011/08/11 at 1:48 pm

    I don’t know what it is, but I bet I can find something in there to be pissed off about. WAIT. My husband is lactose intolerant and you talked about cheese. What the fuck, Heather???

  • The Naked Redhead

    2011/08/11 at 1:52 pm

    I’ve been doing primal for about two months (a lot like Paleo, except MOAR CHEEZ :)) and I LOVE it. Like you said, it was such an easy transition, I can’t believe how good I feel, and my poop is totally rad.

  • Enatural7

    2011/08/11 at 1:55 pm

    I’ve read about many people eating the paleo way. It seems as if me and my family would benefit from making these changes. I need to change something before I get so big that I can’t wipe my butt.

  • kimfromaustin

    2011/08/11 at 1:59 pm

    After reading your post I ordered the book “the Paleo Solution.” I couldn’t put it down and read it in two days. For me the funny, interesting explanation of our bodies endocrinology system and hormones made it incredibly easy for me to change my diet and to understand my cravings. I never craved sugar. Fried okra was my weakness. I immediately felt better and no longer felt bloated and I’ve only been following it for less than a week. Thanks!


    2011/08/11 at 2:02 pm

    THANK YOU DOOCE! Our house has recently gone gluten free, so this “cave man diet” (as my teen calls it) sounded interesting. We were talking about going vegan, but I can’t eat soy/tofu and said teen won’t eat beans. She cheered when I told her about this. I’ll tell you what: it feels great to wake up without feeling like I have a 3 margarita hangover.

  • swilliams38

    2011/08/11 at 2:03 pm

    Your a bleepin’ moron who should keep her own twisted agenda to her damn self. I am sick of your “I am so skinny and healthy and muscular and energetic” crap. Get over yourself you beyotch.

    Just kiddin’…

    (Feel better?) 🙂

  • DoubleDs

    2011/08/11 at 2:07 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing. I wanted to know more and was going to ask you for some resources since you said you did so much research. I’ve made such a huge change in my life in the last few months and workout every single day. I’ve changed my eating habits just a bit (I never considered myself an unhealthy eater…I Love fruits and vegetables!). I’ve lost 30 pounds since March and in so many ways feel so much better and so much healthier. It’s amazing. But, like you described in your first post, I feel tired a lot. I expected to have loads more energy considering how much weight I’ve lost and how much I am working out. I also feel so hungry and many times so bloated. I think I can try this Paleo diet, but want to see exactly what it’s all about first. Sugar would probably be the hardest for me. I am a COOKIE MONSTER!

    Thanks for the info, and kudos to you, Heather, for making such healthy changes in your life. You’re a good example for all of us and most important, for your daughters.

  • reneewvu

    2011/08/11 at 2:07 pm

    What about booze?? Dairy I can live without. Meat even. But wine? Not on your life.

  • MarchelineB.

    2011/08/11 at 2:08 pm

    Just to clarify for people who are new to paleo eating: Larabars are not good to stock up on if you are trying to lose weight. Heather is already at a healthy body weight, so she has more room to make decisions like cheese and Larabars and etc.

    If you are starting paleo in an obese or considerably overweight condition and want your body to slim down to its proper proportions, you will need to be a little more strict with your paleo diet. Giving up bread and potatoes and chowing down on six Larabars for breakfast isn’t going to get you where you need to go.

    Check the websites Heather mentioned and look around for guidance on the right way to start, and later maintain, the healthiest body you can get!

  • mjryates

    2011/08/11 at 2:08 pm

    My only question is why don’t you make your own guacamole? It’s so easy! You can make your own salsa too. 🙂

  • Becosh

    2011/08/11 at 2:10 pm

    I used to be the biggest pasta and dessert lover EVER so the idea of this diet was crazy to me. However, after trying it for about 6 months, I can’t imagine ever going back to my old diet. I was diagnosed with IBS by multiple doctors but after being on this diet, I have no more issues.

