You’re Dying! Abort the Carnivore Diet! Abort! Abort! Abort!

My life’s comedic timing is perfect.

So, I’m standing here in my kitchen. I’ve just put some suet in my beautiful new 8-quart slow cooker to render down into tallow. Since I’m here, and already coated in glorious grass-fed beef fat from stem to stern, I figure I might as well pack some gel capsules with raw beef suet as well. By the way, those are vegetarian capsules. It says so right there on the bag, as if that were a selling point. I’ll explain why and how I do this strange thing in another post. The point is, I am at this moment doing the most medically scandalous thing a body can do, short of joining Hunter in hitting one of his Daddy’s free crackpipes while consuming said raw beef suet.

Spotted in the wild

And the phone rings.

I: Hello?

She: Hello, this is Such-and-such with your doctor’s office. How are you doing today?

I: Hi there! You tell me: How am I doing today?

She: Well, we got your labs back, and your thyroid and HBA1C look great.

I, waiting for the other shoe to drop, because I already know about this shoe. It’s an old, worn out shoe: Good. And?

She: Your cholesterol doesn’t look so good. She (the doctor) says your good cholesterol is high, which is good, but your bad cholesterol is very high, which is bad. She wants you to back off on saturated fats, eat more vegetables and less meat, and get more exercise.

I, grinning and trying not to actually LOL: OK, can you give me the numbers?

See what I mean about my life’s comedic timing? Here I am, deliberately and with wanton disregard for the opinion of Man, packing pills with saturated fat, and my doctor calls me to tell me to KNOCK THAT OFF RIGHT NOW!

I won’t bore you with the rest of the call, Patient Reader, but after the kind receptionist gladly gave me my scary number, I did manage to wring the other, unimportant numbers out of her, as well. Are you ready for these numbers, my friends? Here they are:

  • Total cholesterol: 315
  • LDL (not bad, just misunderstood): 211
  • HDL (The OTHER good cholesterol): 97
  • Triglycerides: 55 (I’ve seen this as low as 37, and I feel a little cheated today. Probably elevated due to stress from rushing out early for the blood-draw. But this is still a very good trig/hdl ratio of about .56)
  • VLDL (The actually bad particle): A perfectly relaxing 7.

Now, none of this was a surprise to me, because I got my own bloodwork done in much greater detail, through Own Your Labs just a month ago. I’m way geekier about my health than my doctor is. I wanted more information than my insurance is willing to pay for, so I have a lot of other great numbers to show, off, too! I’m a textbook example of an (I do believe healthy) phenotype known as a Lean Mass Hyper-responder. I am both fit and slender, and of what is traditionally understood as a “risky” cholesterol profile. In fact, the only number that got flagged in my entire comprehensive panel was my LDL–a paltry 151 at the time, due, I think, to a cold I’d been fighting off. That’s quite low for me. Did you know those terrifying little particles are a vital part of your immune system?

While I find conventional medicine to be very useful for many things, evaluating and ameliorating heart disease risk is not one of them. Hormone replacement, trauma and acute care, and antibiotics are all things for which I am very grateful. But you don’t care about my opinion of western medicine right now, do you?

What you care about, I’m sure, is that I’m going to die of a heart attack and need to get on some statins, STAT. In fact, by the time I hit publish, the ambulance should be on its way. I just called them, to be on the safe side.

Don’t hold your breath, veggie lovers. I intend to outlive you all. 

I am not remotely interested in explaining the intricacies of lipids to a general audience. I don’t have time. Besides, you might be convinced to go carnivore, and I really don’t want you to start competing with me for meat at its current price. I’m not giving you a complete run-down, or even trying to convince you of my way of thinking about this. I will, however, give you a few clues to aid you in your quest for truth as you come to realize what many, many people are catching on to of late: The science–the actual science, and not the pharmaceutical industry’s “studies”–should at least awaken you to the possibility, that the saturated-fat-heart-disease paradigm is ass-backwards and hopelessly lost.

Saturated fat intake doesn’t appear to have much to do with LDL levels.

Saturated fat intake is not associated with all-cause mortality.

People with high LDL outlive people with low LDL.

Replacing saturated animal fats with vegetable oils is associated with higher risk of heart events, even though it does lower serum cholesterol levels. (There’s an apparent paradox between this one and the first study I listed, which I can explain, but won’t.)

That will be enough to get you started. You may also enjoy this very layperson-accessible lecture by Dr. Paul Mason about why doctors still believe such insane things about cholesterol.

My doctor wants to see me again in six months, after I’ve behaved myself with the meat and exercise for a while. (By the way, I exercise like a beast at least five days a week. I have the abs to prove it. It’s a testament to the inadequate intimacy of the doctor-patient relationship in times of telemedicine due to “covid” that she doesn’t know this. She hasn’t actually touched me in a couple of years.) If my One Number doesn’t look any better, she will try to prescribe me a statin, I’m sure. Now, I have some choices to make, and I’m not sure which direction I should go.

I could attempt to educate my doctor on the facts of the matter. I’ve wasted my time like this before, printing out reams of studies in which the doctor was (surprise!) not interested. I fired that doctor, naturally. But the gal I’m seeing right now is super-smart, and she might just be interested. Then again, she might be primarily interested in continuing to collect her paycheck, which cholesterol-hypothesis skeptics tend to have a harder time doing in this system. I could also bring to her the results of my CAC scan (the one I keep putting off) and at least convince her that my arteries at least don’t appear to be harmed yet. There are lots of things I could show to an open-minded person to get a conversation started.

Alternatively, I could ghost myself and not show up for the next lab-work, instead choosing to wait until I have another thyroid check, and evade that topic yet again. Honestly, this is my usual course of action.

Or, I could game my numbers, doing nobody much good at all, but at least getting it on the insurance record that my cholesterol numbers are “healthy”. Funnily enough, all I’d have to do is eat a bunch of carbs for a few days before my labs and I’d look like the healthiest patient you ever saw. There would be enough immediate downsides to this that I doubt I’d ever attempt it. But it would look better for insurance purposes, for sure.

What do you think I should do? We can talk about this on Gab, MeWe, or SG, my current social media hangouts.

