I'm a 30 year old female with really bad digestive issues, and I'm 30 lbs underweight. Really, really underweight. Like, if I lose more, I'll have to go to a hospital and probably be force-fed ensure and stale food. I do not want to do that. I'm not sure if my low weight or the digestive issues are cause and effect (I've been low weight in past due to stress, etc..this time it seemed to stem from lots of stomach and bowel inconsistencies (which everyone labelled ibs, go figure). All the research I've done, seems I'm lacking stomach acidity, need to be more alkaline, have way too much bacterial overgrowth in my small intestine, possibly diverticulitis because I have a severe stich-like feeling in my lower ribs, esp. on the left lower side..also have some back pain, always feel full, constipated or just an incomplete movement that is a little "mush"). Doctors are useless and I don't believe in or trust mainstream medicine anymore. Should I just force myself to gain? My iron is severely low; i don't exercise anymore, save for a simple stroll once a day, some gentle stretching. My all hours job is sit-down only. I feel sluggish, always tired, look very gaunt. Either way, I have to gain. But will it cause me harm to "force' in food? I read a lot of stuff about paleo...but I almost don't know if I can do it; sure, calories can be had. But I'm just a regular girl and so much of all that stuff leads me to nausea, etc...thoughts? Just gain the weight, get it on? And then in future worry about whether I want to be paleo or not? Will gaining weight so I can at least get to a number on that scale that is not slightly alarming ANY way, any food going to be okaY? Even without exercise? Generally healthy of course...just , you know. Its hard because I'm not exercising, I have all those uncomfortable symptoms (perhaps because I'm underweight,, agiain cause or effect, don't know). Thoughts on calories that might be required? Sorry for the bizarre question. Figured I had nothing to lose.
Bottom line is you gotta eat. Eat nourishing, whole, natural, unprocessed foods and by all means go "paleo" or "primal."
There are so many good things you can eat!
1) Slow cooked chuck roast... cook and eat two 3 lb roasts a week. You will gain weight.
2) Bone broth made with beef bones. Eat the marrow. Drink the broth. The collagen proteins will do you a world of good. You should have this every day.
3) Cauliflower and other veggies cooked in coconut milk.
4) Sweet potatoes and white potatoes (no skins).
5) Lots of Kale, Collards, Spinach, Dandelion greens, Spring Mix, Broccoli, Cabbage, and other wonderful high-fiber and high-micronutrient veggies. These will keep you moving and healthy.
6) Plenty of carrots, parsnips, and rutabegas.
7) Eat root veggies high in prebiotics: jerusalem artichoke, burdock root, celeriac, jicama (delicious raw in salads), onions.
8) take digestive enzymes (search Robb Wolf's website for info on the proper use of Now Nutrition brand digestive enzymes).
9) take probiotic supplements
10) allow yourself to eat pastured butter and heavy cream
11) EGGS! Whole delicious eggs. 2-3 a day.
There is no reason why you can't correct your issues. Shoot for 3-4 meals a day, and then don't snack during your daily "fast" (between dinner and breakfast).
Don't eat: sugar, grains, legumes, etc.
You need to stop thinking so much about what to eat, and just EAT. Lots of good, nourishing REAL food. At 30 lbs under a normal BMI, you are in serious trouble here - your health and life are in the balance. If I were 81 lbs at 5'5" I would be on death's doorstep (and I've always been an underweight person).
Anything you can eat right now to gain some mass is healthy!! Now is not the time to worry about gaining too much body fat, or your cholesterol getting high because you're eating eggs and meat at every meal. You can worry about fine-tuning once you're not in need of tube-feeding because you are so sick and emaciated, okay?
Please, eat. I am worried about you. If you want vegetarian meals, go for them. Just eat more food.
Have you identified trigger foods for your IBS yet?
I am not sure of the exact issue here. Is it that you eat a lot but don't gain or is it that you don't feel hungry and so don't eat enough? MIght be helpful if you gave us your caloric intake per day and be sure to track it carefully. If you eat, does that make you feel sick right away? Anyway, I would say eat things that do not seem to make you feel sick and that are healthy. Your body will need both nutrients and calories so the best way to get that is to eat healthy foods with lots of calories that do not make you feel sick. Meat and fat are the obvious ones. Starch like from potatoes is good for weight gain but can exacerbate gut flora problems if that is what you have. Starch plus fat is great for weight gain, like combining potato with butter. You will need to get your calories so try to target calorie rich foods.
One of the probs here is there is a variety of ways to come at this and diff things have been shown to work for diff people. But definitely stop eating wheat, sugar, and processed foods. Eat whole healthy foods.
