September 9, 2020Categories: Diet Changes
When you're considering trying to improve your diet to eat more whole foods, less junk food, lower sugar, lower carb, etc., there's a lot of things that can happen.
Overall, the end result will be positive, if you make significant changes.
But sometimes when getting from this moment to a completely new diet you'll encounter some bumps along the way. The way you go about will also differ from person to person.
What are Food Related Withdrawals?
When we get off some foods and some additives we'll feel worse. Some of this is our body's way of getting rid of the stores of some substances that have built up. Some of this will be a form of withdrawals. There are many substances that have addictive properties, and when we stop eating them, our body is very angry it's not getting it's drug.
The actual science on this topic is limited. First because there's no corporate funding to do the research. No one makes money by you cleaning up your diet, eating less expensive whole food, and eating less. You are the sole beneficiary of this change. Thus there's no incentive for others to fund this kind of research.
Secondly, the sheer number of variations is mind boggling. Even some of the basics of core ingredients can't be agreed on by the medical and food industries. An example is table sugar and wheat flour. Technically they both break down into sugar, and are used almost the same by the body. But wheat has become such a societal icon that very few people will consider treating it like it's similar to sugar.
Let me give an example of how this kind of attitude plays out and made some studies appear to not show that sugar is a problem. I've read a number of studies where they were testing what would happen if people come off sugar. The conclusion was that it didn't appear to make much difference to blood sugar levels, weight gain or problems cutting it out. However, when you review the study and look at what people ate in the control group (the group that ate sugar) and the group that cut it out, what they had done was replace the sugar in the no sugar group with flour based products. Thus the study was designed to fail, if you make the assumption that flour and sugar are not very similar in how it breaks down in the body.
How to Judge Simple Changes You're Considering:
The take away from this, in the context of you cleaning up your diet, is that rather than relying on hard and fast rules of exactly which substances you're addicted to, you'll have to use some common sense, and some basic logic.
One of the things I did when I was sick and trying to figure out what to change was to ask myself, "Is this change dangerous? If I did this type of change one day and wasn't doing it for any specific reason, would I consider it risky?"
Let me give you a number of specific examples, so you get the context of what I'm talking about. These are actual things I did and what I asked myself at the time.
Let's say one day I bought a package of store bought cookies. Another day I decided to make homemade cookies. Would I consider the "change" to be dangerous? No.
On a larger scale, if I ate the same basic foods in a month, but one month I bought a lot of premade food to make up the basic menu, then the next month I ate pretty much the same thing, but made it all from scratch, would I consider this "change" dangerous? No.
How to Plan for Food Eliminations:
I also used this same kind of questioning when deciding to cut out food, with a bit more thought put into it.
If I cut out bread and pastries, what would I be missing? I looked it up on a nutrition calculator, figured out the important nutrients that were missing, then found other foods that had those things in it. It was actually just a small amount of a small number of basic whole foods that covered what I was missing. I just added them in.
So, even though I thought all this out, and knew I wasn't doing anything terribly wrong, I still had a whole bunch of times when I had some sort of withdrawal symptoms. Some of those changes weren't actually the core foods, they were just a switch from the processed version to a homemade version. That told me there was some sort of either body storage of some sustances that were able to leave when I quit eating them, or there was some sort of addictive properties that my body was mad about when I quit them, and I had a withdrawal type of reaction until it passed.
Changes Lead to Breakthroughs - Simple Changes:
I had 2 major breakthroughs that made a huge change in how I felt. The first one was when I really did do a 30 day meal plan, and then bought 100% organic, soy free, zero food additive ingredients, and made everything I ate 100% myself. I didn't cut out sugar, or bread (at that point) or anything. It was pretty much what I'd normally eat. There certainly was more variety, since I planned out every recipe for all 3 meals, but it wasn't anything different as far as ingredients went.
Before I started this 30 days of whole, organic, soy free, zero additive month, I suffered from severe migraine headaches. In total I had 4 years of migraines, and pretty much the last 2 years were a constant migraine. It was brutal, to say the least!
I felt so terrible I wouldn't have noticed any withdrawal symptoms.
After 4 days of doing the meal planning, the migraines went away. It was the most amazing thing! Over the next few months I tested out some processed foods, and they all made the migraines come back.
For me, I simply now stay away from them. The pain was so terrible I never want that again! It's been almost 20 years, and I'll never go back! I don't care if it takes more time than instant food. When I had migraines I never enjoyed a single moment. Now, without them, every extra moment I have is a gift, and I enjoy it all. I gained 16 hours of awake time each day without a migraine. I don't care if I have to use an hour of that time to cook my food. The effort is well worth it.
Changes Lead to Breakthroughs - Food Eliminations:
The second major breakthrough was when I cut out grains and sugar.
After I rid myself of the migraines I realized I had some pretty bad digestive problems. I had known I had them, but I didn't notice any pain. The pain from the migraines was so bad, it overpowered digestive pain. Once the migraines were gone, then I noticed gut problems.
I continued my research and tried lots of things and none of those things made much difference.
I decided to try the Atkins diet. It is similar to the modern day Keto diet. I wasn't really doing it for weight loss. I was a bit overweight, but it wasn't really much of a priority. I was doing it because one of the promoted benefits was better digestion. I had previously read enough to be quite comfortable with cutting out grains and sugar. I thought it would be worth a try.
I read the book that came with the diet plan and it warned that you could have withdrawals, so I was prepared.
I really did! It was pretty icky. But way less painful than migraines. The most painful stomach pains eased up within a few days, though I still felt very icky from the withdrawals.
That lasted a couple of weeks.
I still remember exactly where I was standing, at 1 in the afternoon when it "broke." It was like the whole sky opened up and a heavy weight I'd carried forever just fell off me. I stopped dead in my tracks, and my jaw just dropped. I instantly felt better than I had ever felt in my whole life. Even as a small child I didn't feel this good.
I was stunned!
Life Changing Before and After:
It's difficult to impress on people the difference from before and after, especially when they don't believe it's even possible to fix yourself with just food. When I was doing it back in the early 2000's most people in my life just sort of thought I was a bit nuts. Not everyone, but most.
During my sick journey I had a doctor who wasn't much interested in listening to me. Thus I didn't have any formal diagnosis. Now, knowing what I know, I know I have Celiac (my brother did have a formal Celiac Disease diagnosis), and I probably had some form of IBS or something similar, and I know I have either pure or some sort of transitory allergies. But my doctor just couldn't be bothered to investigate. I even tried to get a new doctor, but it wasn't allowed (small town in Canada in the 1990's) unless I travelled at least 2 hours.
Now, looking back, I'm glad I didn't get that. I may never have done my own research and learned what I did and made the life changing changes I did.
Even if you have the benefit of doctors that can give you some diagnosis, you 100% have the power to change your diet. That is something you'll have to do on your own, since doctors know diseases and drugs and not diets; they simply aren't trained in diets and nutrition beyond a few hours (under 20) in medical school.
Food and diet changes are far more than a passing trend. For many, many people it's life altering. One of the core common things they do is to get rid of the junk, and the food additives. Grains are also a big problem for far more people than we're led to believe.
These are pretty big changes, but so very worth doing if you're not well.
Learn, plan, eat and enjoy!