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Well, everything was going GREAT. I felt wonderful my entire whole30 until around day 18. I had no cravings, normal BM's for the first time ever, my sex drive returned, I was sleeping well and my moods were stable- no anxiety or angry outbursts. The most annoying thing was my constant hunger (I'm nursing and probably needed more carbs than I was getting.)

Unfortunately, everything came to a screeching halt when I developed severe joint pain. It started in my knees. Within days I couldn't even kneel to pick up my daughter or walk up the stairs. I hadn't felt joint pain like that since my vegan days. Finally, after a few days of that (and after waking up a couple mornings with stiff and painful ankles as well) my husband talked me into adding some dairy and starches back into my diet.

I did and immediately became constipated, but within a day or two the joint pain was completely gone.

So here I am, sad I can't benefit from the Whole30 because of pain but not any happier eating normal because of digestive problems and major anxiety, anger and mood swings.

I'm frustrated. It seems no matter how I eat something is going to go wrong. :(

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Hi MomtoThree,

First, I'm really sorry to hear about the pain you've been having. Not being able to care for your kids is absolutely not ok.

BUT...before you jump to the conclusion that this isn't for you, let's take some time to work through what could have gone wrong. You said yourself that you are not any happier with the foods you've added, only in less pain, so I think it's really important for us to play detective and figure out what we can do differently to allow you to eat the foods you know make you healthier.

1) Is there any event that could have occurred on Day 17 that would instigate such an inflammatory response? A new exercise, a heavier weight, a fall, etc?

2) Could you have eaten something containing gluten, dairy, or soy without intending to? (I hate to even ask, but...) Were you 100% compliant with the program?

3) Is or was anyone is the house sick?

4) Did you get new shoes? (I know it's crazy, but it's plausible)

5) Do you have any medical conditions that could have flared?

I'm glad to hear about your first 18 days of success, and the sudden nature of your symptoms leads me to believe there's an acute cause of your pain. I hope we can get this worked out for you!

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Thanks for your response. I really was 100% compliant. I don't have any food addictions or cravings so compliance wasn't an issue. I haven't been able to do more than walks around the lake since becoming pregnant with my now five month old. I suffered from severe pelvic girdle pain (felt like my bones were splitting open). It is only recently the pain has started to abate. No new shoes, no fall, no illness. I have wracked my brain trying to figure it out.

I have had issues with joint pain (particularly in my knees) but the last time I suffered from it was when I was a fat-phobic vegan over five years ago. Once I started following a WAPF type diet the joint pain went away.

It is exactly that type of pain I started to feel half way through the Whole 30.

It just seems more than coincidental...and I really, really wanted this to work. It helped my moods, sleep and digestion so much.

I'm open if you have any ideas!

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I'm going to call on the sciency powers that be (a couple of the other mods) in case they know of something - anything - that could explain your pain or relief. I can't honestly think of anything in the milk or grains, except higher levels of carbohydrate, that could even be beneficial in your case.

That's another question - how were your carb levels???

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I've got two thoughts:

A) can you post what your typical day of food looks like? It could be from lack of fat or calories in general. Especially since you say you're always hungry. Also, are you taking any fish oil!

B) are you of European descent and/or does anybody in your family have familial hemochromatosis? It's more common in men (due to having only one copy of an X chromosome), but it IS the most common genetic disease, so it's something to consider. I'm sure you red meat intake has jumped with your W30, and by pulling grains and chocolate out, you pulled out the big inhibitors of iron absorption

Are you up for either ordering your own labs or taking a trip to the docs to investigate? If yes, I'll point you in the direction of a blog post Chris Kresser did to give you a better idea of what to look for.

If you aren't up for that and would rather shoot from the hip, you could just go give blood and see what happens. The only problem I see with that is that if this is your issue and your iron levels have gotten high enough to be causing joint pain, giving just one unit of blood may not be enough to help.

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Popping back in to add some info about lab values so that you're more informed if you head to the doc. I feel like one of the biggest issues with medicine today is docs either ordering the wrong/insufficient tests, or misinterpreting the results of them.

The standard value that docs look at in regards to iron overload is serum iron, but that's not actually a reliable indicator. It's actually often low in folks with hemochromatosis. Transferrin Saturation and Ferritin are much better indicators. Chris talks about it a little more here: http://chriskresser.com/nutrition-healing-obstacles-to-optimal-health-macronutrient-ratios-and-more (do a ctrl+f for hemochromatosis), but there are a lot of places on his blog that he talks about it.

