Interview with Amy
1) Introduce Yourself.
My name is Amy – I’m 49 and currently live in Bucks County, PA (near Philadelphia). I grew up in New Jersey, but then travelled all over the country and world for about 10 years when my husband joined the Air Force. We have two grown sons. Today we are settled in one area, but my husband and I are consummate travellers. We recently completed a trip to our 49th state on my quest to visit all 50 states in 50 years.
I have always had issues with food addiction and body dysmorphia from as far back as I can remember. I went on my first diet at age 9 although I was a normal and healthy body size. Once I hit my early 20s, I started having real issues with weight, though, and proceeded to take my seat on the weight gain and loss roller coaster. After more than a decade of this hell, I found a 12 Step Programme where I walked in at over 300 pounds (136 kg) a broken woman in so many ways.
2) How did you eat before Carnivore.
Upon joining the Programme in 2002 I started a food plan that eliminated all sugars, artificial sweeteners, wheat, caffeine, alcohol (surprise! I also found out I was an alcoholic!) and excess dietary fats. This plan also called for me to weigh and measure everything I put in my mouth and to eat three set meals a day with one snack at night. I ate a *lot* of vegetables, a decent amount of fruit, a good bit of grains, and minimal protein and fat. I lost 140 pounds (63.5 kg) in my first year or so of the program and have maintained that general amount of weight loss for the past 17 years. My food plan between 2002 and 2008 changed a number of times; I went through a period where I tried to reincorporate wheat back into my diet (that didn’t go well) and I added back and took out caffeine & dairy too many times to count.
In 2008 I started developing health issues. They were mild and seemingly random at first: heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, and a frozen shoulder were the first things to occur and I took care of each of those through physical therapy. But then I was in a car accident late that year and after that the physical ailments started piling up. I was in and out of doctor’s offices and my journey to find better health began in earnest. After trying pain management, acupuncture, chiropractic and physical therapy, I started to look towards my diet with the first stop at an ayurvedic medicine clinic. That didn’t seem to help so I tried a vegetarian diet for 6 months. I didn’t notice any improvement, but I didn’t get worse so I went vegan. After about 6 months of being vegan, I felt considerably worse – to the point where I didn’t have the energy to get out of bed some days. It was around this time that a doctor diagnosed me with fibromyalgia. I was also seeing a neurologist for an issue with frequent migraines and was put on a preventative medicine for those. My instincts told me to add animal products back to my diet and I felt better almost immediately after doing so, but I still didn’t feel as good as I thought I should for a woman in her 30s.
That period of trial and error lasted about 3 years and in 2011 I discovered the Paleo diet and Robb Wolf’s work. I felt somewhat better following the paleo diet, but I still had many physical issues and continued to seek solutions without success. Then in 2015 I was diagnosed with adult-onset asthma and began a regiment of medication for that disease. My frustration with all of my health issues really peaked here. I wasn’t sure what else I could try and basically decided that it was just my constitution – I thought I was just the type of person who was meant to get sick and frail at an early age.
In late 2017 I had a hysterectomy and pelvic reconstructive surgery. By mid 2018 I had gained at least 10 pounds (4.5 kg) and was feeling horrible physically. Once again I decided to look at different food plans and began earnestly searching online. Thankfully, the ketogenic diet was gaining in popularity around this time and I came across some resources that seemed promising. I decided to try it. Those 10 pounds came off quickly and my husband was inspired to try the diet with me. He had much more weight to lose and rapidly lost 40 pounds, but was worried that we were going to give ourselves heart attacks with all the meat and fat we were eating. I found a low carb doctor in our area and made appointments to see him to help put my husband’s mind at ease.
3) Why did you try Carnivore to begin with.
During that doctor’s appointment, the doctor mentioned the carnivore diet – not as a suggestion, but in passing – and my first reaction was, “Who would want to do that??? I could never just eat meat. How boring!” When I went home, though, I began researching to see what the carnivore diet was all about and why people would go on it. I discovered the meatheals.com website and began reading some of the success stories and started to wonder if a carnivorous diet could help me fix my health issues. By this time I had been on keto for 2 months and although I felt pretty good (after the initial carb flu), I still was suffering from asthma pretty badly. I stewed on the idea for a couple of weeks and finally on October 18, 2018 decided to take the plunge for 30 days to see if it would help my asthma and fibromyalgia. I felt so good after 30 days that I decided to extend the trial to 90 days. (Spoiler alert: the trial hasn’t ended yet, I’m still doing carnivore.)