 

How To Beat Anxiety and Depression

Gut health is mental health.

Somebody recently mentioned on a social media site that he had experienced one of those long, dark nights of the soul during which, instead of sleeping, you toss and turn and recall every single stupid or awkward thing you’ve ever said out loud. I’ve had nights like that. Worse than that, I’ve had long, waking days of the same thing. You’re just going about your business and suddenly your mind starts accusing you: I’m the dumbest person ever. How can anybody stand to be around me? I can’t believe I said that!

Not only that, but the anxious mind then takes the opportunity to run a Top 10 (if you’re lucky, it’s only ten) list of your most socially awkward moments ever.

Now, maybe it’s just a function of getting older, but I honestly no longer have any trouble believing that I actually said that, whatever “that” was. You get used to living with your foot in your mouth. You get used to it, but it’s hard to truly learn to let go, isn’t it? I know it’s not just me. Everybody says or does cringe-making things regularly. Not everybody notices it, but most do. So, then, how do they let it go so easily? My gaffes get stuck in my head like a peanut butter and banana sandwich gets stuck to the roof of your mouth!

Surprisingly, for those who suffer from this kind of anxiety, I think it has a lot to do with our guts. No, I don’t mean the socially confident are simply braver than us. I mean that there is a difference in our literal guts, our intestines, that makes the food we eat affect our brains in a unique way. You see, since I started the carnivore diet, I’ve experienced this thing referred to by carnivores who have trod this path before me as the “carnivore calm”. I haven’t had a single 2 a.m. cringing episode since I stopped eating plants!

Almost all plants (and dairy, which I’ll have to address in a separate post) have literally nerve-wracking effects for me. On those days after going carnivore that I just couldn’t resist the asparagus or whatever, I would always notice half a day or so later, I’d get some anxiety again. Not the social kind (that’s really gluten and dairy), but free-floating anxiety. I sometimes get ear worms that seem obnoxiously loud and make me want to jam a crochet hook into my ear to dig them out. I can’t ever just have a nice song that I like in my head. I get to have all of my thoughts drowned out by a 15 second loop of whatever popular atrocity I last heard while flipping through the radio stations. It’s maddening.

Enough days in a row of fiber of any kind, and I become clinically depressed.

(This seems to me a really good place to point out that, in spite of all my anxieties and depression, Jesus has made most of my adult life a productive and meaningful time in spite of all of these hindrances. He’s the real miracle-maker in my life. He gave me the spiritual wherewithal to make it through a lifetime of depression and anxiety and still be a productive and useful person, able to raise a family and work for Him in my own reclusive ways. I give Him all praise and glory for that. And then after all those years of learning to lean on Him, he led me to the physical reason for all these problems that he salved so lovingly for so many years, so that I could move on to the next step in my walk with Him. Give Him praise, people! I never knew what He was doing, but I always knew He knew what He was doing. Eliminating plants and dairy didn’t save me from anything, but it has sure has made me feel better while being saved. OK, back to the OP:)

When I eat zero fiber, I get none of these symptoms. I just hum through my day, clear-headed and happy. I handle stress like a champ. I’m actually having fun!

Carnivore didn’t change who I am. I’m still weird. I’m still introverted. I’m still making mistakes. I still stick my foot in my mouth. I still do stupid things and wonder why I didn’t know any better. But I’m able to forgive myself quickly and move on. My brain no longer stores everything I got wrong today to hate-binge on later when I’m trying to sleep. I’m no longer hindered from enjoying the world by all the negative self-talk that used to try to hold me back.

I’m just so stinking well-adjusted now!

That’s weird, isn’t it? I don’t have all the answers, but I do have a few years of experimentation to share. My depression and anxiety largely went away when I moved to a ketogenic diet, so ketones probably have a little something to do with it. Ketosis does give you a very sharp mental state.

But I also gave up wheat at the same time, and I think that really was the magic bullet for me. Gluten has a deleterious effect on my gut, and thus my brain. I know for a fact, after different experiments adding foods back, that gluten is the trigger for other physical ailments of which I’m now totally free. I probably have undiagnosed celiac disease. I don’t really care to ask a doctor to confirm it.

I have a relative who craved gluten like a drug as a kid, and would only eat foods containing gluten (not hard to pull off in this food environment) and whose mind was very much hampered by the stuff. Gluten exacerbated every stereotypical autistic, and, frighteningly, sociopathic behavior in him. It was my witnessing of this pattern that made me wonder about myself. Gluten is the mind-killer!

Gluten, fine, but how can cauliflower make me feel so bad? To tell the truth, I question this aspect of my condition frequently myself, sometimes to the point where I stop believing it entirely and eat something that’s not meat. And then I invariably find out again. A little bite of something is often no problem, but if I just decide I’m going to start having regular keto food instead of full-blown carnivore, it’s only a matter of a day or two before I start having those same old feelings of anxiety and depression, stress, the little compulsions like over-tidiness, and songs stuck in my head. It has, through some intentional experiments, but mostly mishap, become undeniable to me that it’s the food. Fiber is doing something in my gut–whether feeding the wrong bacteria, making it leaky, or something else I can’t guess–that is throwing off the chemicals in my brain. This could very well be happening to you, too.

Now, I’m sure there are causes of mental illness that don’t originate in the gut. I’m not calling carnivore a magic bullet. But for me it has been almost magical, and it might be worth a shot for you, too. If having a song stuck in a loop in your head doesn’t bother you, and that’s the only symptom you’ve got, maybe you don’t want to experiment with taking plants out of your diet. I miss the plants, to tell the truth. I’d eat them all day long if I could. I simply can’t.

I am not the only person who experiences this. There are maybe hundreds, maybe thousands of carnivores who have discovered this exact pattern in themselves. I didn’t make this up. They didn’t make this up. If you want to hear more, I recommend starting with YouTube videos from Amber O’Hearn or Georgia Ede, then let the rabbit hole suck you in from there. There’s a lot of solid evidence that the Western diet is mentally torturing a number of us.

Now, I have to go lift some weights and then we have a gingerbread house decorating party to host (no eating the houses!), so I’m going to throw this out there mostly unedited. Please forgive any typos, run-on sentences, and irrelevant asides.

