You Have to Stop Doing Carnivore

You’ll waste away!

Every time I see somebody I haven’t seen in a while, they tell me how great I look. Well, that’s nice of them, isn’t it? It also happens to be true. I look about as good as I am capable of looking. Not gonna be winning any beauty contests, sadly, but I’m doing OK! And then, at least half the time, that same someone will say with concern–or, I’m not above suspecting, envy–something to the effect that one can take this thing too far, and I should really reincorporate something sweet into my meals at some point.

There was a time when it would have been a fair observation that I was becoming too skinny. Back when I was doing keto and there were a bunch of vegetables taking up space I should have been using for protein and fat, I was getting to be a little bit on the stringy side. I got down to just 100 lbs, and I hated the way I looked. I still hadn’t lost all the visible fat in my belly, but everything just hung off of me. I was wasting muscle, not just fat. I knew I couldn’t go back to the way of eating that had made me sick to begin with, but I certainly couldn’t continue with keto. All of my research convinced me that removing even more kinds of foods from my diet, rather than adding anything else back, was the best way to make myself truly healthy, and not just not fat.

When I went carnivore, I put back on fifteen pounds or so, and most of that was muscle and bone. I wish I’d had a before and after dexa scan to prove it, but common sense and a good look in the mirror are really enough. I’m definitely bigger than I was, and I’m definitely not fat.

Now, most of the time, when somebody tells me I’m going to get sick from all this meat, I just show my skeptic a nice, firm bicep, or tell them how fast I can run or how much weight I can lift these days. I am well-built at this point, with a healthy layer of muscle everywhere it ought to be. I even get comments about my good build from strangers in public. Nobody thinks I’m skinny. Feels good, man!

I do still have a little bit of mommy-belly, an inch or so of dangly skin that’s pretty easily hidden under my clothes. I’ve carried eight babies and had 5 c-sections. It’s not perfect, and I don’t know if it ever will be. But that’s ok, because a perfect little tummy is not what I’m going for. It would be nice, but it’s not my goal. That’s what I really want you to understand: I’m not doing this diet so I can look small. I want to be appropriately sized, strong and fast enough to do anything I need to do, and sharp and quick enough to stay alive in an increasingly tricky world. (Have you seen the traffic around here lately?)

I can’t do this if I’m eating the way 98% of the people around me are eating. Sorry. It just won’t work. It’s not working for you, either, friend.

Beauty is a sign of health, and health is what I’m chasing. I won’t say I don’t care how I look, because I’m as vain as any woman. I like to look just as good as I can. Happily, when I chase health, I’m bound to catch a little beauty, as well! I can’t lose eating this way!

Carnivore is not a weight loss diet. If you are fat, you will lose weight on carnivore. Your body will no longer be receiving the signal from your food to store extra fat. But if you are too skinny, you can fix that with carnivore, too! Doesn’t that just blow your mind? How is that even possible? But it’s true. You can stimulate muscle and put on healthy fat with this diet. I did it myself, and I haven’t dropped below 115 pounds in a few years. In fact, I’m still slowly gaining a little muscle. It ain’t easy to gain at 40-something, but if you lift consistently, and eat enough MEAT, it is doable.

I never have to eat more than I want to, but I do get to eat until I’m full. And then I can stop eating until I’m hungry again. Now, my concerned friend, does that sound like an eating disorder to you?

People actually heal their eating disorders and get back to a healthy weight by eating only meat. The carnivore way of eating will recompose your body to its best advantage. It does not simply force weight loss until you die. It is not anorexia. It is not a weird cultish fear of food. It is not something people do just to shock the current culture and stick a finger in the globalist all-seeing eye. (Although I do see that last as an upside.)

Carnivore is simply optimal.

For everybody, though? Well, like I’ve said before, I don’t think everybody has to go carnivore. Most people who think they’re doing ok would see improvements in problems they never even thought were food-related, if they’d just give it 30 days. I do think absolutely everybody can thrive on it. There is nobody who absolutely has to have plants. They are non-essential. Plants, especially grains, are survival food, hibernation food, slave food. As long as I have a choice, I want to thrive, not just survive.

There are sometimes some bumps in the road for some as they become accustomed to the Meat Life™, but all of the difficulties I’ve coached people through are caused not by eating meat, but by the severe damage they’ve already done to their bodies with standard American fare. See my “Why Carnivore Didn’t Work For You” series, for a few ways things can go wrong. If you need any help getting through the transition to a diet (not necessarily carnivore) that will work best for you, get in touch with me by email (cindy at getalonghome dot com) or on social media. I’d love to help!

Dear friends and family, I cannot possibly take this lifestyle too far, because it is not weight loss that I’m pursuing. It is health that I am after, and I’m getting better all the time. Join me!

Want to chat? Catch me on Gab, MeWe, or Social Galactic.

 

 

Why Carnivore Didn’t Work for You, Part 5: You Went Too Fast

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

So you heard about this awesome, extreme way of eating. You saw the news that people were reversing diabetes, healing auto-immune diseases, lowering blood pressure, losing weight, getting ripped, and feeling incredible. You decided to jump into the lifestyle, went straight to the pantry, and threw out everything that never had a face. You went from eating all the things, to eating only beef, salt, and water on the first day.

And good for you! You knew what you needed to do, and you decided to just rip that band-aid right off and get on with it. That works beautifully sometimes! Probably about half of the people I’ve talked to personally about carnivore make this transition smoothly, with no trouble at all. Other times, unfortunately, a person will meet with so many trials in that first few weeks that they will give up. One of the things we carnivores often forget to mention is that we usually have a slower introduction to the Meat Life than this. Probably 95% of the successful Carnivorists started their search for health with keto, paleo, or something else a little off the beaten path, and only eventually pared it down to the bare necessities.

I was on a ketogenic diet for about 6 months before I decided to try it without plants. Because I transitioned slowly to this way of eating, I avoided all of the potential pitfalls of rushing right in.

I changed my relationship with food slowly.

I did not intentionally transition slowly to carnivore, as I had never even considered carnivore until about a day before I started it. As with many carnivores, it just sorta happened. I fell out of love with carbs. For me, there was no traumatic divorce from my Standard American Diet. Food is an emotional thing for most people. You have a relationship with it, even if you’re not a carb addict. It’s there for you when you feel bad or bored. It’s part of the social atmosphere, especially at holidays. You can’t just quit eating, so every meal is fraught with the stress of choice-making. So rather than changing everything about your food all at once, you need to change the way you relate to food first.

My only goal at first was to lose weight, so I started with a “dirty” ketogenic diet. The thinking behind it made sense–cut carbs, eat more fat–so that’s what I did. I did the keto desserts, the butter in my coffee, the intermittent fasting to get my ketones up. I baked all kinds of keto treats and made fat bombs. I even ate Atkins and Quest bars. Those things do not provide adequate nutrition. They’re junk food! But I think they’re also just fine while starting out. While I was weaning off of the real granola bars and candies, they provided a crutch so that all of the rest of my eating could be good, low-carb, whole foods. They are still worlds better than the carbohydrate-full kind! I began to feel better and lose weight immediately.