4) How do you personally approach the Carnivore Diet.
Because of my history as an addict and needing to see things in black and white, I take a pretty strict approach to carnivore. I mainly eat ribeyes from Costco (we buy a full primal and cut it ourselves), ground beef, eggs, and very occasionally bacon and cheese. I used to salt my food, but have not been doing that for about a month and I feel better. I don’t allow for “cheats” (I’m only cheating myself and what would be the point of that?) and I don’t add any condiments or spices. When I travel I make pemmican (can’t wait until the Carnivore Bar goes into production!) to take with me. I also have been doing some form of fasting since I started the keto diet in August of 2018. I started with a 16:8 approach but these days I usually do 18:6 or just do OMAD (one meal a day). I have done some extended fasting up to 72 hours and I plan to incorporate more of that as I go along because of the health and body composition benefits I have seen from it. As someone who has lost such a large amount of weight, I have excess skin that bothers me. I have found that it is starting to diminish with longer fasting regimens.
5) What benefits have you seen since starting the Carnivore Diet.
I have not taken asthma medication since late 2018 (10 months ago as I write this) – right around 2 months after starting the carnivore diet I noticed my breathing was improving so I stopped my maintenance inhaler and decided to just use my rescue inhaler as needed. Well, I haven’t needed it. I also have not had any “fibro flares” in all this time. None!! I am no longer exhausted, achy, foggy-headed and miserable from that dreadful autoimmune condition. Another fibro-related issue I suffered from was IBS-type symptoms (I was never diagnosed with IBS nor did I ever mention those symptoms to a doctor). But I suffered from intermittent constipation and diarrhea as well as issues with gassiness for many years. After the initial adjustment to carnivore, those issues mostly went away.
I have noticed other miscellaneous health improvements as well as recovering from those two major ailments. All my life I thought I had low immunity; if there was a cold or flu going around, I caught it. I have suffered from pneumonia multiple times and was even hospitalized for it once. Every winter I was sure to get bronchitis at least once and several head colds and/or the flu to boot. Since going carnivore, I have had one mild cold. ONE! That is just miraculous in my book. Additionally, some time in the past 5 years or so I started developing cherry angiomas all over my body. My dad has a lot of these so I thought I just inherited that trait from him and there wasn’t much I could do about them except burn them off (shhh, don’t tell the dermatologist!). My husband asked me just a couple of weeks ago if I had burned off the ones on my back because he noticed they were gone. I had done no such thing – they had all disappeared on their own! I then realized that other ones I had in different areas were also gone. Every website I have read about cherry angiomas says the cause is unknown. Well, I still am not 100% certain of the cause, but I definitely know the cure.
On a different tack, but equally (or possibly even more) impactful than the health issues resolving is how the carnivore diet helped me to recognize my satiety point. Ever since joining a 12-step program for food addiction, I was basically taught that my satiety meter was broken and could not be fixed nor trusted. And I saw the truth in that while I was eating the traditional food plan that is followed by many in that organization. If I didn’t weigh and measure my meals, I could easily overeat at every meal. As I progressed in my recovery and felt safer not weighing or measuring my food while eating out, I noticed that I would often end up overfull after meals having eating more than my body needed. While I was eating, though, I had no signals that told me to stop eating. I could have easily kept going if I wasn’t being mindful and trying to eat reasonable portions. Eating carnivore, though, changed all that. It is just about impossible to overeat because my body physically won’t let me eat any more. I find I naturally lose interest in eating or put my fork down without even thinking about it. In extreme cases, I start to get nauseated as my body sends clear signals that it has had enough. This is something I don’t remember experiencing once in my entire life prior to eating a carnivorous diet. And as a recovering food addict, this is downright mind blowing and awe inspiring.
6) What negatives have you found with the Carnivore Diet.
The initial adjustment period to carnivore was hard on my digestive system. I had diarrhea for the first several weeks. I do still sometimes experience “dumping” after a meal – I have not been able to figure this out yet. It doesn’t happen often, but once in a while I’ll eat and then soon after I have to make a run for the toilet.
