My Zero Carb Experience with Lyme Disease by Alison Lyons

alison lyons

When I first went to the gastro with all my stomach issues and food intolerances, they tried to get me on a FODMAP diet. I was like…. uh, I just told you everything but meat makes me inflamed and sick and you’re telling me to eat a diet of nothing but the foods that make me inflamed and sick? Needless to say I didn’t return back to any of those doctors.

Zero Carb is really the only way my Lyme stays under control and allows me to be pain free. But I’ve struggled against eating an all-meat diet for years because of all the pressure I have received from doctors and family to keep trying to get plant foods back into my diet. Additionally, I did not know another single person who was eating an all-meat diet, so I felt very alone, isolate and unsure about the path my body was telling me to follow. As a result, I was pretty miserable.

Since finding the Zero Carb group Zeroing in on Health on Facebook (through The Andersen Family interview that a friend shared with me), my mindset has completely flipped. I have stopped fighting it. I now realized that I need to just listen to my body and eat the way it responds best and tell all my doctors and family to just accept that this is the way it is.

My god what a difference all this has made – less pressure from those around me, making friends with other people who eat like me, knowing I’m not alone anymore. I know it sounds melodramatic, but stumbling across the Zero Carb community, and all these people that follow a diet free of plant foods, has literally saved my life on every level (emotionally, psychologically, and physically).

Over the years that I have been struggling with this, I have attempted to add other foods back in periodically (mostly because those around thought I should), but every plant food I tried would cause a negative reaction (burning in my small intestines, morbid bloating, headaches, fatigue, high blood pressure).

By October 2013, I decided in earnest that I needed to just stick with meat and stop trying to please others around me. However, I recently got derailed yet one more time when my nutritionist encouraged me to try eating some blueberries. Unfortunately, this little experiment caused me SEVERE pain and cause many previously dormant symptoms of the Lyme bacteria to rear their ugly head.

Up to this point, I hadn’t had carb/sugar cravings at all for quite a while. But once I tried those blueberries, my brain chemistry just went bonkers from the fructose, and I immediately began to experience HUGE carb/sugar cravings. For the next few weeks, I found myself unable to resist my desire for more fruit and I just got sicker and sicker. I finally got a grip on myself, and I am now back on track and eating only meat again. The cravings are almost completely gone, and – once again – I am feeling so much better.

At this point, you might be wondering how long have I had Lyme Disease, and how did I arrive at an all meat diet? Well, when I was about 8 years old, I was bit by a tick. I got the classic EM Lyme rash (massively, it took up the entire inside of my right thigh). When my mom finally noticed it, she panicked and took me to the doctor.

This was Texas in the 1980’s, though, and the doctor told her that the rash did look exactly like the EM Lyme rash, but it couldn’t possibly be that because Lyme didn’t exist in Texas! I remember my mom arguing with him about why we vaccinated our dogs for it, but in the end he refused to send us home with the antibiotics used to treat it in the early stage of an infection.

My mom is a health nut, so I wasn’t allowed much sugar at all while I was growing up. No sodas, no candy, and it was very very rarely that I was allowed desserts. We ate mostly baked chicken, rice, and veggies. I played a lot of sports, and I did well in school. There was very little stress in my life throughout this time, so my immune system stayed strong enough to keep the Lyme bacteria in dormant state.

Around the age of 27, I began working at an insanely stressful job (a newspaper with long hours and very low pay), and I suddenly started having some strange symptoms emerge. I was really into triathlons at this point and so I desperately tried to ignore the symptoms I was experiencing. I didn’t want to give up training and the races I was competing in.

Looking back, I’m astounded at my stubbornness and how I kept training for triathlons through all of that – it was mostly profound fatigue, headaches, and brain fog. I’ve always been an avid reader and usually average around 50 books a year, but that year all I could finish was 1. I thought I was getting adult ADD or something. All the fatigue and headaches I chalked up to the stress of my job. But, I didn’t yet realize that the stress was impairing my immune system and allowing the Lyme bacteria to thrive.

