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A complicated recovery

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    Sorry – smartphones!! Just wanted to say i talked about it in ‘peat steps ‘ under ‘ nutrition ‘ and Ann posted lots of very helpful info on peat stuff which is sort of where it so happens I seem to be heading by following what works for me. I think orthorexia might be a danger with peat, but hopefully being a ‘post-dieter ‘ gives one some protection there.


    @Sue That’s interesting as I’m discovering more on serotonin,this learned helplessness whom I never was as a kid!
    I think Ive been battling with serotonin/estrogen/dopamine imbalances for nearly 20years and sometimes when I do something rigth I feel like that little kid again…..however its all so complicated and so many factors involved that I cant seem to fit the puzzle together.
    I do know gut/bowelmovement&these hormones are a huge factor in my overall wellbeing,especially mentally and energywise! People never believe me when I’m trying to convince them that ‘it’s not me’ who’s reacting/behaving like this&cant get her act together.
    Ray described learned helplessness syndrome existing from a childhood stress situation,which is true in my case. From an early age a couple of very traumatic incidences happened and I was basically forced to deal with adult emotions,so while the traumas themselves are dealt&fine with….I’m probably still dealing with a distorted gut-brainbarrier function probably even worsened by the Lyme back then. I’ve also been diagnosed with MS in the past,which according to Ray is also a malfunctioning of high serotonin.

    I think if someone was able to figure these connections out and translate them to understandable language as a barrier between Peat&GAPS,one could become very succesful.

    The issues you describe,you started suffering are all high-serotonin symptoms.


    Thanks Dutchie, that’s confirming. I think if we share info when we have similar experiences we can get somewhere. I also have the estrogen problems and some success starting with my efforts there. Now to put it together. And lose weight too! I Don’t know much about dopamine and can only hope that I don’t need to – that managing these two things plus weight loss ( which is another another story:-( )will be enough!


    @Sue From what I understood fatgain has to do with estrogendominance,so maybe once you’ve got that corrected the fat will come off eventually?


    @Dutchie and Sue- Thanks for the comments.

    @Sue- Although I like dairy for many reasons, I eventually concluded it was making me sleepy and a little foggy headed. I don’t have any problems with bananas, but I got tired of eating so many of them.

    Thanks for the recommendation to try BCAAs. It’s an interesting idea and I’m going to give it a shot.


    Hey, what are bcaa’s? After reading thru all of this I wonder if I should cut some fat. I feel like I spent my whole life restricting fat so when I read Nourishing traditions And became less afraid of eating fat, like whole milk, cream & real butter, I couldn’t get enough of it. I have been eating whole fats for several years now. I thought that was healthier, & as mentioned above, I couldn’t get enough of it.

    I have been trying to heal for 7 months. Except for a 1 degree temp gain there are no improvements. I certainly have the weight gain but no energy to exercise. I thought the energy was tied to sleeping well, which I don’t, but you (David) have lots of energy & don’t sleep well. I feel like I have been a sloth for 7 months. I want to strengthen my muscles. If I stoop down I have a hard time getting up. I don’t remember having that problem last year. I like to walk but I don’t think that’s enough. I feel kind of stumped as to where to go from here. I also don’t like trying to eat so many calories. It makes me wonder if I am taking steps backwards when I don’t get the calories in, but then some people have said not to worry about that, just eat to appetite. You all might be surprised to see how little I eat in a day if I just eat to appetite. Then again, it might be more that I think. I don’t know,lol.


    Hi Linda,

    BCAAs are “branched chain amino acids,” three of the essential amino acids that we get from protein. There are several arguments for supplementing them, but briefly they are thought to help with muscle recovery and reduce central fatigue by competing with tryptophan. I’ve never taken them before, but they seem like a reasonable supplement to try. They are absorbed into the bloodstream almost immediately because they bypass the liver, which means they are very quickly available for muscle building.

