The First Week
Today is day eight on a strict Paleo diet. I have noticed that despite some very stressful events yesterday and subsequent lack of sleep last night, I actually feel surprisingly good today.
I had said I wanted to write about my first days on this diet and it seems a great place to start this tale.
Our first day passed pretty easily. It felt good to be eating this way after the splurging of Christmas goodies the week before. It was very deceptive of what was yet to come.
Day two we began to feel the lack of carbohydrates from the oatmeal we have eaten at least once a day for probably the last six years at least. Our bodies were still wanting to primarily burn carbohydrates instead of the proteins and fats we were giving it as its main fuel source. We had decreased our carbohydrate intake from hundreds of grams a day to less than a hundred in the produce we are eating. I’ve seen people estimating it to be around 40-60 grams of carbohydrates a day as veg is mostly fiber, not fuel.
We started having a brain fog roll in like pea soup, body aches, and several other symptoms appeared along with a huge fatigue. It began to feel like life was lived trying to move through a sea of honey, every step pushing against a huge force and dragging at our feet.
Day three was even worse.
The fog rolls in…
I don’t quite know how we made it through day three; it was certainly discussed that perhaps we needed to at least go back to having that one bowl of oatmeal a day because as things stood we barely were able to get food cooked this day. It is a hard feeling to describe, the sense of fear that comes with having chronic illness to the degree that we do and having a change suddenly make all your symptoms intensify tremendously.
You never know for sure that this will be temporary or not till after it has passed. Life becomes a limbo while waiting and holding strong to the thought that it will get better. With nothing but faith in your body to pull you through, a faith that by now is badly shaken because you wouldn’t be in this spot had your body not massively failed you already… Well, it is a hard place to be.
On day three we found ourselves plunked right down into that limbo world and wondering if we had made a gross error trying this new diet. What got us through were some brief moments, no more than 15 minutes two times a day at most, where we would feel good all of a sudden. Much better than we have at almost any time in the last few years even.
It was these moments I held onto and let pull me through.
We started experimenting with eating a few different things and off a few threads I was reading at a forum with other people on the Paleo diet, we began to add a lot more fat into what we consumed. It was wild, we could eat a small bit of coconut oil, solid at our ambient temperature and very tasty of fresh coconuts, and almost immediately many of our symptoms would start abating. The moment it hit the tongue our bodies would be very clear to us how very much it wanted that oil and within five minutes we would be considerably better.
This started a new chapter in how the diet change was for us.
A light in the foggy darkness.
Days four and five saw us increasing the amount of oil we put on everything, starting to have hard boiled eggs handy for a snack with their high protein/fat ratio, and eating a lot more nuts. Adding in some raw broccoli at the same time increased the effectiveness of the other snack foods but alone did next to nothing.
Slowly we were becoming more clear thinking, the pain levels were dropping back down to normal levels and we were no longer moving through honey, weak with fatigue. Our bodies were starting to make the switch to burning the new fuels.
On day six I found again the forum threads where people suggested increasing the protein intake when feeling badly during these first few weeks on the diet. We increased it to what seemed a proper amount after seeing what we had been eating the last four days. Then I broke out the calculator and did the math, with the added eggs at snack our protein was right in the proper range now for this diet.
I think a lot of our trouble with too little protein is that we are not used to eating this much of it and so didn’t understand just how much is needed. It is hard at times to eat enough, I am finding that I tend to become full much quicker while eating than I had before. Where a three quarter bowl of food was right before, now half a bowl is nearly too much. Jeremy is seeing the same thing happen to him too.
Also on day six I started seeing a very noticeable decrease in brain fog, almost down to where I normally am on bad days. But what really surprised me was that my reflexes where suddenly heightened. As foggy as I was, twice in a row I had a clothing item tossed over my shoulder while walking and stopped to look at something, the clothing falling to the very wet and puddled ground. Yet it never touched the ground because quick as lightening my hand would shoot out and pluck it from the air.
My new Ninja-cat reflexes
Small things like this are showing me that I am indeed seeing some positive changes in my body already. I also seem to need less sleep – something almost anyone with CFS can relate to being a very big deal. I seem to function much better on the seven hours I am averaging a night, I simply am too wired to sleep till near midnight at earliest most nights. Usually this sort of wiredness would leave me very anxious, but after the second day I have felt surprisingly calm.
As I said in the beginning, today is day eight. I’m feeling strongly that this diet is a good direction for us and seeing both Jeremy and I improving from our low on day three by about 5-15% each day. I would estimate that we are three quarters back to how we felt before starting this diet and can only wait with a bit of excitement to see what happens when we are one hundred percent back to where we started.
Will we continue to see improvement after that or will we just stay there with little noticeable improvement? I have high hopes that we will see this pendulum swing towards feeling much healthier and more energetic.
More to come on this in the following days…