Select Page

Here’s another top-notch story from Scandinavia, home of the famous twice-daily slab of margarine on white bread.  My comments throughout are in RED. 

When I grew up I was the skinny one, and my little sister, who ate exactly the same food as me, and had the same rules at home as me, was the chubby one. We have a fairly similar body type, but she kept gaining weight, whereas I couldn’t gain weight, no matter how much I tried. She was always hungry and seemed to never get full. I was hungry fairly often, but even a very small meal would be enough, and then I just couldn’t eat more. Aha! Appetite, metabolism, and energy-partitioning are controlled by hormones and heredity! I was also fairly anxious and depressed from an early age. My sister was more stable.

I know that the mothers diet/lifestyle has a major effect on the unborn baby (of course it has…). My mother was always (and still is) very anxious/depressed, and she was going through a lot of stress especially around the time I was born. I also believe she was eating a diet with some soy-products, but definitely low in sugar. My sister is 2.5 years younger than me, and by the time she was born we were all eating a lot more sugar. Since my problems started at such an early age, there must be an explanation that has to do with what happened to me even before I was born. Especially since my sister also got problems, but in a different way.  We all come into this world with hereditary idiosyncrasies.  What our parents do and do not do, eat and do not eat, think and do not think all has an impact on our development. 

The food we ate was typical Norwegian: bread for breakfast with spreads, jams, cheeses or luncheon meats. I think we used butter until it was swapped for margarine when I was about 8 or 9 perhaps. I always had a glass or two of milk. Sometimes juice. Lunch for school children in Norway is, and was, exactly the same as breakfast; bread with a thin layer of margarine, topped with spread/cheese/meat. And milk.  Perfect! Trade out one of the only unadulterated foods left in the diet – butter, with the axis of evil! 

Dinner could sometimes be something decent like fish with potato and vegetables, but often there would be a major refined starch source like pasta (especially spaghetti and macaroni). I don’t think my mom used to add much sugar to anything. We never had sweets at home (only on Saturdays), and never any soft drinks (I don’t know if the fruit juices had any added sugar).

Any other meals during the day would be sliced bread with something on top of it.

I remember I used to eat quite often, but fairly small portions. The food at our home was in general healthier than what many other families in our area ate. But I suspect that it was low fat, and that butter was banned some time during the early nineties, in exchange for margarine and other vegetable oil products (I remember the soy oil… I have a feeling I consumed a lot of that during my childhood).  I think all of our families have probably consumed way too much soy oil and other wholesome, solvent-extracted seed oils.

But overall I can’t see that our diet was particularly bad or extreme, except for a huge amount of grains. But everybody ate like that, and most of my friends didn’t get any of the problems that I got at that age. So I am wondering if genetically I am lees suited for the modern diet than most people. Plus I am getting the feeling that my constant anxiety and stress might have worn out my adrenals very early. I had a very low stress tolerance level, and it just got worse as I got older. I also got more and more fatigued as I got older, and I could only focus on tasks that really interested me. Homework was impossible.  Margarine on white bread twice a day is a pretty extreme diet.  Low in refined sugar, which is a definite plus, but there’s no question humans can become hypometabolic on such fare, symptoms of which include anxiety, poor stress tolerance, fatigue, inability to concentrate, and a lot more. 

Anyway, I was tiny and skinny and looked two years younger than my friends. By the time I was 13 I had problems with chronic fatigue, but I thought it was just laziness (it wasn’t extreme. I was still going to school every day and doing sport). I have to add that except for my weight and mental health (looking back I would say that I was depressed), my health was great. I was never ill. In six years of primary/elementary school (not sure what you would call it… age 6 to12), I was away because of illness only three days. Three days in six years. I never had any allergies, or digestive problems either. And always did really well in school.. until the fatigue started getting really bad some years later.  It seems you showed lack of developmental hormones at a young age, especially considering that you seemed to have a low appetite and couldn’t add lean body mass at the same pace of the rest of the girls.

Which is the next “chapter”. From 13 to 16 I was still very thin, but my weight was slowly becoming more normal. I didn’t reach puberty until I was almost 16, which is expected when you’re that thin. I was very tired all the time, and struggled to get out of bed in the morning. I never understood how my friends could find the energy to play and do sports every day. I played soccer but silently I hated it because I was never any good. In nine years I think I scored two goals. Needless to say that my overall self esteem wasn’t the best. But this all sounds very depressing! My childhood was great, I am just trying to connect the dots between genes ? food ? energy ? mood ? personality.  I too felt a pretty radical shift in my overall health as I hit puberty, as I’m sure most of us did. 