After a few months of getting used to running on fat instead of sugar, I cut out all sweet treats and bread substitutes, keeping the vegetables and berries and low-carb dairy. I did that because I knew that the sweet treats were still giving me more total carbs than I was able to handle. My weight loss had stalled.

I then moved to a “clean” ketogenic diet, and I lost more weight. Most of the problems that I had had with my skin, my mental health, my asthma all went away with a clean, unprocessed ketogenic diet. But I still had milder problems at times. One day, I was talking with a friend about veganism, and I said without thinking much about it “I’d rather give up all plants than all meat.” And the idea was born. I had not yet realized that you don’t have to have plants to be healthy, but I had made the connection between plants and many of my symptoms. It was a couple of days later that I happened upon some carnivore on YouTube (probably Shawn Baker or Paul Saladino), and only after looking into it more deeply, to see if this actually makes sense, did I decide to eliminate plants entirely.

Changing my relationship with food wasn’t enough. I also had to change my gut flora. The gut micro-biome is one of most-studied and least-understood aspects of human health, so a lot of what I’m about to say is conjecture. The more we study it the less we seem to know, and I am absolutely not going to claim any expertise. Even the experts have no real idea what they’re doing, according to the experts themselves! But what I do know, and have seen many times, is that changing your food too quickly can lead to some awful symptoms.

Anybody who has brought a new puppy home knows that you have to mix some of their old type of food with the new food over several days to allow their microbiome to adapt.  I had to do the same with my dog when I switched him to an appropriate diet (aka: meat) for dogs. The kibble you get in the stores is not the right food for an animal. We went too fast with our daughter’s new dog, due to only having a handful of his old food to work with, and he had a horrible diarrhea requiring veterinarian care. The very same thing happens when humans change their diets too quickly.

You might not be in love with carbs anymore, but I guarantee you some of your critters still are! In addition to the gastrointestinal distress of the bacteria die-off and replacement, I often see people anywhere from two to six weeks into a no-sugar diet–whether carnivore, keto, or just lower carb–begin to have depression, brain fog, and lack of willpower to resist carbs, even though they were doing fine for the first few weeks. I have a theory, completely untested by Science™, that when certain microbes and parasites are being fed, namely those that thrive on carbohydrates, they send soporific signals to your brain, letting you know that all is right with their world. And when they’re not being fed? Look out. They get mad, and mean, and start to beg for sugar. Like a rampaging toddler who wants his toy NOW, they will make you unhappy until they get what they want.

AI rendering of “angry toddler who wants his toy”

That’s just my theory, for what it’s worth. What is not just a theory, because I’ve seen it happen time and time again, is that if you power through these difficult times, get back on the diet no matter how many times you fall off, you will get past this!

Moving more slowly in weaning off of the plant matter will help you succeed. Don’t add back sugar when you feel like you’re not going to be able to stick to this way of eating. Just add back some green vegetables or some low-carb berries. These kinds of foods will help calm that urge to really hurt yourself on the sweet stuff, and you will be able to move on into carnivore bliss in a few days.

 

 

 

 

Poor People Should Not Have Children

And other stupid things smart people think.

Got into a little bit of a discussion with “the smartest man in the world” on Gab, whose childhood was miserable, he thinks, because he was poor. He wishes poor people wouldn’t even have children.

Of course, since I’m a Christian, I have a different take on it: Blessed are the poor.

Since I don’t have a lot of time to write a new post, and I already addressed this more than a decade ago, I thought I’d just drop a chapter from my book, ConDeceived, which was really just a collection of blog posts on the same topic, to do the rest of my arguing for me. Self-plagiarism FTW! Here you go:

Lie: Children are too Expensive

Those darn kids sure are expensive, aren’t they? Too expensive to have!

This comic from xkcd just happened to come to my attention the day after I found out I was carrying our fifth child, who at the time was about the size of a sesame seed, and for whose prenatal care and delivery costs we appeared to be woefully short. How that shortfall came to be is a long story. Suffice it to say that we were not feeling flush.

After rearranging some priorities, working to earn a little extra money, and eating a few more meals of beans and rice to bulk up our savings against the day of delivery, we found that God didn’t even need our help. The money was there, and then some! If we’d made a “decision” based on whether our bank account looked flush, we’d be short one very energetic bundle of hazel-eyed joy. And we’d probably still have less money, because we wouldn’t have gone into emergency mode to cover the looming (imaginary) financial difficulty.

The financial burden that children impose upon their parents is a lie our culture continually tells, and even Christians fall for it, hook, line, and sinker. I’m not going to pretend that it costs nothing to feed our children, but I will say that the financial costs aren’t anywhere near what “experts” tell us. In fact, chances are that you’re going to end up about as wealthy as you were going to be whether you add kids into the mix or not. Wealth, especially in a country like ours, has less to do with how many mouths you’re feeding and more to do with your willingness to work, your skill-set, and your ability to save rather than spend. In fact, a quick search of the web reveals several studies that have shown that men tend to earn more once they’ve added children to the home. Nothing lights a fire under a man’s behind like having to feed a houseful of people. I can add from personal experience that stay-at-home motherhood can be quite a spur to frugality, as well. 

Practically everybody is familiar with the Duggars—Jim Bob and Michelle, and their 19 kids—through their reality television show “19 Kids and Counting.” I’ve only watched a few episodes, so I don’t know very much about them. But you know what? They don’t look poor to me. Of the large Christian families that I know personally, some are wealthy, and some are decidedly not. They are all, however, fed, clothed, and lacking nothing essential. Maybe they don’t have anything fancy, or their shoes are a bit scuffed, but they are taken care of. I also know families with two kids, or none, who are in dire financial straits.

Financial peace in the home has more to do with a couple’s relationship with money than it does with the number of people requiring new shoes at any given moment. Knowing this, and having lived it, I really don’t see how we can blame our children for our financial situations. Family size has very little to do with the long-term wealth of a family.

But what if it did?

Let’s stipulate that having children does, in fact, mean you’re going to be less wealthy. Pretend that every child you add to your family really does remove hundreds of thousands of dollars from your future purse. Does that mean preventing them from even coming into existence is the best way to secure your future?

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. (and, I might add, where the Fed does not inflate away–ed.). For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

–Matthew 6:19-21 

Christians, these are the only treasures you can take with you!

Our culture sets parents against children, and present children against future ones, telling us that they’re a money-suck, and the only thing standing between us and a comfortable retirement. (And isn’t comfort the real purpose of living?) Even in the church, financially strapped parents are led to believe that their money troubles are partly due to the existence of their children and advised against having more…unless the money is there.

Is this how God thinks of children? Does He think of them as consumer goods, to be “bought” only if we can afford to “pay for” them?

In God’s economy, children are wealth! Look at just a few of the things the Bible has to say about children:

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.  Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

—Psalm 127:3-5 

You shall be blessed above all peoples. There shall not be male or female barren among you or among your livestock.. —Deuteronomy 7:14

Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord,

    who walks in his ways!

You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;

    you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine

    within your house;

your children will be like olive shoots

    around your table.

Behold, thus shall the man be blessed

    who fears the Lord.

The Lord bless you from Zion!

    May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem

    all the days of your life!

May you see your children’s children!

    Peace be upon Israel!

 —Psalm 128:1-6

And when Esau lifted up his eyes and saw the women and children, he said, “Who are these with you?” Jacob said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.”

