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Pescetarian, Nuts, and a Trip to the ER

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  • Pescetarian, Nuts, and a Trip to the ER

    Hi all,

    A friend of mine recently decided to go Primal, following my lead. She has been a pescetarian (vegetarian + fish) for many years, but ate a lot of processed foods, grains, etc., rather than a diet of exclusively whole fruits, vegetables, nuts and fish. So, she cut out all the processed foods, minimized grains, and started eating more of all the good stuff. A few days ago, she experienced a lot of stomach pain, went to the doctor, and was told that since she hadn't eaten meat for so long (among other reasons, I presume), the increased amount of rough/heavy nuts in her diet was sort of tearing up her digestive system. Currently, she is only allowed soft foods, meal replacement drinks, etc., and no nuts, seeds, "heavy meats," or "irritative vegetables" (mostly broccoli, apparently) until her stomach repairs. Anyone know about this or have experience with it? Is it a problem unique to her, something vegetarians going Primal should all be careful of, or CW bunk from a doctor? Any tips on how to re-accustom her stomach to eating nuts and so on without trouble? I'd appreciate any information you can throw at me.


  • #2
    Weird. I was a vegetarian before primal and didn't have major issues making the conversion. I gradually brought fish back in and then pork, beef, and chicken. I will admit, the first few weeks I had some diarrhea but it went away quickly; wasn't sure if it was the inclusion of meat or just my body flushing a ton of water out. In any case, now it's all good. My fiance and I went out for dinner last month and I downed an entire plate of spare ribs and she was like "are you sure you aren't going to get sick????" Nope, no issues.

    Over what period of time did this happen? Are you sure she just didn't get some bad meat or something? Perhaps undercook something?


    • #3
      Does she have any history of colitis or other bowel conditions?


      • #4
        I'm pretty sure this is a legitimate recommendation. Nuts and seeds are just as problematic as grains (sometimes even more so, depending on the quantity eaten), and raw vegetables are often hard to digest. When you've damaged your gut on a poor diet, foods that are normally healthful can be hard to tolerate, especially things like red meat and fruit. When I was a vegan, I could barely digest anything outside of grains and processed foods. On any occasion where I tried to eat more healthful items, my stomach would be torn apart.


        • #5
          Nuts can be very hard to digest. I think it is worthwhile to eliminate them until things settle down and then add them back slowly - if at all. In regard to the meat, several of the vegetarians I know had a difficult time digesting meat at first. They had to start with small quantities and build up over a couple of months - otherwise they had GI distress.

          Hope she's better soon!
          Using low lectin/nightshade free primal to control autoimmune arthritis. (And lost 50 lbs along the way )


          • #6
            I had a friend who was vegetarian for 20 years and even trace amounts of most meat proteins would send her into severe gastric distress.

            But I would say that yes, the conversion from PROCESSED foods to real foods can be rough for a lot of people.

            I dont know that I would start with nuts, except maybe finely processed nut butters. If she had no problems with dairy, maybe make the conversion to higher fat dairy (plain yogurt) and introduce soft cooked vegetables & meat (pureed soups, etc. ). Make the transition slowly. Investigate making better meal replacement drinks for her with coconut milk and plain protein powders rather than whatever sugar or aspartame stuff they probably gave her.

            There also might be room here to look at the more carb laden primal foods so she doesnt toss carb flu on top of gut pain. Mashed sweet potatoes with lots of butter. Small portions of meat when she is ready.
            MTA: because it is rare I dont have more to say

            "When I got too tired to run anymore I just pretended I wasnt tired and kept running anyway" - my daughter Age 7


            • #7
              Thanks for all the quick and thoughtful replies.

              @Cavemanj, she's been doing primal (although, still only fish, no other kinds of meat) for a couple of weeks now, and up until this was having good results (losing weight, more energy, etc.). I wasn't there at the time that she got sick, so I can't speak to the immediate circumstances about cooking/undercooking and so on.
              @kbn1: No history of bowel conditions that I am aware of.
              @tarek: That's good to know - amazing how our bodies adapt for both better and worse, isn't it?

              Anyway, thanks for the replies. I had just never heard of this before, and was worried that it might be a sign of something bigger than just too much change too quickly. I'm just glad she hasn't been scared off of real food by it - I think she intends to continue eating whole foods after she's well, but just take a more gradual approach to bringing them in.


              • #8
                @jammies and runnergal: Again, thanks for the info. I'll pass along your advice on the switch. I had the same thought about the meal replacement drinks, but I think for the moment, she just wants to follow doctor's orders to get back on track, and I'd rather not push her if it's more likely to keep her coming back afterward.