ive been paleo for a year and a half to help me recover from anorexia physically, my paleo includes yoghurt, sometimes butter, creme fraiche and 100% chocolate, heaped teaspoon of honey a week maybe. the rest is tuna, shrimp, scallops, chicken, red meat (grass fed yes)salads, no fruit after being scared about fructose, cant tolerate coconut oil either, and olive oil on salads sweet potatoes and recently white potatoes, dabbled with white rice cakes in the past but not a great fan. anyway, during this paleo period i still do not have periods, i have psoriasis flared up out of nowhere, i have constipation despite ridiculous amounts of vegetables and sprouted flaxseed powder every morning, acid reflux, itchiness,a severe state of anxiety, depression resulting on anti-depressants until i stopped taking them five days ago, bad skin- eyelids flare ups of peeling and redness, slow digestion, unstable thinking, suicidal thoughts, headaches...ermm.... if im being honest, ive generally been feeling under the weather for the past six months. prior to this (before i fell into anorexia a year and a half ago again- its been an on off battle since age 11 and im now 25 years old) i was having periods, my digestion was so fast i felt i was able to eat anything and had lot of energy and a stable mood, no outbursts or tearfulness like now...but heres the glitch- i was eating whole wheat toast with almond butter or yoghurt and homemade granola, i was eating soup and goats cheese and bread or wholemeal pitta and homemade hummus and carrots or jacket potato for lunch always with salads or rye and avocado and olive oil and sometimes homemade granola with cream or dark chocolate afterwards, i would have a protein and a salad for dinner always, sometimes homemade fries or a slice of farmers market bread and butter, or sometimes wed go out to dinner and id have scallops or fried chicken or prawns and salad.. sometimes id eat icecream or yoghurt and fruit for a dessert... erm i felt like i had mastered my body, i felt ... happy... i felt healthy... i ran, i worked out, i was jolly in nature, i didnt worry... erm now, food hs become the enemy a bit in the fact that i have stuck to the paleo plan albeit adding dairy because from a little girl yoghurt was the only thing id eat for my eczema that would clear it up ... but truth is, ive been ignoring it for a long while because all the evidence suggests that it cant be true and plus if i dont follow paleo i dont know where to go from here- i thought id sussed 'the right way to eat'since discovering it but truth is- i cant eat too much meat and nor do i have any desire to.. erm... im allergic to fish except for tuna scallops and prawns, so ive recently bough omega 3, vitamin D, vitamin K2 to see if my overal feeling of so low dissolves.... ive even gome through phases of eating just salads for breakfast raw crudites for lunch to see if anything helps... im currenty looking at the new psoriasis all over my legs and thinking.... why isnt paleo working 100% for me? is it really THAT YOGHURT or THAT 100% CHOCOLATE or is it.... digestion? like is good health- good digestion? when i was clearing out constantly (!!!) skin glowing, ovulating, abundant energy now everyone is asking where i've gone mentally, worse thing is mentally im so bad im checking into priory after getting back from holiday because i am not thinking straight anymore, add to that nightmares and dizziness, wheeziness on my chest and inability to run much anymore- used to run for an hour etc on high level- i know paleo people dont agree with that... im sue ill be met with lots of criticism, but after a year and a half of paleo eating im starting to wonder why i feel worse? any help, i truly mean this, is just going to be amazing to hear. has anyone switched from paleo to a different incorporation of eating?
asked bylu (55)
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on April 16, 2012
at 10:29 AM
Firstly may I say I feel for you in that you're going through a tough time; its so frustrating dealing with health problems with their endless potential causes and not seeing results despite trying your hardest.
And this effort is what seems to be the problem. One could also call it nutritionism. I realise I'm going to run into a lot of criticism with this, but its what I can recommend based on my experiences and research I have done. Canonical 'paleo' advice tends to break down causes and isolate miniscule compounds as potential causes, which can further worsen your problem because its the same thing as looking for a needle in a haystack. Too much stress, not enough sleep, too many nuts/dairy/avocados/fruit/chicken/insert-paleo-whipping-boy-here...I don't think thats a good approach to nutrition. I think the best approach to nutrition is a whole-foods, traditional diet. Your diet wasn't anywhere near as bad as the SAD before you went 'paleo'; it seems you weren't eating very much processed food, and the only problems I see are improperly prepared grains and refined sugar (fruit yoghurt?). So, your health issues really peaked once you went 'paleo' and started isolating certain components of your diet to search for causes when you ran into problems. Remember, paleo isn't about re-enactment. Eating grains, and any kind of raw seed for that matter isn't recommended because unless you properly prepare them,they contain anti-nutrients. Some people have issues with dairy. And so on and so forth.
But the reason why many people (including myself) run into problems, and even nutrient deficiencies on paleo is because we blindly remove entire food groups from our diets without making up for them, or, even worse, over-thinking things and trying to make up for it artificially, e.g. with supplements, and ending up with disbalance. Have a look at this: http://www.cheeseslave.com/are-you-suffering-from-magnesium-deficiency/
Another example: the Inuit are not proof that, say, zero-carb is good for everyone. Zero-carb tends to provoke hypothyroidism in some people who try it; the reason why the Inuit aren't all infertile and hypothyroid, however, is probably because they harvested moose thyroid glands for food and ate absolutely nose-to-tail (not just liver...everything. No part of the animal went to waste). Which is why most children were born nine months after moose-mating season (from an interview with Chris Kresser).