—Genesis 33:5 

Children are not consumer goods. They are people made in the image of God, and a heritage from the Lord. 

We Christians should allow the World to go ahead and worry about how much it “costs” to have kids. What they have on this Earth is all they’ll ever have, so it’s natural for them to plan accordingly. We who know better ought to look forward to rejoicing in the fruits of our labor when we are old—a living legacy of Godly children.

At the end of my life, if God wills that I should live to old age (which, given my driving abilities, seems like a longshot), I will probably die in somewhat less well-appointed circumstances than I would have if I’d focused more on storing up treasures here on earth. That could be in part because of the amount of money I’ve “wasted” raising my children–people whose existence I could have prevented with just a quick visit to the doctor.

It is vaguely possible that the cost of my kids’ education, clothing, and healthcare would have been put into a savings account if those little people just didn’t exist. But those people will be there when I’m old, and when I die they’ll be sorry I’m gone. I doubt whatever is left of my retirement fund will feel so strongly about my passing.

Who is your provider?

Of course, we do have to pay for things like food, shelter, and clothing for all these new bodies we keep adding to the census every 20 months or so, don’t we? Have you ever worried about how you’re going to feed your next baby? Or maybe it’s your neighbor whose family size has you worried. There seems to be a lot of that going around these days. 

An older lady—the greeter at Walmart, actually—once stopped me and asked me how “all these young mothers” thought they were going to pay for “all these” kids. (I’d have borne the insult gracefully if I’d thought she meant I looked too young to know what I was getting into. Alas, she didn’t seem to be including me in her definition of “young mothers.”)

If it were just one lady whose age appeared not to have fostered wisdom, I probably wouldn’t bother writing about it. But it’s not just her. Daily, internet searchers come to my website wondering why Christian families are having children they can’t afford, along with Christians who are wondering how they’re going to afford the blessings God is sending their way. Strangers on the street tell me that they don’t understand how I can afford my kids. My own grandmother wants me to stop having kids because they cost too much! (And they have never cost her a dime!)

Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it.–Proverbs 15:17

What these questioners overlook is the fact that we’re talking about Christian families.

Christianity is the key. Searchers who ask why Christian families think they can afford so many children answer their own question. I propose that the reason that they can afford the large family lifestyle is because they are Christians.

Stay with me for a moment. I am not saying that Christians are wealthier, smarter, or somehow less expensive to feed and clothe than non-Christians. We come from all walks of life, after all. However, the Bible does provide a great deal of financial wisdom for those who are empowered by the Holy Spirit to take advantage of it. The rest of the world kinda-sorta knows these things, as the large number of secular personal finance blogs indicates, but Christians often literally take their faith to the bank.

People who take God’s word seriously concerning family structure and His love for their offspring are equally likely to believe biblical truths about earning, spending, borrowing, giving, and saving. Believing these things, they are more likely to live by them, however imperfectly, than those who haven’t heard the word of God. Not every large family has the best grasp on these principles, it’s true, but it has been my experience that larger Christian families are much more likely to be debt-free and financially independent than even most smaller Christian families or childless couples.

In fact, what looks like scarcity to our credit-driven culture is often just a different set of values. My shoes aren’t always in the best condition, we live in a less well-appointed home than many would think acceptable, and our cars are never new, but we’re debt free and building our savings. And yet, our neighbors seem to think we must be broke!

Some of my large-family friends are (by my lights, anyway) filthy rich, and others are struggling to keep the lights on, but none of them show any bitterness toward their children when the bills come due. This is because they know that the mere presence of children hasn’t done anything to change their financial situation. Even if their children’s needs were breaking the bank, they don’t measure people in dollars and cents.

God provides. For all Christian families, whether large or small, it always comes down to this: God provides for His children.

My father often used to talk in his sermons about a time when his daughters had no shoes, and he had no work boots. He cried out to God for help, and what do you know? My grandmother dropped by with shoes for both kids (note that our family was a “manageable” size, and yet we were poor), and he found by the side of the road a new, unworn pair of boots that were the size he needed. My father was working as hard as he could, but it was a bad economy, and he came from a poor family himself. He was doing his part in trying to provide, and it still wasn’t enough for our family’s needs at the time.

But God had enough for us!

I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.—Psalm 37:25

So how are we doing it? How can we hope to keep this up, baby after baby, in an uncertain world? God certainly does provide, and He gives us the ability to do many things to help ourselves.

As I said before, despite the frightening numbers that “experts” in the media are constantly pushing on an ever more gullible public, children are not expensive. It’s lifestyle and material expectations that cost so much. In this wealthy nation, many of the things that we deem essential to a happy and productive existence are really just icing on the cake. 

Our cake has less icing.

We can afford to raise our kids, but there are a lot of other things we can’t afford:

  • A housing-bubble priced house. Our family has been priced out of buying our first home for the last ten years, thanks to all the geniuses buying and selling houses as if they were some of those new-fangled tulip flowers. We never felt comfortable with the prices, so we just didn’t bother. Thanks to that big POP! you heard a while back when reality hit the real estate market, we’ll be able to buy a modest home soon. We hope. In the meantime, we rent.
  • A room for each child. Our kids share bedrooms. Small ones. This is unthinkable in a society where everybody has not only his own bedroom, but his own TV to keep him in it. I grew up that way, my dad grew up that way, and I don’t see any reason my kids shouldn’t grow up that way. I find that my kids like each other more because of the close proximity.
  • Nice, new cars. A beat up 2006 mini-van and the little Kia to get Jesse to work will do just fine. We’ll need a bigger family vehicle soon, but we’ll still be buying used and, most likely, ugly.
  • Expensive clothing, food, etc. I do most of the shopping, and I have to admit, I’m not the best bargain shopper. I usually miss the best deals, forget something on my list, or pay too much for something. I minimize the impact of my inability to shop well by shopping as little as possible, eating plain food, and buying the good-enough-for-the-likes-of-us brands instead of name brands.
  • Cable television. Honestly, we wouldn’t pay for that anyway. We have the internet and Netflix. That’s plenty.
  • Dates, live entertainment, eating out. For fun, we look for free and cheap things to do. Mostly, though, we just hang out at home and with our extended families. It’s OK. We like each other. I budget for a couple of nights of take-out a month, also, but that’s something we could do without if we had to.
  • Vacations We cheat a little bit on this one. My in-laws take us to the beach with them sometimes. If we had to do it for ourselves, we’d do without.
  • College funds. Judging from the comments I’ve seen about this elsewhere, not sending your child to college is tantamount to child abuse. If my children want to go to college, they’ll have to do it on their own dime. My plan is to pay for all of their living expenses as long as they need to in order to save enough money (starting with their jobs as teenagers) to attend college. It is my hope that they can do it debt free with community colleges, scholarships, and hard work. I don’t consider college to be necessary to happiness or success, though. There are lots of ways make an honest living. 
  • Debt. We absolutely cannot afford to pay banks or individuals for the use of their money.
  • The admiration of more materialistic people. No names (obviously), but there are people who have treated us rather poorly because we wear the wrong clothes, drive the wrong cars, and eat the wrong foods. Frankly, this makes me glad we don’t have much in the way of material goods. It weeds out the insincere. We can’t afford those kinds of friends.

