Paleo is hard. You have to want it. But do you know why many people stick with Paleo, no matter how appetizing nachos look, or how much you miss a really bean-y chili?
Feeling awesome. It’s that simple.
A Paleo lifestyle asks you to say “No,” to this weird mix of modern food we’re told is normal. But what it asks for (your traditions, your habits) is nothing compared to what it gives you. This is something I often forget, but is nevertheless always true.
Case and point: those random, weird, undiagnosed health problems that make life uncomfortable but you’re not quite sure what to do about.
Take a look and see if any of these signs and symptoms sound familiar. If they do, it’s one of 5 Signs You Would Benefit from a Paleo Diet:
1. You’re a friend to yo-yo dieting
For women in particular, Paleo is a relaxing approach to food. Forget calorie counting, emotional bargaining with food, and playing that FitBug-type “I exercised away 700 calories and eat a 200 calorie donut, why aren’t I losing weight?” game.
It doesn’t work. In fact, it’s silly.
Your body and its calories is not pure math. You’ve got hormones, emotions, energy cycles, water retention. All sorts of things you’re “fighting” against if you’re focusing on calories and exercise to lose weight. What works is listening to your body, feeding it what it needs, and moving it with joy.
Real bodily change and real peace with food comes from natural choices, not mathematic equations.
When you’re eating whole, unprocessed foods, your body resets to let you know when you’re full. After a period of adjustment, your sense of being hungry and the foods you crave are realigned with what is really in your best interest — not what satisfies some sugar- and wheat-craving beast in your blood. In my personal experience and in that of close friends and blogs I’ve read, eating Paleo can bring an end or positive step up to many emotional problems with food and weight loss.
2. Your hands and feet get poofy sometimes and you’re not sure why
Like I said, I am not a doctor. Water retention and the balance of water within your body is a mystery to me. In the past, when I brought it up, a doctor told me that poofy hands and feet is a result of a high salt intake. There’s some truth to that — salt and grains in processed restaurant food is killer. But I no longer believe it’s the salt.
I eat a decent amount of salt (which is to say, I don’t restrict it in any way). And I only get swelling and poofy hands and feet the day after I eat grains (to include potatoes, corn, and rice).
When I do eat those foods, I get aches in my knees. My hands poof up and my wedding band is tight and leaves a mark. Sometimes my hands ache and it feels bad to try to make a bear claw type fist. That’s like, old-lady arthritis stuff.
The reason? Leaky gut. When you’re eating a grain-filled (particularly wheat) diet and you do not process these foods well, it messes up the barrier in your stomach, allowing excess water to drain all over the place. Gross, right? But that means liquid your stomach needs to process nutrients sinks all the way to your extremities, in your hands and feet.
Here’s a little test: pull up your leg and press two fingers into the skin just above the ankle and hold for a few seconds, then remove. If your fingers made an indentation that sticks around very long, with yellowish/blueish undertone, it’s very possible you are experiencing a symptom of leaky gut. There are other symptoms, like stomach swelling, and metabolic disturbances, but the leg test was very interesting to me the first time my doctor did it. And yes, eating Paleo improves it over time!
3. You get random or frequent stomach aches
One of the most profound changes for me was the difference in how much attention my stomach needed pre-Paleo. I was having random, odd stomach aches — just a prevailing sense of dis-ease or slight nausea — at night for several months. The only thing that helped was skipping dinner, and that did not help, if you know what I mean, because then you’re hungry and even more frustrated.
Eating Paleo has helped my stomach feel balanced throughout the day. The only time I get stomach aches now? When I’ve gone off Paleo or eaten a Paleo-AIP discouraged food like potato or egg.
4. You get random or frequent headaches
Pressure and pain in your head or sinuses means something is not quite right. This can be seasonal allergies, but it can also be undiagnosed food allergies and intolerances. Not only would Paleo help with these symptoms, but trying out a short period of Paleo AIP could help you diagnose a food intolerance.
I had no idea almonds and nuts were a bad food for me — I would gulp down almond butter with apples like nobody’s business. But after a few months of detoxing with the Paleo AIP diet, I get obvious headaches when I eat nut products, and the one time I ate a handful of macadamia nuts I felt like I was dying as my stomach swelled up to twice its size (ditto for a gluten surprise in a soup broth last month).
5. You are used to 5-10+lb weight fluctuations
This one matches #2 just a little bit, but also overlaps with being overweight. You do know that water weight accounts for a 1-2 pound change at any time, right? So weighing yourself every day and monitoring your weight-loss with that number is not a productive measure.
More so, if you have a leaky gut and a myriad of food intolerances, this heavily affects your weight fluctuations. This isn’t good for your skin, how you feel, or how your clothes fit.
Real life example: Before Paleo, and when I eat not-Paleo, I could literally fluctuate (up and back down) 7-10 lbs within four or five days. That’s like saying sometimes my body is carrying around a newborn baby, and sometimes it’s not… just because of how I react to grains and water retention. Imagine how stressful that is to your body!
BONUS 6: Really awful periods
I had to throw in a bonus sign, because I forgot how much my periods used to suck… that’s how noticeable it was for me!
When it comes to your period, the symptoms range from uncomfortable to completely intolerable and debilitating. It’s been my personal experience (and that of a close friend) that avoiding grains, sugar, and dairy mostly or completely eliminated PMS symptoms like bloating, pain, aching, and nausea. Personally, I still find I have hormonal and emotional dips, but all physical symptoms like throwing up, painful “flares” and aches, and changing 1-2 pants sizes during are completely eliminated.
The most interesting part? When I had a period during a bout of eating grains, sugar, and dairy ( but still no gluten)…. a few of my symptoms returned and I felt the bloating and slight aching again. Consider me 100% convinced!