The “Paleo Fantasy” That Saved My Life

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

Dear Mark and the Paleo community,

This post has been a long time coming. What motivated me to share this story now is all of the current criticism of the Paleo diet in the mainstream media and from certain scientists. I read through some of their findings and felt the wave of fury and frustration crash down on me. It made me think once again, “Am I doing it all wrong?” But upon reflection I realized this (following a modified Paleo diet) is the only way there is for me. If I chose to take those findings and bloggers at their word I would thus begin my journey back down a tunnel of sickness and most likely a very short life.

One and a half years ago my body felt and looked very different then what it does today. I was 21 years old and my body and mind started to turn on me. My last semester of college was on the horizon and I was set to graduate from the University of Arizona in December. In order to graduate early I enrolled in summer classes to complete needed credits. So the summer of 2011 consisted of summer school, training for my first marathon and boxing 1 or 2 hours per day. Seriously, some days I would wake up at 4am (the only time you can run during an Arizona summer) and run 13 miles and then go to class in the afternoon and go to boxing classes for a couple hours in the evening. To top it all off I had seen “Forks over Knives” multiple times and read excerpts from The China Study and had been a vegan/vegetarian for nearly 2 years. I didn’t eat a lot of junk though (or so I thought). A lot of rice and beans, granola with rice milk, oatmeal with mounds of peanut butter, and tons of salads and fruit. I shopped at co-ops and tried to buy local and organic when my budget would allow. This was my summer, a summer to tackle school and also train to run that first of many many marathons.

The first change I began to notice while I was saturated in this nonstop cycle of mental and physical motion was my weight began to plummet. I am 5 feet 9 inches tall (female) and I stayed around 140 most of the time. That summer I dropped down to 115/120. I noticed all of my clothes and belts did not fit anymore, everything just draped over my withering frame. Of course I thought, “Great! I’m going to be so thin and fit for my marathon!” I was finally developing that emaciated runner physique I had always wanted! As the summer ended and a full school course load began I started to increase my mileage and add some interval training into the mix. It-was-insane. I would wake up most days and lead an interval run with the running club, go to class all day and box in the evenings. I will also still eating a heavy-grain low-fat diet. Is it any surprise my body began to crumble?

Within the first month of school this is what I began to feel everyday: headaches, brain fog, joint pain everywhere, exhaustion, no menstruation (this had been going on for 1.5 years), shooting pains down my legs, hair loss, my toe and fingernails stopped growing, eyes were always bloodshot, depression, constant night sweats, major chest pain, constant pain in the back of my neck, major collarbone and hip pain while running, receding gums with shooting pain along my jaw line, low back pain so terrible I could not sit up straight, I could only sleep 2 hours a night due to discomfort, major pain in my face, my fingers began to look very bony and sickly and the list goes on, but those were the main offenders. I had no idea what was going on, I was terrified. After many calls home that ended with my parents being as confused as I was I set up appointments at Campus Health to evaluate why I was no longer menstruating and also see if I could get some answers about everything else I was feeling at the time.

I had loads of blood work done to test for reasons why I no longer menstruated. According to the doctor, everything they tested was within normal range and in order to begin menstruating again I should stretch daily and meditate to try to calm down; once I adopt those habits my cycle will return. At the same time I was seeing another doctor who told me my neck and facial pain were due to a sinus infection and also from bending my neck over textbooks while studying. I was promptly put on a round of antibiotics and told to adjust how I sat while studying. I took all of their instructions to heart and figured I would be good to go in a week or so. I wish. The antibiotics made me sick, so I went back and he put me on a different type. My poor poor gut flora. I was also offered a prescription for a very strong pain reliever to ease my constant headaches. I was told, “It’s normal for some people to have constant headaches, soon they go away, I can prescribe you something in the meantime to make you more comfortable.” That was the breaking point, I was furious. It had been 4 months (August to November) that I had been feeling this way and this was their solution? I spent so much time and money in campus health that semester. I would say 8 visits total, which is a lot for me. I was 21 and felt like an 85 year old with arthritis and crippling depression preparing my last words.