It could be that if we didn’t have our children, we’d have more of these things I’ve listed. We might have a fatter savings account, less financial stress, fewer grey hairs. It is also possible that, lacking the frugal mindset our children give us, we’d be squandering our money on all of the above things and would look and feel wealthier, but our bank accounts would remain essentially the same.

It is my belief that children, in the long run, have a pretty small effect on a family’s finances. Our financial habits and earning potential seem to me to have a great deal more influence on our net worth than the number of mouths we have to feed.

While the math (not to mention my stress level) sometimes goes a little bit wonky, I’ve found that there is always a way to stretch the budget to feed one more—whether it’s one more child in our family, or one more family coming over for dinner. The One who provides for our family does so abundantly, even when the bank account doesn’t look so good.

My husband and I (before we had kids) spent some time in penury, so I’m not saying bad things can’t happen. I am saying that no matter how lean or fat the times are, it’s not my job to try to predict the cost of the children God places in our care. Nor is it my place to complain if our material circumstances aren’t precisely what I wished for. It is my place to work, pray, be realistic in my expectations, and trust God to provide.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

–Matthew 6:25-32 (NIV)

You Keep Using that Verse…

I do not think it means what you think it means.

Within the space of about a month, I’ve had three different people tell me that there is a Bible verse that not only justifies the use of birth control within a Christian marriage, but that actually seems to demand it in certain circumstances. That verse? 1 Timothy 5:8: 

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Since that verse has come up three times, through three different people, who appear to have three different agendas, a more superstitious person might take all those threes to mean that Triune God Himself is on the line, and trying to get through with a very important message. And I admit that I considered that possibility, albeit briefly.

The first two times I’d been read this verse in this way, it came from commenters on my blog, Get Along Home. The third time, it came from a preacher on the radio while I was on my way to Atlanta for a weekend retreat for Christian homeschooling moms. The preacher said, essentially “Yes, the Bible says that children are blessings, but it also says (1 Timothy 5:8), so we should consider that very carefully when making our reproductive choices.”

Well, I thought I had the answer all worked out, but here’s a real minister who says differently! I was perturbed. What if I’ve been steering people wrong with all my talk of the blessing of children? This certainly seems like a pretty strong sign, doesn’t it? Suddenly lacking the surety I thought I’d reached, I prayed for guidance, right there in my car. The answer I got was, as usual, silence. God doesn’t normally speak audibly, after all. 

After my initial panic, I remembered that the Holy Bible knows nothing of numerology and personal signs from Heaven for hillbilly mommy bloggers. Given that fact, I thought it might be more reasonable to take a look at the actual context of the verse than to attempt to intuit what God was trying to tell me while I was careening down the interstate, desperately searching for signs of an available restroom.

(Incidentally, bathroom calls are incredibly close together when you’re carrying a nearly full-term baby in your womb, and I-85 doesn’t seem to be built with the expectant mother’s bladder in mind. I really don’t recommend driving from Boone to Atlanta in this condition. Ever.)

Anyway, here’s what we read in 1 Timothy, chapter 5:

3 Honor widows who are truly widows. 4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God. 5 She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day, 6 but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives. 7 Command these things as well, so that they may be without reproach. 8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. –1 Timothy 5:3-8

And it goes on to speak more of how widows should conduct themselves under different circumstances.

Would it be disrespectful of me to joke about hitting a preacher with a clue-bat? Yes? Well, I won’t do that, then. But I do have a hint for The Rt. Rev. Radioman:

Any time you find yourself using the Bible in a way that requires you to say “Yes, God said Abut He said B over here.” where B directly contradicts A, you need to check your premises. You’ve missed something.

The correct way to phrase it is: Yes, God said children are a blessing, and God said 1 Timothy 5.

In 1 Timothy, the apostle Paul is instructing a young preacher (and the young Church) on how to order the Christian community. Concern for widows and orphans is writ large throughout not only this passage, but the entire Bible. This chapter in particular speaks to the responsibility of a man to provide for—wait for it–his widowed relatives. Why? Because if a widow has relations who should be taking care of her, the church’s resources are best spent on widows who are truly widows , i.e. elderly women who have no relatives who can take care of them, nor prospects for remarriage or self-sufficiency.

So who is worse than an unbeliever here? The man who doesn’t provide for his widowed relatives! This chapter says absolutely nothing about whether a financially shaky man should have children with his wife.

What it does say is that he should support not only his own offspring, but his grandmother, mother, and most likely any aunts or nieces who might come along to make a claim on his paycheck. Is that a hard thing to ask of a common man trying to eke out his living by the sweat of his brow? Oh, yes! If you don’t believe me, you can ask my parents, who are right now enduring the trial of caring for my grandmother in her last years, and who are making any number of financial and personal sacrifices to do so. God requires us to work to care for our family members.

Somehow we’ve gone from taking a plain reading of a very straightforward passage about caring for widows to condemning a man as worse than an unbeliever for being foolish enough to impregnate his wife without first having enough money–whatever “enough” means. That’s a pretty harsh judgment to pin on someone just for being numbered among the poor, don’t you think?

I can almost hear the objections now: OK, so this verse doesn’t actually say anything about making babies, but why can’t we use it this way, anyway? Obviously many do! But that isn’t how we use the Bible. Not if we’re interested in taking a faithful read of it, anyway. We need to measure scripture by scripture. Going now to 1 Corinthians 7, written by the very same apostle, and inspired by the very same Holy Spirit, we find this:

“For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” –1 Corinthians 7: 4-5

The only exception to continued marital relations that Paul admits is to allow for times of prayer, and then husband and wife are instructed to come together again and do the thing that makes babies. Abstinence being the only method of contraception at the time (as far as I know), this would seem to imply that the apostle expected married people to procreate without regard to how many gold coins they had hidden away under the rug to pay the midwife. If this weren’t so, you’d think that somewhere in this passage on marriage and family, Paul might have seized an opportunity to let us know that a man should stop sleeping with his wife if he felt too poor to provide for the likely result of their union.

With only a little further thought, we can reasonably conclude that 1 Timothy 5 affirms the opposite of the lesson that some are taking from it. 

I know what you’re thinking. Now who is reading things in that aren’t there? If the passage doesn’t state that a husband shouldn’t father children whom he may end up too poor to support–and which of us can say for a certainty that he will never come to desperate ends?–then it definitely doesn’t say anything about anybody needing to have kids!

But read again:

4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God. –1 Timothy 5:4

Answer me this: How can we expect children who don’t exist to provide for us in our old age? It seems to me that the blessing of children is most needed in old age, when it’s too late to figure out whether they would have been a “good idea” or not.  While there is no literal command to procreate in this verse (though the Bible is chock full of them elsewhere), it is showing us a clear advantage in doing so.

In 1 Timothy 5, as elsewhere, the Bible is wonderfully consistent in speaking of children as an asset, not a liability. All this time we thought we were being presented with a dilemma, but God has handed us a solution instead! 

Often, especially in the Proverbs, the scriptures contain conditions for its principals. “Answer not a fool according to his folly,” but “answer a fool according to his folly.” How can we do both? It seems clear that there are times when we’re expected to discern which principle applies. Answer a fool? Don’t answer him? It depends! 