Want to discuss this? Meet me on Gab, MeWe, or Social Galactic.

Pemmican

How to make on-the-go carnivore nutrition:

(Pemmican) was invented by the native peoples of North America. It was widely adopted as a high-energy food by Europeans involved in the fur trade and later by Arctic and Antarctic explorers, such as Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton, Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen.

The specific ingredients used were usually whatever was available; the meat was often bison, moose, elk, or deer. Fruits such as cranberries and saskatoon berries were sometimes added. Cherries, currants, chokeberries and blueberries were also used, but almost exclusively in ceremonial and wedding pemmican.

Read more about pemmican on Infogalactic

One of the toughest things about maintaining a carnivore diet while traveling is finding food that is just meat. No seed oils, no plants? No food! I often find myself fasting when I don’t really want to, just because there’s not much out there. Yes, you can buy some McDonald’s hamburger patties in a pinch, but I hate the drive-thru, and the rest of my family doesn’t need whatever else is on that God-forsaken menu. This Feather-Indian food is a perfect emergency and travel food, and I try to keep some on hand at all times.

It’s a little bit time consuming to make, and you need some special equipment if you don’t want to spend days making it the old-fashioned way. If you do want to make it the old fashioned way, please do take pictures and send them my way. That would be not much fun at all, but knock yourself out!

Pemmican can be cooked into a stew or fried with vegetables for the picky, but I’ve never been motivated enough to try that. We eat it as a bar. It looks a bit like a brownie, but doesn’t resemble dessert in any other way.

A few tips and warning before you get started:

Grind! I’ve gotten pretty precise in the way I make my pemmican. My first batch wasn’t very good, to be honest. It was unpleasant to chew, and inconsistently textured. I needed to be pickier about my grind size. You need powder, not just tiny chunks. Be patient and keep grinding no matter how long it takes, until you have actual powder.

Sweeten: You can add honey or dried fruits to this and increase both calorie count and carbs. These additions also make it much more palatable. This is survival and on-the-go food, so I wouldn’t worry too much about that.

Preserve: Interestingly, while honey is an additional preservative, salt will make your pemmican go bad faster. Wait, wut? It’s true! Salt will draw moisture into your pemmican and shorten its shelf-life considerably. If you feel it needs salt, add it at the point of consumption, not in the making.

Meat: Any lean meat can be used, even ground beef. If you don’t feel like slicing meat, or only have access to ground meat, 93% or leaner ground beef can be used. I’ve done it, and it tastes pretty good, but not exactly the same. If your meat is not lean enough, you will not have a very tasty or shelf-stable result. Trim all of the fat you can from around the heart. Follow all the same instructions, except use a rolling pin to roll your ground meat between two sheets of parchment, thusly:

Then cut it into roughly 3 inch strips and follow the rest of the instructions.

Fat: You want tallow from a ruminant animal like beef or bison, so you have a high saturated fat content and room-temperature solidity. Lard and higher PUFA fats will not do the same thing. They’d taste awful, too, I’m sure. I imagine lamb tallow would also work. Is lamb tallow a thing?

Pemmican

A nutrition bar with a 1:1 ratio of meat to fat
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time8 hrs
1 hr
Total Time10 hrs
Keyword: Emergency, survival, travel
Servings: 8 bars
Author: GAHCindy

Equipment

  • Food dehydrator (or the sun, or a fire)
  • Food processor (or rocks)
  • Meat slicer (or sharp stone knife)
  • Kitchen scales (or two hands and two eyeballs for estimating)

Ingredients

  • 5 lb beef hearts Other lean meat may be used, but hearts are best.
  • 1 lb rendered beef tallow

Instructions

  • Slice beef hearts very thin using either a meat slicer (recommended) or a very sharp knife. Slightly frozen meat slices much more easily.
  • Lay slices out on food dehydrator sheets in a single layer.
  • Dehydrate for 6-8 hours at 167 degrees. Meat is done when it snaps nicely in two.
  • Using a food processor, grind the dried meat to a powder. Don't leave large pieces, as it makes the texture of the bar much less enjoyable. This takes a while, and it's loud, so cover your ears.
  • It's a good idea to get as close to a 50/50 blend of meat and fat as possible for the sake of shelf-life and flavor. Make note of the weight of both the bowl you will mix the meat in, and the saucepan in which you will melt down the beef tallow, so that you can zero out those amounts when you weigh your meat powder and tallow.
  • Add the tallow to the pan and melt it down.
  • Weigh the meat powder to determine how much fat to use. 5 lbs of meat will usually dry out to about 1 lb of powder. Then weigh out the same amount of fat and mix the two together.
  • At this point, you can flavor your pemmican if you like. Suggested additions: 1/4 cup honey, freezedried blueberries, berry powder.
  • Pour into a baking dish. I usually use a 9x13 for this amount, but you can do whatever thickness you like.
  • This will set right on the counter, or you can put it in the fridge for a few minutes to go faster. After it's set, cut it into the desired number of pieces.
  • Store individually wrapped in plastic wrap or baggies, or for longer shelf-life, in vacuum-sealed bags.

 

Have you ever tried pemmican? Made it? Let me know how you do it, or if you ever even want to, by joining me on Gab, MeWe, or Social Galactic.

Carnivore Diet and the Christian Worldview

Has all that evolution talk got you in a tizzy? 

A discerning reader asked a question a while back, and it’s something that’s been on my to-blog list ever since. It’s a very important question, and one I’ve spent a bit of time thinking through.

Well I do wonder what you think about why the Lord created man in the garden of Eden and told Adam and Eve in Genesis 1:29 ~ “Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. (and verse 30: And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.)” It wasn’t until after the flood that He told Noah and his family that they could eat meat. …I’m not against meat. I eat some beef, some turkey, and chicken, and salmon… I also eat vegetables and fruit. It just seems to me that in light of the verses quoted above, that we humans were created to eat vegetables originally. (And I don’t believe in evolution so I don’t think we’ve “evolved” to eat only one thing or the other. ;-)) Just tho’t I’d ask you what you think about those verses and what you think they mean in light of eating various foods.
In His grace, Mrs. O

Thank you so much, Mrs. O! I don’t know what I’d do without comments like this.