    Many years ago, I also went through a Nourishing Traditions kick, including the raw milk, fermented everything, and lots of animal fats and stocks. Now I think the whole WAPF movement is just an unscientific fad, with a few good ideas mixed in. In my opinion, it’s probably prudent *for most people* to limit fat calories to 30% of total consumption, and I personally am going for about 20%, with those fats coming from meat (like the New York strips I’m grilling tonight!), a bit of oil or butter for cooking, and the oil that’s used in the supermarket bread that I buy.

    My health is still less than ideal, but I’ve had pain and fatigue issues basically my entire adult life. I can say, however, that my current diet and exercise routine are increasing my energy, sociability, and sense of well-being, even if I still haven’t found the holy grail. Like you mentioned, I still have bad insomnia–as well as pain and other issues–but I’m doing what I can to fight back and make the best of my condition, which after all may be permanent. I’ve got to accept that, and do what I can to be healthy otherwise.

    I really encourage you to try to increase your physical activity, even if you don’t have much energy right now. When I started exercising back in June, I had almost no stamina. I forced myself to take walks every day, whether I felt like it or not, and *gradually* I started adding short running intervals until I could run for half an hour without stopping. I’m still slow, and I get winded way too easy, but I have made a ton of progress since I started walking. You just have to stick with it, even when it sucks.

    I also think it’s important to do strength exercises, no matter what your current level of strength is. A strong body is so important for well-being. It’s embarrassing to admit it, but last spring after I put on a lot of weight, I started having difficulty bending down to put on my socks. I’ve moved way past that now–and I never want to go back. Rest is important, but so is regular physical activity.

    I described my daily routine in detail in my second-to-last post, but I’ve decided to become even more exact. I actually find a schedule and strict guidelines very liberating, because I’m more efficient and don’t have to think much about things like shopping or food preparation. I even bought a kitchen scale, which is probably necessary to be scientific about this.

    Here is my current daily diet, in it’s new, stricter form:

    8 oz. orange juice (calcium fortified)
    10 g. BCAAs


    4 slices white bread (the dollar-a-loaf stuff)
    6 oz. deli turkey breast
    2 slices tomato (salted)
    lettuce, pickle, mustard, BBQ sauce (as desired)
    12 oz. Dr. Pepper


    10 oz. meat (steak, pork chops, chicken breast, fish, etc.)
    300 calories starch (white rice, pasta, potato, etc.)
    1/2 cup of vegetables
    1 tbs olive oil or butter for cooking
    2 beers

    This diet is about 2,100 calories and roughly 20% fat, 35% carbs, 25% protein, and 10% alcohol. If I can maintain it–and I think I can–I should lose a pound or two of fat a week, and I’ve got about 30 pounds to lose. I don’t expect to feel deprived because I still get to enjoy bread, pasta, meat, soda, and beer–all big favorites of mine. I will only increase my calories (probably the carb calories) if I start to feel extra fatigued or don’t have energy to exercise like I have been.

    mighty m

    @David … you are so prolific! I commend your documentation. Whatever you find that works, it will be well documented and vice versa. Also, you seem like a really good person.

    … I remember you talking about struggling in other threads, and so I apologize if this suggestion is redundant. But reading your comment raised a BIG red flag to me when you wrote: “I also don’t like trying to eat so many calories. It makes me wonder if I am taking steps backwards when I don’t get the calories in, but then some people have said not to worry about that, just eat to appetite. You all might be surprised to see how little I eat in a day if I just eat to appetite. Then again, it might be more that I think. I don’t know,lol.”

    I think *I* might have said something like “just eating to appetite is fine” … I perhaps wrongly projected my experience of strong hunger pangs, assuming it was universal or at least common. In my case, I was so hungry by the time I ditched paleo, that it was easy for me to hit 2,500 without hardly trying. Some days I have intensely physical, stomach-growling hunger for twice that.

    Anyway, “eating to appetite” will only work if you have a healthy appetite! But your last comment makes me wonder if you do … your words really sound appetite-suppressed, a classic low-metabolism and/or semi-starvation symptom. Do you think doing a quick calorie count for a few days would be crazy-making? If it is less than 2,500 (the amount non-restricted/non-dieted people actually have been measured to eat, for women 25-50; Matt’s in Diet Recovery2 is a little more precise but in the same ballpark), you might try raising it to that. And consistency can really help.

