I recently announced on Instagram that I had started eating “carnivore.” Many of you wanted to hear more so here I am. There’s a lot I could say about the why’s behind carnivore, but I’ll leave that to Dr. Paul Saladino for now. In a nut shell, carnivore centers around eating meats derived from animals (muscle meat, organs, eggs, dairy products, & some seafood). Depending on how “hardcore” you are, non-toxic plant foods such as avocado, berries, olives, and even high quality honey are included. Plant derived foods (yes, even AIP/Paleo/Keto friendly veggies) are omitted for the simple reason that they are not necessary for optimal human health. I know, it sounds crazy at first glance. However, with my limited, but growing knowledge of this approach to eating, as well as personal experience and those of others, I am finding it to be quite true. For more information and to dispellany doubts you may have, be sure to check out Dr. Paul Saladino’s podcast and website here. In the meantime, back to my experience.
I’ve always been intrigued by the carnivore lifestyle. However, after many years of elimination diets necessary during specific periods of my healing journey, the last thing I wanted to do was decrease my diet’s diversity again. During both of my pregnancies I was able to drastically increase the variety in my diet thanks to a lowered immune response to things I’d previously react to. Some of these include but are not limited to…cruciferous veggies, avocado, vinegar, chocolate, seafood, berries, dairy products, nuts/seeds, etc… It doesn’t seem like a lot to most, but it was a huge accomplishment for me. Overall, I feared carnivore would make me feel restricted and while healthy for my body, would not healthy for my mental health. Despite still having these doubts, my husband and I decided to plunge in head first back at the beginning of June, 2021.
Like I said, carnivore has always interested me. While plants/plant derived foods have come and gone throughout my healing journey (Paleo to the AIP, SIBO elimination diet to Low-FODMAP & Ketogenic), one thing that’s always remained is meats and fish. Even at my sickest with chronic Lyme and co-infections, these foods remained in my healing diet. At one point I only could handle eating local fish, organ meat, and some beef products. These foods kept me alive , which is why I’ve always had a pull toward carnivore.
I also chose carnivore to learn more about my body. It’s easy to get in a routine of what you’re eating without much thought if something is adversely affecting you. For so many years I simply strove to not allergically react to foods. Yet with my MCAS somewhat under control I decided it was time to change my mindset a bit and dig a little deeper. I may not be getting anaphylaxis from a given food, but is it putting a damper on my energy in any way? Is it causing unnecessary GI symptoms? Is my mood as stable as it could be? Are my hormones running optimally? Am I recovering well from my workouts? Is my sleep suffering in any way? Is there any way I can increase my health and help my body function optimally? I wanted to find the answers to these questions and knew “going carnivore” would help me do just that.
I didn’t want carnivore to mess with my mental health. It sounds silly, but despite the years of chronic illness I had managed to keep a healthy relationship with food and didn’t want restricting my diet to ruin this. I also didn’t want to give up my keto-friendly chocolate. It was a struggle at first but I really pushed myself. I ate, and if I was still hungry, I ate more. I snacked when I wanted and found after the first couple of weeks that my appetite regulated greatly. When I was dying a little inside for some coconut butter fat bombs or Lily’s dark chocolate, I’d allow myself the indulgence. Yet it wasn’t long before I didn’t even feel the need to eat anything other than animal products and low-toxic plant foods. The funny thing is, I most certainly don’t miss vegetables.
Another thing I struggled a bit with was bowel movements. While I wasn’t necessarily constipated, for the first couple weeks I kept skipping days where I went the bathroom. Despite this I rarely was bloated or uncomfortable and after a couple weeks things regulated themself. Even in this, it seems the quantity in my bowel movements have decreased. Without all the excess and indigestible plant materials, there’e just seems to be less waste to go around.
My Grocery List
We like to source most all of our meat from local farmers. It really is the healthiest and most affordable in the long run. Going carnivore and having others in the house eat primarily this way has also opened up some of our budget to prioritize high quality animal products. That being said, while we purchase these products as much as we can possibly afford, it’s not always financially possible. I don’t believe this is a reason not to give carnivore a shot. Just keep in mind processed meats and dairy products may not be tolerated as well by your body as their minimally processed, probiotic rich, local, and raw equivalents. Another note to make is that my husband and I still do consume homemade cold brew coffee on a regular basis. This is not considered “carnivore,” mainly due to the mold that coffee can grow, but I will not get in to that now. We choose to include low-toxic plant items such as avocado into our weekly routine for more diversity, while others strictly live off of eggs and organ meat.
Monthly menu items:
- Fish (canned/fresh)
- Pork rinds
- Organic hot dogs
- Cheese (in many forms)
- Yogurt, cottage cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, etc…
- Heavy cream
- Berries (occasionally)
- Cucumber (home grown, no seeds/skin)
- Honey (for husbands coffee)
- Jerky (for husband)
- Avocado or coconut-oil based mayo
- Seasoning (minimally – usually green herbs or garlic & onion)
Is carnivore the magic cure? Am I healed of all my lingering health issues from chronic Lyme and resulting illnesses? The short answer is no, but I definitely have seen some differences in my overall health that I’m unwilling to passively give up. GI issues have always been central in my health problems and continue to be to this day. I struggle with persistent yeast issues, possibly due to mold exposure (more on that in a later post), and nothing ever stays good and happy “forever.” While carnivore hasn’t completely eliminated all my gut issues it has gotten rid of a lot of additional ones caused by food and it is helping me pin point underlying issues in my body that may potentially be contributing to the imbalances I still face in my GIT.
The biggest area I’ve seen carnivore help is my energy source. It just feels like good, clean energy. I don’t know how else to explain it. It hasn’t made me superwoman by any means. I still get fatigued and tired, but my energy throughout the day stays stable and my performance in workouts has increased. Not only that, but I don’t feel constantly hungry. I can go hours without eating and not even mean too, simply because I’m satiated and full on nutrient dense calories that don’t mess with my blood sugar or signal my brain that I’m hungry when I’m really not.
Overall, carnivore hasn’t been the answer to all my questions. But it is helping me learn more about my body, and to me that is priceless. It is pushing me to explore new possibilities for my continued GI issues, headaches, infections, allergies, etc…and while it hasn’t gotten rid of these issues, it has allowed my body to perform as optimal as it can under the conditions that it has been given. On top of that, it’s made cooking a cleanup for a family of six way less time consuming. So hey, what’s not to love? Be sure to watch my new day-in-the-life video for a sneak peak of how unglamorous and fancy yet satisfying my carnivore life is and comment below to have your question answered in an upcoming Q&A video!
Psalm 119:114 “You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.”