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Autoimmune diet + eating disorder = ?

by (164)
Updated September 16, 2014 at 7:53 PM
Created September 06, 2012 at 1:15 AM

Hi! I was wondering if there was anyone else out there that could give me some guidance on my lifestyle and eating habits, because frankly I feel pretty lost! I believe I have an autoimmune disorder of sorts, and I think my whole life has just been a setup for leaky gut.

I'm 20 female, 5'7, 120-125 pounds. I've been paleo-ish for maybe 1 year. To start off, when I was a baby I had to be placed on antibiotics because I got pretty sick a few times. I've had eczema, asthma, and allergies all my life and it was HORRIBLE as a kid growing up. Through self experimentation I found that gluten, dairy, and eggs triggered my eczema. I tried going allergy free my first year but it was pretty hard with a meal plan with the school. I was eating packaged allergy free products loaded with grains and sugar, and on top of that partied pretty hard (first time experimenting with drugs and alcohol) my freshman year.

Sophomore year I started noticing I did better when I didnt eat carbs, and stumbled upon paleo, so I tried to cut out grains and the like but supplemented with lots of fruit. At the same time I got depressed and things at home and school weren't going well. My eczema flared up again. This time, I had horrible brain fog, was tired all the time, and eventually dropped out of school for a semester because my health made everything seem so out of control. I went through periods of anorexic/bulimic behavior. All this time, I didnt really have medical help. I had allergy, blood, and stool tests done but everything was "normal" but I knew I was extremely inflamed. All along my diet was getting even more and more restrictive (no nightshades, soy, peanuts, alcohol, drugs of any type)

This school year, I'm trying full paleo because I still suffer from inflammation. I'm VLC and don't eat fruits or nuts. A typical meal day begins with breakfast because I stop eating the night before from around 2pm-5pm.

Breakfast as soon as I wake up: 2 large bowls clear bone broth (grass fed beef, usually with chicken/pork feet, beef tendons, or oxtail thrown in for flavor and extra protein), half an avocado. Also I try to eat a considerable amount of protein at breakfast, so maybe 2 oxtails/4 chicken feet/can of sardines if there is no meat in my broth that day.

Lunch at around 2pm-5pm, whenever I'm hungry: 1 bowl bone broth, vegetable (1 boiled+olive oil/stir fried in tallow beet/zuchinni/turnip/cooked salad greens/kale) and protein (4 oz grass fed beef or salmon)

Then I stop eating. Sometimes I get hungry though, and I drink some bone broth and have some veggies. I supplement with fish oil, vit D, MSM, vit B. I don't have carbs or fruit because it just triggers a binge of sugary things. Even when I don't binge, lately any carbs/sugar gives me a tummyache the next day. I drink half a bottle of sulfite free red wine a week when I go out. I smoke marijuana 3-4 times a week.

Is this a healthy lifestyle? Does this border on an eating disorder?? I want to lose weight. My body is heavy in the gut area. I look good in clothes because I seem tall and skinny but naked I'm a flabby flabs :( I want definition and to be toned. I do pilates 3-4 times a week and HIIT on the elliptical 1-2 times a week. I walk ALOT.

I don't know what to do at this point because I've been on this GAPS-ish paleo for maybe 1-2 months. I've lost weight but fat only from my boobs and butt..not desired. My skin is the clearest its ever been (except now, because I just started water kefir and die off symptoms are setting me back, I have horrible acne, eczema, tired all the time) and I feel more clear headed. However, I get tired SO easily and my libido is nonexistant. All I want to be is healthy and happy. Help!!

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2328 · September 07, 2012 at 2:55 AM

how can you bash weed and give alcohol a free ride? there's no comparison as to which is more deleterious to overall health.

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2328 · September 07, 2012 at 2:54 AM

how can you say bash weed and give booze a free ride? there's no comparison as to which is more deleterious to your health.

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8004 · September 06, 2012 at 7:08 PM

Good answer. I think the OP needs MORE FOOD and MORE REST. Sounds like a lot of bone broth and not much *real food* for a very active 20 year old...especially one who's underweight.

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11683 · September 06, 2012 at 12:31 PM

The fact that you can binge on sweet potatoes suggests even more to me that you're not getting enough carbs. How about bananas for a start? And yes, carrots, beets, yams, sweet potatoes, or even some white rice.

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15400 · September 06, 2012 at 7:16 AM

Why in the world would you smoke marijuana? Please stop. No, it is not healthy.

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164 · September 06, 2012 at 4:50 AM

It's water kefir I brewed myself with grains, sucanat, and water

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3979 · September 06, 2012 at 4:07 AM

Just about the kefir: How do you know that it's die off as opposed to your eczema reacting to the dairy like has in the past?

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164 · September 06, 2012 at 3:41 AM

I am 5 feet 7 in

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11048 · September 06, 2012 at 3:36 AM

I'm curious why you think someone 5'2" and 130 lbs is bordering on underweight.

