It’s New Year’s Eve 2018, and this time last year I was making lists and action plans for how I might once-and-for-all get to the bottom of my digestion problems. “This will be the year,” I would think as I would set out at the top of that willpower mountain only to make a steady trail downwards and backwards. I would tell myself, I will drink more water than ever, I’ll eat kale, collards, and spinach, I’ll cut down on meat to once a week max… I’ll have my plate be mostly vegetables. I tried soaking my grains, slow cooking my food, juice fasts, bone broth fasts, water fasts, I tried yoga postures for digestion, a regular evening walk, going vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, gluten free, grain free, paleo… I did the Whole Life Challenge three times, the Whole30 several times a year, I tried staying on the Whole30 for 100 days… I did the GAPs diet, I tried eating only once a day; eating 3 times a day; grazing all day; not eating after 4pm, I tried the Low Fodmap diet, the SCD, I saw doctors and specialists, I had abdominal x-rays, ultrasounds, a colonoscopy… I worked with a nutritionist (for a year!), received regular acupuncture, took Chinese herbs, went to naturopaths, did colon cleanses, saw Mayan Abdominal massage therapists… At one point I tested positive for SIBO and stuffed myself with supplements like goldenseal, oil of oregano, bitters and all manner of digestive enzymes, Berbercap, 5htp, ABD5, Interphase, Floradix. I did two rounds of Rifaximin and Neomycin but the SIBO kept coming back.
I was “being so good”, doing everything I was supposed to be doing! I’d see slight improvements but eventually all of my symptoms would return. Nothing was actually healing me. And not only was I chronically constipated, I had all kinds of mysterious health issues about which doctors would always shrug and say, “Let’s just watch it and see”. I was always getting “benign tumors” including a lump under my arm, a lipoma on my shoulder blade, an enchondroma in my finger that caused the bone to fracture, a uterine fibroid, fibrocystic breast tissue… I had mysterious skin rashes, rosacea, vision problems, and constant whooshing (tinnitus) in my left ear. I had problems falling and staying asleep, I had bizarre inflammation flare-ups in my joints including one in my knee that was so debilitating that I could not walk without a cane for several months. I had interstitial cystitis, irregular cycles, headaches (including ocular migraines), and I was also depressed, anxiety-ridden and anemic. There were days when I could manage to go to a barre class only come home and sit parked in the driveway for half an hour or more trying to muster the energy to walk to my front door. I was miserable. I was red-faced and so bloated that I looked 5 months pregnant. I would wake up with a day planned and by 10 in the morning I would have to start cancelling things because I was so inflamed/in pain/bloated/exhausted and emotionally drained. I was missing out on time with my kids, with my husband, my friends, my life.
I felt I had tried everything and I was miserable. And then I tried going keto. I started seeing a slight shift in regularity, I started having more energy and better moods, I was sleeping better… I started learning everything I could about ketosis and macros! I was tracking and peeing on sticks and trying amazing keto recipes like graham crackers with cream cheese frosting!! Then I heard about micronutrients and slammed on the breaks. The fear set in and I was worried that I might not be getting what I needed if I wasn’t eating my greens and other “superfoods” so I added collards back in and immediately the tinnitus came back. I added in berries and avocado and I became constipated again, my energy dropped, the moodswings returned. Then one night I was listening to Anthony Gustin’s podcast and heard Dr. Shawn Baker talking about carnivory. I thought, you know what? I have tried EVERYthing else… What have I got to lose by trying one more thing? So, I threw my hands up and went carnivore.
That was September and now, 4 months later, every single one of those symptoms I mentioned above have disappeared. In six weeks went from 156lbs to 127lbs (and have now stopped weighing myself because I couldn’t care less about the scale). I went from CIC (chronic idiopathic constipation) to having several -at least two- bowel movements every day. I can make plans with confidence because I am no longer a slave to mysterious physical and mental health issues. Today my diet is simple. There is no guesswork, recipe scouring or fretting over whether this dish is “legal”. I eat mainly beef, pork, elk, and fish. I can have small amounts of cheese but I don’t do well on eggs or yogurt. I do not miss anything that I used to eat. I do not feel left out when others partake in things I cannot eat because I have my health back and that is way more delicious than anything else imaginable!