Earlier this week I was trading emails with one of our book readers, Brenda, who sent this in:
“Jordan and Steve,
I’m at the point in this diet where I’m beginning to think it’s not going to work for me, I wanted to give it 30 days and I did that… but I’m still not feeling good. I’m having stomach pain, gas, and my D is worse than it was before I started eating this way, what am I supposed to do now? Is this diet ever going to work for me?” – Brenda
In this post, I’ll show Brenda what her body is really telling her… and explain why some people get worse on Paleo, SCD, or GAPS, before they can get better.
I Tried Eating Real Food and it Made My Stomach Problems Worse
So, you’ve cut out grains, refined sugar, fake sugar, industrial seed oils, processed foods like pop or soy, and if you choose to eat legumes or dairy, you make sure it’s properly prepared or fermented.
You’re following a diet like Paleo, GAPS, or SCD… but you’re still having stomach problems, even though you’re avoiding all those toxic foods. Or maybe you’re like Brenda and you feel even worse on this new diet.
The good news is: you’re not alone!
There are three common problems that people run into with a new diet like Paleo. GAPS, or SCD that can make them feel worse than before they started.
The first, and the most problematic for people, is typically referred to as, “die off.”
Die-off Can Feel So Bad You’ll Want to Quit Before You Can Get Better
I’m not going to lie to you, die-off can cause pretty awful symptoms, and many times it will cause symptoms that are worse than before you started the diet.
Here’s a summary of what can happen:
- Brain fog
- Intense cravings
- Joint pain
The experience of “die-off” is related to the shift in gut bacteria that happens when you stop feeding overgrown bacteria the food it’s used to thriving on. When I switched to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, I had brain fog so bad all I could do my first 3 days at work was sit at my desk staring at the wall… seriously.
One of the most common emails we get is someone trying to figure out if they have die-off symptoms or not…
Here’s the best way to tell if what you’re going through is really die-off: see how long it lasts.
Symptoms related to the shift in bacteria usually last 3-7 days and anything longer than that is probably something else. That leads me to the second most common problem people face when starting Paleo, GAPS, or SCD… which is known as the “low-carb flu.”
The Low-Carb Flu Can Make You Feel Foggy and Fatigued
The low-carb flu is a nickname for the process of low-carb adaptation and some people have to deal with it and some people don’t. It’s very individual and seems to be based on body type.
It can cause symptoms like fatigue, brain fog, intense sugar/carb cravings, lethargy, etc.
These symptoms are a result of a shift in the way the body burns fuel from primarily glucose, to primarily fats. (Read this great article on starting or restarting low-carb by Dr. Eades, or check out another great article on the low carb flu by Mark Sisson.)
Both Mark and Dr. Eades say low-carb adaptation symptoms typically last 2-3 weeks and slowly fade away after that.
To summarize: “die-off” symptoms might last anywhere from the first 3-7 days on a real food diet and symptoms related to low-carb adaptation might last anywhere from the first 2-3 weeks.
So if you’ve been on Paleo, GAPS, or SCD for 30-days or more and still feel worse than before you started, there’s something more going on…
Why Feeling Worse Doesn’t Mean Your Diet Won’t Work for You
Between die-off and the low-carb flu, the first 30 days on a diet like Paleo, GAPS, or SCD can feel ever worse than before you started.
The honest truth is: getting better won’t happen overnight. I wish everyone that started these types of diets had dramatic improvement and never gave up, because that would make it really easy for me to get more people to try it.
Healing gut problems is a gradual process that happens over a long period of time. When I started SCD, my diarrhea stopped in 7 days, which was a miracle to me, but it still took years to recover my health.
If you’re like Brenda and you still feel worse after 30 days on the diet, whether it’s constipation gas, bloating, or diarrhea, that’s a big sign that you need to start customizing your diet more.
The third most common problem people face when they start a real food diet is they don’t customize the diet for their body. It doesn’t mean the diet isn’t working for them, it means that the current version of the diet they’re following isn’t working. Let me explain…
What We’ve Learned Helping Thousands Feel Better Fast
We’ve helped thousands of people with digestive problems start SCD over the past three years and we’ve found that most people can feel better eating a real food diet like Paleo, SCD, or GAPS… but it’s highly individual.
Let me be more clear: each person has to do some testing and tweaking to create a custom version of a real food diet that works for them.
So, if you don’t experience some degree of improvement after 30 days on Paleo, GAPS, or SCD… it doesn’t mean that it won’t work for you or you’re doomed to forever suffer in agony. It means that your body is telling you that it’s time to make some tweaks. It’s time to start customizing your diet, supplements, and lifestyle to help your body heal.
What to do if Your Diet Isn’t Working for You:
I’m going to share the first two most common tweaks we give people that are 30 days into a real food diet and still don’t feel better… or even feel worse like Brenda. If you’re stuck there, choose one of these tweaks and test it this week:
1. Fat and protein cause problems…
If you have trouble breaking down fat and protein when you switch to a diet made up of more fat and protein, it’s a recipe for feeling worse.
Don’t panic, there’s supplement tweaks that can help.
2. Leaky gut makes these 4 foods cause problems…
Leaky gut syndrome can make it tough to tolerate four common foods that people eat when they switch to a real food diet. We see it all the time and nicknamed these 4 foods the “Four Horsemen of SCD Setbacks.”
This is the number one diet tweak that helps our readers.
Read this article to find out what those 4 foods are and try removing them for 3-4 days: The Four Horsemen of the SCD Diet
And finally, if you need more help creating a custom diet that works for you, I highly recommend you get a copy of our book. It’s a step-by-step guide for creating a custom real food diet that works for your body:
In good health,
P.S. – The most important thing? Never give up trying to take control of your health. I know it’s frustrating, I’ve been there… but I believe in you and know you can do this.