Charlene Andersen

Charlene Andersen, Age 44

As per interest and requests I thought I would sit down and talk about my story of approaching and reaching my carnivore diet. Even though I like to never look back or put any focus on my previous ill health, I know that by doing so it may help others. Warning… I’m a number of things, but not a writer. So, read on at your own risk!🤪

I was born March 22, 1973 to an engineer and a physical therapist. My mom’s dad was an M.D. with an emphasis on OB/GYN. He was a great man, but followed the norm of doctoring. He suggested the healthy diet of “cereal and low-fat milk” to snack on in between the standard low fat meals. She was a good little girl and gained just the right amount of weight, ate her “good foods” and prepared for her new baby in a “June Cleaver” kind of way.

I was born quickly without any complications. Things went the way they typically do with hospital births. She nursed me, with the intention of weaning me off breastmilk completely by the 3 month mark so she and my dad could go to FL and leave me with my grandparents. I reacted to every formula and every food they gave me. I guess they ended with the least reactive combination for me.

Growing up, I always had rashes, asthma and allergies. I was allergy tested at 4 after having a scary breathing situation at nursery school. I was sensitive to almost everything. But my diet was never looked at as an option to cure it all. Instead, I got shots for years. I hated every single one. Never got used it. It always seemed wrong to me.

Because I was an only child, my parents wanted me to have opportunities to do things with other kids as much as possible. So, I went to a lot of camps – which I absolutely loved. However, one of the many camp trips is most likely when I was bitten by a deer tick. I remember tick checks every night and removing them with tweezers when found. I don’t remember having a specific rash or period of flu-like symptoms. I had my share of colds, strep and flu every year and would always catch whatever was “going around”, so nothing stood out when I contracted Lyme.

Because my grandpa was a doctor, medications were easy to access and antibiotics were FREELY given to me. I was destined for constant, health failure.

Because of my tendency toward asthma, my parents didn’t enroll me in what I would have loved the most – dance. Instead, homework and optimal grades were pushed (especially by my mom).

And I did succeed in that. I was always top of my class, getting straight A’s and extra credit whenever it was available.

In the meantime, my health kept deteriorating. Beginning at age 8 I developed trichotillomania. Sores on my eyelids and eyebrow lines made me want to rub/pull at the lashes. I had times when I had no eyelashes or eyebrows. My parents saw it as a bad habit that I wasn’t “strong enough” to overcome. This lasted all the way through grade school, middle school, high school, college and my first couple years working.

Whenever I went over to my friends’ houses (everyone had pets), it wasn’t long before my parents would get a call to come and get me because I was wheezing or developing hives.

Once I started to mature around age 13, the acne I developed was cyst-like and extremely ugly and painful. They would look like craters. I had them all over my face, neck, inside my ears, shoulders, back, chest and arms. Between hardly having eyelashes/eyebrows and having this acne, I was very self-conscious. I was not obese as a kid, but I was always heavier than the norm and carried my weight in a weird sort of way in my hips and butt. I remember having cellulite at age 12.

By age 16 my periods slowed and stopped completely. None of the OB/GYN doctors had any answers. My diet was the typical low fat, high complex carbs, high vegetation and low sugar. So, OBVIOUSLY my diet wasn’t causing it.

College days were fun (time away from my parents), but continued my downward health spiral. The extreme fatigue really set in at this point. I started out having a double major of Mathematics (to please my dad) and Studio Art (to please me). My mom didn’t care as long as my grades were as perfect as possible. What kept me from successfully majoring in Mathematics is I could not stay awake in class. I would fall asleep after a couple minutes of class starting and wake up when it was over. I needed naps throughout the day and I would always be the first one to sleep in the dorm by hours. Depression and darkness started overcoming me. I pushed friends away more and more due to my fatigue and depression.

I started working out hoping that would make me feel better about myself (and my floppy physique), but it just made me more tired and angry. I didn’t give up working out until years later. (I even became a PT on the side of my professional job.)

I ended up graduating cum laude with math and psychology minors, and studio art major.

After graduating college, I got a job working in the Industrial Design department at Navistar, which was a dream as an Art major, loving automotive design and working at the same company as my dad, cousin and uncles.

The most dramatic downturn in my health happened next. The stress of working and being around clay modeling, paint spraying and all sorts of chemicals quickly sent me downhill fast. Honestly, at this point life is a blur to me still.

My lifesaver was Joe. Wonderful, talented, funny, interesting, 100% compatible with me, Joe!❤ It’s almost as if I was waiting to meet him before my life which was heading downhill fast would make a turn for the better. But it was going to get worse before getting better.

My list of health conditions grew: eczema all over my hands (to the point of second degree burns), tinnitus, worsening depression, worsening fatigue (fell asleep at work all the time, at meetings, at church, and driving a car), lower back/pelvic and sciatic nerve pain (couldn’t sit at all, worked standing up, constant pain with occasional howling-pain spasms; MRI revealed degenerative disc disease in 3 areas), systemic edema, blurry vision (eyeglasses were worn beginning in high school, worsening every year), paralyzation at times in hands and feet working its way into my torso (Joe had to be called to carry me out of work several times), allergies/sensitivities to all things (food, pollens, chemicals), continued amenhorrea, weight gain (at my heaviest 50 pounds overweight), inability to concentrate (couldn’t understand a sentence spoken to me in time to hear the next in a conversation), diagnosed with cervical dysplasia (treated with cryotherapy), migraines, heart pains, indigestion/reflux, bingeing (and at the end, vomiting – luckily only a few times), muscle twitching (over 100 twitches in 1-minute’s time), lumps in my breasts I was too afraid to have checked out, and one of the last but most difficult for everyone around me was my irritation and rage (a complete reversal of my laid back and sweet nature everyone knew me to have growing up).

I literally could go on, but I don’t want to waste any more time or bleed my heart out anymore than I have.

I went the conventional doctor route, with absolutely NO success. Each one made me sicker, weaker and with more symptoms. Most concluded it was all in my head and I was crazy!

Joe was always interested in body building and happened on Vince Gironda. His way of eating to be as strong and sharp as possible intrigued Joe. Almost as soon as he researched this and similar diets (many authors delving into the low/carb free approach to health long, long ago) he started eating low carb/high fat. Instantly it appealed to me and I tried experimenting with low carb foods and recipes (I loved to cook and bake). It was not an immediate win for me, but certain things instantly started to turn around (allergies and asthma in particular as soon as I removed grains). I also started unmasking the low carb foods (vegetation especially), which would send me into terrible fatigue spells.

When Joe and I married August 8, 1998 (this is part of my love of the number 8), it was one of the best days of my life (other than the days of giving birth to my two sons). It was bittersweet though. I felt bad despite the adrenaline. We were the first ones to leave our own reception, not because we couldn’t wait to be together, but because I was so wiped out from the whole thing.

On with the positive turn!

