Zero Carb Interview: Reanna Percifield at 5 Years Carnivore

After a few years of eating animal based I would like to offer a longer and more updated account of my experience. So much has changed since my 1 year interview and I hope this is useful for people that are new and experienced alike. I started carnivore in July of 2015 –  so at the time of writing this I am past the 5 year mark. If you would like to reach out for further questions you are welcome to message me on Instagram @rennpercival or email 

Initially, I started eating this way for overall health and fitness. I was unaware of some of my health problems at the time, and I believed others were not curable. I had textbook depression, which in my case was largely linked to my sleeping disorder DSPS (Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome) which I had been fighting since puberty. I learned later that I also had systemic candida overgrowth which explained my liver stress and skin problems – mainly consisting of chronic rashes and acne. Seasonal allergies in the spring were also an unpleasant experience.

For about 2 years before carnivore, I was primal-inspired low carb and then keto. I felt better on low carb/keto than I did eating any other way, but it did not help the above health issues at all – it just made them a bit more tolerable, except the candida. I think keto made my candida worse because I was eating more green plants and nuts, which inflamed my gut even more than it already was. To my amazement, switching to only animal products resolved all of the above mentioned health issues (except for DSPS which I will cover later).
Even during my first week of carnivore, the difference in my energy was like night and day – I already felt better than I did on low carb, but I still had a lot of work and adaptation to do. I think I felt such extreme relief because many of my issues stemmed from my candida populated leaky gut. This is the only way of eating that finally put me in touch with my gut so I could learn what was helping and what was hindering it from healing. After a couple months of getting used to carnivore I finally cracked down on the candida and figured out why it kept holding on. In order to finally kill it off, I had to drop ALL trace carbs for a time. No eggs, no dairy, only meat and water. The ebb and flow of die off symptoms were not fun, but after 2-3weeks it was gone. I still stuck with only meat and water for another month or 2, just to make sure my gut was fully healed. At that point I reintroduced eggs and raw dairy, with great results and a welcome way to add fat to leaner meals. However, pasteurized dairy was a no go: it gave me a mild headache and general “off” feeling followed up later by a rash and lots of GI distress. It turns out that I react negatively to the denatured proteins in pasteurized dairy (lactose intolerance was ruled out because I have the same reaction to lactose free pasteurized dairy, such as butter and hard cheese).
I feel that I was completely adapted after the 2-3 month mark. With the knowledge I have now I think I could have adapted much faster, but Candida really threw a wrench in things. Likewise, if you are coming into this with gut issues, keep in mind that adaptation could take longer for you. Gut health is so important, and many things in our modern world can damage it – healing takes TIME. Some say to give yourself one month for every year that you were in poor health. There certainly might be some truth to that.
Moving on, for ease of reading, I’m going to break things up into common topics that I am often asked about.
I have never been one to track my food intake too closely, but I am happy to track upon request as a reference for others. Upon starting carnivore I let my body decide how much fat and protein I should eat. The results continue to intrigue me as they seem to be quite different compared to some other long-timers. To me, it is also proof that you really should listen to your body (assuming you are in tune with it) instead of someone else’s advice when it comes to macro ratios. If I followed some of the carnivore advice circulating these days, I would probably feel sick. So please, don’t think that you’re failing just because the recommended fat:protein ratio doesn’t work for you. It’s so important to learn what works for your metabolism and lifestyle. Give yourself time to patiently perform some isolated experiments, so you can eliminate variables and learn what works!
My macros have changed a lot in these 5 years. For the first year, I was always wanting a lot of fat – generally much more than now, unless if I’m dealing with cold weather. Then suddenly, constant high fat stopped working – I simply no longer wanted that much fat and craved more protein. This evolved into a seasonal cycle that continues today. In the warmer months of the year I need more protein, and I physically can’t eat as much fat – if I try, my GI tract lets me know about it and I don’t feel good. But when the colder months roll around, I absolutely need higher fat again and digesting it is a breeze. The colder it gets, the more fat I need.
I also eat more now than I did during my first year. I’ll easily eat 3+ lbs a day if I’m hungry enough, and my bare minimum tends to be 2 lbs. In contrast, when I started I think my average was more like 1.5. I’m sure body composition and activity level has something to do with this, as I am more muscular now than when I started. I think regaining my health also contributed to an increase in metabolic rate.
I’ve been one meal a day (OMAD) ever since I started carnivore. There are many reasons for this, but in short it works best with my lifestyle. OMAD and fasting in general isn’t for everyone, but to those of you interested, consider experimenting with your meal timing. This is ultimately what brought my sleeping disorder under control when nothing else worked. Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome is a chronic and unforgiving disorder that affects some people for their whole life – I thought I was in the same boat, and I was done fighting it by that point. My diet didn’t fix it, avoiding blue light didn’t fix it, I really tried everything under the sun but it only got worse. It was getting so bad that it might have even been progressing to N24 Disorder. 
Strangely enough, when I decided to change my one meal time from mid day (1-2pm) to evening, (5-6pm) I started sleeping like a normal person. To this day, I don’t know exactly why this works. For the years I lived with DSPS, the amount of meals I ate per day made no difference, nor did my diet. I suffered the same when I was eating three meals a day as I did when eating one. I didn’t think timing mattered since I used to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and it didn’t matter back then. But something about the hormone response of only eating in the evening fixed things for me. Your mileage may vary of course, and I know others who only eat in the morning because that works best for them. But please keep this in mind if you have a circadian rhythm disorder! I may experiment further at some point, but I’m hesitant to mess with something that was broken for so long. 
So, what do I eat? This has evolved with time as well. The first 3-4 years I was quite strict (animal products only aside from herbs/spices/teas), and in the early months I was even stricter for a time, in order to to kill candida (meats and salt only). Slowly I have started learning what other foods are safe or even beneficial for me. After the 3 year mark is when I decided to try raw milk. As you know from my candida story above, I was able to eat dairy immediately after healing my gut, as long as it was raw. But I was only eating raw cheese, and I was curious if higher carb dairy would cause me any issues. So year 3 is when I decided to try raw milk and cream with good results. Year 4 I decided to take it a step further and try some raw honey, because my metabolism is healthy and I don’t have issues with sugar addiction. I thought it may be a useful energy supplement on occasion. It has proven to be a welcome addition to my palate with no adverse effects – at times I will even go weeks without eating it, because I don’t want sugar often.
On my 5th year, I decided to try coconut oil, just to have another fat option, and because it does have an impressive fatty acid profile compared to other plants. I was very unsure about this one, because I do have a reaction to other plant oils, even in small amounts. But it turned out to be a safe addition! Next year I may consider trying wild seasonal berries, but I’m in no hurry. 

