I have had a few people writing me recently being quite annoyed. They have done some research, and understand that food is so important to their body. They have taken the huge step of overhauling their daily routine which is tough and taken time to learn about new routines and foods to eat more healthily and started their new dietary regime expecting to feel great, more vibrant, full of energy, maybe lose some weight, get their hormones or periods under control.
And instead they end up with the opposite. They write to me telling me they gut out all the standard inflammatory foods and processed foods and feel rubbish. They feel tired, lethargic sluggish. They may have even gotten headaches, colds and all sorts of odd symptoms they weren’t expecting.
They feel upset and betrayed by the advice and information they have read or by the people that sold them the products they are on.
What’s Going On?
Surely when you cut out processed food and eat real nourishing food such as vegetables will help your health, not make you feel worse? How can this be?
Unfortunately there are two things I see frequently: either people are going from a long time of poor eating to suddenly only eating nourishing foods. The other is people going on various pre-packaged healthy diet packs.
1. Feeling Rubbish When Eating Nourishing Foods
I answered this in this Womb Tube video.
This is really common and the reason is, all those years you were eating less than healthy foods, your poor liver couldn’t break down everything it was being given to do. So rather than pack up, which would be a very serious issue, it stores what it can’t break down in fatty deposits, ready to be dealt with later.
Your liver needs nutrients in order to break down these substances. So the minute you start jam packing your diet full of liver helping vegetables, you are giving it the tools it needs to detox at full strength and detox it does. This can result in you feeling much worse, maybe headaches, flu symptoms, a cold, irritable, grouchy, hormonal or just not feeling 100%.
On top of that, if you are eating a heavily plant based diet, the changes are you will suddenly start burning fat, which means that those fat soluble toxins stored in there until your liver can deal with it are suddenly flooding your system.
Add in side effects from things such as caffeine and sugar withdrawal and you will find that you have the perfect storm for feeling rubbish.
What Can You Do?
If you are going to do any kind of detox or cleanse, ensure you are doing it under the guidance of an appropriately trained practitioner who can help you work out the best way of going into cleansing for you and your body and help you learn the signs and symptoms your body needs a bit of extra help and support and when the cleanse has highlighted that there is something actually wrong that needs investigating.
This is one of the reasons I do season cleanse group programmes for women who want to go through this process in a supported and structured way.
2. You Have Gone On A Food Replacement Diet?
I actually went on one of these a couple of years ago as I was clinically obese and still didn’t know that much about nutrition and I just wanted to get to generally overweight so I could get onto a proper nutrition plan. I found out that low calorie diets and meal replacements can be useful to shift weight quickly.
But when you restrict your calories very drastically, your body slows down your metabolism and stores fat around the middle and I had very thin arms and legs and a huge fatty tummy. It turns out your body breaks down muscle and stores fat, which was not what I was going for!
Now I know this is a very common story and the foods are fortified with all sorts of things that aren’t suitable for me as a hormonally sensitive, insulin resistant PCOS person. These include cheaper but more common versions of specific vitamins such as folic acid (I know from testing that this isn’t great for me as I can only use it in small amounts and a lot of it, my body can’t break down). They often include non fermented, GMO soy, which is not great for someone with a tendency to oestrogen dominance.
I have also had people trying to sell me all sorts of products over the years that they don’t realise help you lose weight because they are both a laxative (makes you poop) and a diuretic (makes you pee).
I don’t have anything against any of these diets if you have done your research and the person who is selling it to you is a nutritionist, not a sales rep hoping to make commission from you.
Most of the time, ladies on these diets come to me saying they are feeling lethargic, heavy tired and with headaches and their periods may even stop and this is because their body has gone into starvation mode and it wasn’t an appropriate diet for them.
3. Take Care Of Your Body
This feels very obvious, but if you are undergoing massive health and wellbeing changes, make sure you are doing it at a pace that your body can tolerate. There are times where drastic is appropriate, eg having to lose weight before surgery, and this should be supervised by a doctor or other qualified professional that is part of your medical team.
However, if this is a diet to lose weight, feel better, or generally improve your health, do make sure that you check with your doctor that it is appropriate for you, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or take medication.
Make sure that you incorporate rest and appropriate exercise, not too much, not too little, think Goldylocks and the three bears…you need to find the level that is right for you.
If you are changing your lifestyle a lot in a short period of time, be aware that it could cause symptoms within your menstrual cycle or even stop your periods completely.
The Bottom Line When Upgrading Your Diet
Eating real food gives your body the nutrients to deal with cleansing, detoxing and losing weight, but it is important to do it in a structured way, with support from someone qualified to support you and you should always check with your doctor before going on any kind of dietary change as you may have complications due to an underlying medical condition or medications you are taking that you are unaware of. You can get my very gentle, Quick and Healthy Quickstart here for recipes to get you started.