I’ve heard Christians say that we are expected to use our brains when “deciding” whether to have any more children, as if this were simply another situation where “it depends.” I never can get these same Christians to point out where this principle is outlined in the Bible, though. Instead, I notice that there are no times where God has provided a counterpoint to the idea that children are not only a natural, but a desirable consequence of the marriage bed. This passage in 1 Timothy is the closest thing that anyone can dig up, and it is provably incorrect, the widows’ children being the remedy for a dire financial situation, rather than the cause of it.

“Children are a heritage from the LORD.” has no opposing “Children are sometimes not a great idea.” In fact, childlessness is considered a curse for rich and poor alike, and large families are promised as a blessing to the faithful. 

While the Bible says all of these positive things about children, there is absolutely nothing to cancel those blessings out by providing a “balanced” look at the topic of family. The Bible not only assumes marital procreation for both rich and poor, but promotes it as a blessing. It doesn’t speak of babies as a lamentable side effect of sexual pleasure, but as the natural and beautiful result of the union of man and wife. Though there are many, many exhortations to raise our children well, and stern condemnation for parents who don’t raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, there are no instances where it is even hinted that it could be a better choice not to have them–even many of them–at all. 

 

Why Carnivore Didn’t Work for You, Part 4: You Weren’t Eating Enough

Load up that plate. Don’t be shy!

I’m a small person, but fairly solidly built. I’m five feet tall, and hovering around 115 lbs.. That sounds like a heavy weigh for my height. I’ve known a lot of women my height who think they’re fat at 100, but after a few years of lifting heavy weights, I’ve gained a lot of muscle. In fact, I had gotten down to 100 lbs. doing keto, and despite still having a little more fat than I wanted to have, I was looking downright stringy. I had plenty of food coming in, but the protein macro was lacking.

It took moving to a fully carnivorous diet to get back up to the weight I am now. I have a lot more muscle now, and the fat is still on its way out. It goes slow, y’all. I expect to maintain nearly this same weight, even as my fat percentage goes down, as I don’t think I’ve reached the top of my potential muscle mass yet. This way of eating isn’t just about fat loss. It’s about muscle preservation and, ideally, muscle gain. Even more importantly, it’s about feeling well and healthy. “Hangry” is not a word in the carnivore vocabulary.

You can’t get good results if you don’t eat enough.

It takes more food than many might expect to maintain good energy and muscle mass while still losing fat. While you think you’re trying to lose weight, my friend, you really are not. You may lose weight. That’s fine, if it happens. But you can lose fat and gain muscle at the same time, and that sometimes means that not much changes on the scale. Whether you see changes on the scale or not, getting healthy means eating enough food. Enough protein, especially. (We already talked about fat, remember?) When I was doing keto, my fat percentage was good, but I was adding a lot of vegetables, bringing my protein intake too low. When I switched to carnivore, that problem went away entirely, as I simply used more protein to fill up the space on my plate and in my tummy where useless fiber had gone before.

This worked for me the first time I tried it for one reason, and one reason only: I never controlled my portions. I just ate until my body and brain told me I was done. 

I know a man who tried first keto and then carnivore and gave both up for a lost cause because, he said, he was always hungry. After watching him load his plate one day, and comparing what he thought he should eat to what was on my plate at the same meal, it was clear to me that he just didn’t have a good idea how much he should be eating. I had twice as much food on my plate, and he weighs ideally 70-80 pounds more than I do. He probably should have eaten three times as much!

It was easy to see why carnivore wasn’t “working” for him. He had chosen two hamburger patties to my four, plus a hotdog, no butter, no trip back for seconds when he realized that wouldn’t cut it. My friend had a dieting mindset of self-denial. Being a big fella already, and struggling with a food addiction/compulsion as well, I suspect that he was also just plain embarrassed to be seen putting a pound and a half of meat on his plate. Not only that, but memories of binging probably tamped down his enthusiasm about piling up his plate. To eat that much food at one time would be greedy, in his mind. He had the false idea that calorie restriction and portion control are a necessary part of losing fat. He also had the false idea that it is greedy to eat an appropriate amount of food for your appetite.

There is no struggle with the appetite in this diet. If you’re trying to lose weight on a low-fat diet, it is true that you will have to watch your calories and stop eating before you’re satisfied. But you’re not on a low-fat diet. You’re on a protein and fat diet. That means eating until you are satisfied. Provided that you’re eating fatty meat and eggs, and you don’t have any weird goals like getting ripped for a body-building competition, you should never need to weigh, count, or otherwise measure your food again.

This is my lunch today. I already ate one burger before I thought to take the picture. I’m also about to go get some butter. I had a small breakfast, and I may have a snack later, but this is the big meal:

The nerf darts are a condiment.

Am I going to eat all that? I don’t know! I’ll let you know at the end of this post, as I’m having my meal while I write it. I cooked enough so I don’t have to worry about running out before I’m finished. I can save the rest for leftovers. Or doggies.

Carnivore, you need to just eat. Eat like it’s your job. Do not just eat until you think you’ve had a socially acceptable number of calories, or until you’ve had the recommended daily allowance of protein, or until you’re just a little hungry. Eat until you no longer interested in eating even a single bite of food. Then stop.

But that’s too much protein! No, it really isn’t. First of all, the RDA for protein is a sick joke that has been played on us by “scientists” who were trying to figure out the minimum amount of protein a person needs to keep from starving. It’s the floor, not the ceiling. And while there are plenty of quacks (you might be one yourself) going around saying that protein is toxic, ruins your kidneys and digestion, or makes your blood acidic, there is not one shred of evidence to that effect. It’s a bunch of hooey. (Go ahead and try to find the studies. Bring them to me. Good luck!)

We’re all going to have to get over what we’ve been taught about protein and calories, because it just ain’t so!

Earlier, I was comparing my plate with someone else’s. Don’t you do that, Dear Reader. Do not go by my plate to decide what should be on yours, and absolutely do not go by Michelle Obama’s idiotic My Plate. Go by your own appetite, which you are going to get to know intimately over the next few weeks or months. If you’re worried somebody will judge you for eating a ribeye and three eggs, and a can of sardines, and two tablespoons of butter (why yes, that is what I had for lunch yesterday), well…sorry to be harsh, but grow up. Get over that middle school mentality that what other people think or do matters a hill of beans to you. You’re not being greedy. You’re nourishing your body.

What your plate contains or has left on it when you are finished will depend on what your body needs that day. It’s OK to clean your plate, go back for seconds, or leave some food behind. Make a bunch of food. If you find it wasn’t enough, make some more. Your job is to eat until your body has everything it needs. Don’t be a slacker. Do your job.

So, did I finish the plate? Nope. I’ve got two burgers left. I’m sure the kids or dogs will be along shortly to help keep food waste down.

Friday Link-About

Haven’t done this in a while. Let’s see what’s in the tabs!

First of all, I want to direct you to a give-send-go I’ve set up for my relatives, who are facing the winter with an inadequate heat source. They’re an older couple, very dear to me, and have no means of raising extra money. Help heat the Greer home.

