This post is written by Charlene Andersen. She’s been on zero-carb for decades. Her story reminds me a lot of what I went through. Thanks for sharing.
“I was born on March 22, 1973. Since then, my battle with life began. I was sensitive to every food my parents introduced to me, trying to wean me off of breast milk by 3 months old. I guess they found the “least reactive” combination of foods to give me, but not without consequences.
I developed asthma and extreme allergies at a young age. At age 4 I was allergy tested, after a scary breathing incidence at nursery school, and was found to be sensitive to just about everything. Diet was never considered at that point of being my base issue. Instead, allergy shots were given to me for years, along with oral medications, nose sprays, ear drops, inhalers and cream for all my rashes. I hated every single one of them.
At age 8 I developed trichotillomania. I pulled out all of my eyelashes and eyebrows due to sores on my lash lines. This was seen by my parents as a bad habit I needed to break. I never did “break it” until about 17 years later. So, I grew up extremely self-conscious about anyone looking at me, especially from the side.
I was an only child, so my parents wanted me to be involved with as many activities with other kids as I could. So, I went to a lot of camps, which I absolutely loved. One of them is most likely where I contracted Lyme Disease from a deer tick. I never saw a bullseye rash or developed the initial Lyme symptoms.
When I started to mature around 13 years old, I developed extremely painful and ugly acne. This made my physical appearance even more shameful to me. This crater-like acne plagued me until I was around 25 years old. I developed cellulite around age 12, and although not fat, my body composition was bad.
By age 16 my periods slowed and stopped. No doctor could figure out why since I ate a “healthy” high fiber, low fat diet.
College years my health declined even more. The extreme fatigue and depression really set in. I couldn’t stay awake in class, and I pushed friends away. Even though I’d had suicidal thoughts since childhood, they became more intense.
I got through college and soon met my life-saver, Joe Andersen. I always say, this is the point where my downward spiral finally had a chance to end and reverse, little did I know at the time.
We shared so many of the same passions in life (art, music, etc), including diet and health. I knew that how I ate had an impact on my health. I just didn’t know exactly what to eat to reverse my many conditions.
With the job I had at the time, I was heavily exposed to chemicals, which worsened my physical and mental conditions. So, before Joe and I could figure out the best diet path, my health continued to decline.
I had worsening fatigue (I fell asleep everywhere – at work, in the car while driving, etc), depression (several plans of suicide), mental confusion, brain fog, paralysis/numbness in limbs (Joe had to carry me out of work a number of times), extreme eczema on hands (like 2nd degree burns), neck and face, continued amenhorrea (lack of periods), cervical dysplasia, Degenerative Disc Disease (couldn’t sit – worked standing up, constant sciatic nerve pain), continued weight gain (50 pounds overweight at my heaviest), muscle twitches (over 100 twitches in a minute’s time), personality change (from laid back to full of rage), and on and on….
I tried to use working out to help me feel better, but it didn’t do anything for me but add to my fatigue and anger. I even became a PT throughout the process of trying to figure things out for optimal health.
I tried conventional and alternative doctors, but with each “fix” they gave me, it lead to more issues and even further sickness. Of course, most doctors just thought my symptoms were in my head and said I was depressed.
Joe had always been into physical fitness and old-time body builders and athletes. He knew they used steak and egg diets to improve their athletic performance and abilities. So, we started going toward that approach.
We first started lowering carbs, and that was an instant success when it came to my allergies and asthma. I lost a little bit of weight, but most of my conditions didn’t really improve at all.
Joe and I married on August 8, 1998. It was bittersweet. I was marrying the man of my dreams, but even the adrenaline and awesomeness of the day couldn’t mask how badly I felt. We were the first ones to leave our own reception due to my fatigue.
Soon after I was diagnosed with Lyme disease by an alternative M.D. This at least gave Joe and I something to pin a lot of my problems on, but it didn’t do anything to cure it. That was up to us.
We took the next necessary step in diet to a very low carb diet. Again, things improved (acne, some weight loss), but not enough for me to be content.
We went zero carb and started with a fish and “healthy oils” diet. I felt I was heading down the right path, but didn’t have the results I wanted.
When I turned to all meat and meat fat, I ovulate within a couple days and had a period within two weeks. I couldn’t believe it! All the research I’d done on this subject in countless books and NONE of them talked about animal fat being king for proper hormones!
That alone gave me a huge incentive to keep going, eliminating foods that gave me any type of reaction. I really didn’t mind the smaller and smaller list of foods I ate, as long as I felt better. In so many ways it was freeing to me. I became less of a prisoner to hunger, food, and illness.
As I continued to experiment with Joe, we started keeping food journals of our meals, activities, reactions, wins, and fails. We often would re-introduce foods to re-test for verification. Luckily, I was consistent with my food reactions.
As every one of my issues started to reverse (some within days like acne, to around a year, like the fatigue and muscle twitches), I became happier and healthier.
People around us didn’t respond well with what I was eating. They were (maybe?) happy for me feeling better, but very concerned with what I was (or wasn’t) eating.
