How To Prevent Weight Loss Without Eating Grains??

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 11, 2013 at 10:20 PM

Hello, I know there are other questions about keeping weight on or gaining weight for skinny paleo folks.

Mine is a bit more complex. My husband is 26 and suffering from a movement disorder called dystonia, and the doctors can't figure out why. It started when he contracted a gastrointestinal virus while already suffering from a severe sinus infection. It seems his immune system simply became overwhelmed and allowed the infection to do what seems to be permanent damage to his brain/nervous system. The constant involuntary movement must at least double my dear husband's daily calorie needs while at the same time, slashing his appetite :(

Apparently, movement disorders are poorly understood. This started in Dec 2012 ad it is now April 2013. He was eating mostly paleo before this happened because I eat paleo, and I do all of the cooking and food shopping. He did eat pizza or take out italian 2x a week and I refrained.

I am gluten intolerant, he isn't really (not that gluten is good for anyone, but he doesn't react like I do!) and I also eat paleo to control my genetic battle with true genetic morbid obesity. (My mom and her 3 sisters have all had gastric bypass, although she was adopted and raised separately from all of them and her morbidly obese parents; me and all of my genetic relatives can only control extreme obesity via an very low carb paleo diet or surgery)

My husband never had a weight problem before he developed dystonia. His weight problem is now the opposite of mine; he can't stop losing weight ever since he got sick in December of 2012. I know grains and sugars are inflammatory, but I'm afraid that my diet preferences (very low carb paleo for health/obesity control reasons) are making his weight loss worse! I can't think of any better way to put weight on him than feeding him the most dense sources of paleo carbohydrates I can find. His medications and his condition give him extreme nausea and he finds it very difficult to eat much. He is taking Marinol, a legal prescription synthetic version of THC (the active ingredient in marijuana that stimulates appetite and controls nausea for cancer patients) yet he still has almost no appetite and lost 30 lbs in less than 1 month. The Marinol drug is the only thing keeping him from completely wasting away. He was able to gain 10 pounds, but can't get up over that and is still underweight, lethargic, and suffering from muscle wasting.


I don't want to feed him sugar or grains. I need a concentrated source of calories to give him energy and keep his weight up. This food should be calorie-dense, easy to eat, bland (not nausea-inducing) and fattening! The more fat he eats, the thinner he gets :( :O What's worse is that the doctors don't care about his weight loss because they are basing healthy weight on the BMI charts. He's lost so much fat and muscle. He's the thinnest and unhealthiest I've ever seen him but he's overweight according to BMI standards. He's a very big man and you can tell by looking at him that he is malnourished and his weight loss was very rapid and unintentional.

He's 6'3" and went from 245 to 214 in less than one month of the onset of his movement disorder and he wasn't flabby or fat looking before. He was very muscular eating a mainly paleo diet. At 6'3" the BMI scale says he should weigh 190 or less. That is insanity for a naturally musclebound (prior offensive lineman) man like him. I think he would be hospitalized for malnutrition at 190...he's looking model (sickly) thin at 214.

He has tested positive via Igenex labs for Lyme Disease. His free testosterone has plummeted to below normal levels. His neutrophils (a type of white blood cell) are dangerously low. He is so very sick; and nothing seems to help. I'm worried that his body just isn't getting the nutrients it needs to fight his illness.

Meanwhile, I've started caving on grains and letting sugars into our diet because I fear he'll lose more weight. As a sugar/carb addict myself, combined with the stress of the new, terrible lifestyle of chronic, seemingly incurable illness, has left me extremely stressed, depressed and reaching for the recently introduced carbs that I got to sustain my husband. Subsequently, in the last four months, I've gained 30 pounds and now drink alcohol daily to keep my anxiety at bay so I can keep working 60 hour weeks to barely support us.

I don't understand. I believe in paleo/primal. I believe in optimal genetic expression. In the 3 years that we have been married, my previously SAD white bread hubby has had the healthiest diet of his entire life.

Oh well, how do I keep his weight up without inflammatory sugars or grains?


on April 12, 2013
at 12:03 AM

I don't have anything to add on this, but I sympathize with your problems and I hope you get some good advice. I appreciate your concern for your husband's health and I think you are absolutely doing the right thing by using grains when you're unable to find other options. I hope that if you have to stick with them, you're able to start looking at them as "medicine" rather than constantly being tempted.

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3 Answers


on April 12, 2013
at 01:25 AM

I've been underweight pretty much my whole life, currently 5'10" and 120 pounds. Doing very low carb I lost 10 pounds, from 130 to 120, so I would highly suggest some carbs for your husband. You can believe what you want about sugar but I don't think it is harmful when not in the presence of (poly)unsaturated fat. Feed your husband some sugar, starchy carbs, whatever he likes best. Milk, fruits, honey, rice, and potatoes have helped me so you could try those. I personally do better with the simple sugars than the starch because of gas/bloating/constipation.

I really hear you on the fat, I waste away the more I eat without carbohydrates. And as far as the marinol, I'd be careful. Real marijuana certainly stimulates my appetite but after it wears off(like between meals) food is just not appetizing. It's like my hunger is either insatiable or completely nonexistent while smoking, as opposed to my normal hunger when I don't smoke. Not saying he should stop taking it, I'd just be careful because it took me over 2 weeks for my true hunger to return after quitting.

You could also try some highly palatable stuff. If he digests dairy well then how about ice cream or chocolate milk? And for you, I doubt food carbs would be worse than alcohol. My blood sugar is very poorly regulated when I drink but sugar doesn't do that to me. Sugar is a great way to lower stress hormones too, from what I understand!


on April 12, 2013
at 03:23 AM

You could well cook and mashed starch (potato, sweet potato, taro etc, comboes thereof). I wouldn't sweat grains at this moment if they're what he can eat comfortably: while many can say they are 'suboptimal' broadly in context any nourishment your husband can get from them might be better than none. I wouldn't be too hard on yourself regrading 'paleo'. Similarly though I commend you for trying to figure out how best to make food so that he (and you) and be as healthy as possible. It is a tough situation you're in. I urge you to continue hanging in there, do best you can...

One further suggestion I'd make is to contact Paul Jaminet and other such people who have an online presence - he seems to have some level of interest in infectious diseases and perhaps could say something of insight...



on April 11, 2013
at 10:36 PM

I usually supplement my meals with a potato / sweet potato soaked with butter. I can't really be satisfied without a decent source of carbohydrates.

I either bake the potato if i have time, or else use a food processor (so it cooks faster) and gently fry it in lots of coconut oil or butter.

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