I finally found a new job and – on what was supposed to be my first day at that job – I went for my usual morning run. About midway through, I was attacked by a dog. Animal control never found the dog, so I was forced to agree to the rabies vaccine. That was the final straw for breaking down my immune system. After those rabies shots, my left arm went numb, then my left leg, then the left side of my face developed bells palsy. It got so bad that I couldn’t walk, which was insanely distressing for me being an endurance athlete. I had just finished my first MS150 (a race that raises money for Multiple Sclerosis research) only 3 months before and the first suspected diagnosis they had for me was MS. The irony made me sick.

An avalanche of other symptoms started, though, and tinnitus was one of them. I could hardly hear anyone because the ringing in my ears was so loud. Someone on an MS message board told me that MS and Lyme are often misdiagnosed for one another because the symptoms are so similar, but tinnitus is one symptom that is very Lyme-specific. As soon as I read the word LYME, my memory jarred back to my childhood and that tick bite. Found a Lyme doctor, got all the right tests and sure enough it was Lyme.

I was terrified of the high dose long course antibiotic treatment usually prescribed for Lyme. I didn’t want to damage my stomach, so I insisted on trying to treat the Lyme with an herbal protocol first. For a year I took about 160-200 pills a day and changed my diet (no fruit/carbs/sugars to feed the lyme and no gluten/nightshades/inflammatory foods) and sure enough it all started working. My immune system was beefed back up and able to repress the Lyme bacteria once again.

However, by the time my symptoms finally started to go away, I suddenly began having stomach problems. My stomach ballooned out and I looked 8 months pregnant. I had a lot of tests done and finally decided to try an elimination diet. I discovered that trace amounts of gluten were the culprit. So, I became more vigilant in regards to gluten and sure enough the pain and bloating in my stomach went away.

Then a few weeks later my stomach ballooned back out again. I did another elimination diet and added foods back in one by one and found dairy to be the problem this time. Removed all dairy, felt better for a few weeks, then bam… stomach ballooned out again. Took everything out, added it back in one by one and found soy to be the problem this time. This maddening cycle went on for about a year until I was down to eating only potatoes and sunflower seeds.

At this point, I had been a vegetarian for 14 years and was refusing to try to add meat back into my diet. But – because I was only eating potatoes and sunflower seeds – I was getting very deficient in nutrients and my kidney function began to decline. All my doctors finally cornered me and said that if I wanted to live then I was going to HAVE to eat meat again.

I started with chicken. My kidney function improved almost immediately and I started feeling better. I slowly worked my way up to adding beef and turkey back in to my diet as well. I actually started feeling good for the first time in years. But all of my family, friends, and doctors were still putting tremendous pressure on me to find out what was wrong with my stomach, encouraging me to take steps to heal it and heal it in order to get vegetables back into my diet.

So – even though I felt so much better on just meat – I kept testing out foods at their urging. “What about SEAWEED? What about THIS? What about THAT?” Everyone was constantly trying to think of something that might work and pressuring me to try it out. Eventually, I would succumb to their suggestion and I would ALWAYS react terrible to whatever it was this time. This process of testing different foods kept my body, and especially my digestive tract, in a constant state of inflammation. It was a nightmare.

Then I started reacting to some of the foods that – up to this point – had been safe… like chicken. I couldn’t figure out what was going on until I started reading about how common leaky gut is with Lyme disease. I finally realized that I lost the ability to foods when I ate them too many days in a row or in too high of a quantity (anything over 10 oz in one sitting was problematic).

By the point I figured that out, though, I had already lost chicken, beef, turkey, pork, bison, and lamb. So for the last 2 years or so I’ve been eating mostly fish, duck, elk, kangaroo, and venison. If I stick only to those meats, and am careful about the amount I eat, and frequency with which I eat them, then I don’t become sensitive to them and I stay out of pain.

I’ve been working with a nutritionist to heal the leaky gut. Lots of probiotics / sauerkraut juice (can’t handle the fiber in the cabbage itself), colostrum, fish oils, enzymes, trace minerals, MSM, etc etc. We found that I also have a candida infection that could be adding to the leaky gut and food intolerances as well, so I was taking a lot of oregano oil and monolaurin, which are basically natural antibiotics/antifungals to kill off the candida.

I also have a few MTHFR gene mutations, so methyl b12 and methyl folate were added into the regimen at the end of last year. I was healing enough that I was actually able to very carefully rotate in a few small things I had developed intolerances to like lemon and lime. But I can only have a very small amount every few days.