I stopped the running then and defaulted to the half marathon. I only boxed 3 times a week and focused more on resting. These changes, however, did not ease any of the pain. The last thing I thought I had to focus on was diet so it didn’t even cross my mind to change that. I was a brown rice and beans eating vegan who had all the answers about nutrition, right?

As December came I had spent almost 5 months in more physical and mental pain than I had experienced in all my other months of living combined. I was ready to accept this as the new normal and leave this earth young. On my graduation day I didn’t care at all that I had finished college. I wanted to be flown to the best researchers in the country so they could solve all my problems and make me who I used to be. Instead I walked across the stage with a pounding headache; my graduation robes draped over my boney frame, faked a smile in a few pictures and flew back to Colorado for the holidays with my family.

At this point I had accepted what I felt like and just tried to be as normal as possible. I started doing yoga and went skiing with my family and helped cook breakfast and dinner, I assumed this was just my fate. I thought that relaxing and changing my exercise routines would do the trick but my body still felt like it had been drenched in lighter fluid and set aflame.

The moment of change occurred at Christmas Eve mass. I was sitting between my Mom and Dad and the shooting pains in my legs were so strong I couldn’t move. I burst into tears and went running out of the church. My mom followed me out and comforted me in the best way she could. It was impossible for me to explain exactly what I was feeling, that it wasn’t just depression, it was very much a physical reaction too. One week later I was out shopping; while mulling over a tortilla purchase this thought popped into my head, “What if I’m gluten intolerant?” I went with it and bought corn instead of flour tortillas. That day I began to keep a journal of what I ate and how I felt afterward. Through the record keeping I also found that if I ate dairy during the day I would wake up drenched in sweat during the night. So I cut that too. For a while it was just dairy and gluten that I eliminated, and my gosh – I started to come back to life! Two nights after being gluten/dairy free I slept a full 8 hours and 1 week later my cycle returned. I was shocked, I started reading gluten free blogs and stories and felt this sense of power I had not had for a while.

Though so many things began to get better, I still had lingering issues, my headaches still came daily and I was still really underweight. So I decided to keep my food log going to see if I could find any other connections. It was the corn tortillas 2 months into this new diet that did me in. I had some for dinner and they seemed to rip through my digestive track and the next morning my face was broken out with pimples and I had lost 2 pants sizes in one night. It seemed like my whole body has been emptied.

After that I cut out corn and slowly began to realize the only things I could stomach and not react to were meat and vegetables (he vegetables had to be cooked). My vegetarian/vegan habits went out the window and I just ate meat and veggies. As I was explaining this whole experience to a relative they said, “oh! You’re on the Paleo diet!” I was amazed that such a diet existed. With that I began to follow blogs about Paleo and GAPS and have broadened my palate and knowledge by learning from so many who have found the true freedom that comes with this way of eating and living. I am more sensitive than most people who follow a Paleo model and too many nuts, sweet potatoes, nightshades and citrus will cause noticeable inflammation so I typically avoid those. Coffee had to go as well as I have similar reactions to it as when I eat gluten.

What has changed since incorporating this new lifestyle? I have gained 20 pounds! I am back to my normal weight. I no longer run, I walk a lot, do yoga, drop and do 20 pushups and flip large car tires at the nearby park. I sleep like a baby now. I can go for 10 solid hours without moving a muscle; it’s amazing to experience this wild shift. I also have a head of thick hair now and have to keep nail clippers nearby because of how quickly they grow. My moods are more balanced and most importantly I have a normal cycle. My headaches are few and far between. When they happen I can usually pinpoint the food or stressful situation that triggered it.

What has also been a huge help in understanding what I have gone and am still going through is meeting people with shared experience. I am doing a year of service as a volunteer in Portland, Oregon (and anyone who says Paleo is too expensive can talk to me because I manage on a very limited living allowance). The Paleo movement here is strong and I have been to meetups at the Cultured Caveman foodcart, a class on the Paleo diet taught by Jason Seib, author of The Paleo Coach, lectures by Joel Salatin of Polyface farms and Dr. Shannon Weeks, and a Paleo tour of a local grocery store. I have talked to so many people who have found healing and new internal and external strength from the Paleo diet and lifestyle. I’ve learned what works for one person in the Paleo framework does not work for another, but the shared experience of wellness and vitality is something to be continually celebrated and honored. I’m going to keep living my “Paleo Fantasy” because I want to feel well and I want to help others who have been given band aids to their health their whole life. I may have majored in English but nutrition, wellness, and healing are my passion. Thank you to Mark and many other Paleo and GAPS bloggers who have made this journey so much easier!

