Q. Hi, Cynthia. I do enjoy reading your blog. I found your article about the raw cacao very informative. I was diagnosed with rosacea just about 20 years ago, and have struggled with it since–too long of a story to tell. Anyway, my face was getting really bad about 4 months or so ago. Most medications, supplements, essential oils, etc. were doing nothing for me. I became very desperate to resolve what was happening, and by chance started learning about the Paleo lifestyle. I have discovered that if I eliminate all grains-sugars-legumes-corn-potatoes, my face no longer breaks out. As soon as I cave and eat something, I get a horrible flare and break out the next day. I can eat dairy, proteins, veggies, fruits and nuts without a reaction. I was just wondering if you are aware of other folks who are in the same predicament. Eating this way has done more for me in two months then all the medication and treatments I have tried in 20 years. Do you have any advice or observations for me? I am wondering if I will ever be able to add any of those foods back into my diet, even on a limited basis. Thanks for your time, Cheryl
A. Hi Cheryl, Thank you. I’m glad you find my blog enlightening.
Your experience is a very powerful example of the wisdom of the body. People come to me all the time and tell me very similar stories. “If I eat grains I feel horrible, my face breaks out, my arthritis flares up, my head hurts etc., etc.” If I eat grains, potatoes or legumes I have anxiety attacks or get depressed,” If I eat grains etc. my bowel is inflamed and my Candida flares up.” If I eat grains, potatoes, etc., I crave sugar and binge.” “What is wrong with me?” “Why can’t I eat these foods?” “What can I do so I can eat these foods?”
I used to ask the same questions of myself. For many years I knew if I ate grains, potatoes, legumes or any high starch food that I would have anxiety, crave carbs and feel like I was hit with a truck. I began restricting them and this helped as long as I didn’t touch them, but as soon I would eat them then the misery would follow. My body wanted meat protein and lots of it. I had no choice but to eat meat abundantly or I simply couldn’t function.
Yet, I was always in turmoil because all the messages form the “nutritional experts” said you shouldn’t eat much meat and that whole grains, legumes and potatoes were healthy and should be part of your diet. I thought I was missing important nutrients by avoiding these foods, so I repeatedly tried to include them. Then one day I stumbled on the Paleolithic diet, which tells us that we should avoid these foods because we are not genetically designed to eat them, therefore they cause disease, syndromes and poor health, and everything made sense.
The Paleo diet is not a man-made diet, it is the diet that our ancestors ate and nature intended us to eat. My body knew what was healthy for me. It was telling me for years exactly what I should and should not be eating, but I kept resisting this truth. Learning about Paleolithic eating and the primal way of life enabled me to honor my body’s wisdom. Your body is giving you the same message. I encourage you to do the same.
There are a variety of reasons why the Paleolithic diet would be beneficial for rosacea. Rosacea is linked to Candida overgrowth, nutritional deficiencies and food sensitivities. When you eat the Paleo diet, it removes the worst offenders for Candida, (sugar, grains, potatoes, legumes, other high starch foods) thus Candida levels will drop and symptoms associated with yeast overgrowth, like rosacea, will diminish.
Additionally, primal eating removes the foods that lead to nutritional deficiencies, like grains and legumes, and provides the body with the crucial nutrients it was missing. Thus enabling the body to become more nutrient balanced and correcting some of the symptoms associated with lack of nutrients, like rosacea.
Third, the Paleolithic diet eliminates some of the most common foods that people have an allergy or sensitivity too, (wheat, corn, yeast, soy, sugar, etc.) thereby removing the symptoms that are associated with these sensitivities, like rosacea.
Also, when one eats a diet of sugar, grains, potatoes etc, it encourages the proliferation of many other pathogenic organisms in the gut besides Candida and poor colon health. The skin often reflects what is going on in the gastrointestinal tract and the colon. The Paleo diet removes these foods and thus results in a healthier gut and a colon that functions better, so symptoms on the skin like rosacea, acne, eczema etc. improve.
Your body doesn’t want the grains, potatoes, legumes and corn (corn is a grain, not a vegetable), because they aren’t healthy for you.
Don’t fight it. Marvel at the amazing gift your body has provided you. Be awed by its ability to connect with primal wisdom. Honor it.
Eating the diet that you are genetically designed to eat will not only help your rosacea, but it promotes optimal physical, emotional and spiritual health all around. It protects you from all the epidemics in our society like depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, heart disease, cancer, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and many more.
The goal should not be, “what can I do so I can eat these foods again.” It should be “what do I need to do, so I don’t want these foods that aren’t healthy for me anymore.”
For the most part it is pretty simple, the longer you stay on the Paleolithic diet, the less you want the grains, potatoes, etc. Eventually you reprogram your brain and taste buds to desire the foods that are good for it. You’ll become amazed at how rich and flavorful a walnut, strawberry, raspberry, or almond can be and actually prefer them over the sugar, potatoes and grains.
Although I can’t say for sure how your body will respond, most people can include some of those old foods after a period of time and some healing has taken place. But it depends on what the root of your rosacea is, and if that underlying problem is corrected.
For example, if Candida is underlying your rosacea, then some day overgrowth may be reduced enough that an occasional potato or whole wheat sandwich won’t trigger symptoms. On the other hand, if it is a sensitivity to a wheat and the sensitivity never goes away, then wheat may always be a trigger. It varies from person to person. Sugar should always be avoided and never indulged, because it is an addictive drug, not a food.
The goal is to think in terms of permanent changes in diet and lifestyle, but there is not too much harm in an “occasional” indulgence outside the primal diet, if it does not produce significant symptoms. However, after a while those old foods won’t be that important to you. You’ll be able to take them or leave them, and you’ll prefer to leave them most of the time. You can enjoy a piece of holiday pie, but be happy to return to your Paleo ways.
If cravings for sugar and carbs persist or make it impossible to remain on the diet, then there may be some unresolved nutritional deficiencies or neurotransmitter depletion or imbalance that can be identified with functional medicine testing and corrected with nutritional supplements and changes in lifestyle.
You’ve only been on the Paleolithic diet for 2 months, give it a few more and you’ll probably find that your appetite preferences have changed. After about 6 months you’ll notice that the desire for the old foods is significantly decreased. Things become very solidified after a year and you’ll just naturally gravitate towards the foods that are good for you and take pride in being a Paleoist, because at this point it isn’t just a diet, it’s also the development of new values and lifestyle.