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Side effects of adjusting to paleo? (stomach pain, depression)

by 5 · November 04, 2012 at 07:08 AM

Hello, friendly people of PaleoHacksVille. Last week I started doing a lot of reading on paleo and primal nutrition, and 6 days ago, I cut out all grains, dairy, sugar and legumes out of my diet. I subsist mainly on meat and vegetables and have one or two servings of fruit a day. I have no known food allergies.

Here's my problem: every morning, I wake up with a fairly severe stomach ache. It's pretty bad, though not so terrible that I can't get up, walk around and function like normal. It's bothersome and persists until about 2 hours or so after I wake up. I eat breakfast about 15 minutes after waking up on most days. Is my stomach ache disappearing because I've eaten, or could it be something else? Is having some discomfort in the morning a pretty normal side effect of your body adjusting to a completely new diet? I try to eat at least 3+ hours before bed, so I am unsure if I could be an issue with indigestion. Though I've never been a fan of heavily processed foods, my diet was pretty heavy on "healthy" grains and foods and I didn't really monitor my sugar consumption.

My other problem is that for the last 3 days, I've had feelings of crushing depression in the evening. Crying spells, etc. I am diagnosed with bipolar II and have been taking my medication, and there's the possibility that it could just be PMS, though my cycle is completely irregular so I really have no idea.

So, are these common symptoms? Is my body just adjusting? Or should I be worried? Obviously you guys aren't doctors and blahdiblahdiblah, but I'm just curious if others have gone through this during their "detox" period. Other than those issues, my body feels incredible, and I'd been seriously struggling with blood sugar issues, so I'm elated at no longer having to worry about passing out in the middle of the day.

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9 Replies

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260 · May 15, 2012 at 01:26 AM

Low carbing messes with your thyroid and serotonin levels...you can hack it by making sure to eat starch before you go to bed...just a little and experiment with the least amount you need. I do well with sweet potatoes, carrots, low glycemic fruit, spoonful of almond butter/dark chocolate or even homemade icecream.

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3437 · May 05, 2012 at 08:12 PM

Your body is seriously adjusting...sugary carbs are as addicting as cocaine (so I've read in various studies) and coming off of anything youre addicted to is going to suck. I'm sorry you're feeling so crappy but if you're eating whole, healthy foods you're doing your body good. Perhaps some good bone broth in the am to help? Please don't get discouraged and my thoughts are with ou as you tackle this....keep in touch with your doctor if things get too much worse but I would suggest that in the not too far future you'll start feeling better.

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445 · November 04, 2012 at 07:08 AM

Your symptoms sound much like the ones I experienced before being diagnosed with an H. Pylori infection. It might be worth mentioning to your healthcare practitioner. YMMV

"...What Are The Main H Pylori Symptoms? As well as causing common, well-known symptoms such as Heartburn, Acid Reflux, Stomach Pain, Bloating, Constipation and sometimes Diarrhea, H pylori can also cause seemingly unrelated symptoms. These symptoms include Fatigue, Depression, Rosacea, Urticaria, Chronic ITP, Headaches and hormonal symptoms such as PMS and Low Sex Drive..." See: http://h-pylori-symptoms.com/

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0 · October 03, 2012 at 08:56 PM

Im kind of experiencing the same thing. A lot of stomach pain that has doubled me over for a significant amount of time. Since I am new to Paleo, I decided to try mixing in a granola bar to adjust my conversion a bit. I would love to eat straight Paleo, but the stomach pains are pretty rough. Hopefully they subside, did yours?

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14507 · June 12, 2012 at 03:25 AM

Those are side effects of going too low in carbs, not side effects of paleo. Try adding some starch in final meal of the day. Reassess after a week.

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636 · May 06, 2012 at 12:40 AM

I went through the same thing. Major blood sugar issues, had to eat every 2-3 hours or would get shaky/crazy feeling (pre-Paleo). When starting out, I found that a glass of hot water with lemon first thing in the am made me feel better, then about 15-30 mins later, I'd have 3 tablespoons of kefir. Then a big breakfast of eggs and bacon, and I'd be feeling good for the rest of the day. I'd also eat 2 more Paleo meals, carb cycling depending on the day/activity/energy level.

I also found that IF'ing, which for me was 16 hours, only eating during an 8 hour period (10am-6pm) made a big difference, but it was harsh getting there. At first my body was NOT happy but I really believed that it was giving it more time to heal itself. So maybe try not eating 3 hours before bed? I chalked up the initial pain/cramps/depression to a detox/withdrawl, drank lots of teas (esp chamomile) and it gradually improved and eventually, after about a week I was 100%. Just my experience.

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350 · May 05, 2012 at 11:12 PM

Obviously, as you stated I'm not a doctor and I don't have much of an answer but to say that my first 2 weeks I was very emotional-like PMSx100. I was very irritable, got very sad when thinking about food. I was honestly a bit embarrassed by how emotional I was when I thought about food or say a commercial with non-paleo food. Cursed a lot, too (haha). I also broke out in white bumps all over (my boyfriend's mom-who is a nurse-said it sounded like I was going through withdrawal. However, these "symptoms" disappeared after awhile, so hopefully yours will, too...and if they don't obviously go see a professional (because I'm far from one).

Best of luck!

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98 · May 05, 2012 at 07:28 PM

I would pick up some MCT oil (Medium Chain Trigliceride Oil) and drink maybe a quarter cup in the morning and the evening. If you don't have MCT oil, use Coconut Oil (solid at room temp).

The short chains will be more easily metabolized by your body and support keytosis, and your brain can more readily use these "simple" oils for fuel, reducing your reliance on sucrose for brain function.

Also, depression and general mood issues are serious and delicate, you may want to "ween" your way onto Paleo so as not to shock and upset your delicate system.

Lastly, body movement (i'm distinguishing this from exercise) is huge - Try to get AT LEAST a half hour of walking every day, this will help support mood. Ideally, do 20 minutes of HIIT training with kettlebells or other heavy objects (this is what i call Exercise)! This will increase your metabolism and should REALLY support your mood.

Bon Chance!

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18794 · May 05, 2012 at 07:03 PM

The depression is not unheard of (for what I've seen reported here) of people who have had a strong "carb flu" when transitioning to paleo. Grains are especially addicting, and I've known a handful of people personally that went through irritability an depression when they phased out or quit grains.

The stomache ache that persistent and severe does not sound common. Have you introduced any new fruits, veggies, or nuts I to your diet? Maybe an allergy? If your cycle is terribly irregular, could it be a side effect of a very painful period?

Please see your doctor if the stomach ache continues.

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