I pointed out that after we left the Garden of Eden, God gave us animals for use as clothing immediately, and it is implicit therein that humans began using them for meat soon after leaving the garden. Cain and Abel didn’t have their little scuffle because Abel was sacrificing something he barely needed. This was his best. That very likely means it was his food. God had clearly commanded animal sacrifice, and nothing else would suit Him.

It would seem very odd to me if they were raising and sacrificing animals and wearing them as clothing, but not eating the meat also. But maybe they did waste the meat and righteously consume only plants. I think you come away with a very different meaning–and an anti-Gospel one, at that–by reading the Cain and Abel story that way, but let’s roll with it. I can’t say for sure that they were eating meat, if I’m being very, very pedantic with only the explicit text, so let’s just say that the first generation of Man never had even a thought of eating meat, and the only killing of animals that they did was for sacrifice and possibly clothing.

All I can come up with is: So what?

That was then, this is now. Things changed after Eden, and then they changed again after the flood. There was, for one thing, a cleansing of the human race, wiping out the offspring of the Nephilim and the human race (about which, I won’t elaborate further, but oh, my, the things they don’t tell you in Bible school!). The earth itself also was laid waste, and the plants and animals that were preserved underwent that same culling. These genetic bottlenecks likely introduced even more corruption to our genome, and that of the plants and animals we ate, than was already there. This would (theoretically, but logically) have made us even less able to digest the plants than before.

Noah was told explicitly after the Flood to eat (clean) meat. The restriction on eating meat, if there was one, was lifted at that point regardless. Later on, in the New Covenant, the distinction between clean and unclean meats was also voided. We need to eat meat. I think all of this taken together establishes that a strictly carnivore diet is at least permissible to the Bible-believer. There may be some angle I’ve missed and that’s what the comment section is for, so let me have them, please.

But what about eating only meat? There’s something just flat-out worldly and unbelieving about that. Underneath the health objections, which don’t hold up very well in my experience and opinion, there’s just this visceral reaction to the idea that we evolved this way, and anything built on that foundation must be wrong, wrong, wrong. When I came across the carnivore way of thinking about food, I wanted to reject it out of hand, too. It’s all evolution all the time with these people!

We did not evolve this way. We devolved this way.

I listen to a lot of diet and lifestyle podcasts while I’m doing less mind-intensive things like weeding and running. I also read a lot of nutrition and metabolism-focused blogs. It is by-and-large a Godless conversation, sadly, and it can be very tiresome even to weirdos like me who are energized, rather than discouraged, by a good dose of cognitive dissonance.

I’m with you, Mrs. O. (At least, I think I am.) Since starting the carnivore way of eating, and for the first time in my grain-glutted life, my teeth are now in extremely good shape, but I’m grinding them down to pitiful nubs having to listen to evolution-this and ancestral-that all the time.

Most Christians aren’t going to even entertain the thought of the carnivore approach if the only supporting narrative–and friends, it is nothing but a narrative, a just-so story–is the modern creation myth of millions of years of evolution. For what it’s worth, the same evolutionary nonsense is also trotted out to justify vegetarian eating, i.e. our monkey brains were only able to grow so large because we learned to farm the extra calories required for such intelligence. They can and do stuff just anything into that evolutionary box.

I have something a lot less flexible, but thankfully perfect and infallible, to base my life choices on: the Word of God. Like Mrs. O., I believe that the Genesis account is literal: six days, two sexes, and only one No-No Tree. I’m one hundred percent in agreement that Adam and Eve were put in a garden and told to eat the plants, except for that one. I further believe that everything that God gave them to eat was good.

And then something happened that changed our very DNA, and that of the entire living world. I don’t know what Eden was like, whether there was any entropy, how long it was meant to last, whether eating was a mere pleasure rather than a physiological necessity. So many questions arise when you start wondering how the metaphysical and the physical met in that place.

But once we’re out of that Garden, meat makes plenty of sense.

I can’t say for sure what happened over the millennia on a physiological level, but my guess is that, because Earth became corrupt, and the entire creation began to groan, much of the nutrition that was available to us through plants became less and less accessible throughout the generations. Our genetic makeup didn’t permit perfect processing of the foods anymore, and the foods themselves developed hardier defenses.:

17And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;

18Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;

19In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

Think of lectins as thorns, and you’ll see why grains might not be the best thing for us.

As for the bizarre-sounding fact that many carnivores have discovered they have to eat only meat, I observe that we are at the end of many millennia of devolution, and we are less and less able to process these foods as our DNA inexorably declines in quality. Except in times of plenty such as we’ve enjoyed for my entire life in this country, needing “the herb of the field” is a hard fact of life, and in many ways a detrimental one, or it wouldn’t be part of the Curse, as it clearly is in the quoted text.

As I said before, I might myself have to eat something besides meat in order to get enough calories to survive someday. I don’t look forward to that, because my health would suffer, but hard times do come. As a nation, we are long overdue for some collective judgment, which I expect will rain on the just and the unjust. Plate me up some lentils, in that case. My soul will survive that just fine. In the meantime, I’m storing up as much health and strength as I can by eating what works best for my body.

Praise Him for providing meat!

I love my brothers and sisters in Christ and would dearly love to see them in better health, so that the Lord’s work can be done with vigor, and his Word elucidated by clear, unclouded minds. Through use of the evolutionary narrative, Satan is convincing many of his enemies to become weak, both physically and mentally, by turning them off on a gut level (pun absolutely intended) to the notion that animal nutrition is superior to plant nutrition before they really get a chance to think about it.

Hopefully you can see by now that a carnivore diet, at the very least, does not fail to fit in with the Gospel narrative, aka the Truth. It certainly provides a better explanation for why we need to eat meat than “Monkeys with tiny brains dropped out of trees and started eating brains, so their brains got bigger.” (I know, evolution-worshippers, that this is a gross over-simplification of your beloved stories. But if you believe in evolution, I’d far rather talk to you about your soul than your food.)