Soon after I was diagnosed with Lyme disease by an alternative M.D. At least that gave us something to focus on and be able to look at as reasons behind some of my issues. I decided to quit my job to focus on getting well and reducing my stress level (I was working, taking MBA classes, finished my PT and nutritionist licenses).

More research quickly led us from looking at low carb to virtually no carbs. We experimented so much in such little amount of time that we realized we’d better start journals of everything we ate, how we felt, what worked and what didn’t. All we wanted was consistency.

The fish and oil diet was the first diet I can remember being the first try at a zero carb diet. It relieved a lot of my symptoms, but not all (still had amenhorrea, edema, trichotillomania, acne, eczema and excess weight). We probably spent about a year experimenting beginning with the fish and oil diet, quickly switching to free range eggs and poultry, and occasional lamb and beef.

Charlene’s journals tracking every reaction to every meal

As SOON as I switched to animal fat as my fat source instead of “healthy” oils, I ovulated and had a period two weeks later. I couldn’t believe it!!! Why in the WORLD didn’t someone tell me years ago about the importance of animal fat?!?😤 I’ve been more regular since then than I ever was as a young teenager. I’ve had two healthy boys (no complications for me; home births too; mid-wife with Charlie and unassisted with George)! ❤😀

We experimented with pork only to find that it activated symptoms. Ground meats, no matter what type also did.

We continued researching and looked at our wins and fails. It led us to Blake Donaldson who suggested a steak and water diet for his patients. That made a lot of sense to Joe and I. We started with pemmican only for some time, introducing steak eventually. Sure enough, as soon as I decided to go all beef, EVERY SINGLE ONE of my symptoms vanished!!! I couldn’t believe it. Whenever I tried to share my success and happiness about this, it was met with more questionable stares, anger, fear, and rolled eyes than you would ever imagine. So, it was our little secret. And that’s how we kept it until we found others with our point of view.

Also, I quickly found the more I ate meat only, my face shape changed and especially my body. I went from needing to work out religiously and strenuously when eating poorly to giving up exercise completely in order to not become too muscular or masculine-looking.

Even when others put our interview out a few years ago, it was met (by some) with so much anger, that we pulled it. It was slated to be run in National Examiner magazine. Boy, would that have been a disaster in many respects.

Charlene’s favorite food, the glorious ribeye

These days we eat ribeye steak, since it’s the fattiest. And we drink spring water. That’s what we do. We don’t think about it. We don’t really even talk about it. To us it’s like talking about why the sky is blue. Yes, there is scientific reasoning behind it. It’s nice to understand, but it’s beauty is really all it comes down to appreciating!

There is life after illness!! That I KNOW!!

Charlene

Charlene, age 44, enjoying the sun

170 Replies to “Charlene Andersen”

    1. Charlene,
      What a story! I can’t believe all that you’ve been through. Through our college days I wish I was more of a friend for you back in the days! So happy for you that your doing much better! I love seeing your updates on Fb!
      Sincerely, Wendy Dickerson

      1. HI WENDY!!! 😀❤️😀 So nice to have you read and reply! As you can tell, a lot has happened in my life since college with you. I hope you’re well and happy!

      2. Charlene, do you ever try to eat organ meats: liver or heart? I hear so many experts recommend organ meats because of the concentrations of micro nutrients especially the liver.

        1. Hi Paul!
          I grew up loving organ meats, but as I started unmasking foods (especially when I gave up all vegetation), I noticed inflammation with organ meats. My body didn’t tolerate them well. So, I listened as I did with everything else. I know organs have mega doses of nutrients, but ribeye has just what I need in the perfect amounts.

  1. What a story! I don’t think I would have had the strength to continue if had that many health problems. So glad you found your way. ❤️

  2. Thanks a lot for sharing your story, Charlene! I have been very sick with allergies, mcs and lyme for many years and since starting a carnivore diet 2 years ago my health has improved a lot but there is a lot of healing still to do. I read Joe’s older interview and I only eat beef (without salt or anything else) and drink spring water following your steps. If one day you could share the story of your recovery since you started the carnivore diet I will be so grateful and I’m sure it will help a lot of other people too. Thank you and your family for being such an inspiration!

  3. Hi Eve. I’m sorry to hear of your struggles with illness, and I’m assuming you are curious to hear my process of becoming well once starting carnivore. Once I went to all animal products is when the process really began. Certain things like amenhorrea, acne, migraines, paralyzation, heart pain and edema cleared up within days. Eczema and back, sciatic and joint pains took a few weeks/months to reverse. Also it took about 3 months to no longer need any contacts or glasses in any situation. Fatigue and muscle twitches took longer to completely reverse and not return. The journaling helped tremendously in this aspect. We constantly tried things in our buying, storing, cooking and eating techniques and looked for consistency. I wish you well! I hope this helps. If you need more info, please let me know.

    1. Thanks for your kind reply, Charlene! It’s really helpful what you have explained me. Did you have any problem with the amount of fat? I prefer the fattiest cuts of meat and I feel better eating them but after a while my lymphatic system gets clogged, I bloat and I have to eat lean again. And one last question, did you do anything else to recover while eating carnivore? When I started eating carnivore I stopped all the vitamins and other therapies that I had been doing without any positive result (sauna, epsom salts baths…) and I try to sleep and rest as much as I can and I only go for a walk when I have enough energy. Thanks a lot for taking the time to answer me. I totally understand that you don’t like to focus on your ill time and I’m really grateful for your help.

      1. Eve, it sure sounds like the track you’re on is very similar to mine. When starting beef only, it was pemmican I started with, so it was very fatty (each batch would be slightly different though). Also, ribeye steaks that I later introduced were very fatty (premium choice Angus). And, yes, I did occasionally have to reduce my fat to reduce swelling. I think the occasional back and forth can be good anyway for the body. Natural cuts of meat fluctuate fat percentage. Overall, I still feel best with the fattiest ribeye we can get. I stopped all other therapies (supplements, homeopathics, etc) as well back when I tried low carb. Sunshine and getting outside helped a lot through the “die off” period. Also, I found a huge help to reduce bacteria for me was buying the meat as an unopened cryovaced piece (the way the store receives the meat from their warehouse). Once at home, Joe opened it, sliced it into individual steaks, and cryovaced each one. We ended up with a chamber vacuum sealer, which we still use today. For me, every step in reducing bacteria helped.

        1. Thanks a lot, Charlene! It’s so helpful to know all these details. I was very surprised to read your story because is quite similar to mine (a straight A student, always sick taking antibiotics, allergic to everything..). I’m sure that I can learn a lot from your recovery because it seems that I follow your steps.
          The lyme and candida die off periods are hard but of course very welcome. I also find that sunshine helps me and we have even moved to a sunnier and drier place.
          We also buy meat in pieces and following your advice we will buy a chamber vacuum sealer to keep bacteria to a minimum.
          Thanks again for sharing your experience with me. Now I can see that I’m in the right track and I only need to be patient!

