Around 2008, I started seeing a new doctor because I had long been plagued with food issues and “tummy troubles” like IBS and food allergies. In late 2010, after a series of trips to the ER and undergoing more GI testing than the average 24 year old, I had my gallbladder removed. Before then my bloodwork wasn’t crazy, but it wasn’t all “normal”, either. In 2012, I saw my GP for a few run of the mill ailments…weight gain (rapid and excessive!), fatigue, depression, etc. when I got my lab work back I was stunned- my triglycerides were through the roof high and my thyroid was off. He diagnosed me with hypertryglyceridemia, hypothyroidism, fatty liver disease, and a slew of other “incurables” that come with following a SAD diet and crash diet cycles. I have never had a good reaction to medication so at that point he gave me Levothyroxine and Valium for vertigo. I mentioned diet but he brushed it off- I wish I knew then what I know now!
At that point, I had tried weight watchers, vegetarian, vegan, low fat, no red meat, gluten free, soy free, and many in between. I was still in denial that fruits were carbs so my morning smoothie was a staple. I took my medication and slowly, over the years, those vitamins and medications built up. By 2015 my medicine cabinet looked more like an 85 year olds than a 29 year olds. I still had high triglycerides (slightly lower but still worrisome) and I had moved on to taking metformin for fatty liver and Wellbutrin for depression, in addition to levothyroxine. I was on three medications that were supposed to help balance hormone levels and ideally lose weight but I was STILL gaining and in poor health- physical and mental!
The end of 2015 brought my family 2 major deaths and my world view was very shaken. In January of 2016, I decided to give Paleo and Whole30 a try. I had some good results for awhile but nothing sustainable and new food sensitivities were popping up once I removed some of the “big bads” like grains dairy and sugar. I was baffled…I remember saying to my then partner “all I’m going to be able to eat is meat! Who could live like that?!” (Oh how the tables have turned!)
After another disappointing check up with nothing to show but a higher number on the scale and little movement in my bloodwork, I decided (without ‘consulting my physician’ who had just tried to push more medications at me because dietary changes “wouldn’t help that much”) that none of the medications or vitamins I was on were actually keeping me alive. My system was too clogged with synthetic nonsense and there was no way my body could overcome anything when it was bombarded by so much outside influence. I slowly started weaning myself off of one medication at a time until I was medication free. In some regards I felt a little better but I knew I had a lot of work to do still.
From 2016-2019 I played around with paleo, keto, zero carb, and carnivore but I never stuck with anything longer than a few months. I felt fantastic on zero carb/carnivore but I still had some unresolved issues with my relationship with food so I couldn’t stick with something long term. I was devouring information this whole time, though. Finding all of the science, research, ‘anecdotal evidence’ from people’s stories that sounded like mine. Reading books, watching youtube videos and listening to podcasts, finding social media accounts for people that this worked for. Suddenly only surviving on meat was a light bulb that just made good sense, and I was healing my relationship with food and laying good groundwork to start healing mentally as well. During this time I also moved a few states away so early this year I knew I needed to find a doctor- animal based is magic but it’s not an immediate eraser…by some of my daily symptoms I knew I was still experiencing thyroid issues and I am still overweight so I wanted to get my bloodwork done to check things out.
In January, I found a job way closer to home with a fraction of the stress and I knew I could really dig in to an animal-based lifestyle. I was still on the hunt for a doctor and to say I was terrified of finding someone was an understatement. I was fairly convinced that any doctor I found in this tiny area I live would tell me I was sure to die an early death by following keto/carnivore but to my pleasant surprise, my current practitioner follows keto as well *insert huge sigh of relief*. By the time I saw him in March 2020, I had already lost about 15lbs since I weighed myself in November 2019, but only animal based for about 3 months at that point. He wrote me an order for bloodwork but this appointment was just a few days before covid shut our state down. It was check up work so I put it off until things started to ease up. In the meantime, I had very little trouble staying in line with animal based at least 80-90% of the time and anything not animal based is well thought out and things I don’t notice a reaction to eating/drinking.
In July 2020 I finally went to get a CBC with diff, thyroid check, lipid check, and CMP. To my pleasant surprise, my astronomical triglyceride number was cut in half from 2012 and most of my other numbers were well within normal ranges. At the follow up appointment I discovered I had lost more weight and was down 30lbs in 7 months. I suspect I have lost a little more but I don’t own a scale so I will find out at my next appointment.
I’m still struggling with my thyroid issues but there’s a lot of damage of years of poor diet and mismanaged health to adjust. Since going animal based and addressing my wellness holistically, my life has changed dramatically for the better. I’ve taken a vested interest in my health, what food actually does to my body, why what we eat matters on multiple levels, and I’ve even piqued the interest of a few friends- I’m happy to share my knowledge and resources in hopes they can make some healthy choices and more conscientious decisions about the food on their plates and their habits.
My journey isn’t over yet, but I feel like I’m on a path that is sustainable and what works best for me. I can tell my insulin resistance is taking a turn because I really don’t have the same hunger I used to have. My body is starting to be fat fueled and usually, if it’s not a juicy hunk of meat, I’m not interested! This is a huge change for me since I have always had a very emotional relationship with food and had at least one active eating disorder for the past 20 years. When I give my body what it needs, the guilt is gone, the worry is gone, I couldn’t care less about a calorie because I know my body is using everything I feed it to make us stronger and healthier. I think animal based is the optimal way of eating for humans, but the relationship we have with food is more important. Until I addressed that, there weren’t enough cows in the world to make me want to be healthier. Now I love my body for how hard it works and I love it by putting the best things I can afford.