With this small victory my nutritionist put pressure on me to test out berries. This was a huge, huge, huge mistake. Looking back I don’t know what he was thinking suggesting berries.  Yeah, the berries were an epic failure. I reacted horribly and my brain exploded on that sugar. I went completely crazy with sugar cravings.

I hadn’t realized how eating a meat-only diet had completely eliminated all of my cravings. I was desperately trying to add foods back in just because of the pressure from doctors and family around me, and because of the isolation of eating this strange way all alone… not because I desired any of those foods.

The cravings got so out of control that I found wholly myself unable to resist the urge for more sugar and started eating dates. I reacted horribly to them,and just eating a single bite would cause about 4-7 days of unbelievable pain. But I could not – for the life of me – seem to quit eating them. It was horrible. Up until now, the Lyme symptoms had been in complete remission for almost 3 years by adhering to an all-meat diet. But this little fruit escapade caused the Lyme bacteria to resurface with a vengeance, and all my symptoms returned. I was devastated.

However…It was in the middle of this mess that I stumbled across the interview on the Andersen family. I was so blown away to find someone who had been through such similar circumstances, but had managed to get it all under control with an all-meat diet.

When I began reading through the rest of Esmee’s blog where The Andersen Family interview was published – discovering that there were tons of people who ate a diet of meat only – I was so happy and so relieved to have found OTHERS eating this way that I nearly cried. The isolation I had felt for so many years because of my dietary restrictions had caused me much more suffering than the actual lack of plant foods.

With this discovery, a lot has changed for me in the last couple of weeks. I realized that I was busting my butt and breaking the bank to heal my stomach and for what? Because of the Lyme I will NEVER be able to eat fruit or other plant foods. For the first time, I feel free to just fully embrace being a blood-thirsty unapologetic carnivore. 😉

It is so much easier to eat only meat now that I have a little support group so-to-speak and now that I’ve sifted through so many of the supportive articles posted in the Zero Carb Facebook community Zeroing in on Health.

I have shared a lot of these new resources with my parents and best friend, and this has helped to relieve their minds as well. They have stopped putting so much pressure on me to try and add various plant foods back in to my diet. In fact, they have been reading so much material from Esmee’s blog that they’re starting to get a little curious about the benefits that Zero Carb might offer them as well.

So yeah. It has been one heck of a roller coaster. I was pretty distressed about the Lyme symptoms resurfacing, but now that I know I don’t need any plant foods to be perfectly healthy, I expect to be feeling much better very soon. Prior to the fruit binge, I had been eating only meat for quite a while and was feeling so good that I had been able to resume exercising, especially swimming, again. I am looking forward to getting back to that in the near future.

I’m fully on board with Zero Carb now since the berry debacle, and I finally realize that – for me – there’s no moderation with fruit or any other plant foods. Even a minuscule amount will cause me to go completely mad with cravings and pain. My doctor’s recommendations to constantly try various supplements, medications, and foods has only served to keep me in a state of chronic inflammation and pain. So, I’ve decided to do what is best for my body and just abstain from all plant foods from this point forward.

I’m still taking a few supplements like probiotics, enzymes, and herbs for immune support, but I’m done with adding any more new ones for now. I think if I stick with the supplements that I’ve already been taking safely for a few years now – and eat only meat and drink only water – the Lyme bacteria will go back into remission and may – over time – be completely eliminated from my body. Charlene Andersen’s story has given me great hope.

Thank you for listening and letting me share my story. Perhaps it will inspire others with Lyme to try a Zero Carb, All-Meat diet and see if it will assist them on their own path back to well-being.

alison lyons1

Please visit my Testimonials page to read the stories of others following a Zero Carb diet.

If you are interested in meeting others who practice an All-Meat diet, please feel free to join us in the Facebook group Principia Carnivora for support.

 

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My First 30 Days on Zero Carb by Karen Kelbell

Karen Kelbell

Karen Kelbell on her Path to Well-Being

I came to Zero Carb from a low carb background. I’m 57 years old and I’ve been low carbing for the last 30 years, gaining and losing the same weight over and over. I’ve found that the older I get the harder it’s been to lose. I’m 5’2 and was at an all time high weight of 273 pounds when I started keto. It took 6 weeks before I became keto-adapted and the next month was great. I had lots of energy and lost 18 pounds. Then, I hit a brick wall. For the next 18 months my weight would go up and down a couple of pounds, but I was never able to get under 255.