    Re sleep: I’ve made really big improvements on poor sleep … I mean, it’s better but I still have bad nights. If you just can’t get it yet, great sleep is not a prerequisite to improve!! Please don’t get hung up on that! One night this month, I had insomnia from 3am on, took my temp at 6am, and it was 98.6! (Months ago I was in the 96-97’s.) It can be done, sleep might be the last thing for you, rather than the first.

    Re exercise: I agree with the exercise recommendations by David, with this caveat (which I don’t think is in disagreement with David, I’m just making an additional emphasis): You must eat to fuel it. I think Matt has quoted Diana Schwartzbein, and I now paraphrase: Exercise doesn’t make energy, exercise takes energy. Exercise is incredibly good for you, but you have to fuel it. If you aren’t sure if you are eating enough, please check and find out!

    Personally, I find walking every day essential, at least 30 min total (could be in smaller chunks). For my mental well-being as well as physical, I get restless cabin fever without it. Every day. That’s “allowed” even to those recovering from an underweight spot. As for strength, I find just once weekly to work best for me for now. If the exercises are really easy, maybe 2x.

    Sorry for the book … just some thoughts that came to mind as I read your comment, Linda.


    @Linda others mentioned to start a daily walk as exercise,so i was theorizing….maybe when you start doing this,being outside daily and doing some movement migth improve your insomnia? Id think not having some daily movement migth disrupt sleep too,bc the body basically was at rest the entire day?…..i dunno….


    Hey, thanks for your responses guys. This is really helpful. David, I decided to start doing a bit more exercise because it does make me feel better. Yesterday I put in an exercise tape I used to do pretty regularly. It’s called The Firm. I like it because you use weights and it is aerobic. I used the lightest weights I have since I’m just getting back to it. I did feel better after.

    I have been wondering more & more about sticking with WAP but it has been so good for my husband. Since I have loosened up a bit with more processed junk he is adding on a few lbs. I don’t want to mess him up.

    mighty m, what you are saying about the food makes a lot of sense. I find when I don’t try to make the calories (stuff my face) I get a little hungry an hr later. This morning I grabbed a slice of leftover pizza, ate a couple bites before getting my dog out. Normally I take her out first. With the cooler weather she wants to walk & I want to get something in my stomach. I finished that slice when we got back. Then cooked a slice of bacon with 1 egg. Ate a handful of cut up watermelon. Had iced coffee with milk & sugar – 2 glasses. These days I feel more thirsty than hungry. Now here I am eating a small dish of whole fat cottage cheese with coconut flakes thrown in & flax seeds which have a lot of calories. I really think I have not learned to recognize my hunger, so weird! I will have to go back to counting calories & I will have to eat more junk to get there, otherwise I feel so sickeningly full before I even get 2500 calories.

    Dutchie, I am with you on the exercise. I do try to walk everyday just so I am moving at least. I do think it is hard to be really tired at night if you are not active during the day. That is probably why I would lie awake for an hr sometimes before I would get to sleep. If I was tired it was probably from boredom. Over on the insomnia thread someone mentioned sleep restriction therapy. I read up on it & decided to try it. It goes against what Matt recommends, but that wasn’t working so why not? Instead of trying to get 8 or more hrs of sleep you stay up to 1 or 2 am, you have to be dead tired before you go to bed& wake up at 6 am so you get 5-6 hrs sleep. It trains you to sleep thru with no wake ups in between.

