Hello everyone, I'm a case of a potential future Paleo convert and have been doing a lot of research for the last few weeks. I've come across this site numerous times and realize there are a lot of experts, so what better place to get some final feedback/input before I decide to go Paleo or not.
Here is my situation:
I have something of a background of ED, mainly binge-ing and years of weight fluctuations. For the last 5 years however, I've finally been at a stable weight but there is still a residual effect of my binge-ing habits...which I want to get over once and for all.
I also have a huge sensitivity to sugar: it's as bad as a drug for me as cocaine for an addict. There's a history of diabetes on my dad's side as well- not sure if that may explain it.
I also used to have high anxiety- which I've managed to control (mainly thanks to creative outlets and being physically active, I am hooked on running/swimming/biking).
Another important detail: I have stopped menstruating for the last 2.5 years (I have had at most 2-3 periods in that time period). A personal highly stressful event is what shut my system down.
And finally, at times I have IBS-C and bloating.
I've tried several diet lifestyles, and problem is not fixed. Mainly diets around raw food or vegeterian/vegan.
Is Paleo something that could fit my case? Im ultimately looking for 2 things: 1) control my sugar cravings and adopt a diet that will bring me "mental balance" 2) improve my fitness and develop a more toned, lean body structure.
Also: Im a bit puzzled with the restrictions around legumes. The most difficult thing for me will probably be to say good bye to beans, chickpeas etc. Are they absolutely forbidden, no negotiation?
Thank you in advance, I really appreciate any input and if you've come from a similar background even better.
asked byyuzuquat (115)
Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!
on July 26, 2012
at 11:31 PM
As someone also recovering from 14 years of disordered eating and excessive exercise with absent periods I can testify that Paleo has been great. I came to Paleo very gradually when I started on my health journey to recover from Lupus/hypothyroidism and my ever-present quest to be lean. While it is good to consider that if you look at Paleo as a restrictive diet you will run into ED thoughts and behaviors. However, what I have learned over the years is that the behavior is psychological meaning that the specific diet you are on is not going to magically cure thoughts thoughts and impulses. I deal with compulsive eating and exercising to this day, but it is a heck of a lot better. Now, more Paleo-specific results I have seen is the elimination of sweet/carb cravings. I was Ms. Buttercream frosting almost 2 years ago and now it has been 15 months since I have touched anything resembling sugar (honey, molasses, agave, et al) I pass by a bakery or watch people eating a cake and could care less...though i do crave fatty meats now. Which is my point- your ED is not going to disappear by diet alone, but finding the right diet/WOE for you will make it easier and hopefully will A)reduce your cravings and thus ED cycles and B)bring back fertility and thus overall health
on July 26, 2012
at 08:47 PM
While I don't personally have experience with many of your symptoms, this was posted on Robb Wolf's site recently and it strikes me that it would a good read for you: http://robbwolf.com/2012/07/16/laurens-victory-eating-disorders/
You also might want to check out marksdailyapple.com, as the relaxed approach might be helpful and in line with your goals of being calm.
Best of luck!
on July 27, 2012
at 07:30 PM
hi friend! and welcome. i felt like i had met my twin reading your question. i've struggled with restricting and binging for the last 6 years or so, and struggled with IBS/bloating/cramps and anxiety and finally FINALLY am feeling some peace, just now. i've been pursuing the paleo lifestyle gradually for the last year maybe and have observed how i have responded. can i share my thoughts with you?
firstly, i know some folks with ED history thrive within the boundaries of paleo, and to those, please know i am not discrediting your experience. but there is an overwhelming population of those who either came to paleo with a binge history and paleo has just switched which foods they binge on, or an even more horrifying group who never had issues with food until they went paleo, and now they binge their faces off and are distraught. a strict regimine/diet/lifestyle is NOT for everyone, and that is ok!!! one of the main parts of recovery is accepting that your best effort is good enough, and learning how to meet yourself where you are RIGHT NOW. don't beat yourself up for however you need to approach or modify paleo to suit where you are now, emotionally and mentally. "perfection" will wait on you long enough for you to grow where you are today.
