You hear it from Paleo bloggers all the time: make this diet your own. Figure out what works for your own body. Well, this is a story about a woman who did just that, and had some surprising findings.
My friend Rachel has rheumatoid arthritis.
On top of her crippling joint pain, she also suffers from eczema, constipation, and fatigue. And to make matters worse, she’s on a breast cancer drug that causes joint pain, and she’ll be on it for the next 5 to 10 years, as she’s a breast cancer survivor.
But that hasn’t held her back.
She’s a spitfire to say the least. It’s rare to see the kind of fiery discipline that she has, and couple that with her East Coast attitude, she’s a force to be reckoned with.
She’s an ambitious owner of a small business, rides a Harley on the weekends with her fiancé, and she has a wedding to plan. So all these pesky symptoms just get in the way of her life.
When I first met her, she was a vegetarian and suffering a lot from her symptoms. The second time I talked to her, she was tinkering with Paleo, eating meat, and seeing good results. She was on a very restrictive diet, without eggs, nuts, dairy, fruit or nightshades, plus all the other non-Paleo foods.
She became a client of mine shortly thereafter, and after a lot of encouragement from me and some hemming and hawing by her, she gave up her beloved coffee as it seemed to be contributing to her eczema. She saw some results after doing that, but when she was left with just meat and veggies in her diet and still having eczema, she lost it.
Feeling totally deprived, in her own words, she “went on a little adventure.”
In other words, she started eating whatever the hell she wanted: gluten, dairy, legumes, eggs, fruit, etc. And it did not bode well for her. She gained 6 pounds in 2 weeks, felt so depressed that she “didn’t want to get out of bed,” and her eczema and rheumatoid flared up so badly that she wanted to go to the hospital (but, of course, she didn’t because she’s an obstinate badass).
Then she came to her senses and put herself back on Paleo.
However, it was different this time. Some little voice in her head advised against meat, and assured her that eggs and nuts were actually ok for her. After a long time avoiding those two things, she’d really felt like she was missing out on a lot of food choices, so this was a huge relief.
So at this point, several weeks later, she’s eating a Paleo diet, including veggies of all kinds, nuts, fruit!, and healthy fats, but without meat. She does great with fish every day (she said she’ll eat meat about once a week now). And no coffee.
Her eczema is almost completely gone, her RA symptoms are almost completely gone, and she’s no longer depressed.
I didn’t ask her about her other symptoms, but as she said, “I realized I’m not deprived on this diet: I’m the winner when I eat this way!”
Best. Comment. Ever. To a Paleo nutritionist, that is :)
It just goes to show that everyone is so different. No meat? Who would’ve thought? But she listened to her body, did what she needed to do, and now she knows for sure that this particular way of eating works for her.
I don’t think she’ll be going on any more dietary “adventures” any time soon!
What do you guys think? Have you experimented with your own Paleo diets and found anything interesting?