I know that my biggest problem was embracing what I call the “new keto.” My goal every day was to fit in as many substitute “junk” foods (many with Zero Carb sweeteners) as I could without exceeding 20 grams of carbs. Net carbs were the rule for all of my high fiber substitute foods which meant I subtracted the fiber grams from the total carbohydrate grams.

In addition to not being able to lose weight, I began to suffer from chronic fatigue. I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue by a naturopath, due to my low cortisol levels and other symptoms. I can’t really describe the tiredness of chronic fatigue. Every movement was a challenge and some days even speaking was too difficult. I was suffering from depression and had an extremely negative attitude. I really believe I was causing everyone around me to suffer right along with me. It’s hard to deal with an illness that some in the medical field won’t even acknowledge.

Getting dressed and going anywhere took every ounce of my energy and usually left me wiped out for the rest of the day. I would wake up after a sleepless night and wish the day were already over. Some days I despaired of life and wished it would end. There are no words for how terrible I was feeling, both physically and mentally.

It was at this time that a friend suggested I try doing a high protein moderate fat keto diet. Supposedly this was the way to health and weight loss. I ended up gaining 8 pounds in 3 days! I was having trouble maneuvering the stairs in my home and would find myself out of breath once I reached the top. I was feeling scared at how out of shape I was, but didn’t know what to do. I started doing a beginner body building workout, but could barely get past the basics.

I was full of despair and – to add to my already stressed out life – my daughter had announced she would be getting married in 5 months. I was so tired and so overweight and so overwhelmed, I couldn’t even feel joy for her happiness. I didn’t know what to do. The 8 pounds I’d gained, putting me at 265, weren’t budging. I went back to my LCHF keto diet.

A couple of days later an interesting story came across my news feed in a keto group I was in. It was the story of Kelly Williams Hogan and her Zero Carb journey. I was intrigued, but I thought it was too much of an extreme. Meat and water? Who could live on that?! I honestly don’t know if I would have tried Zero Carb if I hadn’t been absolutely desperate. I HAD to lose some weight. So, I decided to give it a try.

I found the Facebook group Zeroing In On Health and started reading everything I could, both there and elsewhere on the internet about this unique diet. At first, I desperately hung on to my coffee replacement drink with heavy cream and a tiny scoop of stevia. It was so small; it couldn’t be that bad! Things went well and I lost 5 pounds in 5 days. So far, so good.

Then something astounding happened. I woke up on Day 6 and my life had changed. I felt rested, peaceful, and happy. Getting up didn’t seem to be a chore. As the day went on, I realized my new found energy was staying with me. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. I was doing Zero Carb to lose weight, never dreaming it would make me well. The next day was the same.

I realized the hip and knee pain that had been waking me up at night (when – by some miracle – I was able to get some sleep) was now gone. My mood continued to improve, even when I didn’t think it could get any better. I’ve seen this described by some people on Zero Carb as “euphoria.” I would say that’s a good description. Then I had a setback.

I took my sleeping pill one night and didn’t go immediately to bed. I was then able to convince myself that eating a couple of mini low carb chocolate bars made perfect sense. After all, I was still using the stevia in my coffee replacement drink without any visible problems, but now I realize this “carb-free” sweetener was perpetuating my desire for sweet things. They say experience is the best teacher. I’d have to agree.

The next morning I woke up and the tiredness was back. I felt nervous and edgy all day and had gained 3 pounds. So, I decided I was going to give Zero Carb my all. I wanted that good feeling back! That day I gave up my stevia for good. I also gave up the coffee replacement drink. I did start having a cup of coffee in the morning with heavy cream. I just felt like I needed it.

After 3 days I was back to feeling great again, although my weight at that point was bouncing around. I read that dairy could stall weight loss, so I decided to give it up. (I probably should have given up the scale, as well.) I wasn’t eating much cheese, maybe an ounce or less every few days, so that wasn’t hard. I tried drinking a cup of coffee black, but found it tasted so bad without cream there was no point in drinking it.