I’ve been happy with my food all throughout this journey because it genuinely changed my life for the better. If there’s no good reason for me to eat something, I don’t eat it. I’ve healed too much to consider going back. It may seem extreme to some – but with so much autoimmune history in my family, taking this approach is worth the reward.
So to sum it up, after 5 years of learning, this is what I currently eat (in order by frequency):
1. Animal products (including eggs and raw dairy)
2. Trace plant matter – herbs/spices/teas/occasional mushrooms (in the form of seasonings, herbal drinks, recreational purposes)
3. Raw honey and bee pollen
4. Coconut oil
Basically, I eat between 98%-100% animal products at any given time. There are days that I don’t want any plant matter, and honey and coconut oil are occasional add ons. Red meat is the staple but I do eat other meats as well as wild seafood. Organs are not a common part of my diet because I either don’t have access, or don’t feel the need. I feel my best on wild or pastured meats, but I do fine on conventional when necessary. However, I have learned that when I eat conventional meat long term, I have to be careful or I will start to experience inflammation – this can happen especially fast if I am eating a lot of conventional pork or chicken. To counter this I supplement Omega 3 – but if I don’t stay up on it, inflammation can still creep up. Some people have a gene that promotes an upregulated response to Omega 6 intake, and I think that is my issue. Aside from that, it could be that I’m reacting to the animal’s diet, which can be a problem for some hypersensitive individuals. Whatever the case, the difference in how I feel eating primarily wild or pastured vs conventional meat is obvious. 
I eat both cooked and raw, depending on the type of meat and my mood. I also salt to taste.
As mentioned above, I do need to take some Omega 3, but only if I’m eating a lot of conventional meat. In order to prevent this I plan to source the bulk of my food naturally when possible.
I sometimes supplement collagen and gelatin, simply because I enjoy it.
Upon learning more about the importance of iodine (especially given that it is depleted in our modern environment) I have been experimenting with it.
All of my major health issues, both mental and physical, were resolved in the first year. In addition to that, my energy, mental clarity, digestion, skin, and strength is better than ever before. I rarely get sick. It is easy to gain muscle and stay lean. Seasonal allergies are now extremely mild, when previously they were miserable. My dental health is perfect, I only brush for aesthetic reasons now.
Eating animal based truly turned my life around, helped me grow, and realize who I was without the baggage of DSPS, depression, and a damaged GI tract. It freed me to become a better, whole and authentic person. 
In my opinion the most unbiased sources on this topic are physiology, anthropology, and history. Study these three things in detail and you will understand why and how humans developed our large energy-demanding brain, the factors driving our modern health crisis, and what our species appropriate diet really is. 
There is so much rampant misinformation these days, thanks to monetary influence by the same corporations that make us sick. But your body, your ancestors, and the environment won’t lie to you. Learn your roots and trust nature again.
If you are a visual learner and you have some time on your hands, I recommend this video lecture by Barry Groves PhD, which goes very in depth on physiology:
And here’s a favorite little introduction into why naturally raised meat is good (and necessary) for the environment:
When it comes to ethics and sustainability, this article offers great insight from an environmentalist and former vegan:
Lastly, a list of people who have been extremely helpful or inspiring throughout my journey (in no particular order):
Esmee La Fleur
Michael Frieze
Amber O’Hearn
Malaena Medford
Andrew Scarborough
Vilhjalmur Stefansson
Joe and Charlene Andersen
Owsley Stanley