Now, on to the more random stuff. Some links are kind of old because I have not been keeping up the way I should:

 

  • I hope you’re using cash as much as possible. Here’s some good news on that front. House Committee passes bill to ban Federal Reserve from creating a CBDC
  • It’s a shame we can’t all just breeze happily through life without ever encountering a secret enemy. But we can’t. We are, I’m sorry, being manipulated constantly. Anatomy of a Psyop explains how.
  • And the next one is like unto it: Evils and Designs
    They don’t care about you. They just want you to keep mindlessly stuffing your face, and then going to the “healthcare” system to keep you miserably alive so you can stuff your face with some more. But that post is about more than food, so go read the whole thing.
  • If you currently have pre-diabetes, diabetes, heart disease, or obesity, Revero can help you figure out what you should be stuffing your face with, so that you may live in health and happiness. (Full disclosure, I’m an investor in Revero and stand to make or lose money on that endeavor. You’re going to hear a lot from me about that, because it’s exactly the direction healthcare needs to go.) Go here to get on the waiting list to see a doctor who understands how to heal your metabolism.
  • From Fire in a Bottle, Oxidized Seed Oils Cause Diabetes. I always tell people who are reluctant to go all-in on a keto or carnivore diet to at least get all the seed oils out. They are toxic.
  • I remember hearing about the Romeike family years ago, when they first fled Germany to keep their family together. I think I even contributed to their legal fund. While they did have several years of respite (during the Trump administration, naturally), our government, which sees no problem at all with hordes of military-aged men streaming across our borders unannounced, has decided that this Christian homeschooling family has to go back. They simply can’t contribute to our society.
  • I am appalled at how many items at the grocery store now contain such things as polysorbates and food dyes. The pickles were fine before they started adding all this junk, so why is it even there? No time for my thoughts as to why. Just avoid them, OK? There’s a lot of the same nasty stuff in vaccines, too. Read your labels!
  • We’re winning!:
  • As we see homeschooling go mainstream, and the face of homeschooling changes, don’t forget that we homeschoolers need to give ourselves Permission to Be Ordinary:

Homeschoolers, as much as we cheer for greatness and excellence, and hope to see our children attain the absolute pinnacle of their personal capabilities, we need to give ourselves permission to be ordinary. The rightness of our choice to raise our own children isn’t predicated on our academic results or our children’s future earnings. It is based solely in our right and responsibility to raise our own children for the Glory of God.

And finally, the first three blog posts in my series, Why Didn’t Carnivore Work for You? Catch up on those, and stay tuned for more in the future!:

Why Didn’t Carnivore or Keto Work for You, Part 1

Why Didn’t Carnivore Work for You, Part 2: Electrolytes

Why Didn’t Carnivore Work for You, Part 3: You Ate Too Lean

 

 

 

 

Why Carnivore Didn’t Work for You, Part 3: You Ate Too Lean

Be Jack Spratt’s wife.

Remember this nursery rhyme?

Jack Sprat could eat no fat, his wife could eat no lean

So betwixt them both, they licked the platter clean.

Now, in spite of being a lovely pean to teamwork, not wasting food, and the eternal attraction that opposites hold for one another, there was very little nutritional advice in this poem. It never said whether Jack and his wife were thin or fat, healthy or sickly, plant-eaters or carnivores, so we’re left to interpret what this meant for their long-term health. Every illustration I ever saw to this poem, though, had Jack Sprat as thin as a rail, and his wife very fat.

For a long time I thought that made sense, since eating fat will make you fat. Everybody knows that! Then I found out that eating fat makes you skinny, unless you’re eating the fat with a bunch of sugar. So then I thought that Jack and his wife were being depicted backwards: Jack should be the fatso, while his wife should be just perfectly proportioned. But that was wrong, too. I finally figured it out.

Poor Jack is dying of rabbit starvation! And if you were trying to live on chicken breasts and pork chops while taking a carnivore approach to life, so, my lean-eating friend, were you! Also, clearly, Jack’s wife has an addiction to those little fat-free 100-calorie cookie packets.

Fat does not make you fat. Fat does not clog your arteries. Fat does not give you pimples. All of the things you’ve heard about fat your whole life are a lie, propaganda produced by those who desire you to be cheap to feed, docile, and easily fooled. The standard American diet is slave food. Lean meat is slave food.

You, a free person who needs enough vigor to remain smart, sassy, and free need fat. If you have few or no carbohydrates in your diet, you really need fat.

We have all been taught that the lean meat is the virtuous meat. I don’t blame you for falling for it. I did, too, for a long time. You take the skin off your chicken breast, eat turkey bacon instead of pork bacon or (oh, happy thought) beef bacon, and only have a ribeye once a year because it’s so bad for you.

Lean meat is slave food. Eat your beef bacon. 

We’ve been trained by what can only be intentional propaganda to reject the fuel on which our bodies run best: fat. In fact, we’ve learned to hate the very mouth-feel and taste of fat, and to seek out the dry cuts of meat. Truthfully, we don’t like those lean bits as much as we think we do. Just look at the way we have to cook them! Their lack of fat and flavor can only be remedied by the myriad addicting sugary and starchy sauces I used to take such pride in concocting.

If you’re choosing the lean cuts of meat, you will feel awful!

You will not lose weight. You will be very tired. You will think about food all the time. Unless you are a super-human in the willpower department, you will soon break down and eat the wrong food when you finally give in to the completely natural urge to eat some energy.

I know what you’re thinking: I thought I was supposed to be burning my own fat, not eating more of it. Well, yes, you will be burning some of your own stored fuel on a ketogenic/carnivore diet. But your body can only liberate so much fat per day, and it will never amount to enough to fuel even a sedentary life. Even very fat-adapted athletes are only able to liberate something like 900 calories of fat energy from their own cells per day. (I read a study. Pardon me if I don’t go find it for you.) You need a lot more than your own cells can provide if you’re going to make it, friend!

If you’re trying to survive on lean cuts of meat and low-carb vegetables, you are going to feel like you’re dying. You’re going to be tired, depressed, hungry, and moody. And then you are going to pig out on carbs. Failure is inevitable. So don’t do that!

But fat is gross! 

I hear you, friend! You’re in a psychological bind. Because you’ve spent your whole life virtuously draining off every bit of grease, using sauces to make bland, fatless meat more appealing, trimming every ribeye (quel horreur!) or ordering the filet mignon instead of the ribeye, you are simply unaccustomed to the experience of chewing and swallowing fat. What’s more, you’ve always felt good about it, because that was what you’re supposed to do to be healthy! You were being a good little citizen!

Well, you’re just going to have to practice, picky eaters. You don’t have to like it. You just have to eat it. Eating the fat is just a matter of manning up and doing the needful, if unpleasant, thing until you get used to it. Don’t be a child about it. I promise that you will get used to it, and in fact learn to crave the fat. As soon as your body starts getting the nutrients it needs, you will begin to associate that formerly unpleasant-tasting food with the very pleasant feeling of heath. You will soon find yourself wondering how you could have ever thought fat was unpleasant to eat. It’s actually delicious!

Pork tenderloin and chicken breasts are dog food. Your big, brilliant human brain requires fat. If you’re feeling brain-foggy, depressed, and without energy on your carnivore diet, chances and good that it’s because you’re not eating enough fat. Even if you think you’re already having plenty of fat, you may need to increase it somewhat, at least for a while.

