Consider this scenario: your sister, close friend or colleague at work has been raving about the Paleo diet. They lost tons of weight and felt better than they had in years, and it’s all they could talk about. You were skeptical at first, but heck, you saw the changes they experienced with your own eyes and eventually you got curious. So you went out and bought The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf and started doing some research on the Paleo diet online. The more you learned about it, and the more success stories you heard, the more excited you got.
Then you heard about a 30-day Paleo diet challenge coming up at your local CrossFit gym, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to get started. You signed up, envisioning a slimmer, healthier and more energetic version of yourself. It all seemed so promising.
But things didn’t quite turn out how you thought they would. After about a week on the program, you got constipated and the gas and bloating issue you already had coming into the program got worse, not better. Or, your sugar cravings were so intense you could hardly fight them off, and by the time the afternoon rolled around you were exhausted. Or maybe you not only didn’t lose weight, you actually gained a couple of pounds.
Does this sound familiar?
Paleo isn’t magic
There’s no doubt that the majority of people that switch to a Paleo diet notice significant benefits right away. For some, these can be quite miraculous. I’ve seen people reverse autoimmune disease, arthritis, insomnia, metabolic problems and so much more in a period of a few weeks, and I’m sure you’ve read and heard about similar changes — or even experienced them yourself.
However, the transition to Paleo doesn’t always go so smoothly. I know this perhaps as well as anyone, as a clinician with a focus on Paleo nutrition that treats patients around the world. I don’t get the easy cases and success stories. Why would they call me? My patients are those that didn’t get the experience the “Paleo brochure” promised. These are often folks that started Paleo and improved significantly, but either still have some lingering issues, or maybe even developed some new issues.
Does this mean Paleo isn’t a good choice for them? Should they give up and try a vegan diet instead? Hardly.
If you’ve been drinking 4 cups of coffee every day for 20 years, and you finally decide that’s not such a good idea, you’re going to be in for some serious withdrawal symptoms when you cut down to one cup of decaf a day. Does that mean you shouldn’t do it? That it wouldn’t benefit your health in the long run? No. It just means you’re probably going to need some support along the way.
The same is true for some people transitioning to Paleo. If you were on a poor diet with a lot of processed food for many years, smoking, drinking too much alcohol, not sleeping well, not exercising, etc. then the transition to a nutrient-dense diet and healthy lifestyle may not be so smooth. This even applies to folks that were on relatively healthy (i.e. in that they contained mostly real foods) vegetarian and vegan diets.
Why? Because not all damage done to the body is immediately reversible, and because sometimes switching to a nutrient-dense, healthy diet isn’t enough to reverse that damage without additional help. If you switch to a Paleo diet but have some difficulty, don’t be alarmed. It doesn’t mean Paleo won’t work or isn’t a good choice for you. It just means you might need to tweak things a bit, and add a few things to your program.
That’s what this series is going to be about. After working with hundreds of patients in my private practice, and hearing from thousands of others from my radio show and programs like the Personal Paleo Code, I’ve identified the three most common challenges people face when transitioning to a Paleo diet:
- Digestive distress
- Low energy and sugar cravings
- Poor detox capacity
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