Past that, some feel cutting out all starch can help them. Others find that eating bland for at least 3 days will help them. (long time, that will not be enough by itself though and you can't eat bland forever) There is not a lot of super bland food so it gets boring but it can be worth it if it makes you feel better. Good bland foods are plain boiled chicken with no skin, banana, and all natural no sugar added apple sauce. You can also get away with plain white rice in a pinch. It's not great for nutrients but it does seem to do well as a bland food for many. However, if you have gluten probs, it can be a problem, which is why I include it with a caveat. And a bland diet is not really a gut flora starving diet so it gets tricky here as to which path to take. Bland eating has saved me in the past, though, so I am fond of it as a quick intervention technique.
Also, I'd give up milk. Some of us still eat hard cheese and butter, but the milk is much less favored. So try first to ditch wheat, sugar, milk, and processed food and see how you feel. (And ditch the fruit juice which is mostly sugar mixed with very old stale juice.) Then take it from there. Make damned sure you eat enough calories every day and drink a decent amount of water.
And by all means, go out in the sun every day at midday if you can, expose some skin, and get you some vitamin D. Sick often end up staying in the house all day and that can make them even sicker.
See how far that takes you and evaluate from there.
EVERYONE: thanks for the replies...you are very KIND and that means A LOT to me!! Ihave a ton of questions about this. I am really underweight; about 5 foot 1 (always a petite girl); but now i'm like 70 lbs...so...I have no energy , so i'm unsure the benefits of trying to force exercise...i feel guilty...i sit all day long, a simple walk alone, that is it. I eat 6x a day now...probably only getting in 1200-1500 on a paleo type frame in a way...i havn't eaten grains for a while; so a lot of proteins, fats, veggies, squash, potatoes, dairy (its NOT the best...but goodness, i do NOT want to obsess...not sure...goat cheese, liberte greek yogurt, organic liberte yogurt, greek gods full fat yogurt); salmon, chicken, turkey burgers; spices, oils, 2-3 whole eggs a day...fruits..nuts...but no grains...but this is still bad (constipation, or an "incomplete mush" that is tiny and never feels fully voided)...doctors are useless...i have horrible stitches on my lower rib areas, ESP. the left side bigtime...all the time...sometimes intense lower back pain; very gaunt, etc...pale, etc.. not sure of cause and effect anymore: digestive issues or due to being so low (was once real low in my life before becuz of stress issues and neglect unintentional and ended up having to gain a lot)...so its a questions now of cause and effect...plus, forcing sucks...but i got to gain...my iron is severely depleted; my gut motility is not good...i feel "impacted" and full of toxic bacteria!; so this isn't working..BUT...i've never done the whole CONSISTENT meat at eaach meal, etc thing...so maybe i need to try that..OR OR maybe i need to add in brown rice, gluten free bread, beans, etc... i mean is it TRULY okay to have eggs or meat or fatty fish at 3 MEALS a day PLUS dairy and nuts, etc for SNACKS ..EVERY day...seems a bit much...but i do it... maybe i need more vegetarian meals? Kale and white bean soups...hummus toppped entrees, etc...is having meats and eggs at EVERY meal (3x) every single day truly good for my bowels and guts...and maybe i need to add the brown rice, etc..i'm already eating sweet potatotes and squash daily ... BUT i don't eat a whole lot of them ...maybe i need to increase the portion sizes but i feel very full all the time am i gonna make it worse to have full-animal product meals everyday ...to force it, etc... CONFUSED. sorry if i seem fed up...i've been run around by doctors and am tired of them; i do feel something up with my bowels, GUT FLORA, my lower back pain is bad; some gas...everything...maybe SIBO or diverticulitis for all i know...but now doctors are just saying "if u lose more u'll have to go into hospital" that is NOT cool...i can only imagine the yuckiness. So, does it matter if i don't do paleo; or is that optimal way to LEAN (not fully embrace it, but lean that way)...or can i add in vegetarian meals how to fit in the cals without overloading on animal proteins, fats (i eat a lot of fats, and too much makes me nauseous), or without it hurting so much u know oh, i eat a good source of whey protein too for smoothies at times..maybe i just need to eat...i want my life back...i used to be an athlete and now nothing...and with my weight so low..i have a LONG way to go before i can exercise again. I hope the animal proteins at multiple times is okay cause i've been doing it just recently...but now i don't know anymore...i've been like this for a long time...so its likely more to do with taking the probiotics, etc...but still food and gaining is a major part...and right now the bowels, the left lower rib stitching , and back pain, and low energy is just very frustrating. THANKS all for any thoughts....you'll likely all confuse me, :) i dread actually the variability in replies cuz everyone is different...but still oh, i also can't be "picky' with foods...no time or ability or money or know-how to make things from scratch, etc...gotta be "doable" u know...not back to primitive or home-cooked-scratch ways :)
I have been suffering the exact same thing most of my life, but slowly I am correcting the problem. This is what I did:
I followed a strict Paleo diet, and consumed zero fruit, nuts, dairy, or anything processed. I then upped my saturated fat intake and consumed about 6 tablespoons of coconut oil a day for its antibacterial properties. I did this for four months. I am not gonna lie, during this time frame I felt like shit, but slowly my digestion improved. My bloating residing, as did my flatulence.
