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Withdrawal syndrome from gluten, anyone?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 26, 2011 at 8:30 PM

Dear Ladies and dear Gentlemen,

After reading a bit here and bit there about the now famous Paleo diet, I decided to give it a chance hence cutting initially my daily intakes of gluten, grains and legumes (couldn't get out of dairy yet). Well, I noticed that most of the propagandists state that after just a few days, one would feel more energy, less hunger and generally better all around. Unfortunately, that's not what happened to me.

Soon after starting the Paleo diet, I found out that my hunger was substantially increased; my cravings for wheaty bread over the roof; I started having running nose and a crisis of rhinitis; and finally, after I finally banished the last bastion of gluten from my diet early this week, flu-like symptoms including aching muscles, headaches, nausea, bad digestion, hyperthermia and general tiredness. Also, my chronic depression got a tad worse.

Now, it can't be the flu as I'm in mid-summer. Nor a cold, because this would be too strange a cold. I started digging and discovered that people that ditch gluten and/or casein can develop a withdrawal syndrome much akin to opiate withdrawal. In fact, this is quite common in celiac patients. Then, I was curious.

Anyone else who started going Paleo also felt the same? Anyone here experienced gluten withdrawal syndromes? Why so many people are propagandizing a gluten-free diet without first pointing out the road might be long and bumpy?

0bcefaa82dc94f93ce705f86e235f335

(1591)

on January 26, 2011
at 10:00 PM

Awesome meta-answer!

0bcefaa82dc94f93ce705f86e235f335

(1591)

on January 26, 2011
at 09:58 PM

Edited tags to match existing.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on January 26, 2011
at 09:50 PM

Again, we are not the "church of paleo". Avoid gluten grains, n6 oils (veg & seed) and refined carbs (sugar/fructose/flour) and you are good to go. Everything else is nibbling around the edges. Paleo man ate starchy tubers. Fruit is paleo, although moderation is advised. Paleo is a method for finding out what works, meaning what works for you. We all do this with a different twist. I'm pretty low carb, but I do dairy, coffee and dark chocolate which are not, strictly speaking, paleo. I don't really care. It works for me and I feel great when I avoid gluten grains, n6 oils and refined carbs.

37959c87dc3765d3c730b4907f8f2224

(0)

on January 26, 2011
at 08:59 PM

There is little agreement on the many Paleo sites on what constitutes a good source of carbs. Potatoes are off; some don't like sweet potatoes; others don't like cassava; some ill-talk tomatoes; rice and soy are usually frowned. This leaves very little space to move.

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11 Answers

5
61852721b5ff3613f56f043fe890a679

(1172)

on January 26, 2011
at 08:45 PM

The stories of low-carb flu for beginners to paleo are pretty common. You might want to restrict your use of the loaded term "propoganda" until you are better versed.

4
86a7abe4a54c4dc15ea44bacef00c5a8

on January 28, 2011
at 02:00 PM

For most people, Paleo is a lifestyle and not specifically a diet. I think of "diet" as being short term. With Paleo eating, the health benefits are so great that most who stick with rarely return to SAD.

As far as my experience goes, I had cut out gluten entirely about a year before stumbling across Paleo. The physical improvement from removing the gluten alone was dramatic. Unfortunately, I starting eating too many gluten-free carbs and sweets and gained a few pounds. About six months ago, I cut out the sugar which helped a lot with insulin fluctuations and weight loss. Now, I am grain free and sugar free. It is amazing how different my body feels eating this way.

The Wheat/Sugar addiction is very real. It is normal to have flu-like symptoms for up to 3 weeks according to Dr. Davis at The Heart Scan Blog. You need to ask yourself what your motivation is for choosing Paleo and determine whether you can hang in there through the rough spots. I assure you it will pass. If the cravings are the problem, try the amino acid L-glutamine. Break open a capsule on your tongue. It will stop the craving.

Best of luck!

2
A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on January 26, 2011
at 08:41 PM

Many people experience a "low carb flu" syndrome when going paleo, since carbs are typically lower when you cut out wheat and sugar. Google "Atkins flu" or "induction flu" for details. Paleo is not the same as low carb (although it can be low carb) - you may want to add some carbs back with sweet potatoes or fruit until you feel better.

The other option is to tough it out and replace your minerals like magnesium, potassium and sodium, which are excreted quite a lot during the initial stages of a lower carb diet. I would only recommend staying lower carb if you need to lose weight or control your blood sugar, however.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on January 26, 2011
at 09:50 PM

Again, we are not the "church of paleo". Avoid gluten grains, n6 oils (veg & seed) and refined carbs (sugar/fructose/flour) and you are good to go. Everything else is nibbling around the edges. Paleo man ate starchy tubers. Fruit is paleo, although moderation is advised. Paleo is a method for finding out what works, meaning what works for you. We all do this with a different twist. I'm pretty low carb, but I do dairy, coffee and dark chocolate which are not, strictly speaking, paleo. I don't really care. It works for me and I feel great when I avoid gluten grains, n6 oils and refined carbs.