          1. Hi Charlene! I want to post my progress because since we talked I have been following all your advice and I have improved significantly and maybe my experience can help other people. It’s been one month and a half since I started eating Angus ribeye steaks (we don’t live in the USA and it has been difficult to find Angus beef) that we buy in a piece and we cryovace with a vacuum sealer. I eat 1.5 pounds a day cooked to medium-well. Before that I was eating grass fed beef with very little fat that we kept frozen and I was eating 2.5 pounds a day cooked to rare.

            I’ve realized that I tolerate and digest the fat of the Angus ribeye better than the grass-fed beef (I was having a lot of problems when I ate fattier cuts of meat) and I have been able to eat more fat which has lead me to eat less pounds of beef and being less thirsty. Now my amenhorrea is gone, my constant stomach bloating has disappeared, my hair has stopped falling, I sleep a little bit better and I have more energy. I have also had some die-off periods that had been intense but shorter and after that I have felt lighter and healthier.

            Botom line, I have been eating only beef and drinking only water during 2 years to recover from lyme thinking that I was doing the same like you, but when you’re sick the details are very important and all these changes that you suggested me have made a huge difference for me.

            I can’t thank you enough for your help. You are literally changing my life!! ❤️

        2. Charlene, can you recommend a particular chamber vacuum sealer based on your experience?

          1. Eve, I’m so happy for you! When I read your update, I got goose bumps! You’re right…the details matter when you are at a certain level of sickness. Just keep demanding he best health and you may find more to improve in your process. Keep up the great work!

  4. Charlene,
    Thank you so much for writing and posting your story. You look fantastic. You are such an inspiration for me to go just rib-eye and water. I’m going for it…

  5. Thanks for sharing the stories. I am 7 weeks into carnivore and wondering if mercury amalgams were an issue and did you have to get them removed. I am not getting BM movements at all (trying all suggestions) and wondering if mercury is an issue for anyone else adapting to carnivore with Lyme Disease.

    1. Jill, the one thing I didn’t have was any cavities growing up, so I never had to get any fillings. I’ve read how much mercury amalgams can affect all sorts of things in the body. So, I hope someone will read your question and give you a solid answer! For those not involved in the Twitter thread about constipation or lack of bowel movements, a few things have been mentioned. Not eating enough fat (in the form of fatty meat), not eating enough in general, paralysis of the peristalsis due to Lyme healing/die-off, or eating foods the body is sensitive to (like bone broth, pork, dairy, etc). BUT, I don’t know. I only know what worked for me. Ribeye. Spring water. That’s what did it. All those journals stacked up, led to this conclusion for me. I wish you the very best in finding what works for you!

  6. Hi Charlene! Your story is amazing! I also suffer Lyme and other related illnesses and I’ve eating just beef for almost 3 years since I read your story, so you and your family are an example to me. I suffer detox symptoms and I’m concerned with the amount of spring water that I should drink. If I drink following my thirst (50 or 60 oz per day) it seems too much and my body swells even more, so I need to restrict my water intake. I just wanted to know if you experienced something like this. Thanks a lot again!

    1. Hi Karen! I’m sorry to hear of your struggles. This may be a slightly different way to view what’s happening here. I’m not a doctor, but I can tell you of my experience with water. The amount of spring water your thirst dictates sounds very reasonable. However, not many people talk about the type and brand of water. Most don’t have to worry about it at all, but if a person is in a sick or weakened state, it can make a HUGE difference. You may actually be drinking a water you’re sensitive to. Every brand and source is slightly different. I had to experiment with water just as I did food, and found what worked for me fairly quickly. My reactions to incompatible water was bloating, excess thirst and swelling. (Much to the disappointment of most of my family and friends, Walmart Spring Water is what I always responded best with. Sorry everyone.🤷🏻‍♀️) In Newbolds’s book he mentions a lady experimenting with 70+ different water sources before finding what was perfect for her. Most find it much more quickly than that. It’s definitely something to look at and experiment with!

      1. Wow, thanks a lot for your explanation Charlene. I’ll check Newbold book too. I always thought that the best option would be spring water in glass bottle so I prioritized the glass before the plastic without taking in account that maybe a water in plastic container would better for me. Can you drink any spring water since your recovery?
        Did you had sleep problems during your recovery? I wake up a lot of times during the night and this increases my fatigue. I guess is for the detox because I didn’t have this problem before.
        Thanks for your patience.

        1. Karen, check out https://zerocarbzen.com/h-l-newbold/ for more info on Newbold. I think there is a lot that will resonate with you, as well as others not dealing with Lyme. Just as I feel best eating fatty ribeye, I feel best drinking the Walmart spring water. If I’m in a pinch and drink something else, it’s not the end of the world. But, why not continue what works best? For me, it’s easy to get and the price is nice. I thought too that water in glass would be best, but that’s not what I found for me. We even tried our local artisan spring water (ice cold tapped from underground springs – literally a bike ride away from our home) that was available to the community of Winona Lake. Most of our end conclusions don’t seem “politically correct”, but permanent reversal of all my previous symptoms is what weighs the most for me. And, yes, I remember having sleepless nights (just as you described) and fatigue-filled days when I was detoxing. It was broken up for me a bit though because I had baby steps I took that spread out my die-off. I’ll never forget those periods of a new diet change and the resulting healing/die-off. Sun, mild activity (short, slow walks), and being outside helped. A flux of high fat and slightly less fat (just for a day or two) would help, as well as a flux of eating a little more and a little less from day to day. Sometimes the more healing your diet is, the harder the healing will be, but the better the end results will be. Hang in there!!!

          1. Thanks Charlene and Karen for sharing your experiences. I also have a lot of sleepless nights followed by days with extreme fatigue but after that I always feel a little better, and this is why I know that I’m healing.
            I thought that I was “too sensible” because every little change that I make (eating or drinking a little more, eating a little more fat, changing the timing when I eat…) leads to a seemingly disproportionate die-off but now I see that you went through the same.
            Charlene, I wanted to ask you how long did it take you to feel completely healthy. I know every person is different but after 2 years sometimes I feel that I will never get there. I know that reducing the stress and living in the now helps me a lot with the healing, but sometimes I get a little disheartened.

          2. Eve, I completely relate to you with a small change = disproportionate die-off. As long as you feel even a little better after it passes is the best sign. Hang in there. It’s like you have a boat load of toxins and have a little tiny spout it can release the toxins. Once I went to beef only, I would say that it took about a year to completely dial in enough right ways of doing things that I no longer had any bouts with fatigue or muscle twitches. It’s one of those things that you don’t realize the day it’s over. At some point you realize, look back and think, “I haven’t had any _____ happen for a while.” Sometimes journals don’t even document that. Another point that I hate to bring up because it’s “politically incorrect” is that I found I need my meat cooked to medium/medium-well. Yes, that goes against most meat only people, but for whatever reason (bacterial?) I need my meat cooked to this degree. Stefansson said that societies that ate only meat cooked it to medium/medium-well. So, there is historical precedence for eating meat this way. (For the record, I always ate my steak growing up medium-rare.)