Life requires death, on both a physical and a metaphysical level. Animal sacrifice is done away with, but animal eating is not…yet. The Good News here is that all things are being restored. Until that day, we receive with thanks the sustenance that God provides.

What think you? Anybody here looking at that pb&j sandwich a little bit less lovingly now?

Carnivore Forever?

How long will I continue to eat this way?

Life without cake. Life without spinach. Life without quinoa. Dreary, dreary life without chocolate. Can a person really be happy like this? Health considerations aside (for just a moment), who wants to go through life without tasty treats? Or…spinach? I’ll bet I get a few takers on that one, at least. I made a great vegan lasagna, once upon a time. I used to break out in a rash on my hands every time I’d squeeze the water out of the cooked spinach for the filling. You’d think that would have been a clue that something about spinach wasn’t agreeing with me, wouldn’t you? I have no trouble saying no to spinach these days.

But what does it take to get kicked out of the carnivore club? Do I still get to call myself a carnivore if I eat chocolate on my birthday? Because I did that. I had several plant foods at Thanksgiving. Some pickles worked their way into the deviled eggs on our anniversary. I had a piece of keto cake on my Dad’s birthday, too, because sometimes you just need to be part of the celebration. So I’m not really a carnivore! Oh, gosh. My self-image is in ruins. Shawn Baker will never let me look at his website again.

Carnivore is where I live. Every normal day, and that is probably something like 350 days of the year, I eat only meat and eggs. I visit other places sometimes. For instance, nobody will ever come between me and that first perfectly juicy pear of the season. I’m going to eat that. It’s not going to harm me.

There are a lot of people who come to the carnivore way of eating because they can’t handle even a slight taste of sweetness. They are carb-addicted, and meat is the only safe food for them. The only way to defeat carbohydrate addiction is with a super-strict approach that leaves no room for cheats and treats. I have never had that particular problem, I’m grateful to report. I’ve always been able to put that last piece of pie into the trash because that’s where extra pieces of pie belong. Other people I know can’t even sleep knowing that there’s an extra piece of pie in the house that hasn’t been eaten yet. I can go months at a time without even a single sweet thing, but eating a blueberry or a spoonful of honey (which one might argue is still an animal product, and thus carnivore) won’t throw me out of my healthy place, so it’s cool if I let that food into my diet sometimes.

There are people who will have to go the rest of their lives with zero plants consumed. Even a green vegetable will set off that longing for more carbs. I believe, based on all my research and the hundreds of stories that I’ve heard so far, that they will thrive that way. I could, myself, be perfectly healthy and happy that way. But I am perfectly healthy and happy with the occasional treat, too.

But if I can have these things from time to time, why not work them in regularly? Isn’t this overly strict, and bordering on weird? Maybe. I’m not ready to say yet just how long I’ll go from today until my next helping of plant matter. It will almost certainly be weeks. It could be months. It could be years! I don’t mind being strict and weird, as long as I’m doing what’s best for me at the moment.

There are many, many plants that I will never consume again, barring a SHTF situation where starvation is the alternative. Most of the plants we think of as staple foods are, in fact, harmful to me (and to a lot of other people who haven’t realized it yet). I’ll never choose to eat the things that give me boils, make me wheeze, or exacerbate my auto-immune disease. Dairy, unfortunately, is included in that group of foods, so it’s not even just plants.

The main reason I stick so contentedly to my carnivore plan is that it’s easier for me to keep a short list of what I can eat than a long list of what I can’t. I could have a few more foods with no harm, but I find that when I start to include, say, asparagus, pretty soon lemons will sneak into a recipe, then some mushrooms, or some other food I’d forgotten I shouldn’t have. Before I know it, I’m tired of thinking through my options at every meal, so I get careless. My eczema gets cranked up to 11, my thyroid symptoms are getting worse, and I have no idea which thing that I ate is causing me to feel so gassy and bloated.

I’m a busy woman with lots to think about every day. I don’t have the mental energy required to be that hyper-vigilant about my food just for the sake of a little variety in flavor.

So, for a slightly looser version of carnivore than many may need, this will almost certainly be the way I eat forever. Maybe someday, when I’m 100 and feel like the end can’t be much farther away, I’ll chow down on some pizza and beer and just have a great blow-out at the very end. But I doubt that. Even a centenarian values her future if she’s wise. Who knows? I might live to be 105 or 110. I want to feel as good as possible until the day I die, and I want that day to be as far away as possible.

Meat is what will achieve those goals for me, so that’s what I’ll keep doing.

 

Do You Need Supplements on a Carnivore Diet?

Polyphenols! Antioxidants! Vita-mints!

(As usual, nothing in this blog post is to be taken as professional medical advice or instruction. Even the parts where I call your doctor an idiot should not prevent you from consulting your doctor about any changes you make to your diet or exercise. I’m a hillbilly mommy blogger. Take me just as seriously as that warrants, and we’ll get along just fine.)

I am often asked what kind of supplements I have to take because meat is basically the only thing I eat. The first time I was asked this, I was kind of surprised. I never really thought about it because it seems obvious: I’m made of meat, therefore meat should have everything in it that I need to eat. Of course, this is a silly gut feeling and not a deeply researched conclusion. So I have done a little research over the last year or so, just to be sure I’m not missing out on something that only broccoli can give.

While my instincts led me to the correct place, the reasoning I laid on top of the intuition to explain it wasn’t very good, was it? You could just as easily think that because the animals I eat are also made of meat, and they eat plants, then I should eat plants, too. But many of the animals I eat turn out to be not very much like me, having things like crops and extra stomachs to add umph to their digestive workings. As it turns out, those animals are doing a great deal with their digestive systems that I can’t. I then eat them, so that I can get the nutrients from plants in a form that I can use.

As one guy whose name I can’t recall said “My eyes are in the front of my head, and I only have one stomach.” My stomach acid is that of a predator, not a ruminant animal. I don’t have the enlarged cecum of an herbivore that would allow me to digest large amounts of fiber like a gorilla does. I am clearly designed to hunt and eat meat. Since going carnivore, I can tell you on a personal level that my results bear out my gut instinct, however silly it may have seemed to begin with. I’ve never been so consistently healthy and happy in my life.