    I also have been diagnosed with endometriosis and in doing research on it, I read that you should avoid gluten and sugar because they can make it worse. In fact, you would be surprised how many medical conditions can be improved or even cured by following this diet. My father had really high blood pressure and after going paleo, his blood pressure went down to normal, he lost weight without exercising at all and his energy level skyrocketed.

    Also, there are so many recipes out there that can be used when you have a bread or sugar craving. I never feel deprived.

    Good for you and thank you for writing about this. People often think I’m insane and that this diet is impossible to follow. Maybe if we get the information out there, people will realize it is totally possible!

  • CalissaLeigh

    2011/08/11 at 2:34 pm

    As this is a diet supposedly to revert to how cavemen ate, most people neglect to mention that cavemen only had a life expectancy of about 30 years.

    I’m teasing. Eat what you like, live better for it. 😀

  • Nicky

    2011/08/11 at 2:34 pm


    I don’t care what ya eat. As long as you’re happy. Do what you like. Like what you do. That first post about the new diet def. gave a sense of being beat down. Like all of those negative people who comment have won over how you feel and accordingly, write.

    Who cares what you eat/feed your family/ etc.? I sure don’t. I’ve just begun a vegetarian lifestyle and love it and couldn’t care less if other people think it’s not making a difference in the world. It is making a difference in mine.

  • cynsmith

    2011/08/11 at 2:39 pm

    I switched over to Paleo 7 days ago today. Thank you for the post that educated me on this fantastic “diet”. I cannot believe how much better I feel inside and out. Go Paleo!

  • jan001

    2011/08/11 at 2:46 pm

    I think I’ll do a little research on this just to see if I can do it. I’m kind of thinking not because it looks like a LOT of animal products which, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE, but too much cholesterol blah blah blah.

    I asked my endo about the Atkins Diet many years ago and got a swift “no” because of the high protein and the fact that kidneys are something diabetics are funny about.

    No legumes?? I lovelegumes! Why no legumes? Don’t take away the legumes!

  • dooce

    2011/08/11 at 2:47 pm

    @CalissaLeigh actually, even though you’re only teasing, there are still hunter/gatherer societies on earth today, and their lifespans resemble our own. They also are mostly void of heart disease.

  • kchaux

    2011/08/11 at 2:47 pm

    I started eating Paleo last fall as part of a food challenge through my gym (yo, Roots!). I don’t do it 100% of the time because I love beer far, far too much, but when I do stick to Paleo I generally feel great. Another good resource is Inherent Appetite, a food blog by one of my coaches.

    Heather, if you feel good and strong and healthy, that’s what is important. Great job on sticking with it.

  • jamiefriggin

    2011/08/11 at 2:52 pm

    I’ve been interested in Paleo since a friend started a CrossFit gym and began raving about it. Hearing about your success is what finally pushed me to try it. I’m on my fifth day, and it’s pretty awesome. I am rarely hungry. That’s by far the biggest improvement. I have had some headaches and dizziness from the carb withdrawals, but they are very manageable. The key for me has been to drink a couple of liters of water a day or as close to that as I can get. I hope I see improvement weight-wise (I work out with a trainer 4 times a week too), but just feeling as good as I do is enough for the moment.

    I definitely second the part about the Larabars. I eat one a day, usually just before I work out. Cherry Pie and Ginger Snap are to die for!

    Very glad you’ve found a diet that makes you feel great, and thanks for unknowingly giving me the little shove I needed to try it too. Do keep us posted on your progress.

  • Missybeme

    2011/08/11 at 2:54 pm

    Tell Jon I am 1 year post gallbladder surgery and sometimes a salad will do the same thing to me (almost instantly)! At times, I’m affraid to eat vegetables. The trade off is not waking up in horrid pain every other night, feeling like you are having a heart attack after eating or having constipation so bad you throw up. I wish I could say it gets easier, but…as far as I’m aware…I don’t know what day my stomach will allow the salad to stay or what day it will reject it outright. It’s kind of like digestion roullette!