I’ve now fallen into an easy basic Zero Carb routine. Eat meat (and eggs). Drink water. Live (and enjoy!) my life. I love the simplicity of it. No more counting carbs or worrying about whether I’ve eaten the proper ratios. It’s like everything is built into Zero Carb eating. I get hungry, I eat. I eat until I’m full. When I’m full, I stop. At first I felt hungry a lot and worried about eating too much. But I was trusting what I’d read on Zeroing in on Health and ate if I was hungry.

After about a week or so, I found I was only able to eat 2 meals a day. That was so amazing to me. I wanted to try eating only one meal a day, but I knew that I would be playing head games if I tried to manipulate my hunger. So, I just let my body lead me.

At first I thought eating meat would be the most boring thing ever and wasn’t sure I would be able to stick to it. It hasn’t been that way at all. I wait until I am truly hungry and then every piece of fatty meat I eat tastes wonderful. I feel like I’m eating a King’s diet. After only 30 days, it is clear to me that this way of eating is not only the way out of my obesity nightmare, but it is also the path to restoring my health. I am sold on it for life.

To date, I have lost a total of 9 pounds. My clothes are also fitting much better and I’m sure if I had measured inches in the beginning I’d be amazed at the results. Zero Carb is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. I’m thankful every day for the opportunity to live life to its fullest. I am actually looking forward to each day now, and I am even feeling excited about my daughters upcoming wedding!

Please visit my Testimonials page to read the stories of others following a Zero Carb diet.

If you are interested in meeting others who practice an All-Meat diet, please feel free to join us in the Facebook group Principia Carnivora for support.

 

Zero Carb Interview: Rose Nunez Smith

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Rose in 2013 glowing with health.

1. How long have you been eating a Zero Carb (No Plant Foods) diet?

I took two runs at Zero-Carb eating. The first was in 2008, when I was stalled at around 190 pounds after a year on Protein Power (by Drs. Mary Dan Eades and Michael Eades). I came across the huge thread started by the Bear about his “Zero-Carb” diet on the Active Low-Carb-ers’ (ALC) forum. At first I thought he was out of his ever-loving mind, but as I kept reading I couldn’t help but feel drawn to its evolutionary logic, and its simplicity.

I figured a month without broccoli wouldn’t kill me, so I tried it. It was great – so great I did it for two months instead of one, and lost about 15 pounds while feeling wonderful.
But without any support, I really didn’t know how to approach eating this way; I was still doing diet tricks like using artificial sweeteners and skipping meals when I was hungry. After a couple of months I slid back into regular low-carb eating, and was back at 190 pounds in no time.

A year later I was desperate. I had tried every low-carb tweak I could find, from protein shakes to increasing carbs (disastrous!) to going extremely strict paleo, but I was stuck on the scale, and my health wasn’t improving either.

I knew I had to get back to Zero-Carb, so I looked around for a forum similar to ALC or Protein Power, but geared toward Zero-Carb. I found Charles Washington and Zeroing in on Health (ZIOH), and finally learned from the experience of Zero-Carb veterans how to eat meat, drink water, and relax and live life. The weight melted off, and to my great surprise, I lost my Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms almost completely, too.
So the real answer is seriously Zero Carb since September 2009, with only a couple of small wobbles since then.

2. What motivated you to try this way of eating? Weight? Health?

I’ll be honest and cop to the weight, even though my health improved even more than my figure. I’d always somehow known I was destined to be morbidly obese, and as I found out more about my birth family (I’m adopted), it became clear that my intuition was accurate. Four generations of women in my maternal line have been obese, and they’ve all had cancer, too.

The couple of times I’ve deviated from my optimal Zero-Carb diet I’ve gained weight at an alarming rate, and my joint pain skyrocketed, too. I’m not talking about pizza and cupcakes here, but things like Brussel sprouts at the holidays, or a handful of almonds or some dark chocolate – foods eagerly embraced by most low-carb-ers and paleo dieters.

3. How long did it take you to adapt to a Zero Carb diet, both physically and psychologically?

Physically almost no time at all. I never had the so-called low-carb flu, and I enjoy meat enough that I don’t miss other foods, as some people do. But I still have to remind myself occasionally that Zero-Carb is about letting my body heal in its own way, in its own time, and to stop trying to micromanage my health through dietary interventions beyond Zero-Carb (for example, by striving to hit a certain number on a ketone meter, or imposing restrictions beyond my normal Zero-Carb foods).

