Is it possible to heal yourself through diet alone?
Those familiar with this site may be aware that the reason I became so invested in nutrition was as a means to manage my chronic illnesses. I have had chronic fatigue syndrome for the past six years or so, and I have had IBS and other digestive issues throughout my life. The ketogenic diet has helped with energy and maintaining weight and muscle mass, and fasting allowed my stomach to have some time to recover between meals.
But I wasn’t cured, and in the latter half of 2018 my condition continued to decline, I was really worried, it hurt every time I ate, I had severe bloating and acid reflux, and eventually food was just passing right through me. I was at serious risk of malnutrition and dehydration. What’s worse is my doctors didn’t seem to care, I had already had a series of tests that showed no problems, so all they did was prescribe me more and more medications to treat the symptoms. They had no interest in getting to the source of my problems. So I took matters into my own hands, if you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself.
I don’t know why doctors don’t ask patients about their diet, it should be their very first question. There’s a lot of truth to “you are what you eat.” I asked my GP about this and he basically said most doctors just don’t see food as that big of a factor in health. I was frankly shocked and disgusted. How many people out there were just like me, suffering daily only for doctors to dismiss very treatable problems?
Like most people I first heard about the carnivore diet on the Joe Rogan podcast. He has interviewed the Petersons, Jordan and Mikaela, as well as Shawn Baker. And like most people my first reaction was that this sounded insane, but after listening to those episodes and continuing to delve deeper into the diet it began to look like this was my best option. I felt like my digestive system was falling apart, I felt like I was dying, it was even affecting my mental health, I was willing to give anything a go.
I began the carnivore diet on the first of December, and as much as I wanted to I didn’t just jump right in, I did my research and prepared properly. I slowly cut down on non-animal products just to make sure I didn’t replace one problem with another. Eventually I was down to just eating meat, and let me tell you the first all-meat meal I had was chicken heart kebabs and I cannot even describe to you how great it felt. It was as if I had been starving for months, which technically I had been, I hadn’t been digesting food properly. Whatever food I could manage to eat in the first place. Despite doing OMAD and feeling hungry at meal time, I would take a few bites of food and then my body would fight me, I would feel so bloated and uncomfortable even though I had barely eaten. It’s one of those things, I gradually got sicker and sicker to the point that I forgot what normal was supposed to feel like. But eating those kebabs I felt no resistance at all, I just wolfed them down and felt totally okay for the first time since I could remember.
Within a couple of days I noticed dramatic improvements, my digestive issues went away. After years of suffering it all just stopped, I don’t take any medication at all now. And there were other improvements too, my skin is clearer and I sleep better. I actually didn’t notice I had any issues sleeping, if anything my problem is that I sleep too much. But now every night it’s a deep, refreshing sleep, even when the weather is uncomfortably hot. I wake up with the sun, I have more energy. I’m not saying I am cured of CFS, but clearly half of my fatigue wasn’t caused by the illness at all, but by my body having to fight against these irritants every single day. I had been taught to see fruits and vegetables and fibre as healthy but it turns out they were slowly poisoning me.
Now I’m not suggesting everyone should go carnivore, plenty of people can thrive on plants, but for those with autoimmune issues, this can be potentially life changing. I am suddenly intolerant to foods I used to eat every day with no problem, and what I think is happening is that CFS has impacted my immune system, it’s overreacting to everything, except for meat and dairy. At first I treated the carnivore diet as an elimination diet, but I’ve found that I can only moderately tolerate some fruits and vegetables. For example, I could have a bit of pasta sauce, or turnips, or peanuts, but I have to be prepared to feel a little off the next day. I have discovered that high FODMAP (other than lactose of course) and high fibre foods seem to be the most deadly to me. So at the very least I have some sense of what is triggering my reactions, where as before I thought that I had digestive problems and I just had to accept it, there was nothing to be done about it, or so my doctors said.
I don’t know how long I will be on the carnivore diet, I may be stuck on it for the rest of my life, or maybe only when and if the CFS goes into remission again. But honestly I feel so great, my groceries cost far less than they once did, there’s less food waste, I feel like I have control over my body, and these days I only seem to crave meat and dairy, so I’m in no hurry to change. When I visited my GP again recently he was amazed to see how good I looked, last time he saw me I needed a wheelchair to get around, I was just so weak and exhausted all the time. Then I came in, able to sit upright and think clearly. He basically admitted I know more than he does about nutrition and how my body works. What this experience has taught me is that sometimes you have to go against conventional wisdom, you have to become your own doctor and you have to have the courage to experiment on yourself. If you want a job done right, do it yourself.
I will still post keto recipes but I would also like to show just how much variety can be had on carnivore, so there will be lots of carnivore recipe ideas in the near future. In the meantime, if you want to follow my daily journey on carnivore and get a preview of some of my recipes, head on over to my Instagram.