19

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Common Paleo Missteps and Resulting Problems: Bingeing, Cholesterol, Food Sensitivites, Weight Gain

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 18, 2012 at 5:25 PM

So, as far as I can tell, Paleo eating essentially means not eating grains/legumes or sugar or vegetable oil, and not eating a no-fat diet. That's about the crux of it.

But then there are other styles/fads that people tend to be fans of: high fat, fish oil, sweet potatoes, coconut everything, etc. I'm not saying these are equal, these are just common elements of a paleo diet, none of which are required to avoid toxic foods.

And then there are these problems that keep popping up on PH:

  1. Binge eating: This appears to be a major problem. This could be a self-selection issue (people who used to severely restrict often end up with BED, so maybe they also tend to be the types who obsess about their diets on an internet forum).

  2. Crazy high cholesterol: Seriously, I know that it's overall cholesterol that counts, but some of the numbers people report really are frightening and new (i.e., people didn't have ridiculously high LDL before but now do).

  3. Food intolerances: it seems like more people are developing more food intolerances on a "paleo diet" than they had before (people saying, e.g., I've eaten eggs my whole life and now suddenly I can't; I had a bowl of cereal for breakfast every day for 20 years, I cut out grains, but now suddenly 1/2 a glass of milk makes me sick, etc.).

  4. Weight gain: some (generally normal weight or slightly overweight) people appear to be doing everything right, and are still gaining weight compared to their diet before.

But given that straight-up don't eat poison paleo is so very benign, what do we think the common mistakes are that cause people to suddenly develop these problems that they didn't have before? Some people might say it's an adjustment issue, but a lot of people reporting these problems appear to have been eating pretty solidly "paleo" for months.

I doubt that eating English muffins with margarine somehow protected people from these ailments, so it must be something else that we're all commonly doing that maybe we shouldn't. I have my theories (just because some meat/fat is good doesn't mean tons of meat/fat is better, people tend to OD on "safe foods" which can cause intolerances, it's harder to rely on calorie counts when you don't eat from a box, etc.), but I'd like to hear everyone else's thoughts.

What common missteps on a paleo diet tend to lead to some of the common seemingly paleo-diet-related ailments?

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 19, 2012
at 11:44 PM

I can relate. I ordered a grilled steak and salad at a restaurant and used my own oil and vinegar, yet I still got sick from what I assume was something they put on the steak. I am more reactive than I could ever have imagined, but if I listen I feel SO good all the time.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on January 19, 2012
at 07:51 PM

Amy...Sounds like maybe some cook books/lessons are in order then. There is a ton of variety, actually I dare say the real problem with Paleo is being overwhelmed with so many new food choices once you get rid of that processed filler junk!

Df7e22dbbb8c39f5006d0784feb03845

(175)

on January 19, 2012
at 07:03 PM

Paleo triggers my binge eating. So does veganism. Any other diet and I keep the 24 inch waist, without thinking about it. I think I don't do well with limited food choice and having to make 97% of my food. In reality, I don't cook much on Paleo, or any other diet. I tend to eat the same food for a week. But, having more choice for the week because I can use processed stuff and bread appears to stop me from binging.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 19, 2012
at 04:28 PM

@VB, sorry about the acronym. IF is intermittent fasting;-6o all of their eating within 4-6 hours each day (and may occasionally skip a day, I do) and routinely go 14 - 24 hours between eating. It really calms my nervous system/GI tract.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 19, 2012
at 04:27 PM

@VB, LOL! You must be the only one on PH who isn't tired of hearing about water kefir (I really love the stuff.) Here's a neat video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-t9C7PoBRc and my recipe: http://ancestralcrone.blogspot.com/2011/12/brewing-water-kefir-part-1.html

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on January 19, 2012
at 08:07 AM

Nance, what is IF and how do you make water kefir? Could you please please please post the recipe? I would like to make some and have no idea what it is!

F3c72b77f87bd6921f81147a1781c365

on January 19, 2012
at 12:06 AM

I second your #1; SAD is an extremely poor way of eating and triggers overeating. In regards to #4, I experience this same thing. Nuts are small and we don't have to shell them ourselves, so it's easy to eat a cup of almonds at once.

Medium avatar

(19479)

on January 18, 2012
at 11:58 PM

Nice post Nance!