But what about those vitamins, huh? Especially Vitamin C, which is apparently the only thing standing between me and certain death. Everybody swears by mega-dosing with C, including some very smart people, but I’ve concluded that nobody actually needs to do this, provided they’re willing to make the changes necessary to keep their bodies healthy without supplementation. Even if you’re trying to avoid getting a cold or think it will help with cancer, I don’t see a lot of value in just shoveling in more supplements to cover for a detrimental diet.

There are couple of little secrets the food nannies haven’t let us in on for some reason. Among the best-kept is that there is C in fresh meat. Yes, there is. So there’s that, but the other secret is even more interesting. You see, vitamin C and insulin compete for the same receptors in your cells. When you’re chronically consuming carbohydrates, and thus chronically raising your insulin, your cells are less able to use whatever vitamin C you consume, making higher and higher doses necessary to get any of the needful nutrient into your tissues. As you become more hyperinsulinemic, you become more vitamin C deficient.

Some people do need a vitamin C supplement. Those people are not carnivores. All the stories about limes saving sailors from scurvy have very little to do with the limes, and much more to do with their insanely deficient diet. They ate dried meats, beer, and refined carbohydrates all day long. Of course they got scurvy.

Instead of spending extra money and time to take more and more of something that you’re actually getting plenty of, if you’d only stop wasting it, why not just lower the carbohydrate load to a point where your glucose, and thus your insulin, no longer impede your body’s use of it? You could even lower your carbs to zero for maximum effect.

Besides C, though, there’s a plethora of vitamins and minerals that we’re told we need to worry about. People who want you to assume that meat is bad for you conveniently leave out the fact that meats have every single nutrient you need in them. Do you know which people need a whole lot of supplements to survive? Vegans and vegetarians. There are a number of nutrients that you simply can’t get from plants. B12, DHA, iron, Vitamins D, A, and K, and many minerals like selenium are missing in a vegan diet, and remain inadequate in a less strict vegetarian diet with eggs. Even those plants that are touted as having a lot of nutrients often have them in the wrong form for humans to absorb and use. Some plant foods block the absorption of vital nutrients, as black beans are known to do for zinc. Plants are not your friend if you’re trying to get vitamins and minerals to stay healthy. I know this is hard to hear. I used to like black beans, too, especially with tortillas and salsa.

What about all the other super-food things? Don’t I need the polyphenols in chocolate or the antioxidants in blueberries to keep me from getting cancer or something? The simple answer for me is no. You should do your own research, of course, but I have read a lot of the literature on these things. Go ahead and eat those superfoods if you think they’ll help you. I doubt there’s much harm in many of them in the amounts you’ll be consuming them–the low-sugar foods like berries, anyway. But there is, as far as I can tell, no advantage in consuming these things, provided you get a totally unbalanced diet of meat, meat, and more meat.

I’ve concluded that those polyphenols are probably better termed “toxins”, as the power that they have seems to be in inducing a hormetic response, rather than providing something that you actually need in order to be healthy. They’re almost, to my thinking, a tiny dose of chemotherapy on a fork. That might be an ok thing to throw in there if you’re filling up on insulin-raising, immune-system destroying, cancer-feeding “foods” all day long, but I prefer to keep myself healthy by not doing things that require medicinal correctives to begin with. Your mileage may vary.

Hold on, though. I do think there is a place for supplementation! I take a couple of supplements at the moment. Depending on where you live and what diet you’ve been eating all your life, you might need some supplements, too, at least in the short term. I take the supplements I take, not because the carnivore diet is lacking, but because my environment is lacking. I simply can’t get enough sunshine or iodine where I live right now. Chances are you can’t, either. Meat helps, even with this, though, and I need far fewer supplements than I used to.

There are only two supplements I need right now: iodine and Vitamin D. Other people might need boosts of other nutrients, depending on their own location and physical needs.

I take Lugol’s 2% solution for iodine because the plants around here don’t have enough iodine in them for it to get into my meat. Everybody who lives inland and subsists mainly on meat from land animals should probably take an iodine supplement, regardless of diet. (Magnesium is also a good addition for some people for similar reasons. I don’t seem to need it, but Get Along Husband certainly does.) Most carnivores don’t even do this much, though, and they seem to be fine. With my thyroid history, I think it’s probably helpful, and I don’t see how it can hurt. The CW is that iodine is dangerous to the thyroid and we have to be very careful, but the CW is so ass-backward most of the time that I admit I just discount it out of hand now. And if that’s so, what’s with all the iodized salt in everything?

Vitamin D is just a good idea for everybody in the winter months. I use a brand that couples the D3 with K2, as D can wreak havoc with calcium absorption if there isn’t sufficient K. Some people trust that there’s enough K2 in their grass-fed meat and dairy, but I don’t feel too sure of that. The cows aren’t getting any more sun than I am right now, right? I take it once or twice a week in the winter months. This, however, is a far smaller dose than I needed back when I was consuming plants, because my diet contains more D than it used to, and I absorb all my nutrients to a far greater degree than I did when I had all that fiber clogging up the works. I used to struggle to keep my levels up, but now they stay right where they ought to without much effort at all. Just 5000-10000 IUs per week is sufficient now that I’m more replete. I suspect that I won’t need a supplement at all next winter, as long as I keep getting my sunshine, liver, and egg yolks all summer long. I get my D levels tested every fall to see what my needs will be going into the cold and flu season.

Rather than adding more and more “good” foods and supplements as medicine to offset the damage we’re causing to our bodies with harmful foods, the most effective way to be healthy is to keep from doing dietary harm in the first place. First, do no harm. Now, where have I heard that before?

Get your sunshine and eat your meat. It’s as simple as that.

(You’ll notice I’ve included no links. You have the same internet I have, so dig around and you’ll either find that I’m right or wrong. I’m a mommy blogger, but I’m not your mommy. I don’t have a lot of time to find links, but it’s a very searchable topic. Have fun finding out for yourself!)