4. What books or people were most influential in guiding you to this way of eating?

First and foremost “The Bear” Owsley Stanley. His epic thread on ALC – and his largely unappreciated generosity in sharing his discoveries – set everything in motion for me.
And after him, of course, is Charles Washington and his ZIOH forum. That group functioned as a sort of Zero Carb boot camp, keeping me focused and less stupid during my critical first months of eating this way. I’m eternally grateful to Charles and the ZIOH veterans for teaching me how to do this right.

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Rose in 2006, weighing 220 lbs., prior to beginning her low carb journey.

5. Do you eat only meat, or do you include eggs, cheese, and cream in your diet?

I have eaten meat and eggs only for months at a time, and at other times I’ve included dairy products. Dairy products keep an extra few pounds on me, and are also hell on my digestion. Unfortunately, once I start with a little bit of dairy, it takes some time and effort to wean myself back off. Butter is the one exception; it doesn’t seem to wreak havoc on my gut, or put extra body fat on me.

I also feel better if I eat fewer egg whites, so I avoid scrambled eggs and omelets. Instead, I’ll fry eggs and cut off the cooked whites, or, if I’m feeling really ambitious on a Saturday morning, I’ll make an all-yolk scramble.

6. What percentage of your diet is beef verses other types of meats?

I’ve never calculated the percentage, but I probably eat beef three or four times a week for lunch, and about two or three times a week for dinner. The rest of my dinners are roast chicken, pork chops, pork ribs, fish, and a fairly wide variety of game meats, since my husband is a hunter.

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Rose in 2008, weighing 190 lbs., after following Drs. Mary & Michael Eades Protein Power book. She remained stuck at this weight for 2 years.

7. When you eat beef, do you cook it rare, medium, or well done?

I tend to cook it medium rare, although today I ordered a sirloin cooked rare for lunch and it arrived surprisingly bloody for a restaurant steak. It was delicious; the rarer the beef, the more tender it is.

8. Do you add extra fat to your meat? (i.e. butter, lard, tallow)

If it’s too lean for my taste, or overcooked and dry, I might put some butter on it; otherwise, no.

9. Do you limit your meat consumption or do you eat until satisfied?

I eat until satisfied, although I’ve never had the prodigious appetite that some Zero-Carb-ers boast. The last time I recorded my calories (a couple years ago), I was clocking around 1,800/day. I hear of many Zero-Carb-ers who eat closer to 3,000.

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Rose in 2009, weighing 180 lbs., after 2 weeks on Zero Carb.

10. Do you eat liver or other organ meats? If so, how often?

I’ll eat chicken livers now and then, usually in an egg yolk scramble. I’ve tried kidneys and hated them.

11. Do you consume bone broth? If so, how often?

I like a bone broth in the winter, but I only make two or three crockpots of it a year. I like it, but I’m not in love with it.

12. How many meals do you eat per day on average?

I usually eat twice: lunch and dinner. On weekends I’ll generally eat a big breakfast – it’s family time – and skip lunch because I’m not hungry. But if I’m hungry, I eat; I don’t worry about a schedule. Once in a while that turns out to be three meals a day.

13. How much meat do you eat per day on average?

Probably a half pound at lunch, and another half to three-quarters of a pound at dinner.

14. Do you eat grass-fed/pasture-raised meat, or regular commercially produced meat?

I don’t go out of my way to buy 100% grass-fed meat; it’s expensive, and I’m skeptical of the grandiose health claims made for it. But I do eat the wild venison and elk that my husband brings home from his hunts. This meat certainly is closer to the omega 3:6 profile that everyone thinks is so great about fully grass-fed or pasture-raised meat. I do like pastured eggs, though, and will spend money on those. The richer flavor is worth it to me.

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Rose in 2009, weighing 150 lbs. after 3 months on Zero Carb.

15. Do you drink any beverages besides water? (i.e. coffee, tea, alcohol)

Black coffee every day. Occasionally some hard clear spirits (vodka, tequila) or red wine, mixed with mineral water if I can get it.

16. Do you use salt?

Yes, to season my meat.

17. Do you use spices?

When I cook for myself, I just use salt and black pepper. When I’m cooking for me and my husband, which is more usual, I use Montreal Steak Seasoning.