    I have done this for 3 nights. First night I stayed up till 12:30 & woke at 7:00am. I was supposed to stay up much later than that, but after going to bed at 10:30 every night for so long I wanted to ease into this. I expected to be very tired & grumpy Sat. I wasn’t. Sat. night I stayed up till 1:00am, got up at 7:00. I can’t do 6am, I think 7 is ok. It’s the condensed hrs of sleep that is impt & the set waking time. Because I did wake up during the night I was going to stay up last night to 1:30, but didn’t make it. I crashed at midnight. I woke 3 times & got up a little after 7 this morning. No alarm clock so have to use my internal clock. And you’re not allowed to take naps. Even tho I still wake up at night I find that I am getting back to sleep very quickly, whereas before it could take a while, maybe an hr or more. They say it takes a month to fix insomnia. I don’t know if I will last that long but still want to try. It makes more sense for me to go to bed when I am really tired than 10:30 just to try to get enough hrs. How much sleep was I really getting when I woke up 2-3 times, tossed & turned for hrs before getting back to sleep? My son kept telling me I should stay up longer. I really think he is much smarter than I am about a lot of things. Now that he is home for a while he stays up with me. He always stays up till around 2am.

    mighty m, I don’t mind reading you “book”. I have read all your comments & you are very insightful. All of you have been very helpful to me. Appreciate it.


    Thanks, Mighty! I really appreciate the compliment. :)

    I agree with you that it’s important to eat enough to fuel your work-outs. Exercise should make you feel strong and invigorated, and if you can’t eat, rest, and rebuild, then you’ll just feel drained instead. I’ve known several people who can run impressive distances (like marathons), yet they feel tired whenever they’re not running–because they don’t eat enough to recover. That’s why I think it’s really important to learn to “read” your body for signs of overtraining.

    For people with low energy levels, there are a lot of low impact ways to exercise. Those daily walks are a great idea, and so are short calisthenic routines or easy weightlifting. Fifteen minutes with some barbells in the morning shouldn’t be too tiring, but it can still make a huge difference if you keep it up for a couple of months.

    I often err on the side of doing too much, but that’s just my personality. I’m also a (relatively) young man, and my hormones probably provide a bit of protection from physical stress. Still, I had some rough days when I was getting started, but my body is adapting and now my soreness is much more manageable. It was definitely worth it to push through and not give up.

    Linda, that’s great that you decided to add some exercise back to your schedule. I think you’ll be happy you did. I’m curious to hear how your insomnia plan works out. I completely agree that it’s pointless to go to bed when you’re not tired. There’s little I hate more than lying in bed for hours not being able to sleep.

    By the way, I apologize if I was too dismissive of the WAPF lifestyle, as it seems to be working for your husband. For me, it wasn’t very successful, but I know many people swear by it–and there are many worse diets. The main thing I dislike about Nourishing Traditions is that it makes people feel guilty if they’re not soaking their hand-milled flour in a homemade sourdough culture, cooking stock for days at a time, or driving 50 miles to a farm to score some raw milk. I just think all those things are unnecessary, but I still eat many dinners that would be WAPF friendly, like the steak and potato I had last night.


    One last thought: I think that eating for recovery doesn’t necessarily mean extra calories. Probably the most important thing is to get enough protein in an otherwise moderate diet. Eating some carbs for energy is also important, but a solid protein intake seems essential for maintaining (or increasing) lean tissue.

    My present commitment to eating more protein is one of the things that’s really helped me in the last couple of months. In the past, I’ve eaten low protein diets because protein foods can be hard to digest and cause problems for me. In the short run, I actually feel better eating almost no meat, but I’ve discovered that over the long run I need the protein to maintain energy levels for exercise.

    My current diet maintains a decent level of protein (about 130 grams a day, if I remember correctly), while keeping calories below maintenance. I hope that the protein will sustain me, even though I’ll be losing weight from the hypo-caloric diet. If I’m right, I will have proved (to myself anyway!) that eating for recovery isn’t necessarily just eating more–it’s eating smarter.


    David, that is a good point you make about eating smarter. When I tried counting calories before, my problem was figuring out what to eat to get it up to 2500. I didn’t know what I wanted to eat, I just wanted to get there. So I grabbed a bag of potato chips or a big bowl of ice cream. I am really trying to get a big amt of cal. in first part of the day. I don’t want to be stuffing myself before bed. It is hard for me to know what works for me because I always feel the same.

    Now I am going to feel like a dope but I don’t know how you figure out the percentages of fat, protein, etc per day.

