When I was a kid in Greece, after finishing my homework, I would run around my village’s steep mountainous terrain, and hang from olive and fig trees, usually upside-down. I had a particular time for this “meditative exercise” of mine: in the summers it was between 4 and 5:30 PM. The sun would have just send down its golden light, and everything looked so beautiful and serene, with only a few goat & sheep bells audible in the background, as they were returning to their stables from a day’s grazing up in our mountain’s top. The view was magnificent: from my village you could see miles and miles away left & right, while at the far front there is another, bigger mountain, just to keep us all in perspective.

This was my bliss. And I was getting it almost daily, in high doses.

When I say “bliss”, I mean it. It’s a very specific feeling, one that can’t be easily described in words. It feels like everything is fine with the world and that there is absolutely no worry, about anything. It’s the ultimate happiness, an explosion of nirvana when the peaceful surroundings touch your inner self.

This was a feeling that I was self-medicating on, since my childhood was pretty bad overall. I grew up in poverty, for one. There were many times we had no money to buy bread for instance, one of the reasons we immigrated back to my dad’s village from the bigger city we were living. My parents would constantly fight, and violence was common. I also can’t claim that I have a gift in making close friends. Acquaintances plenty, but not close friends. Other kids would just not understand me, I was always the weirdo in the bunch. My geeky interests were simply different than theirs, and this only became more evident as I entered my teen years.

So this daily run at the stair-step fields at my village was much needed. It kept me happy, I was able to tap into nature somehow in a way that I could really see it with its true colors. Nature was honest with me. I felt connected, part of a bigger whole, but still being me. I guess you could say that I was getting “naturally high”, in a way.

Childhood, by Hartwig HKD. Licensed under the CC-BY-ND 2.0.

We moved to a nearby town when I was 12 years old. Without access to our big vegetable garden and our beautiful hens in the village anymore, my mom binged us on grains and potatoes; that was the time that my health started declining originally (my first symptoms were some hair loss, and lack of focus when trying to study). I suddenly lost my ability to be happy and one with nature. I still managed to get glimpses of this very specific feeling, but only rarely, and only for a few seconds. As the years went by, I lost the ability almost completely. Maybe in the last 20 years I have had this feeling 4-5 times overall. In the meantime, my health declined more. Sure, I have been happy many times in that time-frame, but that “bliss” feeling is very specific, and just different of just living a “good, happy life”.

And then, Paleo happened to me, 6 months ago now. Nearly all of my health issues have already resolved away, and my life, at last, has started taking a shape that’s not all doom & gloom. I suddenly felt that I still had a chance. During the first 4 months on Paleo, the feeling of bliss came back 2-3 times, at random points. In addition, my ADD was getting better, my situational depression vanished, and anxiety & brain fog was winding down too. My husband noted all this, and many times asked me… “WHO are you?“. He couldn’t believe that the real me had emerged after years of being miserable. See, I became sicker just 3 months after moving to the US to live with him, so in the 12 years we’re together he has seen very little of a happy-me. Not fair for me, and even less fair for him.

Because weight loss was sluggish with plain Paleo for me, I moved to Paleo-ketogenic on January 22nd of this year (25-40 gr of net carbs per day maximum). I knew that a ketogenic diet is the best diet for everyone’s mental health (not only for those with certain disorders), but I thought that the plain Paleo diet gave me most of what it would be possible for me to absorb at this point. Not so. The Paleo-ketogenic diet made me much happier, much more focused, more driven, and with an exceptional mental clarity — in less than a month’s time. I now know what it means to really be healthy and feel “good”. My husband told me a number of times this past month that I radiate from the inside, a rare thing to see in any human being. Additionally, on Paleo I’d still get SIBO/IBS-D symptoms 2-3 times a month too (down from 4-5 times a day on SAD), but since I went Paleo-ketogenic in January, I have had zero symptoms.

As for that specific feeling of bliss, let’s just say that I got it multiple times, in a single month, since I went Paleo-ketogenic. I expect it to become ever more prevalent as the rest of my body heals from years of bad health. Happiness is coming back, big time. I’m considering staying in ketosis for as long as possible, perhaps for life.

Update: Apparently this feeling of bliss has a name, it’s called “ketosis euphoria”, it’s known to scientists, and it’s essentially a natural “high”. Weeeeee…


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Eugenia wrote on March 7th, 2012 at 6:59 PM PST:

I think that modern gluten is the No1 culprit, yes. Especially the US wheat variety, which is more difficult to break down than the European one (more selected). And then there’s vegetable oils, and the high consumption of sugar/starches too, a close second to the problem. These three combined are killers IMHO.

lenny wrote on March 7th, 2012 at 6:51 PM PST:

I was wondering if you think the main culprit in all of this is gluten.

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Eugenia wrote on March 15th, 2012 at 2:27 PM PST:

Thank you Nikki. I describe Paleo-ketogenic in this blog post. No need to restrict calories though if you’re not battling tumors or in need of losing weight. But you’d need to restrict carbs. The rest is the same as Paleo (click on its link on that article).

Nikki wrote on March 15th, 2012 at 2:25 PM PST:

What a great article, thank you for sharing. Paleo ketogenic, I have not yet heard of this. Where could I found more information on this? Thanks!

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