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No appetite & can't eat, not seeing any improvement (Day 18)


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My 14yo daughter is on Whole30 (with AIP) day 18 and is having a terrible time. I should mention that the reason she is doing the Whole30 to see if it will help relieve joint pain, acid reflux, daily headaches, migraines, insomnia.


These are her symptoms:

No hunger, no appetite (for food on the plan), extreme nausea, stomach pain when eating & periodically when not eating, dizziness. She also continues to have severe insomnia, and no reduction in joint swelling and pain.


She isn't able to eat much at all, and what she has eaten she has forced herself to the point of gagging, at which point she cannot continue. This has not happened to her before; although she has had some nausea, her appetite was always very good.


This is what she has eaten the last 3 days:


Day 16

1/4 cup ground beef with onion (coconut oil)

1 peach


Day 17

2 bites of chicken (coconut oil)

2 sweet potato fries (coconut oil)

1 pear


Day 18

small slice watermelon

2/3 chicken breast (coconut oil)



She has also been drinking 1/2 cup Kombucha every night, has not strayed from the plan, and is well hydrated.


I've explained to her that the Whole30 is about nourishing her body, and that things should turn around if she can eat protein and vegetables 3 times a day, even if it's just a little bit. But she says she just can't do it, the gagging is too severe.


What do you think is going on here? Can anything be done to help? Is it safe to keep going like this until her body decides it will eat? She's talking about adding in yogurt, cheese, butter....


Thank you!


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First: Eating so little for more than a few days is not safe. Your daughter's health is in danger eating like this. 


Two: There is nothing about the food being eaten that explains this kind of aversion. The aversion and gagging is an emotional and not a physical reaction. It would be one thing if the gagging response involved just one or two items, but when everything on the menu provokes gagging, this is not about food. 


Food can be about power and control. My guess is that you and your daughter are struggling with some issues. You might find consulting with a clinical psychologist very helpful. 

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Additionally, unless your daughter has a preexisting autoimmune condition, I think you might be throwing her into the deep end without a floatie by starting there.


It looks like all of the symptoms that you mention wanting to find relief from could be resolved without going all the way to AIP territory. I'd say most of her issues are from blood sugar control, which doesn't require the AIP level of restriction.


I always recommend that unless you have a diagnosed AI condition to START with a normal, run of the mill Whole30, and then reevaluate at the end.

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I wonder if you could make some mayo or mayo/ranch to dip her food in for more flavor (can she have egg yolks?)... Can you try Regular w30 just to start so she doesnt feel so restricted? What about adding guacamole with lots of salt, you can dip meat or veggies in it. Or a can of coconut cream to top off the fruit would give her a feeling of dairy. Cooking in ghee for a buttery flavor. Making some homemade broth and either drinking it plain or making a simple soup out if it ( well cooked veggies may be easier to eat). She seems so low on fat and veggies...there is a great pureed soup from paleOMG called carrot ginger..it has coonut cream so,its quite thick and rich. There s also an unsweetened coconut milk keifer I found at he healthfood store, perhaps rounding that in with kombucha too, it's " dairy-like".

I hope things get better for her.

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Thank you for your responses. My daughter does have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis (autoimmune disease). When this aversion became severe, I suggested she go to the basic Whole30 (sort of ease in?) and she didn't want to. Now she is considering adding ghee, and maybe cheese to lesson the restriction. Even with the AID, I'm thinking that lifting all of those AIP restrictions can still help her with blood sugar regulation, insulin resistance and leptin resistance. 

Which brings me to Tom's point: that it is emotional. Tom, I know what you mean about food and control, but I am certain that is not the issue in our case. Partly because our communication is good, and also because she is in control: I have recommended this as helpful to her health, and let her choose it. If she wants to stop today she can, but she knows it is important for her health (she has a lot of chronic health issues and pain). I wondered if there was something physical someone here could tell me about; if not, I do think it is the emotional issue of wanting other things from food like taste, comfort.

Thank you for the ideas, Mom2A&M. She hasn't wanted to try the coconut cream, but I'll probably get it anyway. She is loathe to try new things right now, because she feels nauseated. But I'm hoping she'll turn the corner. I started making bone broth a while ago (I'm on day 80 myself, of the AIP), & she tried it but says she can't eat it - I think she's holding out for regular, boxed broth with pasta in it again.  I've offered to make broth with different ingredients, etc. to her liking, but she is not interested. She is a very determined girl, and my guess is her mind is getting the better of her this time - holding out for the carbfest that is sure to come, eventually. I appreciate any more advice you have for me, and thank you for what you've given. 

If things don't change today/tomorrow, I will either switch her to a basic Whole30, or we may have to stop altogether, hoping that at least some of what we've learned will improve her nutrition overall, and resort to Rx for insomnia, joint pain. I don't know what else to do.

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I was also thinking larabars mightbe a nice treat for her. Or nik's sticks beef jerky? Just to get her eating something! Poor thing. I'm obviously not a MOD, but what about loosening the reigns on a smoothie....it's not "allowed on W30" but perhaps if she gets some veggies, fat and ( keep the fruit minimal) something really tasty...

If you refridgerate the can of coconut milk ( I get Thai kitchen) and hand whip it a little, then sprinkle with cinnamon..it's so yummy on berries or with a banana. It's a little dessertish,but seems like you can bend the rules a little with kids.

I was thinking if she is a little "backed up" maybe an increase in fat might move things along..

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She will get grossed out by vegetable smoothies, and won't try coconut (we have to use refined coconut oil to avoid the coconut taste). We're going to add ghee, to see if it will help her eat more vegetables. Also may add some nightshades (peppers) to flavor meat, if needed. 


Please advise if anyone has more ideas.

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It sounds like her meals are fairly bland, and she's eating mostly the same thing. Maybe you could try a new recipe a week, try to mimic her old comfort foods in a whole30 way. It seems like her meals are all ingredients, and they don't really go together, or they haven't been melded into one delicious dish.

I know I get sick of always having coconut oil or cooking my food even. Maybe try some sauteed or roasted veggies, and cut up the chicken in it, serve that alongside some fruit with coconut butter or milk drizzled over it and it's like fruit with "whipped cream"

You could also make her a carbfest with starchy veggies julienne peeled into pasta noodles and maybe put a homemade basil pesto on it. It would be colorful and healthy.

If she's gone 18 days already, she will probably feel the effects of eating normally, although I don't know what medications your Dr has her on so there may be some tweaking that needs to be done.

As a side note I got sick in a similar way on my whole 30. I tried to stay as whole 30 as possible but I needed the comfort of soup without having to make it. I had chicken and barley soup that was completely homemade.

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Thanks, Mom2A&M - she is doing better! Still only eating 1-2 times a day, but more protein and veggies, and unfortunately breakfast is watermelon, which I'm sure prolongs her dependence on sugar. We did add organic butter. She is still thinking about baking and sweets all the time, and sleep hasn't improved. Still hoping she'll turn the corner there, for improved health. I'll continue suggesting your ideas, and see if she'll go for them as the days progress, but so far, she's not wanting to go there. Thanks for your help and suggestions.

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