So… High School. I started partying and drinking almost every weekend, which probably didn’t help. I fell asleep in class every day, and started looking into nutrition, and especially carbs/insulin for some answers. My dad and many of his siblings are all diabetic, so I thought maybe there was something wrong with my blood sugar. I tried to sleep more, but nothing really helped. I started falling asleep while sitting on the front row in my favorite class. Quite embarrassing, and frustrating. My grades dropped and I became more and more anxious and depressed.  There’s no question that having diabetics in your family predisposes you to all kinds of metabolic problems in life, but nothing is pre-ordained by any means. And no, the alcohol probably made things exponentially worse. 

At this point my diet was really bad. I probably had sugary sweets and chocolate every day, and huge amounts of refined starch (different versions of white bread that probably also contained some form of vegetable oil). I would go out almost every weekend, which meant plenty of alcohol and sodas too. I was still very slim, but had problems with acne. My little sister was at this point still overweight, and had the same skin problems as I did. She did however not have the lack of energy and was able to focus on many different hobbies.  Sugar, alcohol, stimulants, refined starch, and vegetable oil.  The diet of champions! 

I would say my diet consisted mainly of grains, wheat flour, sugar, vegetable oils and milk (I drank a lot of milk). I ate vegetables and fruit everyday too, but that of course wouldn’t have made a huge difference. I had meat or fish for dinner, but always with a side of refined starch. I was never ill, but I would get a sore throat several times a year, and would always completely lose my voice when that happened. I just got used to that. It was the same every time. I worked out (kick boxing) about three times a week, and spent the rest of my time half sleeping on the couch at home.

Going to university at age 20 I started working out even more, determined to become really fit. I had read a book about the Mediterranean diet, and was substituting everything with olive oil. The same book also said that we should eat less starch, so I stopped eating potatoes and cut down on grains. I don’t think my diet at that time was all that bad.. but I am guessing I still ate way more sugar than I remember. I definitely didn’t eat enough saturated fat. A very high pufa diet for sure. And I was probably also scared of red meat. In addition I remember constant sugar cravings, and fairly constant hunger, which I tried to ignore. I had practically zero energy.

Moving overseas I completely stopped working out, and did a six month binge on bread in all forms, plenty of sugary cereals, sweets and sodas. I was also basically drunk about four times a week. My mental health crashed and for a few months I didn’t really feel like living. Typical depression. I also lost my appetite, which had never happened before.  Alcohol, sugar, refined starch, caffeine – the perfect depression recipe.  Talk about crazy mood swings and big highs and lows.  That’s a typical anorexic diet by the way.  M&M’s, cereal, diet soda, coffee, and cigarrettes would be even better. 

I eventually got out of that mess, and got a new roommate. She was a former vegetarian, and still thought that she could get her 18-year old body back if she went back to eating only grains, vegetables and fruit, with only small amounts of dairy. At this point I was convinced that vegetables were the solution to everything, and that red meat and saturated fat was the root of all evil. I cut down on grains and potatoes again, and had several meatless days per week. Thinking about it I don’t really understand what I ate back then! But I remember drinking enormous amounts of milk. I also remember always being on a diet, and always being hungry. I would binge on sweets quite regularly.  Starving people love sweets! 

I started working out, but never had the energy to keep it up for more than a few weeks. My skin and mental health were my biggest problems. Plus the chronic fatigue of course. I slept in most classes. Throughout this whole thing I was gaining weight.  This is a good example of why I say “never ask more of your body than you give in return.” 

I remember I ate a diet consisting of lots of low fat yoghurt and grapefruit for some weeks, while running for an hour every morning, and working out at night. I managed to lose several kg, but my skin was horrible. I now had acne down my neck, on my chest and on my back. Painful acne. I didn’t go to the beach at all that semester. 

I started the Body For Life program, and struggled with eating all the rice cakes she told me I had to eat to get enough carbs. I was hungry all the time. I think that diet was a low-fat diet. I don’t remember, and I don’t feel like researching it. I actually paid for that program. I quit after six weeks after not losing a single kg.  Body For Life is such an ironic name.  You’d think more people would understand that it’s their body – for life!  And that rice cakes probably aren’t going to nourish it properly. 

Coming home to Norway in April 2008, my dad had a book on the HFLC (High Fat Low Carb) diet that Sweden is all about nowadays, and THAT is when I really got into diet and nutrition. I changed all my views on nutrition within a few hours, and switched to an extreme low carb high fat diet that same day. I immediately lost a few kilos within the first week, and thought I had found the answer to everything. I was eating meat, fish, butter, cream, cheese, vegetables and very small amounts of bread. For the first time in my life I could go more than three hours without food, and I suddenly found it so easy to just skip meals and not eat.  A step in the right direction, and I’m sure you soaked up all that fat and protein like a sponge after your prior dietary escapades.  A huge boost in neurotransmitter production for sure.  Probably felt great.   