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on January 18, 2012
at 11:21 PM

Sorry, I should be clearer, I'm not blaming paleo for ANY of the problems above. Like I said, paleo is pretty straightforward: don't eat poison. I'm just wondering why certain conditions appear to pop up when people "start going paleo". I think it's because certain steps tend to be taken at the beginning that aren't necessary (e.g., overreliance on certain foods which lead to intolerance). I in no way mean to imply that not eating vegetable oil and wheat causes BED. Like I said, I think that's self-selection (people with BED tend to focus on food, which leads them to internet forums on diet)

1c67bc28f4e44bbb8770b86df0463df3

(6719)

on January 18, 2012
at 11:16 PM

This unfairly connects Paleo to Binge Eating Disorder of which there is neither any Causation and I am sure that the Correlation between people with BED and Paleo is extraordinarily low seeing that BED affects the entire population as a % and since the amount of total people eating Paleo is fairly low, % wise, then the amount of Paleo people with BED is also, extremely low.

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on January 18, 2012
at 11:06 PM

paleons, huh? i prefer "paleogeeks" myself :) but yes, i think you're right, only those with problems speak up. still, these seem to be the most common problems, IMO, it'd be nice to uncover some common solutions.

A727956fa3f943057c4edb08ad9e864e

(4183)

on January 18, 2012
at 10:53 PM

When people are doing fine and dandy, they don't tend to talk about it. The problems you describe don't apply to the vast majority of paleons (it's a word.), Eh having said that, I think eating way too many eggs uncovered my intolerance for them. I can still eat them, I just can't go overboard.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on January 18, 2012
at 10:29 PM

Good call on the "recovery from famine" type of binging. Hadn't really thought of that in my answer, but would certainly account for those who are overly restrictive.

35ba1f50dad25c85ac1aa2599fe5c5cb

(2485)

on January 18, 2012
at 10:04 PM

I don't know if I could recommend going very low sodium to everyone. The amount I eat now is extremely low (800-1200 mg), it keeps me off vertigo meds. For other people, I don't know if it would trigger sodium binges... I have a strong incentive to stay with it to avoid disabling vertigo attacks. Plus it has other side effects like low blood pressure. But certainly salt is a hyperstimulating ingredient, so it may have some merit overall to restrict it.

Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

(5198)

on January 18, 2012
at 09:03 PM

Not eating enough, which may or may not be linked to not exercising enough. If you add more of both it's a lot easier for your body to regulate.

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on January 18, 2012
at 08:43 PM

Hmm, I actually haven't seen that many "man I used to be so ripped on SAD and have now become a hard-gainer" stories, but I could just be reading over those. Or were you referring to people who have accidentally become emaciated on paleo? I actually feel like I have read a bunch of those.... what do you think causes it?

De267f213b375efca5da07890e5efc25

(3747)

on January 18, 2012
at 08:40 PM

You forgot the "weight loss" category. Some people aren't in it to lose weight but do anyway.

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on January 18, 2012
at 08:20 PM

Huh, the low sodium thing is interesting. You should post this over on some of the other binge-related posts. I haven't had this issue in a while, but now that I'm thinking about it, salty foods definitely set me up for failure, though at the time I chalked that up to being thirsty and confusing hunger & thirst.

Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

(5198)

on January 18, 2012
at 07:10 PM

For the most part, these seem to be dramatic changes for the better. One thing that always stick with me is how willing people are to risk everything on SAD just because that's what they're eating now. It's the same with IF - just how dangerous could it be to not have food for a day?

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on January 18, 2012
at 06:48 PM

I know that the cholesterol-heart disease link is somewhat tenuous, but I feel like any sudden dramatic change in blood work like that is a scary thing. Maybe I'm wrong... But I agree with a lot the other things you mentioned.

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on January 18, 2012
at 05:39 PM

That is a totally brilliant post, and general excess-everything is definitely an issue I think. Thanks!

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on January 18, 2012
at 05:34 PM

I think this thread answers some of these questions... http://paleohacks.com/questions/90654/is-the-paleo-primal-diet-like-the-sad-diet-in-overstimulation-and-unnaturally-ric#axzz1jpezht41

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9 Answers

11
96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 18, 2012
at 05:59 PM

Re: your binge eating part of the question, some binge eaters are trying paleo and I'm in that sub-group; I had been a yo-yo who struggled with binge eating for 50 years. This lifestyle has worked for me--I'm either in full remission or cured--thanks as much to IF and home-made water kefir as to my particular selection of paleo foods. I only splurge on major holidays, and most of those splurges are now "fancy" paleo dishes rather than junk food. You'd call me a lacto-paleo because I also make and eat home-made yogurt and I put heavy cream in my coffee.