Zero Carb Interview: Reanna Percifield


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

Since mid-July of 2015.

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

To improve health and fitness. Originally I started out eating low carb high fat, and after almost 2 years of experimenting with that I stumbled upon the idea of zero carb while reading in a health forum. After doing some more research I decided to give it a try, and after the first day my energy levels were better than how I felt most of the time on low carb. Sure, low carb was great, but zero carb made me feel exponentially better from day one, despite some mild adaptation symptoms. I suspect various plant foods were giving me issues that I was previously unaware of.

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

Physically, it took me about 3 months. Thankfully, since I was previously low carb and intermittently fasting, my body already had experience being in a ketogenic state. This made adaptation fairly easy for me. For the first couple of weeks I had some manageable energy fluctuations, and the first 3 months or so I had some digestive issues. However I believe these issues were mainly caused by Candida overgrowth, resulting in leaky gut syndrome (which I had for years, but didn’t realize it at the time – I assumed it was allergies until it finally died off thanks to this diet).

Psychologically, it took me a very short time to adapt… maybe a week or two. I felt so great overall that I was completely happy with eating only animal products. Occasionally I did have mild cravings for treats I ate while on low carb such as dark chocolate. But upon trying them again out of curiosity, I did not like how they made me feel and they did not taste as good as I remembered.

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

This website and the Facebook group Principia Carnivora of course!
Alan Savory TEDtalk: How to fight desertification and reverse climate change
Barry Groves: Homo Carnivorous What We are Designed to Eat video lecture
The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith
Eat Meat and Stop Jogging by Mike Sheridan

Anyone who is long term zero carb really! I recall the first people I learned about when I came across this way of eating were Owsley Stanley and Derek Nance.

