1. How long have you been eating a Zero Carb (No Plant Foods) diet?
I began Zero Carb May 15th, 2015 after reading articles on your website.
2. What motivated you to try this way of eating? Weight? Health?
I’ve had health issues most of my life, primarily GI, and later weight, hormonal, mood and sleep issues among others. I’ve always been searching for something to help me feel better, but this is the first thing that has actually made a significant difference. I ate the macrobiotic diet from 1992-1996, and I think that’s what really compromised my gut function and set me on a path of problems for many years. I’ve tried so many other “diets,” too, such as Weston A. Price, the Zone, Blood Type, and even raw food vegan… I just kept searching and trying different things and refused to give up and eat the SAD (Standard American Diet).
3. How long did it take you to adapt to a Zero Carb diet, both physically and psychologically?
It took me quite a long time–at least a year. It was very rough for me as far as digestion goes. I think because of the dysbiosis/irritable bowel/SIBO issues I’ve had for such a long time, my gut was in transition for months. I had tended towards constipation with the SIBO, and during the transition, I tended the towards the opposite, so that was pretty stressful with work, etc. At this point, my gut is very calm and I don’t worry about bathroom issues any more at all. Psychologically, I am usually fine now, but I do still struggle occasionally at times such as during holidays and I miss going out to eat sometimes, but it is definitely losing its appeal over time.
4. What books or people were most influential in guiding you to this way of eating?
My biggest resource has been your website Esmee website was my number one inspiration, and the Principia Carnivora Facebook group you help to moderate. When I have time, I’d like to read the books recommended on your Resources page here on your website and in the group.
5. Do you eat only meat, or do you include eggs, cheese, and cream in your diet?
I began with meat plus eggs and cheese and sometimes cream. I realized over time, though, that I do not tolerate dairy well (I think I was in denial here, as I suspected this for a while, but dairy is very alluring), so I recently completed 30 days water and beef only, and I really felt even better on this regimen. It’s hard because I like pork and dairy, but I find they are too trigger craving and don’t digest as well as beef.
6. What percentage of your diet is beef versus other types of meats?
I mostly eat just ground beef and steaks now, so I’d say 90% beef and 10% occasional sausage and bacon and eggs. The exception would be butter for dairy as it doesn’t seem to bother me.
7. When you eat beef, do you cook it rare, medium, or well done?
I like my beef medium rare. Sometimes I’ll eat raw hamburger if I’m traveling and can’t cook or don’t have time to cook. I don’t mind it at all, but I tend to like the taste of cooked more. Raw steak isn’t as appealing as raw ground beef.
8. Do you add extra fat to your meat? (i.e. butter, lard, tallow)
Since I buy fattier ground beef (80/20), I don’t usually add butter. I do add butter to steak. I also like to eat extra lightly cooked beef fat along with steak.
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 eat liver about once a month. I prefer chicken liver but I’ll eat beef, too. I recently felt weak and had a strong craving for liver, so I ate a pound of chicken liver and immediately felt much better! I really try to follow my body’s messages.
11. Do you consume bone broth? If so, how often?
I love bone broth and had made it for over 15 years, but I’ve noticed since becoming ZC that I do not tolerate it well, and I think it’s because of the histamine content, even when cooked in the Instant Pot for under an hour. I keep trying every so often to see if I tolerate it better because I do think it could be helpful for healing my gut.
12. How many meals do you eat per day on average?
I eat about two meals per day. I am moving towards one per day which I would prefer to give my gut a break and just have less hassle of cooking, but I can’t eat enough in one meal yet to go that long.
13. How much meat do you eat per day on average?
I typically eat one medium-large hamburger patty and one steak with butter per day.
14. Do you eat grass-fed/pasture-raised meat, or regular commercially produced meat?
I’d prefer grass-fed, but it’s too expensive for me to eat daily, so I mostly eat “hormone-free” that’s not 100% grass-fed.
15. Do you drink any beverages besides water? (i.e. coffee, tea)
I drink only water. I don’t tolerate coffee at all–it makes me feel ill! I quit drinking tea altogether because it’s high in fluoride. I was never a big tea or milk drinker anyway.
16. Do you use salt?
I do use salt. I have always had too low of blood pressure, so salt helps me with that.
17. Do you use spices?
I like a little bit of pepper and will use a drop or two of hot sauce a couple times per week.