18. Do you take any supplements?

I take 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 every day. I started that in 2011, when I found out about my birth family’s history of cancer. I was looking for protocols in addition to Zero-Carb that would be protective against cancer, and the research overwhelmingly suggested that living closer to equator – that is, getting more sunshine – was the most protective thing you could do. In lieu of moving away from Oregon, I started taking D3 supplements.

To my great surprise, within days, I noticed that I had no trouble breathing. Asthma was the last health issue troubling me, and no amount of dietary tweaking seemed to make any difference; I was still using my inhaler multiple times a day.

I’m positive about the correlation, too. When I was in Mexico for ten days many years ago, I didn’t need my inhaler once. At the time I was puzzled, and thought maybe it was the sea air, or the nightly tequila (not really!), but now I realize it was the huge daily dose of sunshine I was getting from lying on the beach.

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Rose in 2010, weighing 150 lbs. after 1 year on Zero Carb.

19. How much money do you spend on food each month?

Hard to say. Our meat diet is quite varied, from burgers to ribeyes to game that my husband’s put in the freezer. And we eat out a few times a month; there’s a great barbecue place that’ll serve me pork ribs without sauce. We also go out for sushi (well, I go out for sashimi). So it’s hard to put a dollar amount on it. We could definitely eat just as well on less money, by being just a little more diligent about buying meat.

20. Do you have any tips for making this diet more affordable?

Ground beef is a great meat; nothing wrong with that. If you love ribeyes, get a huge ribeye roast for about $6/pound (instead of individual steaks at over $11/pound), and carve your meals off of it for a week or so.

And I often eat lunch at Jack in the Box: I just order three plain hamburger patties in a bowl. The first time you order it you they might think it’s for your dog, so make sure you ask for a fork.

I’m never afraid to shop the bargain meat bin; meat that’s close to “expired” is just fine, and being ZC has made me much less picky about what I feel like eating. I usually feel like eating meat!

21. Do you exercise regularly? If so, how often and how vigorously?

Since going Zero-Carb, I don’t work out at all. I keep intending to get back to the gym, but I just don’t have time. And honestly, although I’ve worked out for most of my adult life – yes, even when I was fat – I never really enjoyed the gym. I’d much rather go hiking instead.
The closest thing I get to exercise is walking my dogs. In the summer, the walks can be several miles, but in the winter, they’re short and fast.

22. What benefits have you experienced since beginning a Zero Carb diet? (i.e. recovery from illness, overall health, body composition, exercise performance, hormonal, mental or psychological, etc.)

Huge benefits. The most obvious is the weight loss. The first 30 pounds I lost on low-carb, the next 40 were on Zero Carb, for a total of 70 pounds of body fat gone forever. But the less obvious benefits are maybe more important.

First, I have to say that just regular grain-free low-carb resolved my depression, and I was able to wean myself off the combination of anti-depressant and anti-seizure medications I’d been prescribed and had been taking for many years (Celexa and Depakote, for the curious). So I’m very thankful for that.

The real miracle that Zero-Carb worked, however, was on my joints. I’m pretty autoimmune (allergies, asthma, joint pain, chronically high CRP, elevated ANA, positive for rheumatoid factor, and finally, according to 23andMe, genetically predisposed to several Auto-Immune diseases). I was seeing a rheumatologist for the worsening pain in my shoulders and hips – I could barely sleep at night – and it was excruciating to get up from a sitting position and to get out of bed.

The doctor was about to start the serious testing that would help him diagnose me with a specific Auto-Immune disease (probably Rheumatoid Arthritis, but as my pain was atypically located, there were other possibilities), and that would therefore let him prescribe heavy steroid medications that would slow the disease’s progress, but also put an incredible burden on my liver.

Within days of going Zero-Carb, I felt a huge reduction in my pain, along with a huge increase in mobility. I’d been worried that I was heading for life in a wheelchair, but now I know that  – as long as I stay Zero-Carb – I’ll never need to worry about joint pain again (the few wobbles I’ve had on this diet sent my joint pain through the roof, so I know it’s the all-meat diet keeping everything happy).

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Buster, Rose’s 8 year old Zero Carb Dog.

23. Have you conceived, given birth, or breastfed while on a Zero Carb diet? If so, what was your experience?

I was 45 when I started ZC, so a bit late for that.

24. Have you raised children on a Zero Carb diet? If so, what has been their experience? How difficult is it to keep carbs out of their diet in today’s world?