          3. Charlene, I’m sure that my biggest problem is exactly what you say, that I have a lot of toxins but I can only release a bit at a time. It’s like my pipes are clogged.
            It’s funny that you mention how you cook your meat because after we bought a chamber vacuum sealer following your advice I also decided to eat my meat medium instead of rare like I’ve always eaten to minimize bacteria even more. Now I’m excited to see how this change will improve my health. I don’t mind being politically incorrect, it only matters my experience and positive results. Thanks again for all the time you spend answering me!

          4. Charlene, thanks a lot for your answer and the link! I will sure experiment with different spring waters and amounts. About non-politically correct conclusions, the same is happening to me because I feel better with conventional beef than organic. I have also stopped using a filter for the shower because I realized that chlorine affects me less than the copper-zinc that these filters are made of.
            Did the die-off affect your hair or skin? My hair keeps falling and my face is red with zits. Even I feel better since I eat only beef, between how I look and the fatigue-filled days my family can’t stop “worrying” about me.

          5. Karen, it’s still good to hear from others that “politically incorrect” conclusions happen to them as well. We’re not alone! As you know, I’m not a doctor, so I can’t give you advice other than my observations. Hair loss can happen when a change in diet occurs. Not eating enough, not eating enough fat, or eating something reactionary can cause it too. At times I used checking my blood sugar to pin point reactionary foods. This gets a little tricky though. Die-off can definitely trigger acne. It cleared for me almost as soon as I went all beef. But, I used to battle it a lot when I was consuming bacterial-feeding foods (like vegetation, ground meats, moldy foods, pork, dairy, shellfish). Even when you get well, people may still be concerned about your “diet.” My parents, who saw a multitude of serious problems reverse STILL refuse to believe it was the diet. They’re convinced we’ll all die of heart disease or colon cancer and are very concerned. Oh well…

          6. Thanks Charlene. Your observations are very helpful because you have real experience and I already stopped listening to doctors long time ago 😉 About the hair loss, I think I’m not eating enogh fat, because I also have problems swelling when I eat fattier meats and I have to eat leaner cuts of beef. I already discarted pork and started eating only beef before reading your first interview because my blood sugar fell a lot after eating it. It was crazy how much insulin my body was releasing after eating pork! Sometimes our parents love us “too much” and they are so concerned that it seems that they prefere that we were sheeps instead of follow our own path to be healthy.

          7. Karen, it’s nice to see consistencies between Lyme experiences and food. The best of luck to you, Karen!❤️

  7. Hi Charlene! Thank you for sharing your story it is such an inspiration! How often do you eat, and how many lbs. of ribeye do you eat per day? Thank you!

    1. Hi Christine! I eat when I’m hungry, which happens to be twice a day. I eat the fattiest ribeye I can get my hands on, so it’s pretty calorie/nutrient dense. Total in a day, I consume between 1-1.5 pounds cooked. (I know most talk in terms of raw, but I’ve gotten in the habit of answering this question in cooked terms.) Hope this helps!

    1. Thank you, Jeffery. Our boys are given full autonomy in regards to their food choices. And 99.9% of the time they choose ribeye and spring water.

  8. Thank you for all the wonderful information in both your story and the answers to questions. I also had trichotillomania as a kid due to the sties I got. I also destroyed my gut from a course of antibiotics and acutane as a teen, for acne.
    I’m 59 and have been ZC off and on, but about 1 1/2 years this time around. I used to frequent the old ZIOH site and had heard a bit of your story then, but this us more detailed. 😊
    My questions – Are you eating bone-in or boneless ribeye? Or does it matter? Is premium choice the same as prime?How are you cooking it? Low temperature, long and slow? Or sear, and high temp oven? Broil?
    What is the time window you eat your 2 meals within? Or, does it matter?
    Do you still eat pemmican or use tallow for extra fat? Do you eat the rendered fat that cooks off your steaks?
    I think thats it. Thank you in advance for your answers. This really helps.
    Celeste

    1. Hi Celeste! I’m sorry to hear about your struggles, and understand that each of you have specific (good) questions pertaining to my path toward health. I also was on medications that destroyed me including tetracycline for years, and many rounds each year of broad spectrum antibiotics. Due to limited space here, I will tell you what worked for me. The journals you see stacked up contain the conclusions I’ll share here with you… We bought bone-in for about 10 years but went boneless so we can cut them into the size we want (we’re not stuck with 2” steaks cut between the bone). Premium choice (Angus) can come close to prime, but usually one step below it. Prime is more consistently marbled and has a higher percentage of fat. Pan fry, highest temp possible. No oven/broiler. Cooked to medium/medium-well. Due to our basic schedule, we eat our steaks in the morning and toward the end of the day. The boys and Joe have pemmican occasionally. We don’t eat rendered fat (tallow or rendered off the steaks) or use extra fat to fry our steaks. Hope this helps. Good luck on your journey!!

      1. Hi Charlene,
        I’m just learning about this way of eating. Been ill for 5+ Years With no real diagnosis, with as many symptoms as you, so please excuse some of my questions. I have people telling low fat vegan for autoimmune, or terry wahls, or blood type diet. I can find healing success stories in all diets. I’m type A- which states a vegetarian diet. It’s hard to know what to do with so many opinions. I’m curious with all your journals did you first try vegan diet, and realize it doesn’t work for you? Being ill for so long you sort of get detached from the intuitive side of eating.

        I blamed meat for my digestive troubles and lost a taste for it as a result. But perhaps it wasn’t the meat. I realize your not a Dr but I’m interested in your perspective.

        1. Hi David! I‘m sorry you have so many symptoms. And, since it takes the life right out of you when so ill, it is hard to grasp that intuitiveness about eating. If you’re new to hearing about an all meat diet, I know how gimmicky or ridiculous it may seem. But, there is a solid historical and evolutionary base to it when it applies to humans. But, proof (for your own self) is in the pudding. I am A+ blood type, but consuming all meat is the only thing that allowed me full, sustainable recovery.

          Growing up and in my early 20s I ate a “healthy diet” of low fat, lean meats, LOTS of veggies, whole fruit, legumes, nuts/seeds, low-fat yogurt, and whole grains. When I met Joe and we started realizing that diet played a HUGE role in physical abilities and health, we started experimenting together. We tried everything! Joe and I both ate the same way to be able to get a more well-rounded view of the diets.

          We tried intermittent fasting, juicing, organic only, raw foods only, vegan, vegetarian, rotation diet, rare foods diet, caveman diet, anti-inflammatory diet, ABCDE diet, Body for Life, blood type diet, sprouted/fermented diet, low carb, Keto, and everything in between. Keep in mind, with me, since I had so many issues with so many body systems, it wouldn’t take any longer than a day or two (if even that long) before I had a reaction, good or bad. Even if I wanted something to work, if it didn’t agree with me, my body would produce some symptom so intense that I couldn’t ignore it. It was a blessing and (seemingly at the time) a curse.