37959c87dc3765d3c730b4907f8f2224

(0)

on January 26, 2011
at 08:59 PM

There is little agreement on the many Paleo sites on what constitutes a good source of carbs. Potatoes are off; some don't like sweet potatoes; others don't like cassava; some ill-talk tomatoes; rice and soy are usually frowned. This leaves very little space to move.

1
880eb8f53260ceb10293a504e5127137

on March 05, 2012
at 05:51 PM

I read on a forum similar to this one a while back that 85% of people with restless leg will lose all their symptoms if they go gluten free. I thought 85% were pretty good odds and that I could experiment with this diet on my own. Next I looked up what is gluten free? And it is simple. Everything I needed was available in the very small rural market I go to.

I had been up 3 times a night for about an hour each doing stretches, yoga and isometric exercises trying to use the energy in my muscles for more than a decade.

Three weeks into the gluten free diet I slept through the night. I was a bit nervous going to bed the next night, but I slept through the night, and on and on. I did a test about 4 months into it and ate a slice of bread. 2 nights later I was up and doing the same routine. That lasted only 2 nights and I have been able to sleep uninterrupted ever since.

To eat gluten free is simple, cheap, non-medicinal. Let me say there are more "gluten free" foods available these days. They are NOT cheap. It is just the American way of convincing you through advertising that you really need these products. You don't

1
3b5cbb3006f7567b87dd3998ad76ebf8

on January 27, 2011
at 04:33 AM

I did a lot of research when I heard about eating Paleo and I continue to this day as it keeps me fresh and motivated. I knew that it was likely to be rough going at first or at least it was a solid possibility. I felt sick for about two weeks and my husband thought he would die for about a week. Did you research at all? I wonder only because I found this information readily available at pretty much all the big 'propaganda' websites >.< I'm not serious when I use that word, to be clear. My husband's tests after his 30 day challenge were so good his doctor was in tears, we have the paperwork framed on the wall and while I haven't had any tests done, my weight loss and general health improvements have been vast. Going back to nature and ditching the trash and chemicals is hardly something that requires propaganda. It's just common sense and a willingness to realize that everything we've been told is wrong. Hard to swallow but true and we figure it out in varying degrees as we make our individual journeys in health and wellness.

0
A048b66e08306d405986b6c04bf5e8e4

on February 07, 2014
at 09:53 PM

When I dropped gluten, I felt the benefits practically overnight, but I did have cravings for bread and other wheat products. Just tough it out and see what happens. In the meantime, eat safe starches like sweet potatoes, bananas, yucca, taro, cassava, and apples, and healthy fats like coconut oil, grassfed ghee, nuts, avocado, grassfed tallow, and pastured lard to make sure you're getting the energy you need

0
936f8377348890a7187bc17de8c5e673

on February 07, 2014
at 02:48 PM

I just wanted to respond to Lisa. I went off gluten and sugar 4 days ago and haven't slept the last two nights. I am also experiencing a body tingling as well as dizziness. I am so glad I found these responses. Unknown symptoms in the middle of the night can be very scary. Carla

0
34cee83aab06609494cdf712b2d0ee06

on July 19, 2013
at 12:23 PM

I am a long distance runner, I run a couple of marathons a year, and I made the switch to paleo as my blood iron is dangerously low. Since I have started, in the mere week my iron was back up to borderline.

I have been experiencing withdrawals, not to the point of flu symptoms but just a general headache, and craving anything and everything that is not good for us. How long did it take for everyone else to get through these withdrawals?

0
45b0da54264215f6ec753fc64747671b

on September 02, 2012
at 10:23 PM

I was a vegetarian for 25 years and have had celiac disease symptoms for many years. I started eating salmon and eliminated gluten from my diet approximately two weeks ago. As a result, on the upside, I definitely feel more on an even keel, have more energy, and my celiac disease symptoms have significantly lessened. On the downside, I am experiencing severe headaches and insomnia. I am also experiencing something strange - when lying down to sleep, it is as if I can feel the nerves throughout my body tingling or vibrating. It is a strange and disturbing sensation. And please know, I am not the type of person to imagine things. I am a proponent of "reason and science" and am a skeptic. I hope that these negative symptoms pass soon :(

0
531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

on January 27, 2011
at 12:05 AM

Not me. No withdrawal and no magic transformation. I've been working on this diet stuff for 3 years and it's been full of toil, setbacks, and occasional breakthroughs and epiphanies.

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