Over a year ago, I embarked on my big, fat dietary experiment on the carnivore diet, because I was slipping back into my bad, old, carbohydrate and sugar addicted ways.
My choices of AIP treats and baked goods, lots of cassava flat breads, tapioca puddings and root vegetable chips were creating more weight, more gut issues and stalling my healing and I knew that something had to change.
If you want to read more about the carnivore diet, why I chose it and some of the results, you can read about it here.
Originally I committed to 30 days strict carnivore which is an all protein diet. No fruit, no veggies, just different forms of protein including fish, lamb, pork, beef, chicken, eggs and bacon.
The 30 days passed, I didn’t develop scurvy and I saw no reason to stop so, I kept on going and as of today, I still haven’t found a reason to stop.
I had heard lots of first person stories about how the carnivore diet had helped people feel better and eliminate symptoms from all different types of illness and disease including autoimmune ones, so my primary reason was to see if I could finally resolve my lingering gut issues and see if my body could reach a new level of healing.
My secondary reason was weight loss because what I also saw was people of all ages becoming leaner and seeing their bodies reshape themselves and gain muscle, better skin, thicker hair and they looked like they were reverse ageing.
Here are my biggest changes from a year on the carnivore diet.
Resolved gut issues.
On the whole, my gut feels good. It’s peaceful and most of the time, I am not aware of it which is exactly how I want it to be. I have no more gut pain at night that disturbs my sleep, no more bloating, trapped wind or discomfort. Originally when I began I was still drinking decaffeinated coffee, all sorts of teas and coconut milk but over time, I realised that the oxalates in the coffee and tea were causing me issues and I stopped drinking it. Identifying my sensitivity to oxalates was a major insight into why I had issues with many of the AIP approved fruits, vegetables, and things like chocolate, even though I loved chocolate.
Better skin, nails and hair.
This has been a major revelation! My skin tone has completely changed to the point where my foundation is now much too dark for me. The clearing of my skin and change in skin tone mean that I now have a face full of freckles. Who knew?
I had freckles as a child but over time, I just assumed that they had faded because I couldn’t see them anymore but my freckles are back, my skin is much lighter in tone and I need to buy more foundation.
My skin is softer and the texture is better. No more dry skin on my body and even the skin on my heels is much improved and needs very little removal after a Summer of being mostly barefoot.
I can tan now which is nice instead of going a brick red like I used to and I can sit out in the sun for a longer time without getting sunburned.
My hair is thicker and the colour of my hair has also changed. I never really had a lot of grey hair at all but about 60% of the grey hair I had is gone. I haven’t coloured my hair for at least 10 years so at 60, it’s interesting to see how shiny and healthy my hair looks and feels now. My nails are strong and grow very quickly and rarely break and I do notice that I have to clip my fingernails more often. (I don’t like having long fingernails for some reason.)
Better brain function and mood.
This was also a major revelation to me. I have often talked about how, as I began recovering, it was like new lights going on in my brain that I didn’t know existed which was exciting.
Now it’s like I have discovered a whole new room full of lights. The only way I can describe it is that one day I just started feeling better emotionally and I thought I had been just fine before.
I laugh more. I cry more easily. I feel all of my feelings and my emotional range is so much bigger and wider. I sing around the house a lot. I dance in the kitchen. I make myself laugh often and I enjoy my friends and family so much more because I feel more “switched on.”
My focus and attention span have vastly improved as has my levels of motivation. I have achieved more in the past few months than I have in the preceding 5 years and projects I have been sitting on and wanting to do are finally getting done because I can sit and focus without my brain becoming overwhelmed. This really is a huge and very welcome change for me.
More energy for the “extra’s.”
This has also been a wonderful change. Prior to carnivore, I generally had enough energy and focus to get the essentials done like work, cooking, a bit of cleaning and laundry but this depended very much on how I was feeling day to day. My main focus was always work as that pays the rent and bills and anything over that was a bonus.
Now I feel well enough to do more. For example, over the last 6 months I have completed painting lessons, several online courses in art and one in something for my business and a few months ago, I had a real longing to start knitting again, something I haven’t done since I was in my 20’s and I am almost finished with my first knitting project and have two more lined up waiting to start.
I have been gradually decluttering the house, cupboard by cupboard, room by room, throwing things, donating things and getting things in order and it feels wonderful! I finally got enough motivation to get a new lounge suite, something I have wanted to do for a long time but felt too overwhelming to manage.
It feels like my life is expanding out again and it feels really good.
I have been on diets since I was 9 years old when I went from being a normal sized girl to an obese girl which was probably around the time that Hashimoto’s came into my life, unbeknown to me.
I have been a “big girl” for most of my life apart from a period of 18 months on Atkins and lots of gym work and exercise so seeing my body reshaping itself has been a really fascinating process and it’s still a bit difficult to wrap my mind around how much smaller I am these days.
