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Digestive issues/Stomach pain and exhaustion

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What's up guys,


This is gonna be a pretty long story as I want to include as much details as possible, but for the people who are busy I will include cliff notes at the bottom!


Just recently finished my first Whole30. It wasn't completely new to me since I've been playing around with Paleo/Primal for a year now. Biggest difference was no dairy, rice, potatoes and the occasional cheat I used to have.


I'm actually happy I finished it. The problem however is that it didn't give me the results I was hoping for. I've been having digestive problems for almost a year now, and I was hoping that with the strict elimination of almost any possible factor I would find out what was causing it. No luck.


Let me quickly explain how it all started. A couple years ago I started actually getting into health and nutrition. I wanted to get bigger so I started lifting weights, eating more food, watching my protein intake and all that. I started seeing results and was pretty happy. This didn't last very long however, as I realised it isn't just about looks, but more so about how you feel.


Well, I wasn't feeling too good. I was tired all the time, occasional headaches, 'brainfog' and just feeling lazy and unmotivated. I came across Paleo and started reading more into that. At some point I was absolutely convinced this was the solution and I decided to dive right in. Cold turkey no more grains and processed foods. I think I still ate dairy, no more milk however. This was a bit hard in the beginning but I started to get the hang of it. To be honest I can't quite recall everything as this was a year ago but I think I was slowly feeling better.


Then came the holidays. I went on a trip with friends for 2 weeks and decided it would be too much of a pain to stick to Paleo/Primal and just let it go for the duration of the trip. Me and my friends like to party it up so I ate a lot of bad shit during that time, a lot of alcohol and cigarettes and the occasional drug.


When I got home I was acutally more motivated then ever and decided to go more 'hardcore' on the nutrition stuff. I read the Ultramind Solution and was scared to read of all the toxics that pollute our lives and decided to really clean the diet up. I only ate vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, fruits, nuts, some fermented dairy and drank mostly water, coffee, tea and sometimes wine.


This is when the digestion problems started. I had pretty bad cramps from time to time accompanied by diarhea, then at other times I was constipated and had more general pains and bloating and gas. It was pretty bad and it had to stop.


At this point I was all anti-conventional medicine and went to see a naturopath instead of my docter. She analysed my eyes and eating and emotional history. Her conclusion was I suffered a lot of stress and this was causing my upset stomach. She subscribed a herbal medicine for a month. I was also reading into solutions on my own and was experimenting with bone broth and kefir.


After a couple of weeks I started feeling better and the pains diminished a lot. Still had a cramp every now and then but I figured it would be the cappuchinos/caffe lattés I loved to have once in a while. (that was pretty much my only 'cheat' aside from chocolate and red wine)


At the end I hardly had any problems anymore and thought it was more or less fixed. I went on a trip to Australia for 2 months which was an awesome adventure but also a bit stressful in some ways.


I stopped eating Paleo/Primal and hardly had any stomach problems. This was a bit of a shock since I was so convinced I had 'fixed my gut' through diet, supplements and lifestyle.


At some point the problems came back and I realised they never truly had gone away. I wanted to get rid of them permanently so I decided to go to my doctor. (this was maybe 2 months ago) Had a blood test done, came out good. I was 'healthy'. Told him I wasn't satisfied and he sent me to a dietician. I was happy with this. We started doing elimination tests and the pains diminished a bit. A couple of my friends went on the whole30 and I discussed it with my dietician. She thought it would be a good idea since we were eliminating anyway.


That was a bit more than a month ago and my stomach problems didn't go away during the program, maybe were even a bit worse. (often pain, constipated and tired) I discussed it with my dietician and she thought it was really strange, especially after such a strict elimination program - my thoughts exactly.


Next steps were a parasite test and after that a gut bacteria analysis. (don't know if that's the correct english term) I'm still awaiting the results for the parasite test as I write this.


The strange thing is that during the 3 days after the Whole30, I hardly experienced any pain. All the while eating, oats, pasta, cheese, yogurt, chocolate, sugar and drinking a few cappuccinos.

