Home Q&A Wednesday Q&A Wednesday: What Happens When You Regress From Clean Eating?

Q&A Wednesday: What Happens When You Regress From Clean Eating?

by Erika Nicole Kendall

Q: Hi Erika, How are you? I had a question for you about clean eating. I started eating clean about a month ago, have lost 10LBS since and feel so good. I find that lately if I don’t eat clean, I get stomach ache and I live in the bathroom afterwards (if you know what I mean). I wanted to know if you experienced the same thing when you first started clean eating? I feel like it’s food withdrawal, I can no longer handle the bad food 🙂

I think, sometimes, people take for granted the little pleasures that come from eating clean. For starters, your body is operating optimally. You don’t need a lot of “stuff” to stay awake. You don’t need a “drink” – and I use that term loosely – to help you focus. Your body is more able to fight off disease.

But most importantly, your system is able to regulate itself. You don’t experience constipation. You don’t experience acid reflux as often (unless you naturally have a problem with naturally grown tomatoes… which would be really sad because tomatoes are dope.) A lot of the “digestion issues” that we get are merely our bodies responding to bad food. You take away the bad food… and you take away the problems.

But a funny thing happens when, after converting away, you try to go back. Since you now know what it’s like to go without digestion issues, the problems that felt “minor” before will feel like you’re giving birth now.

I mean, people think I’m often just being a snob when I say it, but I don’t revert back. For anyone. Or anything. Not because I “dare not eat crap food,” but because I learned the hard way – one good time – that there’s no place for that stuff in my tummy… because my tummy said so.

I recall the Future Mister, on his journey to convert over to how I eat, brought home some kind of healthy snack bar thing for me to eat. I, always appreciative of little things like that and not thinking twice about it went ahead and ate it. An hour or so later, I experienced headaches – which I never get, ever – and a bit of tummy pain. After trying to figure out what the hell was wrecking havoc on my body, I remembered the “healthy snack bar thing.” Sure enough, the side of the label listed all kinds of mess I don’t eat.

Don’t mistake this. It’s not “food withdrawal.” It’s “your body has been eating right for so long and wants to get this mess out of it immediately.” It’s not “Oh, your body wants this stuff back!” it’s “for the love of all things fit, why?!” It’s “I don’t know what I did to deserve this but karma is a cold toilet seat.”

Once you spend enough time without those symptoms, you stop treating them like its normal because you know a new “normal.” You know a body without constant gassiness, discomfort and [sometimes, unfortunately] pain. So do what you can to avoid the mess and you’ll do fine!

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marie January 5, 2012 - 6:19 AM

Oooh I see myself in what you are saying!

I also “tried” to eat clean for 3 weeks it was possible to control what I eat because I did not have a job at that time, no business trips etc so it was “easy” to control as I was at home…. Now I went back to my old eating habits… (I know I failed)… and now my tummy feels like a mess… I got all kind of symptoms and troubles… headaches.

I think it is actually interesting that the body reacts that way, that really help you to be AWARE that some foods are actually bad for you (it is not always obvious, sometimes you need something to kick your *** and I am speaking for myself !) 😉

Now my next “strategy” is baby steps and planning planning planning as you often say Erika! I changed my habits too drastically and that is certainly not the key for success !

Starry January 8, 2012 - 3:48 PM

Eh, I empathise entirely. This is going to sound bizarre but there you go… I have never in my life been to a KFC and I really wanted to try it. So, today, after going via the Chinese supermarkets in London’s China Town (where we bought a whole stack of yummy fresh veg for the coming week) we found a KFC nearby. My husband loathes junk food but he took a deep breath and we both went inside and ordered some food.

Oh. My. God. But it was AWFUL! And now, about 6 hours later, I still feel nauseas. Serves me right but an important lesson too. *Shudders at junk fast-food*

Ivana May 1, 2012 - 8:06 PM

Oh My Goodness!I experienced the SAME THING.
I felt so uncomfortable and gassy and was in the bathroom!
Not trying to go back to that.

bplatonova June 27, 2012 - 2:27 PM

What does eating clean mean?

Erika Nicole Kendall June 29, 2012 - 1:30 PM

Oof. Start here.