So far I have released over 28 kilos which is roughly 62 lbs and this is the lowest weight I have ever been as an adult which is something I have said at least 6 times in the past 6 months and I think my body is still releasing. I still have more weight on my thighs, belly and upper arms that will probably go.
I have no goal weight in mind, I am basically letting my body decide where it wants to settle. I have dropped 5 dress sizes and can buy a size 10 or small off the rack generally without issue.
I have had to replace every single item of clothing I have including my favorite knee high boots and some beautiful clothes but have been able to get into smaller things that I couldn’t bear to part with because I loved them so much like an old, Italian leather jacket I have had for years.
Some things like bra’s and jeans I have had to replace twice so the clothes donations from me have been huge!
Shopping in thrift stores and places like Kmart have really helped as I have been able to get some nice things for a very good price.
It feels very different being in my body now. I have had big breasts for years which if you have them, you will know that they can bring lots of issues! They generate a lot of heat which is hard in the Summer, the weight of them can cause shoulder pain, bra straps leave grooves in your shoulders and when you lay on your back, your breasts seem determined to smother you.
Now those issues are gone. I have smaller, nicer, lighter bras, there is no weight dragging down on my shoulders and the Summer was much more pleasant on my chest because a lot of that heat generation is now gone.
What’s really interesting is that this almost feels like my body is finally getting the chance to be how it was supposed to be all along.
Neither of my parents were big people. My Mum was tiny and small framed. My dad is only 5ft 6 or so and not big framed either. I was the only overweight person in my family which caused me much misery growing up. I don’t have a big frame and I am only 5ft 4 so now my body has the opportunity to be the shape and weight that it was meant to be. It is really fascinating for me to watch my body evolving and see where it goes.
Issues that have resolved.
No more fungal skin issues under my breasts or in the folds of my skin that tended to happen in Summer.
My sensitivity to scents has really decreased so I can wear my perfumes again. In fact, I am now using them daily and really loving them. I tend to use natural perfumes to limit exposure to chemicals but my old favorite, Estee Lauder Youth Dew, is back in regular rotation and so loved.
Greatly increased heat tolerance. While this Summer in Australia was a very strange one, we did get a lot of humidity which normally knocks me out but I hardly felt it at all which is quite amazing. While everyone was complaining about the humidity, I was doing just fine.
Better sleep. On the whole, I tend to get to sleep better and sleep more deeply and wake feeling more rested.
Things that have been challenging.
Discovering my issues with oxalates while explaining so many of the health issues I had, was also very hard because it meant giving up more things that I really enjoyed and that gave me comfort like my tea, coffee and chocolate. There was a lot of sadness most of all over tea because it’s been such a huge part of my life.
Growing up, cups of tea were an essential part of life. My Mum used to smile telling me the story about how I would ask for a “tuppa tea” when I was little. Whenever anyone came over to visit, the kettle would be on and we would be having our tea and coffee. It was part of our family and our social bonding. So that one created a more than a few tears and lots of grief but my body told me loud and clear to STOP and I have to honour what she tells me.
While I generally have no cravings and rarely think about food most of the time, I have had some strong memories surfacing of things that I loved to have when I was younger like sausage rolls with tomato sauce (ketchup) or milkshakes or salad sandwiches with tomato and beetroot and cheese. Though actually smelling these things now makes me feel quite sick.
I do sometimes get bored with eating and I tend to cycle through different protein that I like to eat. I will want to eat eggs and bacon then get sick of that and want steak. Then I get sick of steak and want pork, then lamb, then fish and it all cycles around. I just listen to my body and go with what it wants.
Apart from that, there have been no negatives or downside at all.
Going carnivore was a really good decision for me and I have no regrets. I am experimenting at the moment with adding in some things like the occasional avocado, some coconut yoghurt, onion, garlic and some low oxalate herbs. I notice how it feels in my body and either keep it or stop.
I love wearing smaller clothes and I am really enjoying putting together outfits, wearing my jewellery, makeup and finding out what suits me and what I like to wear.
I feel so much better in myself, mentally and physically and my health feels like it has reached a new level. I have had full checkups and tests and my cholesterol, vitamin levels and insulin are all excellent. My blood sugar is stable throughout the day and I am no longer insulin resistant.
As of the moment, the ease of cooking and cleaning up and food preparation, the way I feel and function and all of the benefits I have listed above mean that I have no desire or intention to stop.
If at any point that changed, then I would reconsider and maybe go more keto style but that’s not something I am even considering right now.
Any fears that I had going into the carnivore diet have all been laid to rest. It didn’t make me worse. I didn’t have a heart attack. I didn’t develop scurvy or kidney disease or other issues and I have never felt better.
I am looking forward to seeing how my body continues to evolve and what other things will come as a result.