Caroline - After

In peace and healing,

Caroline K.

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87 thoughts on “The “Paleo Fantasy” That Saved My Life”

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  1. Wow, what a journey. So glad you found a way to heal you body. Welcome to the Portland area!

    1. Thanks! I actually moved from Portland about 4 months ago. I sent in the post over the summer. I now live in Colorado! I hope all is well in the Northwest!!

  2. Thanks for sharing 🙂 It’s so great to hear again how important diet is to successful healing, and that many of us can have trigger foods. As someone who is working to get off the “thin must be healthy” bandwagon, thanks for another example of how that may not be true. So glad you’ve found LIFE again.

  3. This is amazing. Thanks so much for sharing, Caroline! (Especially because I need the motivation to do a food log experiment in the new year….)

    1. Food Logs are tremendously helpful! I am starting one back up when 2014 hits to see if I can discover anything else.

      Good luck with yours!

  4. LOVE to hear how this woe has helped heal! So happy for you that you discovered how to get better! Thank you for sharing your story.

  5. So happy you found the solution to your health problems, Caroline. I admire your perseverance in doing your own research after the CW/prescriptions given you by your doctors. You look and sound amazing. Nothing beats feeling good!

    Congratulations and much success in your future! Grok On! 🙂

  6. Reading your story made me so happy! So glad you discovered this way of eating/living at this time of your life and have connected with the larger community. Very inspiring!

  7. That’s great. But I was wondering why she was OK before pushing herself too much. Is it gluten or is it something else that really matters?

    1. I have had gluten-like issues since birth, ear infections, bloated, irregular bowel movements, frequent gas etc. but I just always assumed it was how I was going to be and I just managed. I think it was the poor diet and overexercise that lead my body to such an extreme that it set off a really intense and long lasting auto-immune response. It manifests differently for people, alot of autoimmune issues crop up later in life, mine just happened to show themselves when I was younger due to an extreme lifestyle with alot of mental and physical stress.

      1. Thank you for explanation Caroline. Now I know better and will try it myself.

      2. I think the adrenal glands and cortisone levels played a major role in the onslaught of symptoms during your stressful time at school. Your cortisol levels rise when you are stressed and after a time your adrenal begin to fail and your cortisone levels drop. Many symptoms arise similar to the ones you described. Adrenal fatigue! Getting plenty of rest and changing your diet are two of the main treatments for adrenal fatigue. You can read more about it in the book, Adrenal Fatigue, the 21st century stress syndrome by James Wilson.

        1. Goodness, I meant to say cortisol instead of cortisone…silly me 🙂

  8. You look great, and so happy –congratulations! What an inspirational story!

    I’m much the same as you (trouble sleeping, trouble with food “going right through me,” feel best on just meat and cooked veg), though my reactions when I stray are not as severe as yours. Your story was a great reminder of the power of what we ingest; it will help me stick to my paleo guns during my current round of holiday visiting 800 km from home, so thank you!

    PS you write really well, wondered as I was reading your story whether you were an English major!

  9. Thanks for sharing Caroline. Glad you’re feeling better. I’m always impressed by people who keep tweaking and testing to figure out what’s going on with their body! Gives other people hope who’ve thought “but I’ve tried.”

    congrats again.

    1. Thanks Luke! It’s still a process everyday, understanding what works. But well worth the daily experiment.

  10. Its pretty awesome how you went paleo before you even knew what paleo was.

  11. “I was a brown rice and beans eating vegan who had all the answers about nutrition, right?”

    LOL. That sounds like me when I was in college.

    Congratulations, Caroline.

    1. Yea that seems to be what college kids think is the best for them these days. Interesting that is very much due to ideology rather than hard science and truly being in tune with your body.