What are you waiting for? Go pick out the fattiest ribeye in the freezer and practice on it right now!

Why Carnivore Didn’t Work for You, Part 2: Electrolytes

Salt up, sweetie!

By far the most common complaints I hear from someone when they begin carnivore or keto are these:

  • cramping
  • dizziness
  • tiredness
  • flu-like muscle aches
  • heart pounding or flutters

These are all symptoms of electrolyte loss, which is thankfully very easy to fix!

When you switch to a low-carb or zero-carb way of eating, you no longer retain fluid the way you do when you’re a sweet-eater. The first thing you notice when you finally get into ketosis is that you pee. A LOT. In fact, that first heady weight-loss success of 10-15 pounds in two weeks is mostly just water! I’m sorry to break it to you, but the fat loss doesn’t come immediately. It’s water loss that has you all excited. And rightly so! You shouldn’t have been holding on to all that water. It’s making you puffy and not benefitting you at all, locked away like that.

Carbohydrates cause your body to lock water away in your cells, and with it, salts and minerals. As you begin to burn more fat than sugar, the retained water flushes out of your system, taking with it (mainly) your sodium, magnesium, and potassium. Your body has been used to doing one thing, and now it has to learn to do another. This comes with symptoms, unless you do something about it. Attention should be paid in the first several weeks of your new way of eating to getting enough salt (mainly), and very likely a magnesium and potassium supplement as well.

But salt is bad for you!

Well…no. Cutting back on salt is one of the worst ideas modern medicine has pushed. While there are apparently a small number of people for whom a very large amount of salt really does cause high blood pressure, most people need more salt, not less. Even those salt-sensitive people will probably be able to use normal amounts of salt when they cut out the sugar. It is that other white crystal we love to consume that is causing the outrageous epidemic of high blood pressure: sugar. Cut your sugar, and your “high” salt intake will be perfectly benign. Beneficial, even! James DiNicolantonio’s book, The Salt Fix, is a very good primer on the subject:

How much salt, though? Well, all I can say for sure is: be liberal about it. Salt your food to taste. Put a pinch of salt in your water when you drink. Drink clean electrolyte drinks like LMNT or Myoxcience’s Stix. If you have symptoms, have even more salt. If you have too much salt, you will simply feel thirsty and drink more water.

I like to buy electrolyte powders for hot days, or when I’m doing a lot of hard physical activity, but most of the time, they’re a treat, rather than a necessity. They can get a little bit expensive. You don’t have to spend that kind of money. Just put some salt, and maybe some no-salt into your water. Add a daily magnesium for a few weeks, as well, at least until the symptoms are long gone. After you’re “fat adapted”, you may never need to take further measures, and you’ll just instinctively eat the amount of salt you need. Some people find after a while that they need to eat no salt at all, while others, like me, are still salt-fiends. For now, though, assume you need more salt.

Can I have too much salt? There’s very little risk of overdose, unless you’re being ridiculous. You’re not going to be ridiculous are you? Remember the woman who drank too much water too fast and died? You can overdose on anything. But if you’re being sensible and not eating a tablespoon of salt at a time, ten times a day, you are not going to hurt yourself.

Just be a little bit, maybe a lot, more deliberately salty, and you’ll be fine. Don’t let “keto flu”, which is temporary, if unpleasant, stop you from getting healthy! Salt up!

Why Didn’t Carnivore or Keto “Work” For Me?

Isn’t it supposed to be the optimal way to eat?

Since I began coaching people in the carnivore/keto way of eating, I’ve heard a lot of wonderful success stories. I’ve seen migraine patients drastically reduce their frequency of headaches, and a couple have reported that they are completely pain-free. I’ve seen hundreds of pounds of weight lost. I’ve seen people get off blood pressure and (type 2) diabetes medication. I’ve seen anxiety disorders improve. Everything that I have experienced in my own health, I have also seen happen to others through my coaching. I enjoy the face time I get with my clients. It fills a need in my life that I didn’t even know I had. Nothing makes me happier than getting a call back from somebody and hearing about the ten more pounds lost, or the skin condition cleared up. I help people! I’m feeling pretty good about this gig!

But there have been a couple of “failures”, as well. For better or worse, I’ll often talk to a client once, and then have little follow-up because they don’t need further help. They just hopped right in and got better. These cases don’t bother me. That’s a good thing, even if it does mean I don’t get another paycheck. It also means that I have no idea how things go for some people. They just don’t get back to me at all, and I’m left wondering how it went. Thankfully, the people who do not do well often come back, even if it’s just to explain to me why they’re not doing the diet anymore. The criticism and explanations help me far more than they probably intend to, given that they’re basically just venting their frustrations before they walk away.

I don’t view these cases as failures of the diet, because physiologically, it just doesn’t make sense that the diet wouldn’t help pretty much anybody. Nor are they failures in the client. I view them, rather, as failures in my coaching for those (literally 2) clients of mine who found they couldn’t make it work. There are others who have “failed” who I haven’t coached, but who–kindly or otherwise–emailed to let me know I was full of beans.

To be clear, I don’t think everybody needs to be fully carnivorous in their eating. While we are all built to the same basic plan, everybody’s coming from a different background, and with different current needs. When somebody doesn’t want to do carnivore, unless I can see that they have an obvious problem with all plants the way I do, I help them think about other ways of eating, targeting those foods and patterns of behavior that are most likely to be causing harm to them.

Carnivore is a way of thinking about food, not a religion. 

I have counseled low-carb athletes to incorporate some easy-to-digest carbs for performance. I personally have not gone that route, and found that I have some limits because I’m not willing to do that. That’s fine. My clients and I have different goals. I have had one metabolically healthy woman add fruit back to her diet because she just couldn’t get her electrolytes straight any other way. The first few years of carnivore were perfect for her, but she had reached the end of her need for restriction and needed to experiment a little bit for the next step. Do I think there may have been a more carnivorous way to solve her problem? Sure! But having some fruit and veg when sugar and fiber aren’t a problem for you is not the end of the world, so that’s what she did.

I do think most people need to at least be in ketosis a good portion of their day, so I always, always steer people to the low carb side of things. While there is an amount of carbohydrate that a healthy person can handle, people who come to me aren’t usually that healthy yet. Even when they are, the amount they are able to tolerate isn’t nearly as much as they’d often like to consume once they get started. Carbs make you eat more carbs. It’s just the nature of the beast. The cases I spoke of above are two unusual cases out of many.

So why didn’t carnivore “work” for you? This post is an introduction to several more that I hope will help you troubleshoot what went wrong when you tried to change your diet. Hopefully these posts will also help people new to the diet never encounter these problems to begin with. If you’re a newb, read them all before you jump in. Carnivore or meat-based ketogenic eating is very simple, and doing it should be as easy as falling off a log. Unfortunately, we’re usually coming at this from a life of dysfunction, whether physical, social, or mental, and we get tripped up. If you have any diet-related problems at all–and if you’ve been eating the typical Western diet, you do–it is well worth trying more than once, even if you have “failed” in the past.

Do You Need Supplements with a Carnivore Diet?

I died of scurvy last year. Twice.