          The more I eliminated, the better I felt, but it was very hesitant-feeling since I still had a long way to go. Consistency was everything. We would often re-introduce something at a later date to re-test. Consistency allowed us to feel confident in our move toward (what we didn’t know until we reached it) all meat.

          In our experience, it seems like those who were fruitarians or vegans (and some vegetarians) have the hardest time with digesting meat protein. The most successful people with an all meat diet are usually approaching it from a low carb or Keto diet. I used to think I couldn’t handle red meat until I spent enough time away from vegetation and grains and slowly eating more and more animal meat, starting with a lot of fish. Even Joe who didn’t have the symptoms I had, felt better and better as we progressed through these diets to reach all meat, in particular – all beef.

          All I can say is, try something and see what happens. Your body should tell you. Listen, correct (if needed), and try again. That’s all I can tell anyone. And, if course, the best of luck to you in the process!

          1. Thank you very much Charlene for your opinion and your experience. It is indeed true when you get fatigued from a chronic illness it’s hard to make proper decisions.

            I do have one last question, when you tested foods on yourself, like the raw diet, vegan diet. And ultimately the diet you are on now, How long did you give it to make a determination? I want to do as you did so I can feel empowered that I made this decision for myself and my body regardless of a diet. I imagine even a meat based diet there are some feelings of detox that one has to go through.

          2. David, the process of unmasking foods that don’t agree with you can get tricky. Every food had its own “timeline” of reaction for me. A few things like soy, certain shellfish, amaranth, raw carrots, quinoa, spaghetti squash and melons had an instant reaction in my throat (itching, tightness), within minutes of ingesting. Other foods, like butternut squash, broccoli, spinach, oatmeal, stevia, carob and cocoa would give me a massive migraine in about 30 minutes, lasting up to 24 hours. Other foods, like fruits, anything fruit flavored/colored, fructose, or nightshade family (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, etc) would lead to my back getting thrown out and howling pain by the next morning upon arising. This would last days, completely disabling me. Other things took a day or two before I’d notice cyst-like breakouts, fluid retention, horrific fatigue spells, muscle twitching, etc. I wish I knew it was so much more simple than trying to find out what foods “worked” and which didn’t. It was an almost endless cycle of seemingly never-ending reactions before taking the plunge of very low carb, which removed almost all of my issue “foods”. Eliminating everything but meat makes it very easy to see how you feel with that. If you do it for a while, at least 2 weeks or even better 1 month, then add back something you’re curious about eating again, your body should tell you pretty clearly. You should feel positive, energetic, strong, capable and not crave. Detox can definitely happen (which a lot of Lyme and other chronic disease sufferers go through for long periods of time) especially if you have a lot that your body has to remove. At times it can almost be confusing whether it’s detox/die-off or reaction. There’s a feeling I used to get when I was healing. I felt like I weighed 500 pounds, could sleep forever, and would get inflamed, but it would pass in a day or two and I’d feel light as a feather and very positive. Since everyone is different, all I can do is tell you what happened in my process and wish you the best. It can be the toughest thing you’ve ever done, but it can result in a brand new, healthy, happy you.

          3. Thank you for the clarification. Funny you should mention that heavy feeling. I just started eating meat 3 days ago, around 11am today I ate only bison and then fell asleep For hours and feel super heavy. As soon as i introduced red meat again I keep falling asleep around 2pm. I never did this even when I had chronic insomnia.

            Today when I just ate the bison, I started craving, papaya, or bananas. My digestion is very weak along with chronic constipation. Which is One of the reasons I omitted meat to begin with. However, I still have A lot of digestive issues and fatigue/ pain. So I am realizing it may have not been the meat to begin with.

            Did you take a digestive enzyme in the beginning of your meat only journey?

          4. David, I can’t tell you enough how important it is that you have FATTY meat. Fatty red meat in the form of ribeye steak is what I found (and hundreds of others find) optimal. Bison is a red meat which has nutrition, but is very lean. Adding fat only goes so far. Buying and eating already very fatty cuts (ribeye steak) gives you everything you need in one wondrous package.

            Craving can happen easily if you don’t eat enough and especially if what you eat isn’t fatty enough. Bison is wonderful to make pemmican out of because it is so lean.

            I also have to note that finally getting magnesium in a large dosage in red meat can make one feel like a much-needed rest. This may or may not be the reason you feel the way you do. It’s so individual.

            As far as digestive enzymes go, I remember trying them for a couple days (when I went low carb) but they burned the inside of my digestive track, so I had to stop using them.

            My #1 suggestion is when you go the all meat route, eat as close to a fatty steak (ribeye is best) as you can. Then see how you feel given a few days.👍🏻🥩🍽😀

  9. Charlene, what you share here in the comments is as good as your article…thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Thanks Christine! I knew I couldn’t fit all the details in my story so it’s nice to have a comments section. Plus, when people deal with specific illnesses, they can require more specific information.

  10. Sounds really good! Curious how it ended up for you. We tried an air fryer, but it didn’t give us quite the sear we like. It’s amazing how many cooking methods can be used to make a simple ribeye steak!

    1. The air fryer has been great! Minimal cleanup and no smoke. I set it at 400, preheat it for 5 minutes, cook each side 10 minutes, and let it rest out of the heat 5 minutes. I posted pictures on all the Facebook groups and on Twitter. Love how easy it is! And you’re right…there’s nothing as satisfying as a rib-eye. 😉

      1. Thanks for sharing, Christine! I love how many wonderful ways Ribeye can be cooked.

  11. Charlene,
    I for one am glad to see you sharing again, and I sincerely hope you guys will always be able to! You have influenced so many people to look at this WOE, and there’s even more that you could also influence people to do. I was real thrilled to read here that you had George unassisted! After a midwife attended birth of our first, we went on to have 4 more UC births, our latest is 9 mos old now. I want to quote Laura S, who says what we feel perfectly: “The time has come for us to cast off our doubts and fears, and learn to believe in our own abilities. What better place to start than with the birth of a baby?” You also set the example of how to babies, first on the breast, then on ZC. I wish you would speak as to their health. I wish it were possible to plaster their pictures all over the world, on TV, the internet, everywhere, because they are shining examples for us all. It would be great to have one place to send people to that tells all about you and your beautiful family. You are obviously a beautiful example of good health, but Joe is the not so obvious one, he’s what, 60 now? He could pass for 40-45 easily, and you in your 30’s. Nearly 20 years of ZC has allowed you guys to cheat old age! It’s like time has stood still for you both! There is so much more to you than just beating Lyme, so more power to you guys!