My positive outcome is because I am now very comfortable with physical hunger as no different from an itchy elbow and I recognize/distract emotional hunger with non-food activity. Eating neolithic foods at Christmas didn't have any negative effect so I'm feeling relatively secure in my current relationship with food.

Other folks may have gone very strict paleo in an attempt to lose weight and accidentally triggered the "recovery from famine" response we'd call newly emerged binge eating. I'm hoping this is temporary and if they take a deep breath and tweak to a more moderate version of paleo they'll be fine.

I've actually fixed a lifelong intolerance--ice cream and yogurt made me ill before but drinking water kefir apparently straightened out my gut issues and I eat yogurt every day now. Since I'm in my 60s, I think that's a pretty big deal. Also, if I start to feel emotional cravings I crack open a bottle of fizzy water kefir and they go away.

In 9 months (month 5 was my crisis month with 2 final binges) I've lost about 40 pounds and I'm still losing slowly and steadily. So there are success stories too, but the folks who struggle are asking for help here and I think that's great. I have no reason to post a lot of questions and I'm glad to give support to others but that doesn't mean everyone's having trouble.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on January 18, 2012
at 10:29 PM

Good call on the "recovery from famine" type of binging. Hadn't really thought of that in my answer, but would certainly account for those who are overly restrictive.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 19, 2012
at 04:27 PM

@VB, LOL! You must be the only one on PH who isn't tired of hearing about water kefir (I really love the stuff.) Here's a neat video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-t9C7PoBRc and my recipe: http://ancestralcrone.blogspot.com/2011/12/brewing-water-kefir-part-1.html

Medium avatar

(19479)

on January 18, 2012
at 11:58 PM

Nice post Nance!

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on January 19, 2012
at 08:07 AM

Nance, what is IF and how do you make water kefir? Could you please please please post the recipe? I would like to make some and have no idea what it is!

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 19, 2012
at 04:28 PM

@VB, sorry about the acronym. IF is intermittent fasting;-6o all of their eating within 4-6 hours each day (and may occasionally skip a day, I do) and routinely go 14 - 24 hours between eating. It really calms my nervous system/GI tract.

5
F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on January 19, 2012
at 10:52 PM

Ok, I am going to address food sensitivities.

One in every 133 Americans is gluten intolerant. 30% of all Americans are gluten sensitive. Those are the facts. But those numbers are growing not only on a daily, but on an hourly basis.

Everybody who is gluten intolerant or gluten sensitive needs to know: as soon as you eliminate all gluten (wheat, rye, barley and cross-contaminated oats), and even gluten free grains (rice, buckwheat, quinoa) and then eliminate any cross-reactivity foods (potatoes and starches) guess what happens? Your body becomes EXTRA SENSITIVE to all gluten and gluten-like sources.

Milk and dairy have similar protein to gluten. Your body, that is used to gluten, is searching for it. When there is no gluten, it starts attacking milk as if it has gluten. That's why gluten intolerant people become lactose intolerant when they go gluten-free.

I have developed a range of food allergies because my body, that was poisoned with gluten for a long, long time became SUPER SENSITIVE. Just how sensitive? Let me illustrate. I bought a jar of Shea butter from a very well-known company. It had TRACES of tocopherol. I mean literally, traces. And yet I felt it - my body reacted right away. The company admitted that tocopherol was made with wheat and I got my money back.

I can tell if something has been contaminated with gluten (no matter how innocent and gluten-free it looks) within seconds.

I also can feel if something is organic or has chemical additives. I am so super sensitive, it is not even funny.

I actually do not see it as a bad thing. Some people can eat bad food and then they get sick. I feel bad food within milliseconds. My body rejects it so it can protect itself.

I also developed allergy for eggs and olive oil. Why? I don't know, but I bet they are feeding those egg-laying hen some bad stuff. And when they squeeze that oil, who knows where those olives have been?

So, to address your point #3: when your body gets a taste of real food, it won't let go. And it is a good thing.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 19, 2012
at 11:44 PM

I can relate. I ordered a grilled steak and salad at a restaurant and used my own oil and vinegar, yet I still got sick from what I assume was something they put on the steak. I am more reactive than I could ever have imagined, but if I listen I feel SO good all the time.