i think it's very important to note that i am not strict paleo and probably never will be. for me, strict paleo only emphasizes the disorder in me. it completely makes useless all the benefits of paleo and takes me to a place mentally and physically that is not ok. strict paleo, to me, becomes just another hoop to jump through and judge myself with, to beat myself up over or to cling on to a fleeting feeling of safety. i was also a vegan, then a raw foodist (a fruititarian, actually), and the mentality was similar - slip ups are not ok, because that's not who i am. any diet i think will finally set me free from the disorder is an illusion - the demons lie inside me, not in the diet i currently am failing on. i have learned the secret to defeating the voices in my head (ED and anxiety - they are completely intertwined) is to listen to MY body and to know my own limits, emotionally and physically. when i feel deprived, no matter how delicious my food is or how many calories i am eating, i WILL rebel. end of story. i used to fight this or try to "train" myself differently, but now i am learning i can be at peace if i just embrace this about myself because it's where my journey is today.
most people will tell you that paleo eating is made up of meat, fat, veggies, fruits, nuts, sweet potatoes, coconut, spices, and some will say dairy and potatoes and maybe rice. i'm sure you have, but if you haven't, check out marksdailyapple.com. it's a great site to learn the WHY's of the paleo diet, so you can make an informed decision on everything you choose to eat. my version of "healthy eating" is growing daily, but i eat a ton more carbs than most here, less fat (only because it doesn't feel good in my stomach, not because of fear or calories), and some convenience foods i love, like rice cereal and carton coconut milk for my coffee. i occasionally eat cheese, love chocolate, and often drink a poisonous drink like diet hot chocolate or a diet sprite. i am working on eating more veggies, cutting out the diet drinks (chemicals suck), and eating less prepared foods. but you know what? this is working for me now. i learned that grains, even gluten-free grains, make my stomach upset, so i don't eat them. not because of dogma or even science, even though i love nutritional science and biology, but because i am learning to honor my body! it's a huggeeee step in defeating ED. diet hot chocolate is a favorite thing of mine and it mentally helps me not feel deprived, so for now, i drink it. is it paleo? no! but it helps me make other positive changes like avoiding things that don't improve my health and avoiding binges, so i am accepting it's where i am today.
anyways, i'm sorry to ramble on, but i just wanted to encourage you. there are a lot of well meaning, incredibly intelligent people on this site that will tell you a million different tricks or tips, but the truth is, ED is a unique thing you have to always think of first. they might tell you to eat more fat or eat less fruit, but none of that matters unless it works for you! nothing is forbidden - you aren't a child and are in complete control of what you feed yourself. don't force yourself to conform to anything. use paleo as a framework to lead you to freedom and better health, and just keep learning. the whole point of paleo is to question what you are eating, and to explore if it works for you. if not, change what you eat! but it's not a test of your moral excellence or your worth as a person. it's simply, a way of eating.
a few last thoughts? - if you aren't already, please consider counseling. it is crucial in recovery and can help you see how more than likely, your anxiety and your food problems are related. if not, they are worth recovering from! - for me, my ibs was greatly harmed by eating a ton of fiber. seems counterintuitive because i was a raw vegan, but once i started eating paleo i greatly reduced my fiber intake and i feel so much better. i cook my veggies and eat small salads now. try it! (being grain-free was a huge help, too!) - eat what you love. when you allow yourself to actually enjoy food without feeling the need to sneak it or pretend you are being so perfect and healthy, your urge to binge will hugely diminsh. - if you count calories, consider abandoning it in the spirit of self-acceptance. i know some live and die by it, but for me, it was the last anchor weighing me down to my ED. free yourself and learn to eat like a human. you can do it! - also, don't weigh yourself. you are recovering from a mental challenge, don't put a number on your success.
lastly, good luck! please let me know if i can help - my facebook is Rebekah Nelson Kasper.
on July 27, 2012
at 06:42 PM
Something you need to know - Paleo is NOT and answer to every medical problem. Many people start Paleo thinking it is a miracle diet that will solve all your medical/weight problems. It is not. If you don't want to get your hopes broken, find a good naturopath. Yes, it is true that Paleo does not make it worse. Eating wholesome foods cannot make it worse by default, but it won't necessarily solve all your issues.