  • ladygray

    2011/08/11 at 2:58 pm

    i’m totally intrigued… i’ve been trying to find a good diet to implement in our house to guide us towards more natural foods and to cut out processed foods.

    however, no cheese?! i’m shaking in my cheese-addicted boots…

  • kymmi

    2011/08/11 at 3:00 pm

    How do you handle planning meals for your family? Do you make 2 different meals, or try to alter 1 that both can be either Paleo or non depending on side dishes? I’m cautiously interested (although there is the whole wine habit to kick) but am fairly certain neither husband or 7 year old daughter will be interested in it.

  • CalissaLeigh

    2011/08/11 at 3:03 pm

    @dooce Great point! The Greeks and Japanese and Chinese and so on eat very similarly. Loved the book, Why The Chinese Don’t Count Calories.

  • m_kwest

    2011/08/11 at 3:18 pm

    I’m only offended that your fork and napkin are on the wrong side of your plate, and that your knife should be facing the other direction. Other than that, great information!

  • CalissaLeigh

    2011/08/11 at 3:19 pm

    I just looked to see if chocolate was on this lifestyle eating plan. I didn’t see it listed.

  • MsMegan

    2011/08/11 at 3:23 pm

    You do eat fruit though, right? I guess so since you eat Lara Bars (my husband has a gluten sensitivity and loves them). My only reservation about any of this is the carb thing. I’ve done no-carb before and I it made me horribly depressed and eventually the thought of eating just made me sick. The carbs in the fruit would probably be enough though.

    And no cheese? Or french fries? Or french fries covered in cheese? Ever? What’s the point in living? 😉

    Seriously though, if it works for you and it’s a lifestyle change you are happy with… it’s all good.

  • mahlookma

    2011/08/11 at 3:30 pm

    Just in case it’s even remotely helpful (with regards to that entire pasture-fed beef thing), has a number of places listed that should be relatively local to you. There’s also a Salt Lake City-specific local food blog at that has a page about meat.

    I’m connected to neither of these sites, but do use Local Harvest to find local farm goods in my area.

  • Howard62

    2011/08/11 at 4:25 pm

    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news about those “cage-free” eggs, but according to The Cornucopia Institute’s organic egg scorecard (seriously: Oakdell rank pretty poorly, as in “produced on industrial-scale egg operations that grant no meaningful outdoor access.” Alas, cage free doesn’t mean much these days, other than, well: no cages.

    Food is one of the defining issues of our time – thanks for the great info and resources!

  • tokenblogger

    2011/08/11 at 4:34 pm

    Tell them it’s not a fad! It’s been around for 15-20 years. It’s so not a fad and was once called the Caveman Diet!

  • Janice

    2011/08/11 at 4:44 pm

    Thank you so very much for posting this. I was hoping you would gather the questions and answer them. I asked about the psych meds because I also don’t want to alter mine at this time. I’m halfway through Mark Sisson’s book and hoping that a gradual transition to this lifestyle will both help health and I can join the three-poops-a-day club. Mine is more projectile after gallbladder surgery several years ago. Really. Thank you for sharing.

  • MrsIngie

    2011/08/11 at 4:55 pm

    I had my gallbladder removed last May and Robb Wolf recommended I take Now Food super enzymes (orange bottle) which Jon should get asap. Take 1 capsule, add until you get heat where your ribs meets your rib cage, up to 5 capsules with meals that contain fat. I now fully eat Paleo with lots of fat (except my cheat bag of chips on period day) and have no problems digesting the fat at all. I only poo every three days now!!! I am jelliz of your poo.

  • abs55

    2011/08/11 at 5:15 pm

    I love, love, love Larabars! I think they taste so much better than the sugary, fake protein bars and they’re so much better for you.

  • malisams

    2011/08/11 at 5:35 pm

    @dooce, seriously, what about bourbon/whiskey? i know you love it. that might be the deal breaker for me attempting this diet…well, that and the cheese. WON’T ANYONE THINK OF THE CHEESE?