After about six weeks on this diet, which must have been an enormous shock to my body, I started having digestive problems for the first time in my life. I would get nauseous within ten seconds after the first bite of a meal, and I would have to go to the toilet and just sit there and wait for it all to… calm down. I remember trying to eat a pear or an apple, and getting insane stomach cramps.  Such diets can provide short-term relief from fiber issues and fructose malabsorption, but they don’t really heal the condition and yes, can make matters worse over time. 

I quit eating bread completely, and started convincing myself that I was allergic to dairy. At this point I went full low-carb Paleo: no sugar, very little fruit, no grains, no dairy, no legumes. The whole thing. I was steadily gaining weight. My skin was getting better though, and my (still very low) energy was more stable.  Sounds better.  Still a big improvement, and your diet was 100% real food – as opposed to prior stages in which your diet was pretty much refined food with milk. 

I stumbled upon a webpage about Candida/yeast allergy, and found a doctor that was willing to confirm that Candida had been my problem all along. I still think I have Candida overgrowth, I have ALL the symptoms, but I think my body will be able to take care of that by itself when things start to improve. I don’t think Candida is my main problem.  That’s my general attitude about candida.  It’s there when you are unhealthy, and takes a hike when you improve other elements of your metabolic health.

After three months on the Candida diet with some medication and supplements, I was incredibly tired of such a strict diet, especially when I wasn’t feeling any better. I was at the same time gaining weight, and I was still tired all the time. I added fasting to my Paleo-repertoire, and started heavy resistance training several times a week on top of that. I have to mention that after going Paleo I did feel better, and my acne eventually disappeared for good, and it still hasn’t come back. Except for on my back… which I am still having problems with, although that has improved a lot after adding back starch (who would’ve thought?  I would have!). I’ve had a feeling for a while that nuts made me break out, and now I’m getting more and more convinced that PUFAS were always the main diet related cause of my acne. At least sugar and dairy doesn’t seem to be making a huge difference anymore.  Same experience here with PUFA and acne.  I can’t believe what I can ‘get away with’ now that I’ve been super low-omega 6 for 10 weeks.

This Christmas (2009) I avoided sugar as much as I could, but ended up eating everything else that my doctor said would make me sick and/or ruin the diet (milk, smoked/cured meat or fish, yeast, mushrooms, fruit, wheat). I felt fine. I got a sore throat, which I always do when I eat lots of sugar (no one has been able to explain that one yet), but other than that I felt fine. Fat, but fine.  Sugar does some weird ass stuff to me too.  Dry, cracking lips.  Joint pain.  Sore throat.  Bronchoconstriction. 

After Christmas I decided to fix the ?damage? that I had caused during the holidays, and decided on a zero carb diet. Meat and eggs. I think I lasted about two weeks.  About 14 days too long. 

February 4th Twitter tipped me about your post on Tom Naughton’s page. I read the article and basically ran to the store for potatoes. 

It is now March 10th, which means I have been ?refeeding? for over a month, after I don’t know how many years of undereating/starving.

So what have I noticed? The first thing was the amazing feeling of actually feeling full after a meal, thanks to my long lost love; the potato. I almost feel bad for having blamed almost every single modern disease on the potato. I wish I could apologize to the potato.  The potato forgives you.  And yes, the satisfaction of a meal with starch, meat, and fat all thrown together cannot be achieved on a restricted diet of any kind.  Soul satisfying. 

Before adding back starch, I used to be able to eat until I couldn’t walk. I would feel like my stomach was about to explode, and I would still keep eating. A couple of times I even considered calling an ambulance. The pain was that scary. Since 4th of February I have not been able to binge like that.

My digestion is close to perfect too. And I am enjoying being able to eat whatever I want if I really feel like something. The psychological aspect of this is huge.  Totally.  It must be more than ten years since I have allowed myself to eat anything without feeling bad about it or having to suffer for it (skin problems or digestion).  It was so worth it though!  Even though I still find myself thinking “this will make me fat”, I try to focus on all the nutrition the meal is providing for my body, instead of the calories or amount of carbs.  Or you could say that “If I had never assaulted myself in so many different ways I wouldn’t have this problem.”  Putting on some fat, for some, seems to be like the body’s revenge for all the damage inflicted upon it. 

