My First 40 Days of Paleo-Ketogenic Food
I'm happy to report that there have been some welcome improvements after a month on this LCHF (Low Carb, High Fat) diet! As discussed in a previous post, I started this journey into a Paleo-ketogenic lifestyle in February 2017 in an attempt to help improve my current condition. I have quite severe ME/CFS (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) which has left me bedridden about 98% of the time.
Things were looking quite bleak a few weeks ago, I was getting progressively worse, and then out of the blue on day 33, I felt like somebody had flipped a switch and I suddenly could participate in life again!
Don't get me wrong, I still spend most of my time in bed. I have chronic pain and chronic fatigue, exhaustion rather, and struggle to do the basics of daily self care. My sister has become my full time carer and I've needed help getting dressed, turning in bed, and at times can't even communicate simple phrases.
What little has changed though, is making a huge difference to me and I celebrate each small victory!
Benefits After 40 Days of Paleo-ketogenic Food
As I said, it was a very distinct moment that the heaviness lifted and I realised my pain was reducing over time too. Since day 33 I haven't become breathless with heart palpitations when brushing my teeth (my most strenuous daily activity!), I've managed a shower every 3 days instead of every 7 days and I feel like my mind is clearer at times.
For me the biggest relief is the absence of that heavy feeling that pulls you down. As if there's an invisible passenger hanging onto my shoulders and I have to drag him along wherever I go... if I can manage to lift us both out of the bed first!
It's this wonderful feeling of freedom of movement and weightlessness. Without the utterly exhausting consequence to each movement. I can sit up for short sessions, multiple times a day where I was lying down constantly for months on end before. At times unable to even hold my phone from exhaustion and weakness!
There are a few other things that have changed. (Warning: toilet talk - skip to next paragraph if sensitive)
I have always been constipated, and since week 5 things have been less difficult to expel. I'm not going more frequently, I'm just not expelling bricks anymore!
My cravings have subsided and I'm satisfied with just my 3 meals a day and sometimes a small snack in the evening, usually a couple of nuts or a quarter of a square of Lindt 90% Dark chocolate. Yes, a quarter of a square... half is just too much sweetness for me!
That brings me to the next effect: I'm finding many things taste sweeter now. I think the lack of sugar and chemicals in my diet is causing my taste buds to really taste the flavours of each food I'm eating and the flavours are intense. I'm really enjoying my food!
I've also lost 1.5kg although my aim is not to lose weight, but to improve my health. All of these changes happened in the fifth week. That is why consistency is so important when deciding to make dietary changes. Sometimes the body just needs time to adjust and start working properly again.
Overall I'm happy with this plan. I occasionally miss cheese, but that's all. It's strange because I never ate much cheese to begin with since I suspect I'm lactose intolerant.
General Thoughts On Diet
I think people generally tend to underestimate the effect their food choices have on their bodies. You really are what you eat, and by putting processed food-like products into your body, you are only filling your cells with chemicals that are essentially toxic to our bodies.
Not only this, but the fact that most food-like products are produced to cut costs and provide maximum profit, often even those sold as "health foods", means that they are filled with cheaper, low grade ingredients like unhealthy fats, sugar substitutes and way too many carbs and fillers.
Our bodies are bombarded constantly with things that are becoming increasingly harder to digest and obtain nutrients from. We become undernourished with all sorts of deficiencies and inflammation which is the root of many chronic illnesses.
It is no wonder that by cleaning up their diet, many people with chronic illness have reported improvements in their condition. Whether it's increased energy levels, less severe chronic pain or improved digestion. I have even healed from my eczema since eating clean!
I'd recommend clean eating to anybody with chronic illness. Firstly because your body is already struggling, it needs all the help it can get and secondly because why would you want to continue to consume products that might very well be causing your pain?
Would you not rather make dietary changes so that you can live a better quality of life? It's a very personal journey each of us are on, and our relationship with food is often unhealthy for various reasons, but we all have the power to choose to make a start on a new journey. A new journey with a beautiful destination, one of health and vitality.
I'm not claiming that changing your diet will cure you, it most likely won't if you're chronically ill, but it can have a significant effect on the severity of your symptoms, your weight and your state of mind. That is almost certain!
If you're not sure about committing to something as strict as the Paleo-ketogenic diet, there are a few others I'd recommend, I will write more about each diet later, in the meantime you could search online: There's Paleo and Primal, Keto (Ketogenic) and AIP (Auto-immune protocol).
All of these are clean eating plans and include a healthy range of foods. I have tried all except AIP which is great if you think you might have a food intolerance, it will help you to find the culprits, after which you can modify your diet accordingly.
If you have ME/CFS and are interested in the plan I'm following, check out this book by Dr Sarah Myhill.