Yesterday morning however I had stomach cramps and diarhea again, could very well have been because of the alcohol I drank the night before though. (2 glasses of wine and a beer)


The most frustrating thing about this all is that after so much experimenting I still have no clue as to what really causes it. Knowing about all the different illnesses (IBS, leaky gut, immune deseases, sensitivities) doesn't make it any easier.


I'm starting to think my emotional state/thoughts/mental stress has more of an impact on my stomach issues than I thought. Maybe more than the actual food I'm eating.. could this be true?


Anyway that's the story. My friend recommended I would post this up. Hopefully someone has had a similiar experience or perhaps ideas/thoughts on how to go about this. In the end my biggest goal is to be optimally healthy and have enough energy to pursue my big dreams. There's so much I want to be able to do but feel like the stomach pains and low energy are holding me back.


Either way thanks for reading and I wish everyone the best of luck on their own health endeavours!




- Health problems: digestive issues (pain, bloating, gas, constipation, diarhea) and low energy (tired, exhausted, unfocussed, brain fog, unmotivated)

- Playing around with paleo/primal diet for a year now

- Went on a 2 week trip, loads of fastfood, alcohol, cigarettes

- Sudden transition to paleo/primal after trip

- Been experiencing stomach problems ever since

- Also feel tired most of the time

- Whole30 didn't help

- Probiotics/bone broth/herbal medicine seemingly helped for the time being. Not 100% sure

- Blood is ok. awaiting parasite test, probably doing gut bacteria analysis after that

- No idea what's causing it. Sometimes experience symptoms when eating 'healthy' and no symptoms when eating 'unhealthy'

- Possibility of thoughts/mental stress causing stomach pain? How to deal with that?

- Tired of eating healthy and not feeling healthy


I also supplement with vitamin D, fish-oil, multivitamins (sometimes) and have taken magnesium for a while. I have been on and off with the supplementation while experimenting. Overall I hardly notice any differences. (except maybe the magnesium and I might try it again after the testing) I just take them cause they're recommended almost everywhere.

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one thing that I have learned is that a 30 day program is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of gut health (or anything else) and that consistency over the long term is what matters. I read a LOT of testing and changing and trying different things in your post. Alcohol, cigarettes and fast food for two weeks, herbs for 30 days, whole30, "paleo" with fermented dairy, etc. my guess is that you haven't stuck with one way of eating for long enough to know which of these things were "good" and which were "bad". Sometimes, the first couple weeks of better eating feels worse than anything else because you are healing. Sometimes people work themselves up so much and stress so much about an eating plan that that stress itself causes digestive trouble.


my recommendation? decide on a nutrition approach that you want to follow (the whole30 is a good one ;) ) and stick with it without questioning it for a good long time. Don't add in other supplements or protocols, don't switch it up, just get into a groove and keep at it until you don't even really think about or worry about what you are eating. Let the stress of testing and choosing and tweaking fall away and just eat nutrient dense foods for weeks and weeks and weeks. Give your body a chance to adapt to whatever you are doing before you try a different approach.

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You may have specific food sensitivities, but I suspect that mental stress makes digestive symptoms worse for you. So when you are "trying" to do well - eat healthy foods - your stress levels are higher and your gut performance suffers.


You have been looking for answers for years, investigating a series of resources looking for THE solution. However, there is no magic pill or food or elimination to solve what is going on with you. You are the answer to you. The answer is to settle into one approach and make it your lifestyle, make it routine, make it something you are not "trying" to do, but just what you do. I think your stress about achieving the results you want will then begin to fade and you can actually start realizing results. 


Along the way, you may realize that you should never eat dairy or nuts or tomatoes or some other odd thing, but I don't believe your problem is that you haven't found the solution yet. I think the main problem is that you are trying too hard. 


I am a bit embarrassed to be talking as I am here. I mean, trying hard is a good thing that I highly value and recommend generally. But in your case, I think you have to get into a healthy routine and quit trying so hard to achieve the complete elimination of your symptoms. 

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Thanks for the answers guys. It definitely makes sense. For now I'm just gonna try not to worry so much, at some point the solution will probbaly present itself. It's no use stressing over something that needs time and is, as you said Tom, more of a lifestyle thing than a quick fix.


@ Tracy: No I didn't. I figured if nothing had changed after the whole30 and I would still have the same issues, how could reintroducing foods have any effect?

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