I don’t have children, but I do have dogs. I feed them a raw meat diet, and the 8-year-old is one of the healthiest dogs I’ve ever seen. The 4-year-old is a recent addition to the family, and he’s adjusting to his new way of eating just fine.

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Spike, Rose’s 4 year old Zero Carb Dog.

25. What do you enjoy most about eating a Zero Carb diet?

I love that I hardly ever think about food anymore. It amazes me when I remember how much time I spent obsessing over my next meal – what I “felt like” eating, what to cook, how to fit in the shopping. And no more hunger and guilt! Before Zero-Carb, I always tried to under eat, and then – when I did eat a decent-sized meal – I wasted a lot of time feeling guilty afterwards.

All of that nonsense is done. I eat when I’m hungry and get on with my life.

26. Do you have any advice for someone who is just beginning a Zero Carb diet?

It’s easy to over-think Zero-Carb. We’re all trained to micromanage our diets, and it’s hard to believe you don’t have to do that anymore. New people always want to weigh, measure, count, calculate the fat-to-protein ratio, all of that.

But it really is dead simple: Eat meat when you’re hungry, and stop when you’re satisfied. Go do something else until you’re hungry again, then rinse and repeat.

27. Is there anything you would like share about this way of eating that I have not already asked you?

Just that the hardest part of maintaining this way of eating, if it can be said to be hard at all, is dealing with the social aspects of being a pure carnivore. Family and friends will be concerned–this diet flies directly in the face of conventional wisdom–and some people will be offended that you’re not eating some recipe they’re proud of, or that you’re not eating a celebratory dessert with them. To avoid becoming a hermit, I’ve worked on some warm and accepting ways of dealing with such responses. The most important point for me is to not get offended myself, and to not be defensive. I remind myself that they think exactly the way I did ten years ago, and I’m no smarter or better now than I was then–I’m just experienced. And then I find a way to share their special moment (if it’s birthday cake, say) by having a cup of coffee, or I praise the way their recipe came out, and tell them I’m sorry that I can only admire it from a distance.

And I’m still learning to not get preachy when someone I care about complains about their health, and I’m convinced I know the answer to their problems. Someday it’ll sink in that they’ll have to find the right path themselves, just as I did. All I can do is try to be an example, like the ZCers who inspired me.

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Rose, maintaining a weight of 150 lbs., after years of living the Zero Carb Lifestyle.

Rose recently (04/10/15) posted this recap of her health history in Zeroing in on Health and I thought it was worth posting ere in her interview for reference as well…

Here’s the complete sad medical history for y’all:
1. Seizures in infancy and througout childhood (“idiopathic”), taking phenobarbital until 15yo.
2. Had asthma throughout childhood (no inhalers back in the day)
3. Got fat at puberty.
4. Got depressed at puberty.
5. Multiple suicide attempts throughout adolescence.
6. Drug use (speed) and cigarette smoking throughout adolescence (13yo – 18yo)
7. Prescribed steroid inhalers at age 27 for chronic asthma
8. Prescribed anti-depressants at age 30 (I hate them, but they saved my life)
9. Clinically obese at age 33 (up from chubby)
10. Seeing rheumatologist at age 35 for joint pain (no diagnosis)
11. Prescribed Depakote at age 39
12. Start low-carb eating at 43, lose 30 pounds, ditch anti-depressant (yay!)
13. Seeing rheumatologist again at age 45 for now-crippling joint pain

And then:

1. Start zero carb eating at age 45.
2. Instant remission of joint pain (within days, people–days!)
3. Lose another 40 pounds within four months
4. Stop all inhaler usage except in multi-cat rooms (vit D helps with that, too)
5. Live life fully, enjoying every moment (that’s the big one–never did that before)

So, to recap, after two years of low carb, and six years of zero carb, I’m in the best shape of my life — my entire life! No depression, no joint pain, no breathing problems, no obesity.

Please visit my Interviews page to read the stories of other long time Zero Carb veterans.

If you are interested in meeting others who practice an All-Meat diet, please feel free to join Charles Washington in his Facebook group Zeroing in on Health or Michael Frieze in his Facebook group Principia Carnivora for guidance and support. These two groups use different approaches, so if you find that one does not suit you, please check out the other one.