I then slowly began to reduce my protein intake, and increased my consumption of "safe starches" while keeping fat high, and my energy levels returned without the terrible digestion problems.
Up until last week, my digestion was good, but I would only go to the bathroom once a week. What finally cured me almost completely was 2 cups of rich BONE BROTH everyday!!! Bone broth has been a miracle to me.
I strongly recommend you email Matt Stone (of 180 Degree Health, not the South Park creator):
sacredself at gmail dot com
and ask for his advice.
Paleo is way too restrictive for anyone who needs to gain serious weight. Matt's advice actually makes sense for underweight people. Worrying over how much squash you "can" have does not. Just email Matt Stone, copy and paste what you've written here, and eat the food! You can recover. Best of luck.
So wait... are you eating Paleo yet? That is, have you cut out grains/legumes/dairy?
It seems like giving the Paleo diet stuff a good 30-day whack could help immensely.
As far as "getting started" and the "I don't think I can do it" stuff... I think you should reframe it in your head. Let's start here: If you DON'T go paleo, you'll still likely feel bad for the next 30 days, so what could it hurt. If you DO go paleo, you have the chance of healing your gut and straightening out all your hunger and food absorption problems. Eating paleo is super easy if you want to take an active role in your health, which it seems like you do. If you want to be lazy, then you just have to realize that your health is the tradeoff and know that it is now a conscious decision.
There are TONS of great resources and communities out there to help with everything. Whole9. Robb Wolf. Loren Cordain. Mark Sisson. Everyday Paleo. etc. All have websites with a unique angle on the whole Paleo thing and are GREAT tools if you think you can't figure out meals for a busy life.
Give the 30 days a shot, see what (if any) problems you still have, and then consult the Paleo community to resolve anything. We're here for ya! If you make the effort, you will always have friends. Guaranteed.
If you try to gain weight just to gain weight you could wind up gaining too much fat rather than gaining lean mass which, I'm guessing, is mostly what you need. (Women need some body fat over and above cushioning the organs.) So the advice here is really good. Especially about the bone broth. If you just can't swing it right now (it's a bit of work and you might not have help, and you sound tired), get some good-quality canned broth, like Swanson's, heat it up and add a packet of gelatin to it. That's close enough for government work.
Fish oil is one of those "maybe" kind of things. What's your polyunsaturated oil intake like? If you're getting a lot, then hit the fish oil. If not... it isn't necessary. Or you could take Green Pastures cod liver oil instead (it's available in capsules) and get the best of both worlds.
I am assuming you are now eating the Standard American Diet (SAD). And if you are eating over 2,000 cal a day of SAD and are not delibertly starving yourself, then I think you can assume that you are having problems assimilating and digesting the nutrients you are taking in.
Dr Art Ayers is of the opinion that all digestive problems are associated with the gut flora not being populated with the right kind of bacteria.
If you heal your gut as Dr Ayers says your problems will abate and you can proceed with becoming a paleo eater.
This link is for a search on his blog for gut dysbiosis...which means gut not functioning correctly. http://coolinginflammation.blogspot.com/search?q=gut+dysbiosis Roam around his site and you will understand the role that healthy bacteria in our guts plays in our overall health. In his blog posting, be sure to click on comments for peoples take on what he has had to say. You can even post to an old blog and he will answer.
I have had the EXACT same problems for almost 3 years now but have only lost 15 pounds. I have been through 3 gastero's, 2 ND's and a nutritionist. I have ruled out nearly everything. I have been paleo for almost a year (gluten free for 3) and have had no benefit from it directly in regards to my same symptoms. (Although I like all the data behind it so I am sticking with). I have done everything that was recommend in the above posts: probiotics for years, bone broths galore, antibiotics (for the small intestinal overgrowth), 24 hour homemade yogurt, natural remedies, cleanses...and on and on....(Betaine HCL burned my stomach to shreds). Nothing has helped. I am seeing a chinese medicine doctor right now...no help so far but its only been 10 days. I don't mean to sound like a downer..but it would be nice to keep in contact you with you..if either of us finds a cure, then we can tell the other! Here is my super junk mail account if you want to email me..firstname.lastname@example.org BTW, I gained the weight back through bacon & buttered tea. But my clothes are all still loose, so I am thinking it went to muscle. Good luck!!!!
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