5
35ba1f50dad25c85ac1aa2599fe5c5cb

(2485)

on January 18, 2012
at 07:52 PM

This is totally a personal thing for me, but I've had a reduction in binge eating problems. But the reasons why I've had reduced binge eating may be helpful for some people.

I started eating semi-paleo for the weirdest of reasons. I have Meniere's disease and it seems to be 95% controlled for me by a low salt diet. The problem is, if you take salt out of SAD food, or some of the vegetarian stuff I was cooking before, you are left with the blandest food on earth. I started eating semi-paleo last year simply because there are many, many paleo recipes where you can cut the added salt to 1/3 and they still taste good. (My current theory is that it's the umami.) Now I've had binge eating issues since I was 9 or so, and within a few months of cutting my sodium intake, my binge eating changed substantially. I would still binge, but the quantity of food I ate during a binge dropped to probably 1/3-1/2 from what I used to eat. This was DURING a binge, so I wasn't consciously controlling it, I just binged on less food.

But like I said, I was doing a semi-paleo thing, a lot of things were paleo-ish, but I was still eating some grains, traditionally prepared beans, full fat dairy and such, plus Diet Coke (shameface). Right now I'm trying a Whole30, and my bingeing has disappeared. Just gone. The urge is gone, struggling is over, I just haven't even had to resist the idea of bingeing, it's just not there. But for the Whole30, I've been focused on one thing, sticking to the food list. I threw out the window any rules for what to eat when, any rules about combining protein and carbs. I've just been eating according to my appetite. If I'm not hungry for breakfast, I skip breakfast. If I am hungry for a piece of fruit between meals, I eat a piece of fruit. Focusing on one restriction (quality of food) has both gotten rid of the high-reward/low-nutrition parts of my diet, and gotten rid of struggling over other "rules" that I thought would prevent my binges.

Long story short: I see a lot of people who have the bingeing problem are trying to restrict their diet in several ways, trying to clean up the quality, and restrict carbs to lose weight and timing meals around workouts to build muscle and restricting nuts and fruit and, and, and, and. Oh yeah and often eating unlimited amounts of rich high-reward "paleo" foods like bacon, steaks and coconut (as referenced here:http://paleohacks.com/questions/90654/is-the-paleo-primal-diet-like-the-sad-diet-in-overstimulation-and-unnaturally-ric#axzz1jpezht41). That sets up a situation where you're struggling over internal rules and regulations (which can cause decision fatigue & cortisol issues) while still tickling at the food reward centers of the brain. As a binge eater, it does not surprise me in the least that this can lead to problems.

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on January 18, 2012
at 08:20 PM

Huh, the low sodium thing is interesting. You should post this over on some of the other binge-related posts. I haven't had this issue in a while, but now that I'm thinking about it, salty foods definitely set me up for failure, though at the time I chalked that up to being thirsty and confusing hunger & thirst.

35ba1f50dad25c85ac1aa2599fe5c5cb

(2485)

on January 18, 2012
at 10:04 PM

I don't know if I could recommend going very low sodium to everyone. The amount I eat now is extremely low (800-1200 mg), it keeps me off vertigo meds. For other people, I don't know if it would trigger sodium binges... I have a strong incentive to stay with it to avoid disabling vertigo attacks. Plus it has other side effects like low blood pressure. But certainly salt is a hyperstimulating ingredient, so it may have some merit overall to restrict it.

4
8508fec4bae4a580d1e1b807058fee8e

on January 18, 2012
at 09:50 PM

Some people are not sleeping enough (or properly) and/or overtraining. Excess cortisol from both scenarios blocks weight loss.

Some people are eating too much protein, carbs, or nuts, fruit.

Some are not eating enough carbs!

Age, gender, medical history, and current weight/body all matter!

Some people are doing Faileo- misunderstood/misguided Paleo (low-fat Paleo) or Paleo 1.0 (believe saturated fat to be the problem, etc.).

Some could benefit from more or less supplementation and/or more variety of foods - bone broth, fermented foods, perhaps even raw dairy (surprise)

Some are damaged bad enough to need longer to heal, and some may never 100% heal but improve as best as possible.

This is why need more health professionals versed in Paleo, WAPF, low-carb, etc. to help individuals titrate to what they need!

4
Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

on January 18, 2012
at 06:42 PM

I'm not sure that the cholesterol is a 'problem', I think a lot of the food sensitivity issues may be people simply forgetting how they used to feel all the time, although novel or reintroduced foods may excite the digestion a little more than things consumed daily. Weight gain I'd put down to people eating too much. It's not just not having calories printed on the box, it's essentially a whole new food culture you need to learn and the advice is nothing if not conflicting. I'd tend to put most new bingeing problems in the same box. Anyone trying to micromanage their diet is going to run into trouble if they have bad information. I try to put my body in charge as much as possible.