    1. Hi Kahno! Sorry I just saw this.😅Thank you for all your nice words. And congratulations on all your home births. It’s such a wonderful experience. Joe and I used to say, “Why would we go to a hospital to have a baby? No one’s sick.” As far as getting our family out there, we’ve talked about it. We’ll see!

    2. (Part 2)… Joe advocates the carnivore lifestyle on his Twitter page. Check him out at @JoeCharlene8898. Joe is turning 60 this May. And both the boys are healthy and happy. They have Twitter accounts too… @datraintho and @wombocombo_10. I have a Twitter that is full of my retro creations and inspirations. I do at times advocate the carnivore lifestyle. I’m at @handmaderetro88.

  12. Thank you for sharing your story! I’ve been eating Keto Paleo for years since finding out it cured my own symptoms! Lately, my husband and I have been talking about going fully carnivore, but I’m currently breastfeeding a 3 month old. Did you breastfeed your boys while eating this way? If so, how did it go?

    1. Hi Julie. First of all, congratulations! I’m not a doctor, but I do know that a change in diet that may cause healing can cause toxins to be released in breastmilk. Since your baby is so young, you may be better off waiting a bit. I’d get your doctor’s opinion.

      In my experience, I was fully carnivore before getting pregnant, while pregnant, had two home births without any complications, and breastfed each baby until around 2 years old.

      Hope his helps. And good luck on your journey!

      1. Hi Charlene,
        I’d like to always start my posts with I know your not a doctor, but interested in your opinion 🙂

        Are there any private groups you know of for people with illnesses looking to perhaps heal this way?

        I tried last weekend eating meat 3 days in a row. Unfortunately my experiment failed and I felt so toxic and had terrible constipation. The meat just sat in my stomach. So my clues are,

        1. I don’t have enough digestive enzymes or Hcl to digest animal proteins. I’m going to try a rib eye with these items and eat less

        2. When you said people who do the best eating this way are those that went keto. I went the opposite way and found I could only eat cooked soft foods like veggies, rice and fish. This by no means I feel strong I am just surviving. So with that being said, I took your comment to mean that someone in my shoes will have more of a transition. And I have to perhaps take slower steps or building up. Is that accurate?

        1. David, Zeroing in on Health (ZIOH) Facebook group is a great place to start. You may find all the support and answers to your questions there. They have thousands of members and if you post your experiences, trust me, there will be many people who will relate specific to your issues.

          The beginning days can be the hardest, and many experience intense symptoms. Your thought of supplementing ribeye with HCL may help. Again, ZIOH can be of great help as you experiment.

          You may have to do smaller steps, or maybe not. It’s up to you, what’s expected of you (ability to perform at a job, etc), and what you feel you can handle.

          By nature, I had small steps. But, even those were very painful. The more info you have at your fingertips the better. You can feel like you’re not alone in this process of trying to become well from an illness. And, that’s powerful.

      2. Thank you for sharing your story! It’s so helpful to so many. Can I ask how long you were ZC before you got pregnant for the first time? And also, when you stopped breastfeeding when they were 2, was their first food ribeye? I don’t have kids yet, so I don’t really know about 2 year olds’ abilities to eat steak 🙂

        1. Hi Brittany!
          I went all meat soon after Joe and I were married in August 1998. I got pregnant with my first in late spring 2004. So, about 5.5 years ZC before 1st pregnancy.
          The boys first food was pemmican!

          1. I’ll have to see if I can get pemmican. I’ve never heard of it before this post. I’ve been on ribeye only for 4 days now. I’m only 108 lbs and I feel like I’m starving all the time. Eating more than one 15oz ribeye per day is not the most appealing with all the chewing, so I don’t feel like I eat enough to ever feel satisfied. So this pemmican might be a good solution for me. Do you know where to get it online?

          2. Brittany,
            I know when someone goes to all meat, they can lose appetite at first for meat and yet feel starved. If you stick it out with steak, I guarantee your hunger will regulate and you will be able to eat enough. If you cook enough – to medium or medium-well, it will be less chewy, (maybe) more appealing and easily absorbed.

            Pemmican is an old recipe the American Indians and explorers used as their main fuel. It’s dried meat (beef or bison), ground and mixed with rendered beef (or bison) fat. Fair warning…pemmican can be incredibly filling for the small amount eaten. It’s nice and calorie-dense though. It can be bought at https://grasslandbeef.com/osearch?q=Pemmican. Id suggest the pure pemmican without fruit or honey. They have salt and salt-free.

            Hope this helps!

  13. Hi Charlene,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I have chronic Lyme and have been in treatment for the last 8 years and have yet to reach remission. I’m 37 and have an 11 year old son most of my symptoms started when I went into preterm labor at 29 weeks. It’s a long story. I’m very interested in your approach to healing with meat. Would you be willing to speak with me and help me get started? Maybe email or phone? Or any advice is appreciated. I would like to have more children and I’m getting older fast lol.
    Thank you
    Amber
    http://www.lymelit.blogspot.com

    1. Amber, I’m so sorry to hear of your battle with Lyme. Please PM me on my Twitter @HandmadeRetro88

      1. Thank you! I will do that. I need to make a twitter account. I’m a little behind on the social media. My sister signed up for the zioh fb page so I can look online at her page. I’ve been reading all the comments here and that’s helped too. I just did 2 days of meat mostly ribeye eggs and bacon. I felt badly and my brain fog was horrible and I was off balance.

        1. Amber, I’m glad to hear that you read through some of the comments here. I go into a lot of detail about die-off, toxin removal, and food reactions. Each person is so individual too. Trying 2 days of mainly ribeye, eggs and bacon (those first days are very healing days) should not to be confused with long-term effects of those foods. Just keep trying things and keep track of how you feel. Best of luck to you, Amber. The road may start rough, but it smoothes out as you go!

  14. Hi Charlene, do you sale your steaks? And is it possible for your BP to rise when adapting to this diet? Mine has and I get a uncomfortable chest tightness

    1. Garrett, we don’t sell meat. I don’t know if BP could rise during adapting. That would be a good question for Shawn Baker. Joe nor I had any chest tightness on this journey.

        1. Garrett, lol! We don’t use salt or any other seasoning. We all find the taste of ribeye to be full of flavor. And, when you eat this way for a while, the palate becomes so clean that you can taste subtle differences in flavor between each ribeye steak eaten. Flavor = nutrition!

  15. Charlene, I cannot say enough how thankful I am finally reading your story. Thank you so much for taking decision to share it, as it is changing people’s life ! I have a few questions to add.

    1) Cheeses & eggs.
    What was your experience with cheeses (any feta or aged parmesan) and eggs (whole or just egg yolks) ? Did you feel just bloated after eating them (they gave you any other particular reactions) or they just did not “feel” right for your body ?

    2) “Body feelings” during healing/ die-off process.
    Do you recall any particular feeling in body during healing process ? Did it feel great from the very beginning ?

    3) Body composition.
    It was a matter of weeks, months when you started seeing changes ? Did you noticed any weight fluctuations ?