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164 · September 06, 2012 at 3:01 AM

I'm not really going to number 2 often because I don't think I eat enough...? Also I am kind of on FODMAPS right now and aware of the avocado being a lil tricky. I just don't know what else to eat in the morning to fill me up and keep me disciplined the whole day and I don't want to feed myself veggies that early in the day to let my digestive system warm up

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164 · September 06, 2012 at 2:56 AM

What type of carbs would you suggest? Sweet potatoes? Or more carby veggies? I'm wary of sweet potatoes because I can binge on them. Also sometimes I'm just not hungry though and get satiated easily and if I eat more I just get bloaty and uncomfortable and not hungry till the next day

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6 Answers

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644 · September 06, 2012 at 5:43 AM

Hi eht, I have to say that from the fact you are concerned about your diet bordering on being an eating disorder it is likely that it is. You do not have to have classic anorexia or bulimia to have disordered eating. Can I ask why you eat so little? It sounds like you are taking in very limited calories- and I'm wondering why...it is important to nourish ourselves, and to take in enough so that our body can thrive...when we do this we have more energy (including libido) to do the things that enrich our life and make us feel good- for example exercising (which would help with toning and elevating mood) or having sex (enjoyable if you are safe!) or going out and just having fun without feeling drained from it all... When I skip meals or limit caloric intake I feel terrible. My energy wains, I get moody, and everything gets thrown off. When I take in more calories and eat consistently, the changes are drastic.

Also, a lot of the time eating more actually helps with weight loss- and it sounds like you don't need weight loss, but rather need healthy weight gain- gaining healthy fat and muscle. Just remember, love yourself and acknowledge your beauty always- I have a little sign posted on my mirror that says I love my body. It really helps to look at it every morning and be reminded to take care of myself and be grateful throughout the day.

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11683 · September 06, 2012 at 1:35 AM

You're at a low weight - a BMI which is just on the border of underweight - and I don't think you're eating enough. Especially since you feel hungry later in the day and purposefully don't feed yourself. I know that IF is big in Paleo circles, but I think for anyone who has struggled with anorexic/bulimic behaviour (as I have), fasting is not wise. Eat when you're hungry - like an evening meal.

Tired all the time also suggests to me you are underweight and underfed. I felt like shit when I was underweight. More food, more carbs.... might do wonders.

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8004 · September 06, 2012 at 7:08 PM

Good answer. I think the OP needs MORE FOOD and MORE REST. Sounds like a lot of bone broth and not much *real food* for a very active 20 year old...especially one who's underweight.

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11683 · September 06, 2012 at 12:31 PM

The fact that you can binge on sweet potatoes suggests even more to me that you're not getting enough carbs. How about bananas for a start? And yes, carrots, beets, yams, sweet potatoes, or even some white rice.

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164 · September 06, 2012 at 3:41 AM

I am 5 feet 7 in

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11048 · September 06, 2012 at 3:36 AM

I'm curious why you think someone 5'2" and 130 lbs is bordering on underweight.

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164 · September 06, 2012 at 2:56 AM

What type of carbs would you suggest? Sweet potatoes? Or more carby veggies? I'm wary of sweet potatoes because I can binge on them. Also sometimes I'm just not hungry though and get satiated easily and if I eat more I just get bloaty and uncomfortable and not hungry till the next day

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468 · September 06, 2012 at 1:47 AM

I have an autoimmune disorder at 37, and I was definitely in your shoes around my 20's...knowing something was wrong, but not knowing what. I just wish I had been able to do paleo back then so I would be healthy now - it's a wonderful thing you're stopping yourself now and doing something about it!

One thing I noticed is that you may be drinking way too much broth before you eat. 2 big bowls of broth is filling your gut with so much liquid that it may be hard for your digestive juices to work. If my stomach was that full of broth, I probably wouldn't want to eat much solid food after either. I'd pull back to sipping just a cup of broth before eating (you could always drink it like tea between meals too so you're not overfilling all at once).

You didn't mention how your digestion is working (constipation or the opposite?), but you may wish to look into FODMAPs to relieve some of your symptoms. I noticed that you are also eating half an avocado in the morning, and this may be hard to digest. Check out the Balanced Bites (Diane's) awesome new book for recipes and examples - she really lays out the whole protocol well: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1936608758/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=balabite04-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1936608758

I would focus more on the pilates and weight-lifting exercise than overdoing the elliptical/walking. I think chronic cardio isn't so good when you're trying to heal.

Hang in there and keep asking questions. As you keep tweaking your diet and trying things, I think you'll continue to make the small improvements that will ultimately lead to better health. It's hard to do when you're so tired/sick, but it's so worth it!

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164 · September 06, 2012 at 3:01 AM

I'm not really going to number 2 often because I don't think I eat enough...? Also I am kind of on FODMAPS right now and aware of the avocado being a lil tricky. I just don't know what else to eat in the morning to fill me up and keep me disciplined the whole day and I don't want to feed myself veggies that early in the day to let my digestive system warm up

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161 · September 06, 2012 at 1:44 AM

The GAPS Diet, which is used to heal gut issues and therefore autoimmune issues, also has special indications for eating disorders. I would highly recommended the book Gut and Psychology Syndrome to learn more about how to implement the diet and its indicated supplements: http://www.amazon.com/Gut-Psychology-Syndrome-Depression-Schizophrenia/dp/0954852028

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3661 · September 06, 2012 at 1:43 AM

The advice you've gotten here is good. You also need to be a bit patient with yourself, which is often hard. A month or two is not enough to turn it around fully. Good luck.

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5775 · September 06, 2012 at 1:22 AM

You may not like this and I'll let others chime in, but reading this, my first suggestion is to stop the Pilates, stop the HIIT, maybe even stop the "walking" depending what the definition of this is. If it's more than just low-level, "meditation walking" as I call it, it is likely just adding more stress.

The diet actually looks pretty good when looking at what is recommended in something like GAPS.

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