  • mama without instructions

    2011/08/11 at 5:41 pm

    Not to be a pain in the ass on details, but since you are obviously really into all of this I don’t feel like too much of a jerk saying that “cage free” means almost nothing (kind of like “natural”). Technically it means the chickens have access to the outdoors through a door, which may not even be open and outdoors may be a a dirt patch. If you can find some real eggs from pasture raised chickens (or your friend’s back yard birds) you will not believe the difference in taste and how they make you feel (even better!). This isn’t a criticism, just a friendly note. We all do what we can with what is available to us!

  • Zerojet

    2011/08/11 at 6:00 pm

    I do love the larabars. I also just discovered Pure Organic bars and had a love affair with their apple pie bar. Wow. so tasty!

    They seem to be cheapest thru their site, amazon is oddly more expensive. I have tried the chocolate brownie, cherry cashew, apple cinnamon and blueberry and they are all good!

    Here is a link if you are interested:

  • AnitaA

    2011/08/11 at 7:00 pm

    @jan001, There’s a version of the paleo diet called Slow Carb. It’s just like paleo except you can eat legumes. Cottage cheese is also permitted. You also get a cheat day once a week where you can eat whatever foods you want in any quantity, to keep your metabolism from stalling, and to confine your cheating to one day per week rather than a little here, a little there.

  • lori.ann.mcvay

    2011/08/11 at 7:55 pm

    OK – I was ALL excited about this diet at first. My booty has gotten IMMENSELY HUGE since I stopped running last year (thanks to the deadline on my Ph.D. dissertation). So I thought “Hooray! A new, healthy diet!” Alas, it looks pretty much like Atkins. And after Atkins a few years ago, I quickly gained back double the amount I lost. Not sure this will work as a long-term solution. Any thoughts?

  • BuenoBabyGirl

    2011/08/11 at 8:19 pm

    OK, so I saw a snippet of Food Inc. on Oprah and, since then, I’ve been wondering [maybe someone here knows]…when I buy cage-free eggs are they the eggs which come from those chickens who walk 5 steps and then have to rest on their unnaturally large chicken asses? [FYI-I didn’t have a chance to read the other comments, because I have small children. Maybe someone has already addressed this.]

  • jcgrome

    2011/08/11 at 8:58 pm

    Congratulations! I am totally jealous of your ability to live a happy life without cheese. I will never even attempt such a feat but I will suggest that you check out if you & your readers don’t already know about it. It’s a wealth of information but most importantly it tells you where you can locally purchase things like bulk grass fed beef (we buy 1/4 of a cow 2x per year for our deep freeze), free range chicken, turkey, eggs etc & other non GMO foods. Our family loves it – we eat healthier, cheaper & easier because of it. BTW – you should totally plant a garden Heather & make Tyrant get his pretty little hands dirty 😉

  • AbbeyWrites

    2011/08/11 at 10:13 pm

    After your post last week I started looking into the paleo diet. I’ve been sick for over a year with hypothyroidism and nothing seems to be making me feel 100%. I also gained 70lbs during my undiagnosed hypothyroid year, which wasn’t fun, and, although I’m down a bit of weight, I’ve got 50lbs that won’t come off. And I’m 27 and I have joint pain! who has joint pain at 27? I planned on starting *gluten free* this week until I started doing some research into the paleo thing. Everything I read makes sense, especially for me. I just want to feel better and I will do whatever it takes, even if that means never eating cheese again. All of my friends think I’m insane for trying this, but my health is poor and I’m willing to do whatever it takes.I started Monday on the diet and am following it pretty well except for chickpeas. I know they aren’t on the diet, but . . . Indian food. So, I’m going to try the diet for a month. If I don’t feel better I’m going to get rid of the chickpeas, much to my dismay. I think I’m already feeling a difference, though. I feel like crap but also really good, if that makes any sense at all. Even though I’ve kept a low-carb, sprouted-grain only diet for awhile, I haven’t done the gluten free thing and right now I feel gluten detoxing from my body. I’m in pain (from hypo or whatever) and uncomfortable and my bowels aren’t enjoying themselves at this moment, but behind that I feel pretty good. Not right this moment, but during the day I’m good. But, I’m starving. OMG I’m so hungry all the time. I just don’t know what to do! My lunch is gigantic now that I’m not eating rice to keep me full and I’m still about ready to eat tree bark. I have never been this hungry in my life (well, except for the stint of anorexia). Maybe I’ll try those bars. I’ve tried fish, nuts, fruit, veggies, meat, and I still want to empty my refrigerator into my gullet. Oh, god, now i’ve got to go back to the bathroom you bully bitch. bitch bully? It’s late.

