In April 2019, leading up to and over a big birthday celebration (4444……..Forty! I can barely say it) I decided to embark on a 30-day carnivore journey. Having been low carb/keto on and off (mostly on) since 2015, I figured this might not be so bad.
Over the years I have experimented with a Low Carb/Keto diet in order to better understand my body and its responses to food. I have even used food as a way to control my chronic pain, migraines, headaches, keloid scarring, sleep, depression and inflammation. All of which, as a result of changing to low carb high fat (LCHF), have been brought under control which has benefited me tremendously. It is because of the positive changes I experienced personally, I became devoted to helping more people understand that life doesn’t have to be doom and gloom, aches and pains, medication and “the inevitability” of getting old and frail. You are in control of your life and the joy you bring to it.
So what is the carnivore diet and why has it gained so much attention in recent years?
The carnivore diet means eating 100% animal-only foods, such as meat, fish eggs, offal, and dairy (in some cases). The most extreme version of the carnivore diet is to eat only meat, salt and water. It has gained a lot of interest from some people who are already on a keto or low-carb diet but have stalled in terms of achieving their goals, whether it is losing weight, improving their mental health, controlling their cravings or even managing their autoimmune diseases. I’d like to add that there are very few scientific studies to confirm the benefits of Carnivore eating, although many medical professionals who follow a Carnivore lifestyle will share all their science/lab numbers and knowledge in an attempt to persuade you. I would only recommend it for a period of 30 days to maybe a maximum of 90 days depending on your goal. I would start with a modest goal and see how you go.
I’m the type of person that, once I set myself a goal, I tend to stick to it. Not only that, once I find something that benefits my own health I want to spread it to the benefit of others. As a therapist I must walk the walk as well as talk the talk.
So 18-months ago as I sat in my garden feeling desperately unhappy and unbelievably unwell after a prolonged period of “I don’t care what I eat”, I was inspired by an article in Men’s Health magazine about various dietary approaches, of which Carnivore was one. It sounded right up my street- I absolutely love meat…. So I dug a little deeper, downloaded the required booklets (www.meatrx.com) and thought, “You know what? 30 days won’t be so bad……….. “
There was not a lot of planning and preparation, I just needed to stock my fridge/freezer with good quality steaks and mince meat, eggs and cream. There are various levels of carnivore, and I chose to be what they consider relaxed carnivore, which meant I allowed myself to eat butter, duck eggs, cheese, offal, salt, water, and my beloved coffee with cream. Basically, animal foods, but predominately meat. I learnt to cut out erythritol (natural sugar) in my coffee.
I learnt so much about myself in these 30 days. Here is what I learnt and some benefits:
- I learnt how much of my eating habits were emotional
- I learnt to listen to my body, stop and ask “am I really hungry or am I just thirsty or am I just….“insert emotional excuse”?
- I learnt that most of my headache and migraine triggers are food related
- I learnt that chicken eggs make me bloated and repeat on me horribly
- Chicken and hard cheese makes me feel tired, bloated and dissatisfied – hungry!
- I love duck eggs and they don’t cause me digestive issues
- I do not like Ribeye (I know I know!)
- I learnt that sirloin steaks, fillet and rump satisfy my body both satiety and mentally.
- I learnt to use coffee and cream as a way to make me feel full
- Meat (protein) STOPS ALL CHOCOLATE CRAVINGS (sugar cravings) – this was big for me I’m a dark chocaholic and also have a sweet tooth
- I learnt that goal setting really does need to be small steps to keep one focused and motivated. I found this challenge extremely tough mentally and that attempting a 90 day goal would have filled me with horror.
- I slept SOOO much better
- I woke up feeling like I had so much energy I didn’t need to sleep as much
- My skin was glowing and my eyes looked bright and clear
- My bio-markers were very good, very low inflammatory markers, low insulin, low HbA1C, low Trigs, and weight loss from 53kg to 49kg but didn’t really want to lose weight, rather I wanted to lose inflammation which is exactly what happened.
- I suffered with diarrhoea for a few weeks – which is very common
- Slight fear of what eating so much meat would do to my insides (even though I know it is safe!)
- Difficult socially, mostly because people will tell you that you are mad and all that meat is going to kill you
- Visually it never looked enough, so you have to get over your fear of “not enough”.
Have I carried a year later? Not entirely. What I have continued to do is eat mostly animal foods so I’m mostly strict keto, and dip in and out of low carb. I was having the odd cheat meal which turned into a cheat day and then a cheat week but this behaviour really does not serve my mind or body well. I have continued to produce low carb desserts for myself (and others) and I’m good with that, but day to day most of my meals consist of red meat, cheese, sometimes eggs, butter, salt, bone broth, coffee, dark chocolate (85% plus) and I’ve now started to reintroduce some vegetables and small amounts of berries. When I am out at a restaurant, I make the best choice I can, and if I’m at other people’s homes I will generally eat what I’m given as it is rude not to. There is usually something low carb/keto-ish. I don’t beat myself up about it, but I’ll often say no to the things I know will truly trigger discomfort.
Would I try it again? Yes! If I went through a truly rough time like I did in 2019 then I would use it as a way to reset my body. This process taught me a lot about what foods work for me and what doesn’t, and my triggers mentally and emotionally. I would definitely recommend it to people who have a variety of chronic issues that need the body to “reset” so that we can establish what works and what doesn’t. But it might take a lot of will power (small steps/goals) and a lot of listening to your body’s triggers, signals and responses. All of which I see only as positive.
My advice to anyone wanting to try it, is the same as what I would say to anyone making lifestyle changes: this is YOUR journey, don’t tell everyone, cut out the noise and negativity and try it. You don’t need to over share, just let the results speak for themselves.
There is a large carnivore community, mostly in the USA, and many have been doing this dietary approach for many years. They all feel amazing and look incredibly healthy.
If you’d like to try the carnivore journey with our support just let me know and we can discuss this as part of your ProLongevity journey.
Judy Cho www.carnivorecure.com IG: nutritionwithjudy