I'd encourage you to work with a doc or a naturopath on this one though.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm back. I had a bit of a temper tantrum. It's so frustrating...feeling like no matter what you try, you still feel like crap. I I have tried every "health" diet on the planet- everything from raw food veganism to Paleo and no matter what- I still have health problems. So I took a month- read a little Matt Stone, bought some Einkorn wheat, added raw dairy back in, even went a week chugging organic sodas and while the joint pain left- I gained five pounds, developed a nasty sinus infection, turned into the wicked witch and developed a terrible case of constipation.

So, I'm considering trying the Whole30 again, however I cannot be that hungry all the time (I nurse, I'm already starving all the time) and I can't deal with the joint pain.

To answer your questions:

I am of European descent. Italian, Hungarian, Scottish and German. I've never heard of hemochromatosis. I doubt too much iron is a problem- I've been almost chronically anemic (with low ferritin levels) for fifteen years. I ate about a 4 oz serving of meat (or eggs) at each meal and maybe another one for a snack.

I do have thyroid disease.

I ate constantly- usually three eggs cooked in coconut oil with greens for breakfast, lunch was a big salad with some meat or salmon, dinner was usually meat with a sweet potato and two veggies, snack were nuts, eggs, fruit etc. I did not limit my carb intake since I was nursing so I ate a lot of sweet potatoes and fruit.

I saw a rheumatologist a few days after my initial post and my blood work all turned up normal.

The only thing I can think maybe caused this (and this is a long shot) is I started eating pork during my Whole30 for the first time since I was eleven or twelve. It was the only thing I could eat out (Chipotle) so I ate it about three times.

Can an intolerance with pork turn up as joint pain???

I haven't eaten it since stopping the Whole 30 (I don't particularly care for it. I much rather eat beef or fish).

I really appreciate the feedback and, other than the joint pain, I felt so incredible on the Whole 30, I really hope I can do it again- without the pain!

Thanks for your thoughts and ideas.

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I highly recommend that you get some tests in regards to the iron overload. Interestingly enough, anemia is one of the symptoms (there are actually a TON of symptoms/indicators). Even though it's one of the most common genetic disorders, it's also one of the least talked about and very commonly misdiagnosed.

What tests did your rheumatologist get done that turned up normal?

I think one of the reasons you were starving on W30 is that you WEREN'T EATING ENOUGH! 4oz 3x a day is really light on protein, especially if you're nursing. It just doesn't sound like a lot of food, imo.

I don't think the pork is the issue...but if it's a concern, and you don't love it, it won't hurt to stay away from it.

I'd really recommend a naturopath or somebody else from the paleo physicians network. I wish I were qualified to really guide you, but I'm not and I can't get that specific.

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I think they tested for an autoimmune problem like rheumatoid arthritis. If the iron issue was the problem how would that be tested? Can you post a link of that Chris Kessler blog post?

I was eating a tremendous amount of vegetables and fats with those portions of meat/protein so I never felt hungry at meals- just about an hour later. I guess, because I was eating so much more meat than I normally do, it seemed like a ton!

I think I'm going to give the Whole30 another whirl and try and if the joint pain happens again I will try and pin point it before throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I'll also be mindful of eating more protein and fat.

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He doesn't have a single blog post where he talks about it. He talked about it at length at AHS, and it did get recorded, but the videos from AHS haven't been posted yet. Just do a google search with both search terms and do a ctrl+f for hemochromatosis once you get to a page that google says that it's mentioned.

Here's a link to the Hemochromatosis Information Society: http://www.hemoinfo.org/hemochromatosis/ This link talks about symptoms and tests. You can also confirm the diagnosis with a genetic test if you wanted to.

Note that an official diagnosis of hereditary hemochromatosis is when somebody has TWO defective copies of the gene that deals with iron metabolism. However, it's completely possible that having just ONE defective gene copy can still trigger symptoms. Just not to the same degree.

Additionally, I don't want to give you a panic attack and send you off on this crazy HH wild goose chase, thinking that this is definitely what's wrong. Given your ancestry and your symptoms, it's just a non-standard diagnosis that most docs wouldn't consider, and I think it's worth investigating. If it's the cause, it's a simple solution of giving blood every now and then. If it's not, then at least you know it's not HH! :)

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