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

For the most part, I only eat meat and eggs. On occasion I might have butter/ghee or cheese, although I am no longer a big fan of dairy. However when I first started zero carb, I did include butter and cheese quite regularly.

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

About 90%. It is certainly my main meat, although I also have pork, lamb, chicken, and fish. This may drastically change in the future, as I plan to eventually obtain all of my food from wild game.

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

I prefer it very rare, and have had it raw a few times out of curiosity.

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

When I first started zero carb I did all the time, but now I rarely do because I don’t crave fat as much. Only if I think the meat is too lean will I cook it in extra fat such as lard or ghee. I mainly do this with fish because I tend to get fatty cuts of meat such as ribeye, chuck, and new york steaks.

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

I eat until satisfied.

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

I almost never eat organ meats, but only because they are not very accessible in my area. Otherwise I would certainly include some, although I am not a big fan of liver.

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

I no longer consume bone broth, although I did a few times in the beginning.

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

I always have one meal per day.

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

I eat about 2 pounds a day on average, but my appetite can vary so it is not uncommon for me to eat between 1.5-2.5 pounds.


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

I eat both, but the majority is commercially produced for now.

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

Only water. I used to have tea but no longer desire it. Occasionally I will have plain sparkling mineral water.

16. Do you use salt?

Yes, I use as much salt as my palate happens to want at the time.

17. Do you use spices?

Yes, primarily pepper and granulated garlic.

18. Do you take any supplements?

I often take fish oil for Omega 3’s because I don’t get to eat much seafood (often pricey in my area) and Vitamin D3 when I don’t have adequate access to the sun.

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

$250-$300 per month.

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

Keep an eye out for meats on sale/markdown. Get to know a butcher – sometimes you can get less popular cuts or perfectly good meat trimmings for a low price. If needed, most people could probably do just fine on only ground beef and eggs – that would likely make your food bill almost half of what mine is. I just enjoy having steak when I can!

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

Yes, almost every day I do moderate to intense resistance exercises that works most or all of my body to a degree (such as pushups, dips, hanging leg raises, squats, lunges, etc.). I commonly add weight or intensity if it feels too easy because this way of eating gives me a lot of energy. I also walk and hike on a regular basis.

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.)

So far I have not been sick once since I started this diet. My energy levels are fantastic and my overall health is great, close to its optimal state I think. I also healed a pretty tough case of Candida overgrowth. I had it for years thanks to the standard American diet + antibiotics, but didn’t realize it because all of my symptoms were insidious and allergy-like (mainly chronic skin-flare ups and digestive problems). When it started to die off from this diet it became much more obvious what the problem was. Upon completely eliminating dairy (even butter) and restricting eggs for a couple of months, my gut lining was finally able to heal. Although I was never really overweight, there has been quite a big change in my body composition: I started out at about 25% body fat, now I’m around 18% and it still seems to be slowly but surely creeping down. My exercise performance is better than ever and strength is always improving. I don’t require as much sleep as I used to: I usually don’t need more than 6 hours now, when previously I would need 7-9. Zero carb has also greatly improved my mental clarity and overall stability. Gone are the days of my mood and behavior being negatively influenced by what I eat!

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

Definitely the simplicity. And despite the simplicity, I’m not even remotely bored of what I eat! It’s great to truly enjoy something so simple and know you’re doing your body good. I no longer desire non-animal food at all. Saves me plenty of time too.

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

Don’t overcomplicate things. Don’t count calories, the notion of calories-in-calories-out is a proven myth – you’re just stressing yourself out without reason. Don’t track macros unless you have a good reason to (such as if your energy levels are still off after awhile or if you have certain health problems). This isn’t a fancy fad diet, it’s a simple way of life based on human history. Treat it as such!