 

Buying More Meat on a Budget

I’ve mentioned a couple of times that I eat a steak almost every day. That is absolutely an expensive way to go about eating a carnivore diet. I don’t deny it, and sometimes I feel like I’m being a little bit extravagant. At the moment, though, for reasons I won’t get into right now, it’s what I do. That doesn’t mean I’ve stopped trying to save as much money as I can. I can eat a lot of meat and still get within shouting distance of a reasonable grocery budget. I would never want to see someone forgo the idea of a carnivore diet because of the cost. Here are some ways I keep things manageable:

Buy in bulk. If you’re buying the packages of one or two ribeyes from the grocery store, it is going to cost a ridiculous amount of money. I do buy my steaks that way when I have to, and resent the heck out of it. Thankfully, there are usually better ways to go about getting steaks. My primary source of beef comes from a local ranch that sells me a whole beef at a time. Our whole family can eat on that for about three months, so I get my steaks and roasts for quite a bit less than you might expect. When my freezer runs low, or I just want to stock up on ribeyes, a local grocery store frequently has either whole boneless rib roasts or boneless strips on sale for $4.99/lb. Those roasts carve up into 12-16 ribeyes or New York strips for around $55.

Buy cheaper cuts. If you want beef steaks, they don’t have to be ribeyes. You can get sirloin or skirt steak and enjoy them just as much if you learn to prepare them properly. Just be aware that the cheaper cuts are typically the leaner cuts, and you’ll need to add fat accordingly. I make sure the butcher knows I want the fat trimmings from my cow. You can often buy suet or rendered fat from local farms or independent butchers, as well. Sometimes they’ll just give you the rib fat trimmings for free, because they’re just going to throw them out, anyway. We really do live in clown world.

It’s ok to get the 10 lb. chub of ground beef from Wal-mart. As important as it is to buy local, and to support a sustainable meat supply in that way, there is no getting around the need to live within your means. There’s very little evidence to support the idea that conventionally raised meat is less nutritious than the grass-finished, and you’ll get along just fine on the cheap stuff. Kelly Hogan, one of the most amusing and adorable carnivores in the online carnivore community, eats a whole lot of inexpensive hamburgers–even McDonald’s hamburgers. It really is good for you, so go ahead!

Eat all the meats, not just beef. You can eat an all-animal sourced diet without ever having a steak at all. A lot of carnivore/zero carb adherents are perfectly happy eating fish, chicken thighs, canned seafood and other meats, pork rinds, and even (gasp!) bologna. I stick to beef and eggs almost exclusively right now, but I’ll eat anything that ever moved if I’m hungry and it’s all I can find at the moment. Eat whatever meat you like. Chances are you can find something you can afford.

Eat the organs. I always get the organs and offal from the whole beef that I buy. Liver, heart, tongue, kidney–you name it, we’ve eaten it. (Except lung. I think I’ll ask for that this time, too.) Some people don’t like organ meat, and I don’t think they’re strictly necessary for everybody. But they are cheap, and, in my view, superfoods. You can have liver ground into your beef to both hide the taste and stretch your meat a little farther.

Do not fear the egg. Whether you buy them or raise your own chickens, nothing beats the nutritional punch of eggs. I know you’ve been told that they’re terrible for you, but…well, I’ll get into why they’re good for you some other time. Right now, just ask yourself: when’s the last time the “experts” told you the truth about anything? One brand of eggs I’ve bought says “Two a day are OK!” on the package. That’s stupid. Twenty a day are ok, if that’s how many you can eat. They are a perfect nose-to-tail diet, easy to cook, easy to digest, and cheap. I raise my own chickens and buy some eggs, too. Dirt-scratching, insect-eating, happy chickens give you better eggs, but you’ll do just fine on the cheap eggs, if you need to. Splurge a little on the free-range ones, if you can afford it. Or just get to building your chicken coop now. Spring is coming! I’ve got 20 more chicks coming in a couple of weeks!

It’s still going to cost more. Even with all these tips, I’m sorry to report that I have not seen any way to wrestle my grocery budget back down to the size it used to be. Meat really does just cost more, and my next post will explain why I think it’s well worth the investment. I hope that some of these tips make it seem less scary to eat a meat-heavy, or even meat-only diet. I’ve found this to be the most satisfying and healthful way to live, and want to see more people discover its benefits for themselves.

Is Carnivore an Extremely Restrictive Lifestyle?

Yes, I’d say it is. Look at all the things it has restricted from my life: 

In no particular order, here are the things that I don’t have going on at all anymore, as long as I stick to my current way of eating:

  • Hidradenitis suppurativa
  • Asthma
  • joint pain and swelling (never diagnosed, but probably arthritis)
  • brain fog
  • depression
  • trichotillomania (y’all, I have eyebrows.)
  • severe social anxiety
  • generalized anxiety
  • constipation
  • eczema
  • unexplained recurring skin lesions
  • compulsive cleaning (My house is less clean. This is a good thing. Trust me.)
  • mood swings
  • PMS (I do still suffer fools a little less gladly during that time.)
  • Heavy periods with several extra days of spotting afterwards
  • emotional eating/food cravings
  • overweight

A number of other things have greatly improved, and continue to:

  • Hashimodo’s thyroiditis (I’m currently experimenting with no thyroid medication, and it seems to be going well. I’m cautiously optimistic.)
  • bunions
  • ADHD (I have improved self-control in every aspect of my life, but let’s face it: I’m always going to be a little bit squirrely.)

And that’s just me. For privacy’s sake, I won’t be able tell you most of what has changed for my family as I’ve narrowed down their diets to what works for them, and should work for just about anybody. We’re still figuring some things out. I’ll just tell you that it is 100% true that everything, right down to those old-lady bunions you’re getting, is affected by the way you eat.

Why is restrictive bad? Fences are restrictive, but they keep the bull from goring every passerby, so I’m good with those restrictions. Marriage is restrictive. The yellow lines on the road are restrictive. Lots of things are.

But do you know what’s really restrictive, in a very negative way? Having to fill in your eyebrows with a pencil before you feel ok letting other people look at you. Being stuck at home because of social anxiety. Using inhalers. Paying expensive doctors to give you even more expensive medicines that don’t work. Getting hideous boils that restrict movement and make you just miserable. Being unable to exercise because your energy is non-existent. Being so OCD about the house-keeping that your children don’t get as much of you as they deserve.