The bottom line here is that there is no one-size-fits-all diet.You don't give much info on your current diet, and - no offense - the formatting of your question makes it slightly hard to read and interpret. However, it seems like you did better on a higher-carb diet, and with dairy.
Nevertheless, since you have so many health issues, I think a healing protocol, like GAPS, would be in order. I think its a good idea to start from 'scratch' and heal your body; it has been shown to help both digestive and other systemic (even psychological) issues, and even reverse food allergies. Here is some more information about the GAPS diet: http://www.cheeseslave.com/gaps-diet-myths/.
I personally moved away from paleo to a traditional foods diet. I eat plenty of raw dairy, organic meats (mainly organs, fish and shellfish, not much muscle meat), bone broths, fruit & vegetables; I don't eat gluten grains, but I do eat properly prepared buckwheat and some fermented rice. This is personal, but I feel a lot better on this diet. Paleo claims to be (and should, ideally, be) an effortless natural lifestyle, but in reality people overthink things too much and turn the whole thing into something I'd call paleoism. Or, paleo masochism (what with all the fasting, stressing over a strawberry giving you diabetes, and PUFA from a spoon of guacamole clogging your coronary).
I really recommend you try GAPS. Also research advocates of increasing carbs, such as the Jaminets' or Ray Peat's work (though take the latter with a grain of [sea] salt); and especially traditional foods - the Weston A. Price foundation and 'Nourishing traditions' by Sally Fallon Morell are great places to start. These are also great resources (also for GAPS recipes) www.nourishedkitchen.com, www.cheeseslave.com
Paleohacks population, you are free to put me in the stocks and throw rotten tomatoes!
Good luck, and get well!
Lots of love
on April 16, 2012
at 12:08 PM
I agree with Milla's extremely well-written response. I spent about a year transitioning slowly into a 100% paleo diet, despite the fact that the closer I got to the ideal, the worse I felt. I kept thinking it was only because I wasn't 100% yet, but the best I ever felt was a traditional foods diet with lots of raw and fermented dairy and way more rice and even bread than is kosher on this website. I crashed on a totally paleo diet with no dairy and no grains, then I'd succumb to temptation and eat a heel of bread and I'd feel amazing for a day or so, until I dove back in to give paleo another go. I had many of the problems you mentioned, and I was just as stubborn about sticking with it and trying harder and denying the reality of what was actually happening versus what was 'supposed' to be happening.
Basically, it comes down to this: it's your body, and any diet you adopt should serve your needs, not the other way around. If something's not working for you, take the hint and change it. It doesn't matter what the 'science' says. No scientific evidence is going to be able to account for every single one of your individual characteristics, genetic history, and lifestyle. Paleo works amazingly well for a lot of people. As a trainer, I recommended it to a lot of people, with the caveat that they pay attention and don't just follow blindly. Many of my clients overcame serious problems thanks to Paleo. I personally did not, so I don't use it. It sounds like you know what you need. You just have to free yourself to actually do it and feel good about food again. I know how hard this next advice is for someone with a history of eating disorder, but it's even more important: Listen to your body. It's trying to tell you what it needs.
Good Luck, Khaled
on April 16, 2012
at 07:42 AM
As low-carb gave me severe issues, and safe starches gave me stomach aches, bloating, ... I went Peatarian. This means I replaced veggies with ice cream, fruit juices (or sometimes fruit) and sugar. My diet has become more nutritionally dense (I eat loads of oysters and regularly liver), several of the issues are practically solved (eg. sleep, low energy, skin issues, ...), and it's a whole lot easier to cook. No more veggie-steaming in the morning.
I think the following things tend to be overlooked on a paleo diet :
- calcium intake
- high phosphorus
- fructose fear
- high tryptophan
- lots of people don't eat the whole animal
- the tendency to say be sure to get good sleep! (as if that's something we can fully control)
- the assumption that we get most of the nutrients present in veggies
- taking the RDAs seriously
- focusing on diet and ignoring environmental factors that are now very differnet. What I mean by this, is that we need stronger bodies to cope with all the (environmental) stress, so going natural is probably not enough.
- the tendency to solve things with supplements.
on April 16, 2012
at 08:48 AM
Im not paleo anymore,more primal. Its too restrictive and I dont think its healthy to avoid dairy.
on April 16, 2012
at 07:31 AM
I'm sure most will tell you to eliminate the dairy and sweeteners (honey) to see if it helps the psoriasis. I'm not sure what else tends to trigger autoimmune responses, but I'm sure others will have suggestions. I think nightshades (tomatoes, eggplant, etc.) is a big one.
You mention that you have little desire to "eat a lot of meat". I wonder if your fat intake is high enough or if you're eating enough to begin with, no offense. I understand anorexia can be a big struggle and you may just not be getting the calories you need.