    Thank you very much,
    Iza

    1. Iza,
      I have to state that my body has always given me obvious, intense reactions to foods. And my only conclusion for me was fatty, ribeye steak and spring water. Nothing more. Nothing less.

      1) Cheeses and eggs – both produced massive migraine headaches that lasted, along with other symptoms like digestive issues, eczema flare-ups, and fatigue to name a few. (If you look back at my March 5, 2018 response to David, I talk about my reactions to foods.)

      2) ”Body Feels” in response to Die-Off/Healing. My responses above to Karen, Eve and David around late February and early March talk about my die-off and toxins in detail.

      3) Body Composition. The better I got my nutrition, the less I did exercise-wise, but saw my body shape improving with every incremental workout taken away. Also, my clothes fit differently as I went. Scale weight dropped initially a lot at first (about 15 with ZC, but 35 of the rest when I went beef only) and got down to about 123 Pounds at 5’8”. The only time I had any weight fluctuation was if I reintroduced a food or drink that I reacted to.

      Hope this helps!

    2. Iza, an addition to question #3…

      Of course everyone is different with how long they may see physical and weight changes, but as soon as I went all meat (still having eggs, pork, organs, seafood – reactionary foods) I noticed a difference quickly. It was probably a month that it took to lose 15 pounds.

      But then it stalled until I went all beef almost a year later. My weight loss was solely dependent on removing my reactionary foods.

  16. You perfectly presented difference between zc & beef only woe and marked strong advantages of beef only diet (and the same importance of removing all reactionary zc foods).
    Charlene, thank you for your patience and taking time to respond my question.

  17. Charlene, I’m so happy to see your story shared here. When I first went zc 2.5 years ago, your story had been pulled but was shared with permission in the PC group. Your story and Kelly Hogan’s story gave me the confidence to have a zc pregnancy and to feed my baby meat only (and breast milk of course). He’s 11 months old and thriving. So THANK YOU so much for sharing your story.

    That he’s even here is thanks to zc. I was so sick when I found zc I had started to think my children shouldn’t be in my care. I don’t know what was wrong with me, I probably never will, I was waiting to see to be tested for Lupus. Whatever it was, it’s gone. I had periods of feeling better and periods of discomfort throughout my healing. I lost all my extra weight sporadically over the course of a year while eating over 4 lbs of fatty chuck steaks everyday. I’m almost all beef and water no, as I’ve naturally over time dropped the things that bother me, and that’s what’s left. The last thing to go is coffee.

    I believe Joe commented on one of my posts once saying that you guys are also Unschoolers, so hello to a fellow Unschooling family. ☺️👋

    I hope your story continues to help others. It is an amazing testimony.

    1. Hi Grace!
      I’m so very, very happy for you in so many ways, including bringing in a healthy baby! And it’s amazing that “whatever was wrong” corrected itself, and that you’ve experienced beautiful life after illness.

      From what you’ve written, it sure sounds like YOU can help others by sharing your story in more depth. It took me a long time to believe my own story was worth sharing, but it was. Every story shared here helps many!

  18. Hello. Would love to know how you cook your rib eyes and what you put on them if anything. Thank you for sharing. I’ve been Keto/low carb for three years. I prefer meats, veggies keep me hungry. But I do love veggies through the summertime. And lucky for me I really only live raspberries for fruits. Thank you for your time.

    1. Hi Stephanie! Ready? Here we go!…

      -1 1/4” boneless fatty ribeye (no seasoning)
      -Hot skillet, dry
      -Ribeye into pan (holding steak on it side for a moment or two to melt a small amount of fat to fry in)
      -First side about 4-5 minutes
      -Flip
      -Second side about 3-4 minutes
      -Remove
      -Eat
      -Thrive!!

  19. Thank-you for sharing your story. I am a meat eater as well, but sometimes I slip back to eating something other than meat and I can feel the difference so after reading your well-written article, I am going to stick to a meat only way of eating as I feel so much better and getting tired of sabotaging myself which is a psychological thing 😉 While I will never be wearing a pink bikini, I will still be looking and most importantly, be feeling amazing just like you!

  20. Hi Kara! You’re not alone in sabotaging your efforts, as anyone reading this can attest to. Since it sounds like you’ve had some experience and reasons for adopting this meat only diet, you should consider sharing your story. Honesty with your path including sabotaging yourself, along with positive results all help others throughout their own journeys. Please consider it. And the best of luck in your continued success!😀

  21. Hi Charlene -Happy Easter. I just restarted this Meat only diet after taking a week off after 2 weeks in and I could tell the difference, i was miserable as I ate what I fed my boys ‘supposedly healthy food’. I have a question for you…do you have your boys on meat /spring water only diet too.

    I read all the health benefits and I have convinced my hubby to restart with me…so tonight it was ribeye for us but I wonder about my boys (10, 8, 7) is anyone or are your boys on the same diet as you and Joe and how are they health wise. Please share this experience too thank you. Thank you.

    1. Hi Mayen!

      I know many who also have experienced poor effects when reintroducing vegetation and other “healthy foods”. So, you’re not alone!

      The boys have been carnivore since birth (breast milk, then carnivore). We give them full autonomy when it comes to food choices. 99.9% of the time they choose to eat fatty ribeye steak and drink spring water. When they have tried other “foods”, it hasn’t gone well for them. So, they gladly eat what Joe and I do.

      Good luck in your journey!

  22. Hi Charlene, thank you for sharing your story. I’ve been a carnivore for one year and thriving! I read somewhere that you use barefoot shoes for many years and I wanted to ask you what benefits have you experienced. I’ve recently bought one barefoot shoes and I love them and I’m thinking about change all my shoes, and I would love to know your opinion. Thanks!

    1. Hi Jennifer,

      Yes, we love our barefoot shoes and sandals. 🙂 We were especially adamant about making sure our boys were always wearing proper shoes for the best foot development, posture, digestion and elimination.

      We have predominantly purchased Soft Star, Tadeevo, Xero and Luna.

      Hope this helps!👍🏻🙂

  23. Hi Charlene,
    Did you have a thyroid issue before? I think this is my problem and so far going low carb has been difficult.

    Shortness of breath, feeling cold, orthostatic intolerance, heaviness. I am wondering if you have come across people healing their thyroid?

    1. Hi David!
      I personally never had thyroid problems that I knew of, so I cannot give you any experience on my part. But, I know that many people have corrected this issue. Go to the Facebook group “Zeroing In On Health” for all sorts of support with different health issues. I’m sure you’ll get answers there.

      Good luck in your health journey and hope you find relief!

