So you’ve signed onto our Paleo meal plan and you’re 5 days into it. You’re not feeling the amazing effects of the diet that so many others before you have, and in fact, you feel worse! Naturally you’re asking, “Is this really worth it?” Almost everyone who is on the Paleo Diet or similar plan has been right where you are — you are not alone. Let me explain what’s going on.
Why Do I Feel Worse After Going Paleo?
This way of eating is pretty different than a normal American diet, so there are a lot of changes you’ll be making. These changes will NOT go unnoticed by your body. What I mean is, you may experience some (or a lot of) detox symptoms, including intense cravings, headaches and fatigue.
Why? You took out a lot of toxins from your diet, in the form of phytic acid and lectins in grains and legumes, preservatives and other additives, refined flours and sweeteners, and dairy (which is more toxic to some than others). Since you’ve probably been eating these things your whole life, your body is going through some serious withdrawal.
While the initial shock to the system isn’t pleasant, keep in mind it’s also finally getting a chance to clean out some built up toxins. Without all of the harmful foods constantly bombarding your liver and other organs, and with the addition of tons of nutrients and protein from the fruits, vegetables, and meats you’re now eating, your body is going to take the opportunity to do some much needed cleaning. This purging is exactly what causes the symptoms you may be experiencing right now — the toxins are being dealt with instead of being suppressed. It’s like when you do a good deep cleaning of your house — you turn it upside down before it looks immaculate. In the first 3 days to 3 weeks, you may (or may not) experience:
- Mood swings
- Intense cravings
- Sinus drainage
- Flu-like symptoms
- Brain fog
- Increased urination
- Increased appetite
- Increased thirst
When I first went Paleo, I remember having to pee about 25 times a day and feeling like I was walking through oatmeal for the first 3 weeks. Walking up a flight of stairs was a big accomplishment. I was so tired and groggy — I just wanted to sleep, but then on the 21st day everything finally cleared and I felt fantastic. A lot of people only experience symptoms for a few days to a week, and there’s really no way of predicting how long your detoxification period will last.
If you are a coffee or other caffeinated beverage drinker and you’re giving that up, you should almost undoubtedly expect some symptoms. Caffeine is an addictive substance, as you know, and your nervous and endocrine systems will need some time to reboot. Maybe warn your significant other that you might not be the sweetest, most docile partner for a few days…
So during those difficult moments when you’re wondering whether or not this diet is in fact hurting you (not helping) remember that after the storm of detoxification subsides, you may very well experience:
- More energy
- Emotional Balance
- Clarity of mind
- Fat loss/Muscle gain
- Strength gains
- Fewer aches and pains
- Less sinus congestion
- Fewer seasonal allergy symptoms
- Digestive ease
- Clearer skin
- Fewer colds
And that is why you’ve chosen to do this. Stay strong: it WILL be worth it.
What are your experiences with detoxification? Any words of wisdom for your fellow Paleo Planners?
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