Some of the things beyond Paleo that I would recommend are:
Finding a good (recommended by someone) naturopath. A naturopath can help you with many things.
Getting some herbal support. I have an herbal doctor who did wonders for me - you might want to find a very good one as well.
Supporting your liver. Believe me, we all need that especially getting off gluten. It means eating a lot of raw bitter greens with every meal, drinking plenty of water and getting some fermented foods like beet kvass, sauerkraut and maybe some kombucha.
Raw foods with every meal (vegetables) to help your digestive system.
Listen to your body. It will be your best guide along the way. If it tells you it does not do well with low carbs, add more safe starches. If it tells you it does not like something, listen to your body before you listen to any doctor, even a good one.
on July 26, 2012
at 09:22 PM
First of all, congratulations on taking the first step to a better you, thinking or planning about going Paleo. As i can see, you already did some research, which is very important in understanding how this works. I would recommend, you getting into it, fully, you will not regret it, there's nothing to lose. I know this isn't much of a concise answer, but i hope it helps with your motivation. Best of luck and keep us posted.
on July 27, 2012
at 06:41 AM
Try Paleo.I also have ED history Binge/Purge and Lax abuse. Cutting out wheat and bad carbs really reduces ED related urges in my case. My behaviors were often related around foods that are not included in the paleo lifestyle.
on July 27, 2012
at 05:04 AM
Congratulations on being someone looking to improve her health!
SEEING IS BELIEVING! Try Paleo and see what happens. What have you got to lose? (ok, maybe some wheat...)
I cleaned up my diet and a long list of big and little problems (but not every single thing) improved. I have my answer.
Do research. Eat Paleo. Make tweaks. Rinse, Repeat. See what happens. You'll have your answer.
on July 26, 2012
at 09:06 PM
Well, i don't have much of an answer to give, just to say that i'm also on the same starting line and that i would like to see what some of the answers will be. I've picked up some books, Loren Cordain "Paleo Diet", Gary Taubes "Good calories Bad Calories", Catherine and Luke Shanahan "Deep Nutrition", and Mark Sisson's "Primal Blueprint" and i'll hope to learn more and mainly to greatly improve my poor health. Also about your cravings for sugars, i don't know if this can be helpfull since i'm starting my tracks by researching probiotics and improve my gut health, but have you considered water kefir? It utilizes sugared water, you can even make healthy soda from it, and you can help your IBS-C and bloating by restore your gut flora, i have those same symptoms and hope to fix them by using natural probiotics and fermentation. I haven't started yet so those are only conjectures and hopes at the moment...
on July 28, 2012
at 05:22 PM
Rather than paleo, the GAPS diet may be more suitable for you. I has helped many cure their eating disorders. GAPS teaches that mental problems, including EDs, are caused by toxins getting in through your leaky gut. The diet is designed to heal the leaky gut so toxins can't get through while nourishing the body.
It restricts all non-monosaccharides, so carbs can only come from vegetables, very ripe fruit, and honey. Meals are based around meat, fat, vegetables, lots of broth (which the gut cells can feed on directly, broth is very healing), and probitics or fermented foods to rebalance gut flora. Any dairy must be fermented (yoghurt/kefir) or completely protein/sugar-free (clarified butter or ghee). Nuts are used for baking, but baking isn't recommended at the start.
More info: http://www.gaps.me
on July 26, 2012
at 09:28 PM
Since you are are wanting to improve your mental health (your anxiety and compulsive eating (more in the past it sounds like) then you will for sure want to make sure you are getting enough protein and saturated fat as both of these are necessary building blocks for the production of neuro-transmittors like serotonin, GABA, dopamine, etc. A Paleo or Primal diet will help you a lot in this regard!
Also, you might want to make sure your Vit D is high enough as a low level can really cause or contribute to anxiety. A blood level of 60-80 is ideal.
Good Luck to you.