Sundog –noun 1. parhelion. 2. a small or incomplete rainbow.

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.

Fog in Badlands, By Extreme Intensity
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.

foggy night
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.

ninja cat
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…

13 responses

  1. Excellent!

    Excellent writing about an excellent experience. And the pictures are superb. 🙂

    Looks like a good direction …

    January 5, 2010 at 2:27 pm

  2. Snez

    Great news :-). Keep hanging onto those rewards.

    Change is so hard. I well remember those first few weeks on this diet and the panicky feeling: I’m not sure I can do this.

    It won’t be long before this way of living becomes second nature.

    January 5, 2010 at 3:33 pm

  3. Thanks for the great comments guys! 🙂

    January 5, 2010 at 5:32 pm

  4. PenguinThief

    Poor Jeremy, getting ninja kicked like that! Kerpow! Hehe 🙂 I’m so antsy to find out how well this works for you, speed up time, quick!


    January 5, 2010 at 5:39 pm

  5. Haha! Kerpow indeed. 🙂

    Ok, speeding up time for you Grant. 🙂


    January 5, 2010 at 6:42 pm

  6. Paula

    I have spent forever in bed and with pain of fibro. I also have IPF. A sad state. I will find the diet. Thank u for sharing

    January 6, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    • Very sorry to hear that Paula. There is a huge amount of information out there if you hit up google. Also some good books have been written. I hope you find some relief from your symptoms should you try this diet out. Thank you for stopping by tonight and I would love to know if you do try Paleo! 🙂

      January 6, 2010 at 10:13 pm

  7. Diane

    A fellow member of a CFS group sent me the link to the article and then I moved on to your blog. All I can say is Wow. What a journey.

    Chronic lyme disease has given me a tiny glimpse of your existance. My illness was very minor compared to yours, but a struggle nonetheless. Fibro and Fatigue Center turned my health around, though not completely. But enough that I have been able to think clearly enough to pursue other measures to continue forward progress. I think I’m about 85 – 90% recovered. Careful, cautious, always waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop.

    FFC dr had me on hormone therapy, antibiotics (not much to my liking) herbal tinctures, then later gamma globulin that did a lot to right my immune system.

    I have detoxed w/ a nasty molasses concoction, too foul tasting to continue using. Then sea salt and bentonite clay. Now taking iodine…helps cells function. I think it’s working well.

    I will look more into the Paleo diet. Sounds interesting and helpful. I hope 2010 brings recovery for you.

    January 7, 2010 at 6:56 am

    • Hello Diane. It is nice to meet you. 🙂

      I currently take bentonite clay daily and have often thought about trying out iodine. Also been taking supplemental progesterone which does seem to be helping things out too.

      Let me know if you decide to go Paleo or need a couple links. Thank you for leaving a comment and may good healing find you, Lisa

      January 7, 2010 at 6:45 pm

  8. Anne

    LOL…where on earth did you find that picture? It has my children in hysterics!

    Great Blog Lisa, and I’m so pleased you’re noticing positive changes on the Paleo diet.


    January 20, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    • That’s great about your kids loving the picture Anne. I laugh pretty good every time I see it too! 😀

      Have a beautiful day, Lisa

      January 22, 2010 at 7:35 pm

  9. Hi Sundog,

    An informative post this was. I’ve been using diet for about 10 years now to manage symptoms re. toxicity levels and fatigue. About a year ago I discovered coconut milk. I was at a low point but after adding this into my diet my strength in a day no longer dropped to near nothings at times and my mind also became more awakened and able to focus better etc.

    I tried a mostly vegetable diet in my many diet experiments. Was very weak on it. Never lasted past a few weeks. Began craving protein like anything. Almond butter became my good friend and once I stopped with the extreme 80% veggie/fruit diet, I got stronger again.

    “They say” the body needs extra protein when it is trying to heal itself and just in general for muscle tissue rebuilding I think. It is good for blood sugar levels, which coconut oil and coconut milk also are. Most good fats are good that way – avocados = great!

    If you ever want to try coconut milk, MAKE SURE IT DOES NOT CONTAIN METABULSULPHITES. I buy the Thai brand. so far, so good. There are also organic brands out there. I LOVE the taste…probably have put on a few pounds eating it every day, but it is healthy and I feel so much better with it in my diet.

    I also do great with lots of beans in my diet for protein. I used to eat raw almonds, but seemed to have some kind of reaction, but almond butter works well for me.

    Sorry my rambles are so long… :0) Your posts just bring many thoughts to mind and out they flow. :0)

    take care, Kimberly

    March 6, 2010 at 3:07 pm

  10. Hello Kimberly! 🙂

    Never fear the length of a ramble, I am quite fond of them myself. lol 😀

    We use a lot of coconut milk here too. I’ve read a few sources that say it helps the body to make the transition towards a low carb, high protein diet such as this.

    I have tried both Thai Kitchen and Roland brand organic coconut milk so far. Roland’s is far superior for our taste buds and seems to also be much richer. A can will last twice as long as the Thai Kitchen brand and the price is very good through Amazon when it goes on sale.

    I am finding I crave extra protein sometimes and it does seem to coincide with other things that make me think its during higher healing times. Its been pretty interesting to see the changes taking place with my body and the new nutritional needs as its finally starting to properly heal again.

    We do mostly walnuts here, I’m a bit sensitive to almonds.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I do enjoy hearing what my writing can bring to mind in others!

    Have a beautiful day, Lisa 🙂

    March 6, 2010 at 5:01 pm

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