  • Smash

    2011/08/11 at 10:26 pm

    I’ve heard nothing but good things about the Paleo Diet from clients and family. My sister paired that diet with Jillian Michaels’ 30 day shred and she’s in incredible shape now!

    Also, I can’t help but notice the lovely silverware in your breakfast picture. Where is it from or where could I find a similar set? Registering for my wedding soon and new tableware is at the top of the list. It’ll be quite the step-up from our collection of knives and forks stolen from local restaurants, courtesy of my Fiance’s siblings. 🙂

  • Putnam

    2011/08/12 at 1:00 am

    I agree about the Larabars! I have been eating very similarly for 8 months; I never realized how crappy I felt until I started feeling GOOD! And I am continually amazed by how sensitive my body is to certain foods. I can tell within minutes if I’m going to have a negative reaction. I do allow myself raw goat or sheep cheese – that is like heaven to me.

  • melinda

    2011/08/12 at 5:54 am

    Welcome to the tribe! I have been paleo for a year and a half (and a reader of yours for much longer) and I can’t even begin to list all of the improvements in my health and outlook on life. But the biggest change is that I no longer have migraines and that is worth its weight in bacon. I have a recipe blog in case you ever need a change of pace –

    Yay you!

  • barbara

    2011/08/12 at 5:55 am

    Thank you for providing some good resources and insight. It seems like an effective diet.

  • Joe

    2011/08/12 at 6:51 am

    Perhaps this has been posted before, but a US News panel ranked this dead last out of twenty diets. Rankings were based on how easy the diet was to follow, nutrition, safety, and effectiveness for weight loss and against diabetes and heart disease. Just sayin’. URL:

  • Squeetthang

    2011/08/12 at 8:09 am

    I REALLY wish I had the money to do something like this, but it would cost me about 30% more in groceries to eat this way. Also, I live in deep south Georgia and the notion of eating this way is FAR in the future! The organic isle of the grocery store is just that…ONE isle. Now the fried chicken section is massive and (naturally) located next to the bait, bibles and grills. Just kidding…mostly.

  • workroom

    2011/08/12 at 8:14 am

    Has no one else mentioned that those sausages look like two healthy poops?

    : P

  • Murgan

    2011/08/12 at 8:21 am

    We just celebrated my boss’ b-day yesterday. He’s on the Paleo diet as well, so we made him Paleo brownies. Pretty good! You should try ’em out.

  • SouthernDink

    2011/08/12 at 8:39 am

    For those interested in learning more about America’s food industry, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan is a good read! It is a well written and filled with both humor and disturbing eye openers.

    @Joe I read the link you sent. It actually doesn’t have much to say about the Paleo “diet” itself. There has been no research, and as the article says, more studies would have to be done. In addition, they are basing their opinions on government plans, so that doesn’t hold much weight with me.

  • iampinkdog

    2011/08/12 at 9:01 am

    I struggle with PCOS, and my doctor has recommended that I try it out too. I’ve looked around the Internets and it would appear that others with similar conditions have had some success with this. Glad to hear it is working for you!

  • lmgood

    2011/08/12 at 9:15 am

    I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to answer all these questions so thoughtfully. I’ve heard of paleo from several people and my parents just started it. Unfortunately, I haven’t figured out how to work it into my working lifestyle or convince my husband to go along with it. I can’t do it without support, and I really need to do something.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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