  12. Well done Caroline – a perfect example of being in tune with your body and it’s needs.Keep up the great work and inspiring others to follow the right path.

  13. That was a very analytical process you went through for an English major 🙂 Great job of questioning, analyzing and experimenting for solutions, so wonderful that you found your way. I think you also learned a valuable lesson at a much younger age than I did, never defer your own judgement to that of the ‘experts’.
    We could certainly use more folks schooled in nutrition, wellness, and healing, sounds like you have found your calling. Best of luck in the future!

    1. Yea I was shocked at how detailed and scientific I could be when forced to. It made me want to go back to school and get my masters in bio or the like

  14. Seriously good work Caroline. It sounds like a really rough road that you were on. I am so glad you were able to figure everything out!

    1. I feel so thankful there is a solution that goes beyond Western medicine. Thanks for reading!

  15. Wow! Your story goes through so many extremes, that I was shaking my head all the way through. And not in a good way. I think you still need to find yourself, because I see you looking at yourself as a reflection of the things around you.

    Majoring in English really shows in your words, but I don’t see understanding behind them. I don’t know if you understand what I am trying to get to, but please spend some time to find who YOU are and not what you think other people want you to be.

    1. Huh? What are you talking about? She’s not writing The Great American Novel, she’s telling us how she got healthy by changing her lifestyle and eating habits.

    2. I feel like this journey has helped me tremendously in understanding who I am. I don’t feel lost or searching right now but rather grounded and in tune with how my life flow works and how I function best. It took alot of deeper understanding and introspection for me to get to where I am today.

  16. Thank you for sharing your story. My body became similarly messed up after years as a vegetarian. Plus, being on the pill and antibiotics put me over the edge… still dealing with the negative effects of that. So good to hear about healing!

  17. I’m very impressed that you figured it out on your own just by paying attention to what is working. Probably makes you “bulletproof” against diet dogma.

  18. Caroline,

    Congrats on finding your solutions!

    It’s fun to read about people who are scientific in their approach and pinpoint their own nuances as to what works and what doesn’t work.

    I’m always interested when other people’s experiences are so different from my own as someone who has lost a bunch of weight and added quality muscle mass and flexibility thanks to paleo/primal.

    Again congrats, enjoy life!

    -Keith from Columbus

    1. Hopefully you are from the BEST Columbus Keith, the one in Ohio. ;-}

  19. Congratulations Caroline! Glad you were able to hone in on a diet that helped your situation and you discontinued the unhealthy cardio exercise regimen. Your story will be sure to help and inspire others.

  20. Wow, so happy you found a way out of all that pain; I admire your perseverance and strength. Good luck on your continued Primal Fantasy. 🙂

  21. Great story! And interesting that you have found you can’t do a lot of sweet potatoes. I’m beginning to suspect the same thing myself, which sucks since they’ve become a major food group and I thought they were relatively benign.

    1. Yea I was so sad when I found out the high starch content did not agree with me. They are so so so good! But my hope is with continued healing I’ll be able to tolerate them without issues in the future.

      1. I had some food sensitivities (certain FODMAPS) that I was able to overcome by simply cutting them out for a few months and then gradually reintroducing them back into my diet. All the time, I made sure to drink several bottles of Kambucha along the way. Pretty much free of those issues now, happy to say. Hope you have similar success.

  22. Good to see you’ve got your health back. You didn’t mention eggs or seafood though. Do they disagree with you?

    1. I have not had any issues with seafood but of late I have tried cutting out eggs, tree nuts and night shades and have found further success. Do you have issues with eggs and seafood?

      1. No I don’t, but I know some people do. Conversely there are a couple of ladies I know, one of whom’s taken to primal-paleo, and both have nothing against prime Australian grass fed lamb or a juicy Scotch fillet: it’s just the lamb and beef doesn’t like them. Both can eat any amount of seafood and and can eat poultry, though not on consecutive days, but red meat, no.

  23. Oh man, I’m from Portland, too, and also Paleo, and the Cultured Caveman is AWESOME. Congrats on coming back into wellness and happiness!