Nothing and no one trumped how I felt, so we pursued this venture despite all the rolled eyes, accusations of doing this all for attention, etc. I finally was starting to feel like a “normal” person and I wasn’t going to let ignorance take that away from me.
Not all meats were equal for me. I started out with free range eggs, pork, lamb, beef, poultry, and wild-caught fish. But, as time went on, I didn’t feel as well with anything but beef. And, not just beef, but fatty, ribeye steak, the very thing that Dr. Blake Donaldson and Dr. Newbold talked about being the best food for most people suffering illnesses.
I even started to notice that I didn’t need my contacts, and soon threw them away along with my glasses.
The better I zeroed in on my optimal diet, the more weight I lost and the better my body composition became. I started lessening my extreme workout routine from kettlebells and heavy lifts and HIIT sprints to eventually not exercising at all.
I’ve had two healthy boys in the process and we’ve been able to provide for them a happy, healthy environment.
My diet of fatty, ribeye steak (conventional grass fed/grain finished) gave me the best results, and from there, my life has exploded with energy, happiness, and health.
Approaching my 20-year anniversary (“carniversary”) of the all meat diet, I can confidently say, “There is life after illness”!!”
How wonderful that you’re telling your story again. People with “normal” metabolisms have no clue what a blessing the carnivore diet can be. That’s not their fault of course, but I don’t understand why they would feel threatened. Congratulations on regaining your health and kudo’s for talking about your diet!
Thank you, Willeke!
Do you take any supplements at all? For example Vit C or a vitamin/ minerals or is it just simply meat and water? And do you season your meat with anything or other than salt? Is even plant based seasoning such as pepper and garlic powder a no no for your body as well? Did you have any body aches and pains as you transitioned to all meat? I think all meat would work for me but every time I try it, I hurt all over. I wonder if it is some type of herxheimer reaction? Any thoughts?
I totally agree with Charlene. Started this diet about 2 weeks ago and am feeling way better. Probably felt worse the 1st 3 or 4 days but then the “die off” cleared up and I feel better than I have in decades. Since my disorder has been over 3 decades I am very dedicated to try anything different just to find some relief. There are so many success stories with this diet that I am committed to giving it a great effort.
For me “die off” is more of a “deep fatigue” just very draining and exhausting. I don’t feel as stressed and irritated from “die off” just totally wiped out. Where when I eat the wrong foods I feel much more “tortured”, more tension, much more out of sorts, like I have been poisoned. I would tell people in the past I might as well drink bleach than to eat a certain food because it would have the same affect.
Everybody is different, I am only speaking from experience not from medical fact. Maybe you have to slowly creep into a Zero Carb diet and then fully switch over due to strong “die-off’ reactions. Like Charlene said, keep a diary and keep trying!!!
I don’t supplement with anything, since the fatty ribeye gives me just what I need in the perfect amounts. Years ago, there was no tincture, herb, homeopathic remedy, or supplement of any kind that worked for me. In fact, they all made me worse. That was my experience.
Call me hardcore, but I don’t use any seasoning, including salt. I LOVE the taste of ribeye as is! And what’s funny is that once you’ve adapted to eating meat without seasoning, you can taste subtle differences from steak to steak, and sometimes from bite to bite. Taste = nutrition. I know many carnivores who use herbs and spices, but my body didn’t like any of them. They gave me the same reaction as if I ate vegetation.
And, oh man, the pain can be INTENSE when you eat all meat! You bet what you feel may just be a Herxheimer reaction. The feeling can even be a little similar to a food reaction, so it can be confusing to people. Healing will flux, sometimes in hours, sometimes in days. I tended to have 3-day cycles of building up pain before a relief. A food reaction usually is chronic in nature. But, I’m not a doctor so I can’t give any medical advice. Just listen to your body, keep a journal and trust in yourself.
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I was diagnosed with Lyme’s disease when I was around 6 years old after my immune system had been suppressed due to contracting chicken pox. Unlike the author of this story, I had a classic bullseye, but was not diagnosed since my doctor refused to believe it was Lyme’s. I went on the following year battling the disease, being put on IV treatment and missing a year of school. Although the disease had subsided, I did not realize all the effects that would come from this disease. I was subsequently diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome (sleeping anywhere and everywhere), Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Arthritis, and suffered from anxiety and severe depression. My diet at this time was horrible (very high in carbohydrates and sugar). It is only recently that I have altered my diet to mostly greens and meat and have also found a significant difference in my energy levels and mood. Interesting to see that others are finding the same.
So very glad to hear, Lindsey! Keep up the good work and hope your conditions keep improving.
I’ve been suffering from DDD for years. I was wondering if it is getting better as well. From what I understand once there is damage it can’t be reversed as there is less “cushion” between disks and inflammation is there as well. I can’t sit as well: can you do it now?
I’ve completely reversed my disc issues and although I haven’t had a follow-up MRI to prove anything, I have no pain, and I have no symptoms I had before I changed my diet.
What Steve writes in reply is fantastic too. So glad that there can be stories of people who have gone through issues that have reversed with diet, despite the medical community saying its impossible!
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