18. Do you take any supplements?
I take different supplements experimentally targeting specific issues. Currently, I’m taking DIM for hormonal issues. I used to take digestive enzymes regularly but now I find I do not need them at all. I plan to try the iodine protocol soon as I sense it will be helpful for me with a number of issues including insomnia, digestion, thyroid function and hormone balance. I don’t eat much seafood at all because it’s very expensive in California to get good quality.
19. How much money do you spend on food each month?
Probably around $250.
20. Do you have any tips for making this diet more affordable?
Unfortunately, I don’t! i don’t feel comfortable shopping at certain bargain stores and buying the cheapest meat possible; sometimes I wish I did, but I doubt that will happen unless I fall upon hard times and am forced to. If I had more money, I’d probably just buy half a cow since I have a used stand up freezer.
21. Do you exercise regularly? If so, how often and how vigorously?
I used to exercise regularly before I got chronic fatigue beginning around 2007. I used to jog and hike and ride a bike, but my energy crashed and I could barely walk up my office stairs without getting winded at the worst point. It was awful and I couldn’t figure out what the heck was wrong with me. I thought I was just depressed. I tried seeing many different health practitioners, experimented with many different diets (GAPS for 1.5 years; SCD; Ray Peat, etc.). I thought I’d always eaten fairly healthy for so many years, how could I become so debilitated? I believe stress was what contributed to this decline in my health, as I had a lot of challenging experiences over a several year period. The crash led to a 40lb. weight gain, fatigue and weakness, debilitating insomnia, increased hormonal imbalance, and a lot of brain fog, all of which led to even more stress. I had always been quite thin before this, so the weight gain was a major challenge for me physically and psychologically and I never was able to reconcile with it which made me feel even worse!
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.)
It has been a slow healing process for me because even though I didn’t have a major illness like diabetes (yet), my gut was so debilitated that it caused me many different issues and overall ill health. I was usually very bloated for hours after eating, had a lot of pain in my gut at times, gas, constipation, all the typical GI problems. Now, I am never bloated, have hardly any gas at all, and go to the bathroom with ease! It is such a relief to not have to feel so uncomfortable and worry about my gut looking like I’m six months pregnant!
I used to have to take sleep medication or several OTC meds just to sleep until 4-5am, and sometimes even those didn’t work and I’d often be up for two to three hours in the middle of the night. Now, I just take one or two OTC and sleep all night. I hope that by next year, I can sleep through the night with NO meds!
I no longer have chronic muscle pain and soreness in my neck and back. I no longer have joint pain that used to occur often. My skin has improved–the severe flushing from histamine intolerance has disappeared and I have less acne. The chronic nasal drip has greatly decreased. The debilitating dysmenorrhea I had all my life has gone. There are other hormonal issues now because of peri-menopause, but I think they’ll continue to improve now that I’m ZC. The eczema I always had a touch of is completely gone. I also experience less anxiety.
Additionally, I lost 35 lbs. which has been a huge relief for me: I can now walk with ease whereas before I felt very encumbered. I don’t’ have blood sugar imbalance any more and can go for up to eight hours without eating and be totally fine. I can walk a little more vigorously, but more intense exercise will take more time for me.
There’s probably more things that I’ve forgotten since it’s been a while now. All I know is that I am so grateful for these improvements and feeling like when I was younger, that I don’t see myself ever going back to eating carbs. I would just go back to feeling horrible; it doesn’t make sense and is just not worth it.
23. What do you enjoy most about eating a Zero Carb diet?
The simplicity and ease, the satiety, and the freedom it gives me to not feel like I’m a slave to cooking.
24. Do you have any advice for someone who is just beginning a Zero Carb diet?
The most important factor for me was patience–it took me over a year to go through the transition due to my severe gut issues. So, you may not know what the positive benefits will be until you give it as much time as your body needs, not how much time you think it needs. I’ve really learned to follow my body’s intuitive sense of what it does and doesn’t need, whereas before I looked more outward for information. It’s all there inside me already!
25. Are your friends and family supportive of your Zero Carb lifestyle? If not, how do you handle this?
Yes, my husband is very supportive although he’s not interested in it for himself. My friends are very supportive as well. I actually don’t hesitate to tell people at all that I only eat meat as it works best for my digestion. After all I’ve been through and all the suffering of my poor gut, I don’t care what anyone thinks anymore!
26. Is there anything you would like share about this way of eating that I have not already asked you?
I am so grateful for your website Esmée! If I’d not come across it, I don’t know where I’d be healthwise right now.