  24. Great story! Thank you for taking the time to share.

    I would be curious to hear how you make eating primal/paleo work on a budget. I’m always up for new ideas!

    Thanks again!!

    1. I always buy in season, and I also buy whole chickens and use that for lunch meat throughout the week and then boil the carcass to make broth. I also buy fruits and veggies in season because they tend to be cheaper and also do bulk cooking on the weekend so I am not tempted to eat out throughout the week. I also don’t eat alot of fruit and nut bars, those tend to add up the cost. I stick to veggies and fruits I prepare.

  25. I am very interested in this paleo program & trying to do this program for a couple of months before the holidays… just eat chicken, eggs, fish, green vegebles & salads, with some almonds, almond butter, apples. I truly feel so much better, but haven’t lost any weight. I am wanting to lose 30 lbs, I would appreciate some advice on how much exercise is recommended & any suggestions you might have. Thanks so much. Pearl

    1. I am coming coming at this from a different angle where I was trying to gain weight. Weight loss though is a great balance between diet, exercise, sleep and digestion. I find that 12 hour fasts are great to weight maintenance, 8-10 hours of sleep a night, hour long yoga practices and sprinting in random spurts. Digestion is also huge, a regulated pattern to your digestion will help your body fall into its stride. I also try to have my last meal of the day around 6 or 7 and go to bed a couple hours later and then work out in the morning before breakfast. Hopefully these tips help. Oh and stress is huge in terms of keeping weight on, if you are able to manage stress successfully that will be a huge factor in your success. I hope you find that balance you are seeking!

    2. Pearl, don’t forget to add enough fat to your eating daily. That was hard for me but I found out that “if you don’t eat fat you don’t lose fat” was really true. So I’m eating butter on my veggies with added salt (I didn’t eat enough of that either). Plus, putting butter and coconut oil in my coffee every morning.

  26. Caroline, I have found similar issues (primarily inflammation…everywhere) with coffee (even decaf) you mind elaborating? You’ve been such a trooper, responding so eloquently to everyone’s posts. One more, if you could.

    Oh, and the dairy just simply doesn’t agree with you entirely, correct?

    1. Hello! Yes coffee causes major issues. I knew it had been for a while it was just so hard for me to give up. I’ve done some reading on this and have found that the protein coffee is very similar to that of gluten which can lead to severe cross-re activity. I usually get major pain in my left leg, a headache, stomachache and disrupted sleep patterns. With coffee I did have to give up chocolate as well as it causes similar reactions. Dairy has been out of the picture for a while. I did buy into a goat share to give raw goat milk a try and I was unsuccessful. I believe it is the casein in milk that I have issues with. Hopefully that answers your questions. Best of lust in your journey to great health!

  27. Loved your story Caroline; what does a typical days eating look like now?

  28. Thanks for your budget tips, Caroline. I’m doing similar things but haven’t started cooking in bulk on the weekends. I have cut way down on eating out though. Now it’s only once a week and preferably with friends.

    I do have one question that you may be able to answer though. I’ve been on PB since October and have lost over 10 lbs. which is fine with me. I don’t want to lose 40 lbs. overnight and have 40″ batwings if you know what I mean!

    I’m seeing loss on the scale and different parts of my body but none off my lower stomach at all. It looks like my spare tire has its own spare tire! The only exercise I’m doing right now is a half-hour walk 5-6 days a week. Any suggestions? Or from anyone?

    Thanks. Grok On! ;_

    1. I’d say the biggest factors in my weight regulation are 8-10 hours of sleep a night, stress management, regulated digestion and stabilizing workouts. These are workouts that engage my whole body and invite my core to strengthen itself. For me this means yoga, squats, assisted pull-ups, planks, push-ups and sprinting. Walking is great but it does not ask the core to engage and strengthen the way other movements do. More full body movement will help, in my opinion. Hopefully this helps!

      1. Thanks for your direct response, Caroline. I appreciate it. I’ll give your suggestions a try and see if that does the trick. Grok On! 🙂

  29. Caroline,

    Awesome job. While most of us are on a journey to lose weight, it is great that this diet makes you healthy regardless if your weight it going up or down. I also appreciate the shoutout to the cultured caveman. It is great that we have a few places to go in the portland area that we can eat out at.