I eat ?everything?, but what I avoid is sugar and foods with added sugar, vegetable oils and other sources of pufas (nuts, avocado, fatty fish, cod liver oil) and anything processed or refined of course. I do have the odd dark chocolate (30g of sugar per 100grams + soy lecithin), and I am eating fruit every day. I don’t know if I should quit the fruit. I also eat cream, cheese and cottage cheese almost every day. Not sure about that either. I generally avoid grains, but eat some “tortillas” (they are made out of potato flour, wheat flour, water and salt. Nothing else). I noticed that my stomach is a lot happier when I avoid fiber as much as I can, so I’ve had to cut out rye bread (sour dough). The fiber thing also explains why my stomach couldn’t handle coconut flour.  Grains and nuts are definitely more problematic than fruit and vegetable fibers from a digestive standpoint.  I feel more confident about low fruit diets for greater emotional stability and what not in the early going, but am open to the possibility that fruit has its advantages. 

Every meal now consists of starch (potato or “tortillas”), protein (eggs, red meat, liver, shellfish , cottage cheese, some chicken or fish) and fat (butter, coconut oil, coconut milk or cream). I don’t worry too much about vegetables, but sometimes I have plenty of “fruit vegetables” (like tomatoes, squash, sweet peppers etc.) instead of starch. I’ve also noticed that I feel full for longer and more satisfied if I eat a piece of fruit after a meal.

I’ve measured my blood sugar and temperature a few times lately:

Fasting blood sugar:

– 20.Feb: 4.7mmol/l (84.6mg/dl)

– 23.Feb: 5.1mmol/l (91.8mg/dl)

Blood sugar after food:

– 18.Feb: After 30min ? 6mmo/l (108mg/dl), after 2hours ? 5.3mmol/l (95.4mg/dl)

– 19.Feb: 2hours ? 5.0mmol/l (90mg/dl)

– 21.Feb – A plate of dark chocolate (60g sugar): 30min ? 5.9mmol/l (106.2mg/dl).

– 24.Feb – 85% dark chocolate, three kiwis, 1slice of sour dough rye bread: 1.5hour ? 4.3mmol/l (77.4mg/dl).

– 27.Feb – Several different fruits, cream and cottage cheese: Immediately after ? 7mmol/l (126mg/dl), 30min ? 5.9mmol/l (106.2mg/dl), 1.5hour ? 5.9mmol/l (106.2mg/dl), 2hours ? 5.4mmol/l (97.2mg/dl).

Waking temperature:

– 20.Feb: 36.0 C/96.8 F

– 23.Feb: 36.5 C/97.7 F

– 24.Feb: 36.2 C/97.16 F

– 3.March: 36.0 C/96.8 F

– 5.March: 36.8 C/98.24 F

– 8.March: 36.6 C/97.88 F

– 9.March: 36.6 C/97.88 F (36.5 C/97.7 F mid day the same day)

I don’t know how accurate my thermometer is. I make sure I warm it up first, and leave it in the armpit for several minutes. I also check both armpits, and use the highest temperature.

It seems like overall my temperature is going up, and I do feel slightly warmer altogether.  Your numbers look pretty solid.  No major problems there.  Your temps do seem higher, but track them before, during, and after menstruation to get a better handle on how they have changed. 

I have always had freezing cold hands and feet, so when that starts improving I will know something is happening. I also have a very low ability to control my temperature. I am either freezing, or I am too hot. This is especially a problem at night when I am trying to sleep. I can be freezing and sweating at the same time.  Several people have noticed improvements in these areas.  My hands are like HOT almost all the time, and I went through long phases where I was always freezing. 

Other problems I’ve always had:
– Bad breath
– Sore muscles and joints
– Brainfog
– Problems with my sinuses (which is the cause of the bad breath)
– Nausea within three hours of last meal (this disappeared when going low carb)
– Bloating and gas
– Headaches after meals (this still happens)
– Freezing cold when suddenly anxious/nervous (I will start to shiver no matter how warm it is when this happens)
– Hands/arms falling asleep very easily (just by holding them over my head)
– Legs falling asleep from sitting with them crossed
– Very very easily get dents/marks on my skin from socks, sheets, headgear
– Rosacea
– Runny nose every time I eat (within minutes)
– Instantly incredibly tired when stressed/anxious/worried (to the point where I’ve have to leave work because I can’t keep my eyes open)
– I sleep very lightly. A person can talk to me at any given time during the night when I’m sleeping, and I will always answer. It’s like I’m never really properly asleep.
– Painful muscles when touched. For instance: if my leg is itchy, and I scratch it, it feels like I am scratching really hard on a bruise.
– Pain in my ear after sugar intake
– Dry and itchy skin and scalp

Many of these symptoms are closely related to a low metabolism, as many minor health problems are.  Dry and itchy skin and scalp, cold fingers and toes, numbness, and so on are all likely due to decreased blood circulation and protein turnover.  Muscle and joint pain, sleep problems, digestive issues (slow transit time/delayed stomach emptying) can all be, at least in part, attributed to a low basal temperature.  My general rule of thumb is to bring the temperature up to the ideal range, keep it there for a few months, and then deal with any remaining health problems that aren’t improving if any. 