25. Are your friends and family supportive of your Zero Carb lifestyle? If not, how do you handle this?

Most of my friends and family actually are not aware. It’s not something I really talk about unless I’m asked about it or I think I might be able to help someone. However, those that are aware tend to be either supportive or apathetic. When it comes to those who are negative, I either try to inform them if they’re genuinely curious, or I pay no mind to them if they clearly have no interest in my view.

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

I just want to emphasize how easy and simple this way of eating really is once you get used to it. No overthinking needed here. I believe too many people are scared away from this diet because it seems so difficult and off-the-wall. But it is very doable and backed by loads of legitimate information. You must have some determination in the beginning, but with time it only becomes easier. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and I’m never going back. Zero carb helped me decide where I want my life to go and what really matters to me.


Please visit my “Interviews” and “Testimonials” pages linked at the top of this website to read the stories of other short and long term Zero Carb veterans.

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.


My First 45 Days on Zero Carb by Lynn Marie Miller

lynn marie1

From the time I was a little girl, I can remember looking around and seeing so much physical pain and suffering around me.  I was so young and healthy and carefree, and I just couldn’t imagine having to live a life like this when I got older.  As a young child, it frightened me.  My Grandmother told me, “This is what happens when you get older and things just start breaking down.“  Then, I was 12 years old when my Grandmother suffered a stroke and passed away at the age of 57.  I also never forgot her nightly eating habits of frozen TV dinners and canned fruit.  I made the connection then, that food must play a very important part of how we feel and thrive, or not! I was only 12 when I made up my mind that I was not going to end up like my Grandma!

Fast forward to 40 years later and taking a very serious inventory of my own health, I could now understand what my Grandmother was talking about.  Although I was a total “health nut” and I was eating all of my “wonderful” whole grains, fruits and vegetables and taking my supplements, I didn’t feel as well as I knew that I could.  I was also overweight. This is when my journey began.  I lived and I breathed my research on anti-aging and longevity.  I was ready for a new lifestyle and I was determined that I would not end up in declining, poor health, like so many other of my family and friends were experiencing!  I would be the change that I wanted to see in a world of sickness and disease.

I joined a gym and I hired a Personal Trainer and I also began consuming more healthy fats, plenty of protein and fewer grains.  I also became a student of Aikido and fell in love with this very graceful, martial art.  After four months, it was while being thrown and doing a roll, that I tore my meniscus.  A short time later, I was training for a 5K race and my meniscus gave out and I fell and suffered two severe sprains to my right foot and ankle. Determined not to give up, I went to the gym with my foot wrapped and in a boot and with my crutches.  I trained as best as I could, 5-6 days a week and I never looked back.  I also began to learn about the many detrimental health effects of consuming grains in the diet and I stopped consuming them.  I became strictly, Low Carb High Fat and consumed only the healthy fats, protein and vegetables.  I would have some wild blueberries on occasion.  I lived this lifestyle for at least six months and my weight loss stalled, and by this time, I was now training and prepping for my first Figure Competition.

Then one day, while I was online doing my usual research on health and fitness, I ran across the amazing interview with Kelly Williams Hogan. The transformation she experienced as a result of the Zero Carb diet captured my attention.  I was blown away that she was living a lifestyle of consuming just meat and drinking only water. Huh? I had never heard of such a thing, at least not in today’s society.  However, I was aware of this in the past with the Eskimos, Inuit peoples, etc. Intrigued, I began doing more research.  I also joined the Zeroing in on Health Facebook group for support and that’s when things really took off for me. I quickly decided to the recommended 30-day trial of eliminating all plant foods from my diet and consuming only those foods from the animal kingdom.

Not even one week into my challenge, I began to lose inches. However, I also began to notice that I was experiencing many overall positive health changes as well.  I was sleeping better, any anxiety that I had was gone, my cognitive function was improving, my vision was improving, and my energy was through the roof! I had zero carbohydrate cravings. All I desired was my animal kingdom foods. WOW!  I was sold and there was no turning back now.  I was totally in the Zen!