    Peace and continued success!!!

  30. Caroline;

    A fellow Portlander here! Congrats on healing yourself! Who would have thought that the vegan capitol of the world would also be such a paleo friendly city? It really is very easy to live Primally in this area, and, as you said, relatively affordable if you put a little effort into it. I hear New Season’s even hosts Paleo workshops now. After reading your story,my new years resolutions are to finally checkout the Cultured Caveman food cart, and to find some paleo meet-ups.

    Keep up the good work. Cheers!

  31. congratulations! like you, i discovered paleo in a “sideways” manner. i was just trying to figure out how to deal with my diagnosis of hashimotos thyroiditis- an auto immune disease. i had an interesting and affirming experience recently; i had not been to the dentist in 3 years and finally made an appointment for a check up and cleaning. i expected a worse than usual report. instead i got “wow! you do a great job taking care of your teeth!” huh? i had no cavities, was complimented on my flossing work (i floss like twice a year) and was sent to have a “minimal” cleaning! so i have lost weight, have clear skin, sleep great, have no depression AND my teeth have stopped rotting. the nay sayers can criticize all they want, i’ve found the magic bullet.

  32. Congrats from a fellow Portlander as well! Looks like there’s a lot of us on here! Do any of you do the Paleo meet-ups? I’ve been thinking of trying one out this year.

    1. I did go to them when I was living there for sure. I sent in my story a few months ago when I was in Portland but I am now in Colorado. I encourage you to go though, it’s a great community.

  33. Congratulations on your new-found health — I”m so glad you were able to question what you were doing and that you were not afraid to reach out and try something new. You look wonderful and vibrant in your after pix.

    When reading your story, my first reaction was to suggest the GAPS protocol along with Primal. But then as I continued to read, i saw that you had already found that info. Also, — just in case you haven’t found it yet — there’s also the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) that may be of help to you and may give you more info and ideas.

    Thank you for posting your success story. I just love to hear about folks feeling better and healing through Primal efforts. The very best of luck to you!

  34. Thanks for sharing your story. I would be really interested in reading a how-to guide about Paleo on a limited income or budget, with shopping lists.

  35. Brilliant story! I think maybe I have missed something along the way though, because what I don’t understand is, that you said you were a vegan, but then you went on to say that dairy didn’t suit you. I didn’t think that vegans had dairy anyway, so at what point did you add milk back & if you weren’t having dairy anyway, surely that wouldn’t have had any effect on your previous symptoms? Sorry I think have just got a bit lost somewhere in this story.

    It’s great that you are now feeling better though & that you are in tune with your body & have worked this all out on your own & at such a young age too. It would have been awful living with all those symptoms for the rest of your life. Well done!

    1. Thanks for the question, I guess I should have been more clear. I was about 98% vegan but around my graduation there were parties and such and I had ice cream a few times and had those reactions then. It was easier to say vegan and go with it because that was the vast majority of what I ate for a while. Hopefully that clarifies things!

  36. Do you (or did you) follow GAPS as prescribed? I’ve been looking into this. I’ve tried the AIP and it helped, but I still feel like pieces are missing for me. Your story has a lot of similarities to what I’ve been dealing with most my life.

    That’s so great you found a road out of your health issues!

    1. I did the GAPS intro for two weeks, it help tremendously. But I have found more relief in a strict AIP. I’d say it’s a blend of the two, I eat alot of bone broths and take a heavy probiotic but also follow the AIP. It’s worked really well, I also try to limit my FODMAP intake as those can cause digestive distress as well. Good luck with your journey and please keep in touch.

  37. Great story – thank you for sharing! Did you determine what was causing the chest pains? I have been experiencing chest pains for months and I haven’t yet found the root cause. I’ve been following an elimination diet but it is going slowly. Any input would be greatly appreciated!

    Thank you!