Childfree June 27, 2012 - 7:42 PM

A piece of KFC. Stomach in knots and in the bathroom all night. It was date night. He said, what can you do. WTF!

alice August 4, 2012 - 5:35 PM

ever since i started eating clean, i was going to the toilet more reguarly and feeling really healthy and about 2.5 weeks into my new diet i started having comstipation, two days into the constipation i had severe, uncontrolable diorreah and now i am suffering from constipation again and can only go if i take laxatives. This started just over a week ago now. Can anyone tell me why???

Erika Nicole Kendall August 5, 2012 - 10:49 AM

Infrequent hydration? Have you been eating completely processed-food-free? Start or stop any medications? I mean, there are lots of variables that can affect that particular issue… I’d do some long thinking about what may have changed in the process and what might’ve contributed to it. And, as a newbie, I’d simply keep a diary of my intake, anyway, just in case things like this pop up in the future.

alice August 6, 2012 - 4:11 AM

my partner is a bodybuider so he has a really set and clean diet before his compotitions, to strip any uneccissary fat, so i decided to do the diet with him too. We already ate really clean before, just had sweet treats in the evening, so there was no dramatic change. And with the amount of protein we are taking in i dont understand why everything has suddenlt stopped!

Valarie March 13, 2013 - 11:21 AM


How are you getting all that extra protein? Is it from lean meat like chicken or fish, or from “protein drinks”? I know that many bodybuilders use whey protein as well, and if you are dairy intolerant, a lot of whey protein can wreck havoc on your GI tract. Also, a lot of extra protein can leave little room for the roughage that helps move things through your system, so you have to be careful to eat enough leafy greens(spinach, kale, etc.) to balance things out.

Dori November 21, 2012 - 5:14 PM

Wow, i thought am the only one going trough this pains and gassiness.
p.s am pretty glad i found your site.
love, all the way from germany.

mary November 21, 2012 - 5:48 PM

What is clean eating?

Erika Nicole Kendall November 22, 2012 - 10:38 AM
Renee March 13, 2013 - 3:05 AM

So true, my body reacts by my feet swelling and my joints aching. So back to clean eating I go.

Angel May 23, 2013 - 7:44 PM

Thank God I found this! Last night I ate panikeke, basically hushpuppies, with nutella, and I’ve been miserableost of the day. I ate some for breakfast too and I think that made it so much worse. Never again! I’d rather go through labor than deal with this. It’s awful!

Tanya white January 31, 2015 - 7:01 AM

Here I am at 6am up sick after eating clean for 3 weeks I ate pizza and kool aid last night and I’m paying for it now, I found your site by googling eating bad after eating clean, now I can say I’ll never eat like that again my stomach is in knots and I have been to the bathroom twice in 10 minutes, lesson learned!

Renesha Lawson April 26, 2015 - 2:49 PM

I had this problem, last week after doing clean eating with a smoothie 2x a day. I ate some junk food at work because I didn’t bring my lunch and i work 12 hours. I went home ended up in the hospital with severe abdominal cramps all test were normal. It looked like a reaction from the food. Ate clean for a week then off last night ordered pizza and wings. My stomach was on im done.

Andriel January 21, 2016 - 6:25 AM

Ugh I ate Arby’s curly fries yesterday and today had 7 elevens toquitos lookin thing (buffalo chicken) and lunchables and I feel like throwing up so bad!!!!!!! I want to cry!!!! It’s not even worth it

Ashleigh November 11, 2016 - 9:09 AM

I’ve just finished a 12 week weight loss challenge. I was 62kg but I managed to lose 7kg by clean eating and daily exercise… I’m on holidays at the moment, the first 2 days I wasn’t watching what i ate at all as my trainer told me to enjoy myself.. Day 3 today and I’ve been in absolute agony since I woke up. I haven’t been hungry all day! I haven’t drank, I was only able to stomach half of a chicken wrap because I thought hey you should probably try to eat something! I’m so bloated I look 6 months pregnant. My life was so much better not eating the bad foods! What have I done!! My friends went out to dinner and drinks again tonight but I’ve stayed in the hotel by myself in bed! This bloody sucks 🙁 I hope I feel okay in the morning!!

Pleasha May 7, 2017 - 2:46 PM

Thank uou for this article. Went on vacation after 5 montgs of clean eating. Atr like crap and paid for it the whollllleeeeee vacation. Ugh.

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