I was looking through some old posts the other day and saw an old comment I’d ignored at the time.

Do you take vitamin supplements? How do you keep from getting malnourished or even gout?
Just curious. Love the idea of steak for breakfast, pricey though.

I was asked the same thing just a couple of days ago, and the day before that, and a few weeks before that. I get it all the time. The simple answer, and the one I usually give, is this:

There is nothing in plants that you need that you can’t get more efficiently and completely from meat. (By the way, steak isn’t that expensive when you don’t eat the sides.) The only thing plants have that meat does not–sugar, fiber, anti-nutrients, that vegan sense of moral superiority–are things you don’t need anyway, and many which you may be better off without. Especially that last.

That’s my story, and I am sticking to it. It’s a nice, pat, accurate answer, as far as it goes. But as with most things in life, it can get a little more complicated than that. And that is what blogs are for.

So, what about scurvy? What about anti-oxidants? What about eating the rainbow?

Usually, Vitamin C is at the forefront of people’s minds when thinking of the potential pitfalls of a carnivorous diet. As far as I can tell, there has not been one documented case of scurvy in a strict carnivore. Contrary to popular belief–and most beliefs about food in our culture are merely popular, not accurate–muscle meat does have a small amount of C in it. It’s not a lot, compared to some plants, but because cellular uptake of vitamin C is inhibited by hyperglycemia,  when you’re not spiking your blood sugar all day long, year after year, your cells don’t have any problems utilizing whatever amount of ascorbic acid you you do take in.

Most of the vitamin C found in that much-vaunted morning glass of “healthy” orange juice goes into the toilet, not your cells, because of all the sugar that rides along with it hindering absorption. You’ll still absorb some, but ironically, without the sugary fruit delivery system, you don’t need the massive amounts of C found in the fruit to stay healthy.

Also, as Sally K. Norton explains,

The body tends to metabolize excess vitamin C into a corrosive acid called oxalic acid. This acid immediately steals minerals like calcium as it becomes oxalate. As the kidneys remove oxalate from the blood, calcium oxalate can grow into crystals in the kidneys or elsewhere in the urinary tract causing painful stones. Over time, if the kidneys are forced to handle excessive amounts of oxalate everyday, kidney failure is likely. This is how taking 500 mg or more of vitamin C can promote a loss of kidney function. Perhaps the modern habit of taking extra vitamin C is contributing to the rising rates of kidney stones. One estimate suggests that half of us will get a kidney stone in our lifetime.

So maybe you don’t want your Vitamin C all that high, anyway.

I do think it’s nice that the Lord put the huge amounts of ascorbic acid into the same fruits that inhibit your ascorbic acid absorption, don’t you? Kinda balances things out a little. But you don’t have to drink OJ to get your C boost. At best, it somewhat mitigates through the vitamin C the damage that can be caused by the sugar. At worst, when you’re really insulin resistant, OJ can’t even overcome its own sugary downside.

But C isn’t the only concern, of course. What about all those other vitamins and micro-nutrients in plants? What about the superfoods I feel so good about putting on my plate?

Well, I hate to break it to you, friend, but “superfood” is a marketing buzzword, not a real thing. All of the nutrients found in plants are there for the sake of the plant, and are bound up in ways that the human body doesn’t easily break down into something usable for itself. I’m not saying that there’s zero benefit from these plants. Clearly you are able to get some nutrition from plants. Vegans don’t die immediately. In fact, they can live a long time in an increasingly miserable state. But the amount of, say, Vitamin A that your body can synthesize from the beta carotene found in a carrot is miniscule compared to the amount of already-bioavailable Vitamin A that you’ll get from meat.

Unlike us, the animals we eat are able to extract a great deal of the available nutrition found in plants because they are designed to do that. (Now wait, Christian. Aren’t humans designed to be vegetarians, like in the Garden of Eden? Find my answer to that here.)

Because of the lower animals’ unique digestive tracts, especially ruminant animals, which I think should be a very large percentage of food consumed, carnivores are getting better and more vitamins from animal products. Plant foods are simply sub-optimal compared to the easy-to-absorb nutrition found in meat, which our high-acid stomachs are incredibly efficient at processing.

There are multi-decade carnivores who have eaten nothing but meat, no supplements at all, and are running circles around those of us who have been on a Standard American Diet for the same amount of time. I have no reason to disbelieve these people when they say they don’t take supplements. I can personally attest, nearly six years in, that I feel great and don’t yet show any signs of malnourishment while consuming about 99% of my calories as muscle meat.

But there is a place for mineral and Vitamin D supplementation. It is likely that everybody, including people who think they’re doing just fine, could benefit from supplementation of iodine and magnesium, to name my big two. Plant-eaters have the same problem that meat-eaters do, in this regard. Eating your super-foods won’t help you here, as your body is not very good at extracting even those nutrients that are in your precious kale.

Depending on the location and method of farming, the soils our crops and livestock feed are grown in are likely deficient in a number of minerals. What’s not in the soil, or not absorbable from the soil by the plant because of farming methods and genetic tinkering, cannot pass into the plants, or into the animals and humans that eat them. Inland soil is not going to have a lot of iodine, which comes from sea water. Pretty much all farmed soil is depleted of magnesium at this point. I think everybody ought to be taking at least those two mineral supplements, though I admit I neglect to do so most of the time. There are other mineral supplements that might be useful, based on symptoms and individual circumstances.

And of course, there’s Vitamin D. I do think you can maintain your D levels with enough meat and enough sunshine, but good luck getting enough sunshine, office workers! I like to sunbathe during the late spring and through the summer, but I supplement with vitamin D+K2 for the rest of the year. There is some D to be found in animal products, but the sun is the big stimulator of vitamin D production. Most people do not live in a latitude that provides adequate sunshine, nor do they often go outdoors long enough every day to obtain it even if they do.

Now, maybe you don’t believe me that you don’t need plants to be healthy. I don’t blame you. It’s just not something you’ve ever even imagined before, is it? You’ve been told all your life that you have to eat your carrots to have good eyesight. You have to have your fruit to keep from catching colds or worse. You have to eat your Vitamin F (fiber) or you won’t be able to poop!

You’ve been told a lot of lies, Dear Reader. I understand why this is hard to get past.I had a really hard time letting go of my leafy greens, to be honest. But I’m not eating them anymore, and guess what? I’m better for it, not worse. I have an OCD called trichotillomania (hair-pulling) that goes away 100% as long as I don’t ingest any fiber. I can eat leafy greens for the (largely indigestible) vitamins in there, or I can just eat meat and have eyebrows and eyelashes. I certainly wasn’t looking for this particular benefit when I went carnivore, but it was a pleasant surprise.

Try it sometime for a minimum of 6-8 weeks or so. Really give it the old college try. You might find relief from some symptom or quirk about yourself that you just thought was a cross you’d have to bear forever. At any rate, don’t let the idea that you’ll be malnourished stop you from finding a better way to eat than a high-carb diet.

I am more convinced with every passing year that I do this that meat is sufficient for all of those needs.

I can help with this, by the way, if you’d like diet and lifestyle coaching. Email me at cindy at getalonghome.com or find me on social media and we’ll set up a call. Want to discuss this post? Find me at MeWe, Gab, or Social Galactic.