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on January 18, 2012
at 06:48 PM

I know that the cholesterol-heart disease link is somewhat tenuous, but I feel like any sudden dramatic change in blood work like that is a scary thing. Maybe I'm wrong... But I agree with a lot the other things you mentioned.

Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

(5198)

on January 18, 2012
at 07:10 PM

For the most part, these seem to be dramatic changes for the better. One thing that always stick with me is how willing people are to risk everything on SAD just because that's what they're eating now. It's the same with IF - just how dangerous could it be to not have food for a day?

3
746c52e90b06c709d66a5bac5b1589c7

on January 19, 2012
at 03:54 AM

Yep it's apparent that #3 has happened for me... Suddenly egg intolerant. :( However prior to this diet I was only having eggs occasionally and now it's 2 every morning... It's quite possible I've always been intolerant and it's now showing. The interesting news is that this diet has shown me I'm NOT wheat intolerant. Surprise! Hah.

3
3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on January 18, 2012
at 10:23 PM

Does not have to be anything at all that they are all commonly doing or that eating paleo does to them.

  1. I think binging is rooted in many other areas of psychological distress/disorder and would say no one "develops" it from going paleo. Perhaps that behavior is just noticed more now compared to the never ending binge that is SAD.
  2. Don't matter and fluctuates....it is what it has to be. Check it three times in 3 weeks and see how much it can vary.
  3. Elimination diet shows you what you are sensitive to.
  4. Couple possibilities easily rectifies: eating too much nuts, dairy, fruit, startches...Point these out because they seem to be easiest to overindulge as "paleo" foods go. Other is distorted body image....some people really don't NEED to lose more weight to be healthier.

F3c72b77f87bd6921f81147a1781c365

on January 19, 2012
at 12:06 AM

I second your #1; SAD is an extremely poor way of eating and triggers overeating. In regards to #4, I experience this same thing. Nuts are small and we don't have to shell them ourselves, so it's easy to eat a cup of almonds at once.

Df7e22dbbb8c39f5006d0784feb03845

(175)

on January 19, 2012
at 07:03 PM

Paleo triggers my binge eating. So does veganism. Any other diet and I keep the 24 inch waist, without thinking about it. I think I don't do well with limited food choice and having to make 97% of my food. In reality, I don't cook much on Paleo, or any other diet. I tend to eat the same food for a week. But, having more choice for the week because I can use processed stuff and bread appears to stop me from binging.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on January 19, 2012
at 07:51 PM

Amy...Sounds like maybe some cook books/lessons are in order then. There is a ton of variety, actually I dare say the real problem with Paleo is being overwhelmed with so many new food choices once you get rid of that processed filler junk!

2
792634a784ec6a636c3137d0903e11b4

(1196)

on January 19, 2012
at 01:56 AM

My own experience, coming from IBS mixed type, is that now I'm mostly comfortable in my gut I notice all the times things aren't perfect. I also have such a limited range of food in my diet that I know for certain which foods/cheats have disagreed with me and I'm obsessive (in a good way;)) about rooting them out and stomping on them!! So where I used to be in a general fog of bloatedness, pain and tiredness, I now know that all dairy, nuts, FODMAPS, raw foods, too much food, not enough food . . . yeah it's a big list, but my point is that now I know what's on the list I can seem much more 'intolerant' than I was before. I'm not, I just have more knowledge and a higher standard of daily health for myself.

I inadvertently had some dairy a few weeks ago (ate a commercial product that had changed their ingredients since I ate it last, grrr) and it took 30 hours for the full misery to manifest but I knew exactly what it was because I'd eaten my standard fare every other day. I spent a couple of days huddled in a ball, thinking that this used to be my everyday reality. What a difference a year makes!!

1
724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

on January 19, 2012
at 03:05 PM

Whoops, I just wrote a long answer that I now realize was a subconscious regurgitation of this post I read yesterday: http://paleohacks.com/questions/90654/is-the-paleo-primal-diet-like-the-sad-diet-in-overstimulation-and-unnaturally-ric#axzz1jpezht41

And since I can't figure out how to delete answers, I'm just going to say, I agree! Also, damn you subconscious plagiarizing! ha.

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