How To Eat Paleo When You Have Health Issues

eating paleo with health problems
avatarKristin Jekielek

We all know that eating Paleo means you’ll instantly have 6-pack abs while eating all the bacon your heart desires. Except when that doesn’t happen. Eating Paleo has done a lot of good for a whole lot of people, but some just don’t see the results they expect.

Oftentimes (but not always), this is because of underlying health issues. You may not even be aware of a health issue you have because we’ve all grown accustomed to persistent symptoms like stomach issues, headaches, aches & pains, or physical & mental fatigue.

If you aren’t seeing the results you expect on a Paleo Diet and suspect underlying health issues (anything from nutrient deficiencies in vitamin D or iodine, all the way to undiagnosed autoimmune disorders and worse), here are 5 steps to getting yourself feeling great.

Step 1: Find Out What’s Gone Wrong

I know this sounds simple, but it often isn’t. When all you have is a list of common symptoms, it can be tough for even the most skilled health practitioner to know where to look first for the cause.

This may mean you need to keep switching doctors until you find someone who listens to you, takes you seriously, and has experience in treating people with similar conditions/symptoms.

Start by looking for docs that support your lifestyle choices here:

Step 2: Eat the Right Diet for Your Health Issues

Once you find out what’s going on (if anything), make sure you’re supporting your recovery with the right diet.

There are several diets that have been formulated to specifically address a variety of health issues. Here’s a sampling:

  • Paleo Autoimmune Protocol
  • GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) for healing gut issues like SIBO
  • Low-FODMAP Paleo for fructose intolerance

Some people like to get all superhero and brag about how they refuse to take any pills because they “aren’t Paleo”. That’s great and idealistic and all, but sometimes that does more harm than good.

When you’re sick medicines and supplements may have a necessary role to play in your recovery. Even when you’re eating well.

Follow the advice of your health practitioner when it comes to medications and supplements.

Step 3: Track Your Diet

Tracking your food intake is the only way to know for sure what effect your food choices are having on your health. Some people discover previously unknown food intolerances or blood sugar issues, for example.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Write down everything you eat and drink throughout each day
  • Write down your symptoms as they appear, and note the time
  • Do this for at least a week and then look for correlations between your diet and your symptoms
  • Work with your health practitioner to pinpoint cause and effect, and to troubleshoot any issues

I know it’s a pain in the derriere, but you’ll be glad you did. I know I was.

I’m not talking about calorie counting here, either. Calories are often unnecessary and sometimes even detrimental to track when you’re in recovery. For online diet tracking that doesn’t deal with calories, try (shameless plug).

Step 4: Experiment & Be Patient

After the initial change in your diet, you’ll probably need to continue tweaking things to find what’s just right for your body.

At this point don’t change more than one thing in your diet at a time, and continue tracking everything. Patterns may emerge that you wouldn’t notice otherwise.

This is an ongoing, lifelong practice that will never be quite finished. Learning to embrace the process makes it that much easier.

Step 5: Keep an Open Mind and Stay Committed To Yourself

Any healthy eating plan is ultimately about feeling great because it makes you healthy in mind & body. This means finding the diet that is optimal for your body. Don’t let dogma get in the way.

Be willing to experiment with non-paleo or unconventional foods if recommended by your health practitioner. Examples: organ meats, white rice, properly soaked legumes & grains, miso & natto (traditionally fermented soy), raw dairy, and even supplements. Each of these foods may have something beneficial to contribute to your recovery.


In summary, eating Paleo when you have health issues comes with its own set of rules.

Flexibility and consistency are key, but only you can say what works best for you.

Stay your course to get back to health the quickest. Your body will love you for it.