I did initially gain weight on the carnivore diet and that freaked me out. There seem to be two schools of thought about the approach to the carnivore diet – one is not a proponent of fasting (except as it occurs naturally due to hunger cues) and the other believe that fasting is a great tool to incorporate. I wanted to listen to the first school and let my body heal naturally and be okay with the weight gain, but it was too difficult for me. The toll on my mental health was not worth it. Once I started incorporating longer fasts, the excess weight I gained initially came off and I started needing much less food at every meal when I did eat. I would say a downside to carnivore is that it can be confusing to not have one “right” way to do it.
The only other downside of the carnivore diet is the fact that it’s not mainstream so it can be a pain to go out to eat or just eat with others (e.g. at work or in other social functions). I am used to being the one who eats differently in a crowd, though, so this isn’t a big deal to me personally, but it is an annoyance.
7) Do you exercise on the Carnivore Diet, if so how do you find it and what do you do.
I do exercise, but lately I haven’t been doing as much cardio as I used to. Prior to carnivore I was a pretty regular runner (despite all my health issues), and I have run some smaller races since being carnivore, but I find more and more that my body doesn’t prefer to do that. It’s quite interesting how much more intuitive I am about everything related to my body since eating this way. I do a lot of walking and I have a love for weight lifting (I’m still a baby weight lifter, though). We have a home gym that consists of a weight bench, treadmill, rowing machine and an infrared sauna. It is my sanctuary. Recently I joined the #Carnivore75Hard challenge and one of the components is to exercise for at least 30 minutes every day. This challenge has made me realize that I need to be more disciplined with my exercise routine; I can sometimes let too many days go in between exercising way too often. So I am working on improving that and I’m so glad I joined this challenge in hopes that it installs that discipline in me even after the challenge is over. I may go back to running distances some day or I may not, I will let my body dictate that. For now my overall goal is to get and stay strong, flexible, and injury-free.
8) What piece of advice would you give someone who is interested in trying this diet, but hasn’t taken the leap yet.
If you are reading this, then you have given some thought to trying the carnivore diet (or you’re already on it). If you haven’t started yet, but think it could help you in some form, my advice is to try it earnestly for 90 days. Commit yourself to doing it 100% by eliminating all added sugars, sweeteners, etc. and just eat animal products. See how you feel mentally and physically after those 90 days and then decide how to proceed. What do you have to lose?
9) Do you think Carnivore will ever be accepted as a mainstream diet.
I’m not sure if carnivore will ever be accepted in the mainstream. We have a lot of forces with a lot of money, power, and influence who are against us. There is a lot of misunderstanding (and misinformation!) about ecological issues concerning animal farming and production that prevent people from thinking this is a good idea not only for themselves but for the planet. We have a lot of work to do to raise awareness about the personal health benefits as well as the global ecological and agricultural benefits that come from eating animal foods. Thankfully we have some vocal pioneers like Shawn Baker who are writing books and leading a social revolution – that is a good start. It’s also heartening to see a network of doctors embrace low carb diets and support a carnivore diet as well. I try to follow as many of them as I can on Twitter and retweet their information to help get the word out. I also like wearing my “Eat Meat” and “Meat Heals” shirts when I travel to expose that message to as many people as I can. Personally I believe we become accepted in the mainstream step by step. Gaining acceptance of a ketogenic diet is the first hurdle and there is still a lot of work to be done there, as well.
10) Anything you would like to add, and where can people follow you.
I know the carnivore diet can seem like a crazy idea. It did to me when I first heard about it, too! But if you can open your mind and do a little due diligence research on the topic, you will probably find what I have – it’s a true lifesaver. I mentioned my husband briefly above, but the full story is that he started the carnivore diet two months after me and has lost 80 pounds and feels the best he has in his life. He also struggles with food addiction and carnivore has helped him there as well. He didn’t have the health issues I did (but he also didn’t eat the vast amounts of plants and oxalates I did either), but he has reaped the benefits of carnivore just as I have. And if carnivore is just not your thing, that’s okay, too. I respect everyone’s right to their own choice and I appreciate when that respect is given to me as well.
You can find me on Instagram @_amethyst_amy_ and Twitter @anaisamy
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