    1. I never pin pointed what was causing that pain for me. I noticed it receded most noticeably when I took all grains from my diet (not just gluten). It had not returned of flared up since Ihave been following strict paleo. I have noticed different symptoms appear and another one disappear as I go through this process. I think the best thing is to start a base zero, for me that is broth, cooked veggies and meat. (excluding nightshades). And then re-incorporate foods to see if any flare ups occur. Keep a very close food journal to track it all.

  38. While my experience is vastly differently from yours as a much older male, I have to say – again – Mark saved my life. From obese with chronic body pain to freedom.

    Buy his books, support him in any way one can.

    1. He truly is amazing! I’m so glad you have found the sweet sweet relief all this information and research brings. I just bought the Primal Connection, I’m excited to see what new advice I glean.

  39. Caroline,

    Well done !!!

    So glad you have found wellness instead of suffering… I hope your story inspires many others to follow in your footsteps !


  40. This story was amazing and so inspirational. I too have been reading stories in the main stream news about Paleo and Primal being a fad. I am 62 years young. I am 5 feet tall and been over weight off and on the last 50 years. Two years ago I wanted to donate a kidney to my BFF. My doctor helped me get healthy. I read everything I could find written by Mark and the Paleo community. It took me 18 months and I lost 20 pounds and dropped my blood pressure (without drugs to normal) I feel better than when I was 20 years old. So the story written by Caroline K prompted me to say congratulations to her because she is young and I am close to retiring and we BOTH listened to our own bodies. Happy New Year to all!

    1. Thank you for the great support, Cecelia! It sounds like you have been on an amazing journey as well. I hope retirement is peaceful and full of vitality for you!

  41. Caroline : well done!
    You made two comments that resonated with me : bloggers dissing basic Paleo is a trendy trend right now, but for you it’s obviously very important to just keep at the meat & veg routine. And good for you! Pork & crackling is my favourite and does me the most good.
    Also the “paleo is expensive” bit : I agree with you it can be done cheaply. The hugely expensive distractions are just from tarty bloggers and those who have to make “pretend” food from odd “paleoish” ingredients.
    Have you seen the price of coconut oil?! No way I’ll ever buy that stuff.

    1. Thanks for your response! Coconut oil is so expensive! geez! I am looking for lard at the store but have not had luck yet. What do you use for high heat cooking? Coconut products in general are good but expensive and also take alot of resources to get to where I live, which in currently Colorado where coconut tress could never grow. I really wish I could just eat off the land around me, unfortunately I have none of the skills required.

      Enjoy 2014! I hope food health and life balance stay with you!

      1. Caroline,
        I live in Arizona and believe it or not, coconut trees don’t grow here either! But! We have been using coconut oil for the past several years by buying it locally or online and stretching it with other oils,

        Check out avocado oil (apparently OK’d by Mark) and also use ghee (clarified butter) which can take high temps, as well. I know folks who can’t tolerate dairy, but can use ghee. It’s super easy to make your own ghee — google it.

        After buying lots of coconut oil online at even cheaper prices than we could get locally, I found that Costco has Nutiva Organic Coconut Oil in a 78 oz. tub for $24.99 (as of this posting). It may be a lot to spend at one time, but that amount of coconut oil will probably last just about forever – especially if you mix it with other oils. Not sure how to handle it if you don’t have a Costco membership – maybe you know someone who does and would be willing to buy it for you.

        So, check out other oils such as avocado (cooking temp up to 500°). It’s MVHO that coconut oil is expensive right now because it’s become popular, so I think that eventually the price will drop.

        Don’t give up- where there’s a will, there’s a way! And so far you have certainly proved it! Loved your story and all the best to you! Thank you so much for posting.

  42. “What do you use for high heat cooking?” LARD 😐 or Beef Fat.
    Mostly all our cooking fat is beef fat offcuts given by our local butcher who may well have a soft spot for my gorgeous wife.
    I take the beef fat and slice it thinly, pre-frying an amount and using that to cook. If there is LOTS I render it down in small batches. It actually withstands a decent high heat but only if the heat is raised slowly : chips (high heat!) are delicious but you’ve got to watch it like a hawk. Beef fat varies in quality and useability according to which vut of meat it came off. Its all turning into quite a skill.
    So … bat yer eyelashes at the butcher : they have ten times as much fat as they can use, actually.