By the time my 30-day trial was up, there were so many positive changes from eating this way that I only wished that I would have discovered this lifestyle years ago.  I would love to have raised my three daughters on a Zero Carb diet!

lynn marie2

This is day number 47 of my new meaty lifestyle. For me, the transition was easy. I had no problem, whatsoever, going from Low Carb High Fat to Zero Carb.  In the beginning, I was consuming beef, chicken, pork, organ meats, salmon, sardines, eggs, raw milk and raw milk cheese, bone broth, one cup of coffee per day and some heavy whipping cream included in that. I have been experimenting and I have figured out what works best for me.  I have let go of the pork, raw milk and cheese and eggs.  I will continue to consume beef, chicken, organ meats, bone broth and one cup of coffee per day, with a dab of heavy whipping cream.  I also just recently ordered some crickets and larvets (yes, insects! Thanks to Andrew Scarborough for this inspiration). I plan to try these on top of a nice juicy steak.  We’ll see how that goes.

I have also been facing some health challenges over the past year or so for which I have been under a doctor’s care.  I was diagnosed with anemia, vitamin C deficiency, parasites, candida, black mold, liver stress, mild colon and adrenal stress, and red blood cells stacking.  One of my concerns with going Zero Carb was the fact that I was vitamin C deficient.  However, after doing my research, I learned that I had no reason to be concerned, as I would get plenty from the meat I was consuming. None of the long term Zero Carb Veterans that Esmee has interviewed have needed to take supplemental vitamin C. She explores some of the reason why it is not needed on an all-meat diet in her article titled Vitamin C.

On day 45, I had a live blood cell analysis done and I am pleased to say that I am no longer anemic, no longer vitamin C deficient, there are no more parasites visible, my liver, adrenal, or, colon are no longer stressed, and my red blood cells are no longer stacking.  However, I still face the challenges with the candida and the black mold.  My Naturopath and I have worked on a protocol for those two things and we do know that with my new Zero Carb lifestyle, the candida should naturally be eliminated over time.  My Naturopath fully supports my new lifestyle as well and would like to learn even more about it, especially after seeing my blood test results.

Also, the list of overall positive changes is pretty extensive.  So, let me share them with you…

  • Weight loss of 8 pounds
  • I have lost several inches
  • Anxiety is totally gone
  • Vision has improved
  • Sleep quality has improved
  • No more abdominal bloating
  • Cognitive function has improved
  • Energy has improved
  • Weight training performance has improved
  • Recover after workouts has improved
  • I no longer get sore after weight training.
  • Chronic pain from old injuries has vanished. (This is HUGE for me!)
  • My hair is getting thicker
  • My nails are now unbreakable
  • My skin is softer
  • There are fewer lines on my face
  • I feel much calmer and relaxed overall
  • I have a happier state of mind

I love no longer having to spend my time planning meals and running to various shops for different food items.  I prepare my bone broth only once for the week, and I shop for my meat only once for the week.  This frees up my time to live my life and enjoy the things that mean so much to me.  I now have more time to enjoy my children and grandchildren, to spend time in nature, to climb trees, and to enjoy working out at the gym.  In just a few short months, I will be celebrating my 55th Birthday.  But I know that one’s “age” is just a number!  With the Zero Carb diet, I am no longer worried about falling apart as I grow “older.”  Instead, I am confident that I will age gracefully.  I’m living life and I’m living young!

Thanks for letting me share my story with you.

Lynn Marie posted this update after 60 days on Zero Carb:

I just wanted to share that, I had a Training session and evaluation with my PT and competition coach today and instead of Figure competition, she has suggested that perhaps I compete in Physique now. Almost two months of eating ZC and training with heavy weights has really increased my gains/lean mass. So much for what the critics have to say about not being able to make gains on no carbs… LOL… And also, the recovery from lifting on this lifestyle, simply cannot be beat! There is no pain anymore. Speaking from experience here.

lynn marie5

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.


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

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