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Can some foods be the gateway drug (to Hell)?

by (6218) Updated March 23, 2012 at 4:00 PM Created March 22, 2012 at 10:20 PM

I have spoken with some people (not just Paleo/Primals), but Low-Carbers who have tried to reintroduce certain foods and get into trouble. Perhaps their gut has not healed fully, or gut flora need more time. Perhaps there are still some underlying hormonal, stress, sleep, nutrient deficiencies, infections or issues that need to be fixed before trying to reintroduce potential stressors. This is why bloodwork, tracking, and testing is helpful.

My question is in the modern world with all it's imperfections and stresses, perhaps to minimize inflammation one should titrate to the minimum carbohydrate, dairy, fructose, glucose, nightshades for maximum health,longevity, and performance (or perhaps 1 of those goals if all 3 can't be met). People can have varying goals - some may be stricter due to their situation, or some may want less inflammation in their lives.

When life gets stressful, perhaps people may want to eat cleaner, even while they may crave items that will make them feel worse in the long run. Perhaps certain cultures and people can get away with more caffeine/carbs/starches/dairy/nightshades/ if they have less stress, genetic tolerances, good social capital, and better sleep. This might be an individual n=1 thing.

The foods I've seen this happen are the very foods that Paleos/Primals have varying views on:

1) fructose

2) starches, glucose

3) dairy

4) nightshades

5) caffeine

The common relapses (if they occur):

1) can be slowly (sometimes faster) creeping weight gain, carbohydrate craving

2) allergies, acne, congestion

3) aches, pain, other inflammatory symptoms

4) brain fog, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, migraines, etc.

Perhaps a new stress in life such as job loss, death in the family, etc. and suddenly the extra fructose, glucose (starch), dairy, nightshades, caffeine? makes the person relapse to an more inflammatory mental/physical state etc. Stress does make leaky gut worse.

UPDATE:Example: low carb Primal was anxiety and allergy-free, prescription drug-free along with decent body comp. Then this person introduces dried fruit, starches, honey, then starts upping these quantities because,"they taste good." Within 2-3 months they upped their carbohydrate intake from 50-150 g/day to approaching 300 g/day. It began with just a few raisins, dates, 3 bananas, 2 other fruits, 1 tsp raw honey and 1 serving of rice/potato. **It ends up with 1-2 cups of dried fruit/dates/raisins, 5 bananas, 2 other fruits, 1/8-1/4 cup of raw honey (2 TBSP), AND 2-3 servings of starch daily. No resistance training, and barely 1-2 miles walking a week at any point.

There is a relapse of allergies (taking multiple prescription drugs), severe anxiety, arthritic pain, belly paunch etc. To make matters worse this person went through job loss, stopping meditation, stopping exercise, and poor sleep.

Bloodwork SEEMS okay but perhaps some hormonal issues? cortisol? The person admitted to eating more fruit, dried fruit, etc. in the updated version. They were rather embarrassed when questioned, so I suspect BUT cannot prove they are eating more fruit/honey/dried fruit then they care to admit. This person has a past history of overdoing foods and they KNOW it. Examples: consuming garlic to the point of memory loss, adding Vitamin D drops to water so levels from 20's to nearly 110.

New info upon more questioning: The person prior to Paleo could consume half a cake/pie in 12 hours - in addition to other foods. In fact they could not control eating peanuts (16 oz in one day), cookies, pies, cakes especially when under stress. Both parents were overweight and had sweet tooths.

Now this 65+ year old person is very resistant to reducing much less giving up their dates, raisins, rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and ESPECIALLY raw honey. They have spent several months building this up and developing a rather defensive, but furious temper, as well as denial that their food was part of the problem. The hostility is happening on any subject (even non-food)it seems but the real defensiveness is for honey - that really surprised me. The interesting thing is that they no craving for gluten/bread which I guess is a blessing, because ironically the other person in the house is opposite - doesn't eat much fruit/honey but seems to crave bread (or think that gluten is okay, once in awhile despite a strong family history of asthma, ulcerative colitis, eczema, etc.) They want to blame it all on lack of exercise, sleep, and meditation. Problem with this theory is that these lifestyle factors have normalized since starting a new job except for the food.

Also now this person admits to having a 1-2 cups of coffee a day (new food), which in the past he had to discontinue due to sleeping issues ALONG with discontinuing the magnesium they used to take.

What to do? Should I recommend slowly transitioning or cold turkey for this person who is a close friend/family?

I myself was a slower transitioner to Paleo (started eliminating Neolithic foods at dinner, then lunch, and finally about 4-6 weeks later at breakfast - oatmeal was my last holdout - hard to believe - it's just mush and pretty gross without any sweetener). My husband went cold turkey because he tried everything else and was rather miserable in that situation but since gluten-free only reduced inflammation by about 30% he was willing to do Paleo.

