I Tried Eating Paleo for a Week: Here’s What Happened

As a Hashimoto’s thyroiditis sufferer, I am always on the look out for possible metabolism boosters. Imma be honest, being fat sucks for me. I’m a parent, but also a grad student and in the middle of writing my second book, so dinner sometimes means bowls of cereal all around. I’m not proud of it.

I’m 5'10" and carry a lot of muscle from high school weight training. I’m not a big eater, consuming about 1200–1400 calories a day. I do low impact exercise 2 to 3 times a week and yet, thanks to my fucky thyroid, I’m still over 200 lbs because sometimes I look at candy with lustful eyes. Also I like white rice and I love bread more than Oprah.

I heard about the Paleo diet and seriously considered it since it included a lot of the other foods I like to eat. Paleo eating harkens back to the hunter gatherer days of yore. It’s purported to boost metabolism and support clean eating by eliminating chemicals, preservatives, and additives that clog up the ol’ guts-like. The diet consists of meats, fish, nuts, leafy greens, regional veggies, and seeds. I eat my white rice with fish or baked chicken, don’t do fried foods or dairy beyond the occasional slice of Kraft cheese, don’t eat fast food often and don’t drink soda at all, eat non-cured bacon because it cooks up like a dream, guzzle almond milk by the pint. With two teenagers at home; one with IBS and one who also weight trains, I thought Paleo might be a good fit for us. I decided to try it first before rolling it out to the kids.

Day 1: BREAKFAST: cinnamon apples, scrambled eggs LUNCH: tuna cucumber salad with lemon juice dressing DINNER: baked chicken, sliced cucumbers, applesauce; throughout the day I drank honey vanilla chamomile tisane and a truck load of water.

I felt great. I felt weirdly clean on the inside. I didn’t miss bread or grains. I had energy to stationary bike for 45 mins*. Only craved sweets in the evening and I squashed that with another cup of applesauce. I did get a whopper migraine at the end of the night though.

Day 2: BREAKFAST: bacon, scrambled eggs, applesauce LUNCH: tuna cucumber salad with lemon juice dressing, kiwi slices DINNER: beanless beef chili with tomato and onion chunks; lemon lift tisane and water.

I still felt pretty good; a tiny bit tired but no soreness or swelling from exercising! The migraine came back that evening.

Day 3: BREAKFAST: 3 canola fried eggs, low salt roasted almonds, applesauce LUNCH: 2 chicken & bacon lettuce wraps DINNER: whole baked chicken, radish flowers, mandarin oranges; honey vanilla chamomile tisane and water.

I was exhausted all day. My shoulder muscles were really sore and I had blurry eyes. Got nothing done, couldn’t concentrate, kept falling asleep while trying to do homework. As a 20 year insomniac, that was highly disturbing. Consequently, I slept like a stone that night. And here’s some TMI: my poop was soft and runny. Not the norm. I am uh… pretty regular and realized I hadn’t Gone since before day one.

Day 4: applesauce and chicken before the shit hit the fan.

I woke up and my entire body was sore. I had weird bruises on my ribs. I literally had to drag my ass out of bed to take my kid to school. My right eye was so blurry I finally just closed it while I ate breakfast. I shuffled around my house trying to set up for writing. After cyclopsing at my materials for like 15 minutes, I passed out on the couch. I do not mean I fell asleep. I fucking fainted. When I came to, I tried to go upstairs to get some juice or something because my blood sugar had to be like -9500, but I couldn’t make it up the steps. Wobbled to my bedroom, almost fainted again, grabbed some Easter candy that’s been chillin’ on my dresser since March (I write this in October, so) and took a bite, swam to the living room in a haze of WTF. I fell asleep and had nightmares about Ricardo Montalbán lying dead on my living room floor then morphing into Dylan McDermott who wanted to shake my hand as he died, and then some deranged boy child sneaked into my house to molest me with his pet cats.

Woke up, took two more big bites of old choco. It was 15 mins before I could move again and contemplate my shitty life choices.

Then I ate a bowl of Reeses Puffs and felt better.

Now, I realize that some might say this snafu was because I wasn’t eating enough fruit but I tell you, when I write “mandarin oranges”, I mean I ate like 6 of those tiny bastards. Still, I don’t think eating strict Paleo allows enough carbs to run my dumb body. My mother has hollered that I’m hypoglycemic since the moment I crowned, but I never believed her. Until now.

While in my bloodsugarless fugue, I had myself a good think. I remembered that when I was younger I could lose weight just by skipping one meal and how my mom would actually force feed me sweet stuff when she found out. I realized that now, as an adult, when I do Weightloss Things, no matter what they are — healthy eating, fad diet, exercise regimen, pills — I have no trouble losing 7 lbs and then my body revolts. Things get bad. Stuff stops working. Like my eyeballs. And my brains. I *always* get shaky and tired and sore and crabby, I sweat more and I forget stuff.

Hey, guess what the signs for low blood sugar are?

Ding ding ding! Gutter, tell her what she’s won

Got on the scale today and I’d lost 7 lbs. That much weight gone in four days is amazing — ahem, I mean not healthy. So my consensus is that strict Paleo eating is a fast-track to Death, for me at least. And possibly for anyone with low blood sugar. We *need* those carbs.

Don’t get me wrong, I totally recommend this lifestyle change. Those first two days I felt awesome and I obviously lost weight while still eating a good bit of healthy food. I can absolutely see how eating this way is beneficial to metabolism and general gut health. This was the only diet where I felt satisfied after eating. It strangely felt good to eat this way. And I won’t wax poetic about my poop anymore but, man, these pipes are clean.

Just know that if you’ve got some glycemic issues, you’re probably going to need to make some adjustments to the Paleo diet. You certainly don’t need to wolf down a loaf of french bread and a Toblerone every day, but adding in whole grain pasta or a low cal carb might keep you from exorcist bruises, belly crawling to chocolate bunnies, and nightmaring Ricardo Montalbán.

*I usually do 2 minutes intense riding then 2 minutes low resistance/low speed riding for 30 minutes. This works well for me, as I am one of those Speshul thyroid people who is exercise intolerant. Getting 45 mins of anything without bloating up Stay Puft-style is awesome.