So, going low carb fixed my acne (to a certain point), and stabilized my (incredibly low) energy. It fixed my gassy gut, but not really my digestion. In fact it made it worse… before low carb I never had any problems with diarrhea or constipation. Now I can still get those problems every now and then if I’m not careful.  Overall, it seems like you’ve made progress with your more recent dietary adventures.  Be thankful for the ground you’ve gained. 

I do feel better, and my relationship with food is a lot more relaxed. My biggest problem now really is the weight gain. I have to say that I am freaking out a little bit. I have gained a lot of weight around the waist. I have no idea how much, as I am terrified of stepping on the scales. It might be five kg. Maybe more.  In today’s day and age, this always seems the most horrifying part – it often trumps the improvements in how you feel and improved relationships with food.  But you can’t go back.  Few return to restricted diets after giving this a shot, because it becomes so painfully obvious what a futile dead end restricted diets are. 

I am not working out any more, and I am trying to sleep enough every day, and stress as little as possible. The latter is proving to be really difficult… I constantly stress for no reason. Like right now; I am feeling slightly nervous and anxious, and I have absolutely no reason.  It takes time to see improvements there, but I think sleeping well and taking it easy is a great way to overturn years of abuse. 

I would really appreciate your thoughts on how you think I might be doing. And also… I really can’t decide on the sugar thing. I’ve read all your e-books and all of that makes sense. Then I read some of Peats stuff, and that makes sense too. I think I will continue to eat fruit every day, but try to limit it to one or two pieces. There is no way I am adding any refined sugar any time soon.  I’d be curious to see how you do with fruit in the diet vs. no fruit.  I suspect your anxiety issues would be better without it, but try with and without to get an honest idea of the difference it makes.  I think you’re doing fine though.  It’s only been 6 weeks since you “ran to the store for potatoes,” and less time still that your body temps. have been in a relatively normal range.  I would keep it up for many months to decide if you’re making progress or not.  If not, I wouldn’t advise a radical shift, but a minor adjustment – such as eating more fat and less starch, or more starch and less fat, or more starch and less sugar, and so on. Minor tweaks. 

I really hope the weight gain will stop soon. It is affecting my mood and my relationship too, as I don’t feel particularly good in intimate situations. With a normal body temperature, it is unlikely that the fat gain will continue unabated for more than a few months.  The pace will probably slow down soon if it hasn’t already, reach a peak, remain stable for a while, and then slowly start to come down.  If it doesn’t come down, reaching a peak in your body fat makes it considerably easier to shed fat afterwards.  Getting healthy first, with or without fat gain in the process, and shedding a few pounds later seems to be a more sensible, lasting, and effective approach. 

In your experience, how long does it normally take before the weight starts to drop again? A couple months after body temperature reaches the ideal level.  And have you noticed a difference between men and women with regards to the starch vs. fructose question? From the comments on your blog and the diet-fucked blog, it almost seems like women might benefit from adding some sugar? And that men might be doing better with more starch. I have no idea if that makes sense.  That hasn’t been my experience, and I think the sugar-starch thing has more to do with individuality and digestion, not gender differences.  But I suspect that the Diet Fucked girls were probably making the same mistake of many of us, which is eating too much fat and too little carbohydrate, which I turned them both on to originally (almost Kwasniewski-style).  My health was starting to decline on a high-fat diet also, and has improved dramatically, as has my tolerance for simple sugars, on a lower-fat, higher-carb, low-omega 6 diet.  Let’s say 100 grams fat, 100 grams protein, 400 grams carbs as of late.    

Again, thank you for putting all the information out there. I hope you have the time to answer my emails every now and then. My goal is to fix this without having to see a doctor, which means that I really don’t have anyone to discuss this with. I’ve already spent way too much money on medical bills, without any results.  I can relate to that!  And yes, I’ll have time to answer a few e-mails.  Seeing what helps you out is just another learning opporunity for me and those who I share this infotainment with. 

Oh, and I am 27 years old, 170cm/5’5″ and somewhere between 65kg/143lbs and 68kg/150lbs.