  43. My DH and I were speaking with a lady (Registered Nursing Sister) who is about 60 kilos overweight (possibly more) as she is shorter than I am and I weigh 63 kg and am about 6 kg overweight. (working on it with Paleo – good results too)

    She is Type 2 Diabetic (about 50 yrs) very lovely lady, struggling with fluid retention as well as weight. She is about to change Her diabetic advisor to another person as she feels he is not assisting her health with his instructions and she is rapidly gaining weight. She said she put on about 20kgs in 6 months.
    She tells us that she eats fish, cheese and milk/dairy products, cereals, grains, cannot eat any fruit and is not able to eat much in the way of vegetables due to problems with her gut (flora?)

    She says she has never been able to eat red meat so does not like meat at all.
    It would appear from her comments that her intake of protein(and iron) is very low and we did suggest to her to try the Paleo style of eating before we found out about her restrictions.

    I rather think that she may be a celiac and that that is part of her digestive problems. What to suggest?

    Just being treated for being a diabetic type 2 (diet related it would seem) is not really achieving a good level of health and wellbeing for her in view of her rapidly increasing weight.

    I do not want to just shrug and say “too hard” but after being able to improve my own health to such a degree that I am fairly fit (working on that too – with Tai Chi / weight training and interval walking – I am not on any medication (although I do need to have assistance with beesting allergies) and I am over 65, reducing my weight with Paleo and exercise from 90kgs to 63kgs gradually over 18 -2 years, I feel that I would be thrilled for her if I could offer her some useful and effective advice.
    Has anyone any suggestions or advice to pass onto her???
    It would be so much appreciated. Thank you. Peggy In Australia

  44. This was a truly inspiring + well written article Caroline. Brought tears to our eyes. It’s the stories like this which emphasise why we all need to get our stories heard + out in the universe. To help people.

    Thank you. Emma + Carla.

  45. Hi Caroline

    I would appreciate any information you have about engaging in the Paleo diet as a student with very little money to spend on food. I am 23 and have been plagued with digestive and other issues for 12 years; I hope this diet can help me. Thank you.


  46. What a story, thanks for sharing. It’s different than most stories which are about losing weight.

    From you you described I think you were dying… your body was starting to shut down piece by piece.

    I’m not a huge believer in the whole GLUTEN thing, however.
    I am myself supposedly gluten intolerant, I was not, this is recent (10-15 years). I strongly believe that GI / Gluten issues are much more related the the quality of grains we eat than gluten itself.

    I’m French, so bread is a huge part of our life and I ate lots of it. I remember my dad telling me “eat more bread” when I was a kid. I moved to the US when I was 25 (14 years ago) and after a few years started having GI issues, pain, bloating, weight gain, acid reflux.

    2 years ago I discovered I was “gluten intolerant”.
    In my opinion and I heard other immigrants noticing the same thing, this has to do with eating GMO grains in the US, where most grains are GMO rather than the gluten proteins. GMO’s has been proven many times over to be dangerous and carcinogen, what can you expect from grains which have built-in insecticides and are heavily sprayed with more pesticides and chemical fertilizers? Yet they are heavily subsidized by our taxes in the US thanks to wide spread corruption at government level allowing this to go on and more, this is mad. We almost need to be glade when something is not FDA approved as the FDA is certainly the most corrupt agency of the US government.

    What is also striking in your story is how ignorant your doctors were. I have noticed the same with mine. I was prescribed Prilosec for acid reflux which suppresses the symptoms but makes the problem worst as someone with acid reflux actually needs more stomach acids. I’ve taken myself of this crap long time ago but it highlights the poor to no training doctors have about nutrition and forget about most nutritionists as they are taught the SAD as the bible. I have been overweight and getting heavier by the years, yet non of my doctors ever told me, “you’re too fat”. This is terrible, it’s like almost everybody should see a good naturopath (ND) before or instead of seeing an MD, but insurances do not cover them because they are considered as quacks and they are expensive. The last GI specialist I’ve seen told me I needed to eat more grains, like oats and stuff. Oats is what has been giving me the worst acid reflux.

    Anyway, glade you made it.