Extra sleep and a low-stress attitude can go a long ways too. While a change in diet can be a "magic fix" for a lot of problems, sleep and lifestyle are just as important. Take deep breaths, keep stress down, and make sure you get those 7 to 10 hours a night!
on April 16, 2012
at 05:21 PM
I don't really have any answers, per se, for you, but I do want to say that the advice the people on this site provide is generally pretty sound. And I have to applaud those that went out on a limb and gave advice that "wasn't paleo"!
I have found that eating 100% Paleo doesn't work well for me either. I feel tired and sluggish if I don't get enough carbs. I usually eat an apple for breakfast every day of the week, but not on the weekends. I notice that I am extremely hungry on the weekends and basically don't want to move around a lot, unless I have some fruit with my breakfast.
I use paleo as more of a guildeline than a rule book. I am starting to understand that no one else's body is exactly like mine. So, while their success stories are nice, they don't necessarily apply to me. I can learn from them, but shouldn't expect the same results, because I'm a different person.
Good luck to you! I hope that you find your health again and can feel good soon :)
on April 16, 2012
at 02:51 PM
As I wrote in my comment above, look up pyroluria as a possible cause. It is a fit for all of your symptoms. The skin issues, difficulty digesting proteins and depression are all symptoms. You can get a simple urin test for it. Or you could add zinc, b6, b12 and copper to your diet for 6 weeks and see how you feel.
on April 17, 2012
at 08:49 AM
That sounds really rough. I suspect that you have lingering damage to your digestive system from the anorexia, and it might not matter exactly what you put into your belly right now because the system doesn't quite know what to do with it. Your symptoms make me think that even if you are managing to eat enough sometimes, you are not absorbing it well. Have you tried adding digestive enzymes at meal time?
Getting enough fat is abso-freakin-lutely vital here, to see if you are still able to respond to higher fat ratios making a difference in you mental health I would recommend adding a 1/2 lb. block of Kerrygold and as much guacamole to your eating plan as possible this week on top of what you already planned and see if you feel any better. The only time I've been seriously suicidal in my life was on a doctor directed low carb, low fat diet, it was hell. Chicken broth is really easy to make and I swear there is something magical in the schmalz on top, gets you a little fat and some good minerals in an easy to digest form, which might make you brain a little happier.
If you were doing better on things like bread and hummus, I would think you are going to need a good serving of starch at most meals too. Try rice if you aren't in a tuber mood. Bananas might be your friend too. You know what, fuck it!...if you felt good eating bread and hummus, eat bread and hummus, they are not nutrient devoid, and you need nutrients above all else right now.
How are you on electrolytes too? There is a drink called Recharge that I think is really helpful when you are depleted, coconut water isn't an option, and aren't sure where to start (the fruit punch flavor is good, the others were kinda mediocre). It has some natural fruit juice in it, but it is pretty diluted. If you can't find that, try a bottle of Pedialyte or just have some salty soup, and see if you start to feel a little better. Also, make sure you salt your food, it is possible to become sodium depleted on a ketogenic diet (under 100g carbohydrate) very quickly, and that can cause all sorts of mayhem in our bodies.
I worry that this is serious enough, that if it doesn't start to get better in the next 3-5 days of more fat, starch, and electrolytes, it is beyond diet tweaking, which would take us to these next steps. If it was me, I would line up a good team of professionals to fix me up mind and body here.
First step: Print this number out, and put it on your fridge--Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Second step: If you have severe wheezing, chest pain, dizziness, or suicidal thoughts, you march yourself right into an emergency room, not tomorrow, right now. Or better yet get a close friend or family member promise to take you there if they notice any of these symptoms in you because it is easy to minimize the severity of symptoms in ourselves. One of the main symptoms of having a heart attack is becoming very argumentative and denying that you are having one. Anorexia can cause heart failure in need of emergency care, and if you aren't absorbing nutrients via your belly, you may still be functionally anorexic even if you are eating well and IV nutrition and electrolytes could save your life.
Third: You are going to take yourself to either your current doctor's office or urgent care clinic ASAP to get blood work, you are obviously deficient in something, and knowing what will help as a baseline to recovery.
Fourth: Contact Emily Deans of Evolutionary Psychiatry to see if she can recommend someone in your area.
Fifth: find a naturopath and a wholistic nutritionist to work with long term and track your recovery.
I wish you the best, and please keep us posted.
on April 16, 2012
at 11:14 AM
Hey milla I wrote out a long reply but it got deleted as its on my phone I'm now writing on! But it was basically saying Thankyou very much for your courage in giving me a different perspective on a site dominated by a certain set of strong thoughts! I applaud you and really appreciate your kindness in trying to help me even though it's not the paleo protocol. I will look at gaps and the idea of fermenting buckwheat and rice makes total sense to me as I have a great website i can get these products from and I have a fantastic farmers market here in England that do great raw dairy. It makes sense to apply a long term balanced approach rathers than avoidance of total groups. I really appreciate your perspective, I am going to fully take it on board and apply it. Reall appreciated