Can paleo make you sick in the beginning?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 03, 2012 at 1:25 PM

My husband and I just started the Paleo journey almost 2 weeks ago. I feel great but I cheat :) my husband is doing awesome. Strict Paleo from basically a high carb, junk, burger king kind of diet. However, he became sick about 4 days ago. Nauseous, severe stomach pain. He went to the ER yesterday, performed a bunch of test and the docs told him they think it's the diet. We have heard of "paleo sickness" but this is a bit extreme. Any thoughts or suggestions? Should he start eating some carbs? How long will he feel this way? I have never seen him act like this....im starting to worry : (



on March 03, 2012
at 06:56 PM

What tests were performed? I mean, docs will always say it's the diet, it has plenty of meat. How's his vitamin D?

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7 Answers



on March 03, 2012
at 05:45 PM

Or you could see if it continues on Paleo...is it possible he just a stomach bug or food poisoning?


on March 03, 2012
at 06:17 PM

It's the junk he was eating before that made him sick if anything. It's very common when people make a change to their diet to experience this kind of reaction. If you go the whole way from a chemical filled high-carb processed food diet to digging up carrots and gargling coconut oil then not only do you get a bunch of withdrawal-type symptoms to deal with but your digestion might not be up to handling real food either. It should sort itself out pretty quickly, though energy levels and more fatigue-like symptoms may persist for a while longer.

There's nothing wrong with adjusting over time if that's what it takes. Of course he could just be sick from a temporarily weakened immune system. In which case aside from keeping up the fluids, the body won't be wanting to eat much of anything. If it's stopping him functioning then getting some energy in him to make things easier for his body makes sense, just so long as he acknowledges it's a transitional thing.



on March 03, 2012
at 01:56 PM

There is no sense getting extremely sick doing Paleo. He may be someone who will do better adding in sweet potato at lunch or dinner.

If you are both doing low carb he may have severe low carb flu which feels awful but normally passes quite quickly.


on August 10, 2012
at 03:19 AM

Gluten withdrawal for sure, if no other vitamin deficiencies are found. See this article about Gluten Withdrawal.



on August 10, 2012
at 08:50 AM

If you end up in ER, it's not due to cutting out grains, dairy, vegetable oil and excess fructose. Nausea and severe stomach pain just sounds like a stomach bug.



on August 10, 2012
at 08:08 AM

That you used to eat the same, and now still do under paleo suggests its not just the diet to me. Could be an illness, or perhaps your overloading on some mineral.

Too much of certain minerals can make you sick. What do you eat, plenty of variable non-starchy veg, some leafy greens, some fruit, nuts, different meats? Or is your diet loaded with one particular food?

If it is, you might have some kind of mineral imbalance going on. When the body is starved, and then flooded with nutrients, its a bit of a shock IMO, and made worse by having too much of one type and not enough of another. The difference in male and female mineral needs might explain the difference, or past food history...

Low carb flu is somewhat normal (tho i never got it), and some adjustment (low energy, headaches etc), but all out stomach pain and nasea, with no pre-existing digestion issues is more than a bit weird.

Oh, one other thing....is there lots of beef? I handle beef slow cooked, like stews, but not so much pan fried. The proteins are a little tough I think. I do better on lamb, chicken, fish etc. Just a thought.

Id see another doctor and not mention the diet myself, just to make sure you get some proper tests (not that doctors always sort things out, but doesnt help if they dismiss you based on cultural bias). It sounds more like a digestive issue, or something else health wise (like infection).

It would help to know, what tests the doctor ran, and perhaps a days worth of food (if its relevant at all)



on March 03, 2012
at 02:21 PM

If one is sensitive to gluten it is not unusual to have a very strong reaction to gluten exposure after it has been eliminated. If you visit forums on gluten sensitivity or celiac disease you can read many stories of people becoming very ill after the slightest amount of gluten cross contamination. These symptoms last from hours to many days. This could be possible reason for his stomach pain.

The answer to this problem is to be 100% gluten free 100% of the time. Not always easy to do.

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