Does any of that sound like healthy living to you? Because that’s what I get when I loosen up my way of eating.

My small children often ask me “Could you eat this, Mommy?” and the answer is “Of course! I can eat anything I want. But why would I want something that would make me feel bad?”

You can think of carnivore, or keto, or low-fat, or water fasting, or any other eating pattern as restrictive, but the question for me is, is your diet making you better or worse? Just that, and nothing more, is how you should judge your eating choices.

How restrictive do you need to be?

Very few people jump straight to a carnivore diet, because it seems too far out. For me, it has been a very quick path to health. What consequences you do feel comfortable with? Do you love your raw kale salad so much that you don’t mind suppressing your thyroid function? Is cheese so important to you that you don’t care that it gives you brain fog or constipation? That’s entirely up to you! Do you look at that healthy, tasty, whole grain bowl of oatmeal, and then your out-of-control blood sugars and say “Yeah, I think diabetes is a fair trade for this breakfast experience. Shoot me up with that insulin, doc!”? Fine. Up to you. You are the one that has to live with that choice.

I’m willing to deal with the slightly disturbed sleep I have after wine, so I drink a couple of glasses occasionally. For a while there, I felt comfortable enough with that last patch of eczema behind my left knee to go on feeding my coffee habit. That was worth it to me. But once I found out that coffee inhibits T4 production, I had no trouble letting go of that plant toxin. I’ve eased myself off of T4 medication over the last few months, so I need optimal functioning. I’m now coffee free, and eczema free. Hopefully, I’ll find that my thyroid labs look good, as well. Certainly I feel good–better than I did with the T4, surprisingly. I’ll let you know how this particular experiment turns out, either way.

I listed everything that the carnivore way of eating has taken out of my life, but it really should be stated more positively than that. I have better skin, better poop, no pain, a great mood, better relationships, clearer thinking, better productivity, more fun (FUN! I never had fun before!), fantastic body composition, more stamina, impressive strength for such a little gal, and the emotional freedom to explore the world God made for us.

How could anybody ever call that restrictive?

How’s Your Poop?

And other totally appropriate questions. 

I have a minute while my carnivore meatloaf (for which an very easy recipe should appear shortly) is in the oven to discuss a few diet-related things.

When I first switched to an all-meat diet, I would explain that I only eat meat, but I’ve had to change my approach a little bit. Now I tell people that I don’t eat plants. For some reason, the former way doesn’t quite sink in, and nobody fully realizes what I’m saying. It’s like saying the earth is flat. Nobody quite believes you really mean it. The latter way, they seem to understand more quickly. And the comments I get have become every bit as predictable as the many reactions I’ve gotten to having a large number of children. People just can’t help themselves. This sounds insane!

Besides My word, why would you do that?, the most frequent question I get from everybody–whether I’m talking to my best friend or the mailman–is the poop question. As a mother of eight, a dog-mommy, and a chicken rancher, poop has been a going concern in my life for well nigh 17 years now, so I don’t mind talking about it at all. It’s a good thing I don’t mind, because everybody else wants to talk about it. If you don’t, though, close this tab and I promise I’ll try to be more tasteful with my next post. Clearly everybody else finds this to be a steaming hot (sorry) topic, so why shouldn’t I?

Before I talk about poop, though, I want to say this: it is astonishing how personal people are willing to get when they find out you only eat meat. I tell people I’m a Christian, they change the subject. A Trump supporter, either a high-five or a cold shoulder. A homeschooler? Meh. Everybody’s a homeschooler these days. But tell people you only eat meat, and whew, suddenly everybody is your doctor, your psychotherapist, and your mother, all in one convenient package. It’s not worse than the golly-that’s-a-lot-of-kids conversation, but it’s close.

So, poop! Do I? Yes, once a day and quite comfortably, and thank you for asking. Seriously, love the question, stranger.

Carnivores do poop. Typically, they poop just fine. The result is quite diminutive compared to that of plant-eaters because the intestine is able to absorb a far higher percentage of meat foods than plant foods. So much of the meat is absorbed that I’d bet more than half of what comes out is cell turn-over from the GI tract, rather than waste product. (And isn’t waste product an oxymoron?)

The expectation that the current upside-down nutrition advice has set is that you need fiber–indigestible, bulk-building fiber–to be able to go comfortably. Constipated people are always told to put more bulk in their diet. I ask you though, how do you think putting more useless bulk through an already struggling system helps anything? Constipation isn’t, as it turns out, a result of not having enough waste to pass, but of the gut being unable to either process or move whatever is already in there. You should be more selective about what you put in your body, absolutely. Nutritionists have that correct. Don’t select for bulk, though. Select for digestibility.

Digestibility is where meat beats every other food.

I was introduced, to my horror, to something called a “poop knife” yesterday in a carnivore group on MeWe. We had a pretty good laugh, but goodness. Imagine needing to keep a knife in the bathroom so your ridiculous amount of waste can be flushed safely. Guys, if you’re wasting that much, you’re probably not absorbing as many nutrients from all your “superfoods” as you think you are. You’re probably very sick, actually, even if you don’t know it yet.

Poop Knife

Don’t spend time playing in the toilet (something I teach my children not to do), hacking your poop into smaller chunks. Back off on the fiber. Eat whole, unprocessed foods, mainly meat.

Now, the poop question isn’t all roses and sunshine. Some people do experience diarrhea in the transition to carnivore. Some people aren’t very happy with their poop for several months, in fact. I have a few thoughts on why that might be for any given person, and how to avoid it, but since we’re all individuals with different needs, I’m not going to bore you with all that. If you try a carnivore way of eating, and you have problems, I think I can help you troubleshoot. (Gosh, the puns nearly write themselves, don’t they?)

All I can say is that, for me, and for at least thousands of other meat-only eaters that I’ve interacted with in one way or another, the poop is fine, and we never have to touch it.

So, how’s your poop? Just kidding. You don’t have to talk about that if you don’t want to.

But do ask me anything you like, or give me your very strong opinions about my carnivore/zero-carb way of eating in the comments, and I’ll store up your questions for further blog posts.