For the past month I’ve been reintroducing grains and beans back into my diet after nearly 3 years on Paleo. I scoured the internet looking for advice but I wasn’t able to find much. My digestive system seems to have finally adjusted so I’m sharing my experience and offerening some tips.
First off, if you’re like me, you got on the Paleo bus just as it was becoming a big fad. I followed the Primal Blueprint and because I wasn’t a super athlete and seeking to lose weight, I followed Mark Sisson’s instructions and stayed low-low carb until I got to my ideal weight (which I never did). I didn’t exclude dairy but I wasn’t eating much in the way of starch or fiber beyond what I got from vegetables. The argument was we don’t need fiber, fat works just as well. Now of course, the Paleo gurus are admitting the importance of starch and fiber especially for intestinal health. As a result of blindly following their initial advice, my gastric micro-flora and fauna changed for the worse. I stopped being able to digest things I’d never had a problem with before — tomatoes in particular. I started eating coconut flour bread to bulk up but found I couldn’t eat more than 2 small slices per day without getting backed up. I’ve never had problems with constipation in my life.
Fast forward to present day, suddenly eating a bowl of oatmeal is causing me a lot of gastric pain and pressure. I’m vacillating between diahrrea and constipation, I’m clearly not digesting my food, and boy am I gassy. Well, I’m happy to say after a week of following a few simple things, my body is finally (mostly) back to normal.
- Take a Probiotic. I recommend Prescript Assist, that’s the one I’ve been taking and it’s amazing. I am currently doing 1 capsule first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. You can do up to 2 depending on your body’s reaction. I’m doing great with 1 a day so I see no need to change it up. Once I’m through my current bottle of 60 pills, I’ll start doing 1 every other day, eventually working down to 2 capsules a week.
- Drink LOTS of water. On Paleo I didn’t need as much water because I didn’t eat as much fiber. Your body needs *lots* of water to process fiber. Shoot for 2 litres per day. Also watch the caffeine, alcohol, and anything that can potentially dehydrate you. Make sure you drink a full glass of water with meals that you eat grains or beans with.
- Watch the amount. I made the mistake of pigging out too soon and boy did I regret it. I say listen to your body. Eat slowly. When you start feeling like you’ve had enough, stop. If you’re not sure, eat a small amount, then go do something else for like 10 minutes, then come back and eat a little more.
- Chew Your FOOD! When I started seeing whole undigested grains passing through me, I realized not only is there something up with my digestive system, but I probably need to be helping it a long. Now I eat slowly and carefully and make sure I chew up those grains as best as I can before my digestive system has to deal with them.
- Move after eating. Go for a walk, do the dishes, whatever, just don’t sit down immediately after a fiber heavy meal.
- Drink Kombucha, eat yogurt. Even though you’re taking a probiotic, you still need to eat foods that contain them. At one point, I was drinking 32 oz of kombucha per day and just eating yogurt and cooked fruit and vegetables.
- Back off when your body doesn’t respond well. Per the last item above, I was experiencing horrible gastric pain, I was hungry but eating hurt. I ate several very small meals per day of cooked fruit with yogurt or cooked vegetables with starchy tubers I knew my body could easily digest. At one point, I had chinese takeout for dinner - fried rice and deep fried cheese wontons. It didn’t upset my stomach and I felt fine the next day. Not even kidding. I thought it was nuts but I figured I trust my body and that’s what it wants.
- Take a Magnesium supplement. I’m not entirely sure what role this plays in the human digestive system, but given how vital it is, I suspect Magnesium deficiency contributed to my health problems and possibly to my digestive problems. On its own, it did little to help, in fact taking too much can cause diahrrea. I’m just outlining the things I did to get my body back on track. I use Trace Minerals Mega-Mag. It tastes disgusting so I put it in a few Tablespoons of fruit juice. I take it first thing in the morning (with my probiotic) and right before I go to bed. Currently I take 2 mL in the morning and 1 mL at night.
And that’s pretty much it. Obviously you’ll have to adjust this for yourself and of course consult a doctor if things don’t improve.