    Anyway, last night I made myself stay up till 1:15, not because I was extremely tired but bored. TV is pretty boring at night. I know I woke up once & got back to sleep pretty quickly. I usually wake when my husband gets up at 3am, but not this time. It was after 7 when I remembered to get up.

    You know, about WAP, I had to laugh when you wrote driving 50 miles to a farm. I don’t have that problem. There are farms all around here, plus I can get most everything at the farmers’ market. The thing for me about following wap was I was getting burned out on making sourdough bread every week, & keeping up with the fermented stuff & drying the so-called “raw” nuts. I still have my sourdough but it feels good to let up on some of the other stuff. thanks for the comments. It really helps.

    mighty m

    – Yes, early in the day makes a BIG difference for me. I truly feel like I get more “benefit” from the calories that way. Playing catch up after 5pm is better than nothing, but it’s a 2nd choice. … you just put in the food (approx, can’t get over-precise with these things) and it will tell you the grams of the macros automatically. Set the calorie goal manually, otherwise it might “choose” one too low. Most of those auto-counters use “diet” numbers. After all, there’s no real food expertise behind them, they’re just apps designed to be yet another advertising venue. Market research suggests “everybody wants to lose weight” so that’s how they design the app.
    – WAPF, done all the way, always sounded like a retro “Cult of Domesticity” to me! I often wondered if there was a background in religious fundamentalism to it? They have some good info, but to do the whole 9 yards seems like an endless amount of household drudgery.

    — ** Also, do you have something really interesting in your life? Interesting work, hobbies? Intellectual, creative or social challenge is what I mean. I really think that’s important. Health is important but also kind of boring, IMO. Even Ray Peat has some quotes about that.


    @Linda- I went through a crazy, eat-whatever-you-want feeding phase last spring, and I probably ate 5-6,000 calories a day. I did feel better in many ways, but I also got fat and sluggish. I definitely was not eating strategically, but instead I went through lots of candy, pizza, etc. My goal this summer has been to figure out how I could achieve some of the positive results, without the weight gain. I really think I’ve got it now.

    It sounds like you’re in an easier place to do WAPF than I was. When I bought my 10% of a cow in a milk share program, I didn’t even have a car, and had to bargain with a friend for a ride by giving him some milk! I do have some fond memories of that time, though I can’t imagine going back to any of it.

    I use for estimating macro ratios. There are so many websites with the service I’m not really sure which is best.

    @Mighty- I’ve also thought about the politics of WAPF. There are a wide variety of people interested in the Nourishing Traditions diet, but I *think* the core of the movement is made up of religious conservatives. There’s a nostalgia for the family farm in NT, for ancestral wisdom, and for traditional living that I think appeals to many conservatives (“crunchy” conservatives who actually have a lot in common with the back-to-the-landers on the left side of political spectrum. Outside of nutrition, I connect this philosophy with an interest in doulas, those wrap things that hold babies, natural family planning, church-going, skepticism about modern culture and technology, and lots of kids. (I don’t have anything against any of those things, by the way.)

    There’s also a possibility that the full NT way-of-life requires that one adult in a family stay at home, which connects to the idea of the “cult of domesticity” that you mentioned. WAPF definitely works better with a single-income family. And from a certain mindset, it may increase the virtue of one spouse staying at home, if all that laborious work is necessary for good health. I think that WAPF may support a certain vision of how families should look.

    I sort of see WAPF as the conservative equivalent to veganism, despite the obvious differences. They both seem like natural outgrowths of moral visions about the world, which develop into a whole lifestyle and not just a diet. And they both require great sacrifice to defend that vision.

    But of course I’m generalizing, although it’s based on the people I knew (and still know) who are into WAPF. Personally, I didn’t fit the mold completely, although truthfully I was somewhat conservative and religious at that time (and now I’m neither). I definitely didn’t look the part, though. I was a single dude, who fermented his vegetables, soaked his grains, and boiled his stock while living in a small loft apartment. Looking back, I can hardly believe I put so much work into something as simple as preparing food. Modern conveniences rule!

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