There are too many variables and this is probably too complicated, but I wanted to hear some feedback. I apologize if it sounds confusing, I'm just frustrated.

UPDATE: They reintroduced magnesium 1 day ago, and didn't notice much difference but I don't know how long magnesium takes to work. Yesterday they ate meat/seafood and veggies Paleo and sleep is much better and nasal congestion/snoring reduced by 90%. They agreed to slowly reduce/eliminate the caffeine.

I don't know if it is the caffeine, magnesium or the carbohydrates or the combination of all 3 but sometimes I wonder with people in addictive personalities whether moderation really works. Can an alcoholic drink 1 glass of wine/beer and not suffer a relapse? Would the same hold true for a carboholic or a caffeine addict? Any personal experiences or clinical cases?

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5 Replies

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310 · March 23, 2012 at 3:23 AM

Sounds like they were seduced by the Peatatarians! I have detoured into Peat's World twice in the last 18 months of paleo. The first time was short, no ill effects. The second time I bought a jar of raw honey and ate it with a spoon -- something I have never done in 58 years of life! Dates, milk, orange juice, cereal, sugar in my coffee (blech!) -- this is food I didn't even eat before I started paleo! I ended up pouring the honey down the kitchen sink -- that was the only way I could stop eating it.

And this time there are definitely ill effects: weight gain around my middle, mood swings, depression, fatigue -- I feel like I did before paleo and thyroid meds. Two weeks without all that sweet food and I'm just now noticing improvements. In fact, yesterday 3 of my co-workers commented on how cheerful I was (apparently I haven't been very pleasant but who knew?!)

As I slid down that slippery Peat slope, I wasn't aware of feeling worse -- it seemed to creep up slowly (jeans just a bit tighter in the waist each day, waking up feeling just a bit less rested, just a bit more than normally annoyed at the teenagers in my life but that's understandable, right?, etc). And I didn't want to attribute it to the honey but intellectually, I knew that's what it was. I forced myself to get rid of that honey, but it was hard.

Even so, I don't regret either experiment. I learned a lot about myself.

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2492 · March 22, 2012 at 10:49 PM

people are going to change in their own sweet time. Some people thrive on the clarity of 100% compliance, other people really need to find their own meandering way in.

For me, it's been a long, long process, and I'm still not all the way in. But I'm wayyyy closer than I was 18 months ago when I began experimenting.

If they ask you questions, I'd answer the questions, based on your knowledge and experience. If they don't ask, I'd let them continue the experiments on themselves and figure it out. I know it's painful to watch someone make mistakes that you know are avoidable, but 80% of the process is mental. Once you've decided what you want/need to do, the rest is easy. So give them the data if they ask for it, and then let their wheels turn until they find their own way to a balance point that works for them.

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4620 · March 22, 2012 at 10:33 PM

They sure can, with sweets being the most dangerous, followed by junk food grains- cheap bread and snacks. But we are human so.... I never use grains although I will cook with a tad of flour or sour dough bread to make a cheap thickner in small dishes. I hate doing it as grains are pure evil but I work my ass off on those days either by lifting heavy weights or doing yardwork, etc. It is a far cry from eating prezels and corn muffins and donuts 24/7. Life is a trade off, trade well.

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77348 · March 23, 2012 at 3:51 AM

I dunno. My N=1 experience tells me that carb load is not what makes you gain or lose weight. I mean 300g of carbs per day is 1200 kcal, unless this person didn't cut back their fat intake to balance this amount I don't really see why weight-gain would be inevitable. Moreover I don't see how white rice and yams are going to cause arthritis AND allergies AND anxiety.

I'd really suspect something else personally.

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310 · March 23, 2012 at 3:22 AM

Sounds like they were seduced by the Peatatarians! I have detoured into Peat's World twice in the last 18 months of paleo. The first time was short, no ill effects. The second time I bought a jar of raw honey and ate it with a spoon -- something I have never done in 58 years of life! Dates, milk, orange juice, cereal, sugar in my coffee (blech!) -- this is food I didn't even eat before I started paleo! I ended up pouring the honey down the kitchen sink -- that was the only way I could stop eating it.

And this time there are definitely ill effects: weight gain around my middle, mood swings, depression, fatigue -- I feel like I did before paleo and thyroid meds. Two weeks without all that sweet food and I'm just now noticing improvements. In fact, yesterday 3 of my co-workers commented on how cheerful I was (apparently I haven't been very pleasant but who knew?!)

As I slid down that slippery Peat slope, I wasn't aware of feeling worse -- it seemed to creep up slowly (jeans just a bit tighter in the waist each day, waking up feeling just a bit less rested, just a bit more than normally annoyed at the teenagers in my life but that's understandable, right?, etc). And I didn't want to attribute it to the honey but intellectually, I knew that's what it was. I forced myself to get rid of that honey, but it was hard.

Even so, I don't regret either experiment. I learned a lot about myself.

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