  24. Hi Charlene,
    A million thanks for sharing your story, and for the additional info you’ve shared in the comments. It’s inspiring and so helpful to benefit from what you’ve learned over time. Question about cooking – pan-fried in a hot pan is my absolute favorite method, but even with a pretty good exhaust fan … the smoke! It makes my house smell for days. Do you have a trick for dealing with that?
    With warm beefy regards,
    Amy

  25. Hi Amy!
    Great question. Joe actually uses our garage. It’s cleared out of EVERYTHING, except coverings for the floor and walls to protect against the grease/smoke. As you get fattier with the meat, and hotter with the heat, the more smoke and possible damage. I know a lot of people cook/grill outside. This is just what we’ve found works best for us!

    Hope this helps… and enjoy!👍🏻

    1. Hi Charlene, could you tell me what kind of pan do you use to cook the meat? Do you use gas or electric grill? Thanks!

      1. Jennifer, we use an electric induction burner with either a Calphalon or cast iron pan.👍🏻

  26. What a great setup! If I could do that I would. I’ll have to stick to the cast iron griddle on my gas grill. It gives a nice sear, but the downside is there’s significantly more fat loss than on the stovetop, I guess due to the ambient heat, and the rendered fat doesn’t agree with me. Thanks Charlene!

  27. Hi Charlene,
    Can you tell me, from the beginning until present, what percent grass fed beef you ate? And how you feel, if different at all, between conventional and gf. TY!

    1. Hi Katherine!
      For the first year or so going all meat, Joe and I ate nothing but grass fed/finished. Eventually, we developed nutritional deficiency symptoms. We made the switch to grass fed/grain finished (grain finished for the last 2-3 weeks of their life). Immediately we felt better and have never gone back to grass finished beef.

      1. Thanks Charlene for sharing your experience! What nutritional deficiency symptoms did you develope with grass-fed beef? How long did it take to improve? I’m 6 month with all meat diet but my energy levels are low and my skin is dry and I’m wondering if my organic grass-fed beef is the problem. I find it very lean but I tried to add fat without success. I appreciate your comments. Thanks, Dan.

        1. Dan, I actually had a similar question from Jeffery today. Look at the below comment to Jeffery on April 16. Also, I think you’re absolutely correct to assume that without having naturally fatty enough meat (grass finished), that can lead to dry skin, fatigue, dry eyes, etc. It’s unnatural for beef ribeye steak to not be fatty enough to support a carnivore diet.

  28. Dearest Charlene
    I admire you so much for sharing your story here, I know that it must be difficult to share this with the world in general, as people are quite judgmental when it comes to food and diets, for some strange reason.
    My son has a mild form of Tourettes, and from the bottom of my heart, I ask you, as you too are a mother, do you think ZC would help with that? I know you cannot say for sure, but I was wondering if you had heard anything similar in other people with tics. Thanks so very much.

    1. Hi Lou!
      I’m so sorry to hear of your son’s illness. There’s nothing worse as a parent than seeing your child suffer. Joe nor I have any experience with Tourette’s, but I can’t see how trying the diet would be a bad idea. See what works and what doesn’t. The best of luck to you and your son.

  29. Thank you Charlene for sharing. Reading how you prepare your steaks might just change my life, because my steaks never turn out right. Thanks

    1. Hi Cyndi!
      Making steak is both a science and an art! 🐂+🧐+🧠+🔥+🌡+❤️+💗=🍽🥩💪🏻!

  30. This story is so incredible and fascinating.
    You look amazing!! So you quit working out so you could look lean? Should I just walk for fitness?
    I also don’t want to be bulky or thick, I’ve already been that my entire life
    I was born without a thyroid, yes you read that correctly) and have always had a weight issue.
    time to go by some meat!!

    1. Sorry, Laura…I just now saw this!🤔
      Well, you not having a thyroid certainly has been a challenge for you I’m sure! I hope this meat only diet can help you regulate your system to a healthy state.

      As far as exercise goes, do whatever feels right. I know muscle gains are VERY easy on this diet (for most) due to so much nutrition. And given this wonderful nutrition, I think the body easily nourishes itself where it needs. If a physical activity is required (either from daily living or intense feats of strength), the ability can be there. Muscles respond to what it feels it needs to be able to perform the required tasks. So, depending on your desires, do what feels right. I love to be outside. I like to cruise on my bike with the family. I love to walk the paths at Seaside, but I don’t do formal exercise. I found my old, intense routine built too much muscle and gave me more masculine traits (broader shoulders, less small of a waist, thick legs, and more squared off jaw). But, more than that, I couldn’t ignor how it made me feel (fatigued and irritated). So, it was a gradual process of reducing and feeling better, reducing and looking better, and finally reducing to (gasp!) nothing. What I do know is that this diet nourishes me so I can run fast if I want to. I can lift things if I need to. I have endurance if I need it. But, I personally don’t practice those things. I believe a healthy human is a strong and capable one. So, depending on your interests, be as active as you’d like and feel good doing!

  31. Charlene, you mentioned in a comment somewhere that you and Joe both had deficiency issues with all grass fed beef after a fair length of time. What deficiency issues did you have? Do you know what nutrients you were missing? What symptoms did you see? Any other related information to this is appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Jeff Martin
    http://JeffreyAlexanderMartin.com

  32. Jeffrey,
    It took some time, but over a year of grass fed/finished, Joe and I developed tendencies toward bleeding (gums or quick to bleed when scraped), previous injuries-sores/bruises Joe had started reappearing, both of us were easily bruised, and a few conditions that had reversed initially for me started to come back gradually (poor sleep and restless leg mainly, so not my most critical symptoms, but conditions not to be unnoticed). We did notice a shift toward being more irritated and more fatigued (not as mentally sharp or physically strong). These last two issues are markers I always look for whenever we are testing something.

  33. You mentioned no ground meat at first. What about ground beef? Thanks so much. Trying to heal lupus and have been doing ground beef, water & black coffee. Not feeling better yet. Wondering if I need to cut the coffee or if ground meat is not good? Thanks for any help!

    1. Hi Krista!

      As you know, coffee isn’t pure carnivore (it’s a fermented bean product), and a very powerful, yeasty drug too. I would drop it ASAP, and see how you feel.

      Ground beef (or any ground meat) is higher in surface area which = higher bacteria (which can be a problem if you’re fighting an illness and your immune system is lowered). None of us have done well with ground beef. The early all meat authors suggested that people don’t eat ground meat, probably because of the bacterial issue.

      But, like I tell everyone, experiment and consume what feels optimal.

      I wish you all the best in your journey!

      1. Thanks so very much! I will try to cut this things out ASAP. I am dealing with significant autoimmune issues and overcoming cancer so have nothing to loose. Just soooooo tired all the time. Thank you so much for the info and caring!

      2. Oh Charlene. Thanks for everything! May I have your opinion on sodium? I have been salt free for about 5 years. Thanks!

        1. Krista,
          I can greatly empathize with you concerning debilitating fatigue. Unless you experience it, a person doesn’t know what a prison it is. And I hope changes in diet can alleviate your issues.

          As far as sodium goes, I didn’t have success with it (actually none of us did), so we don’t use it. Beef contains sodium, seemingly in the right amount for us. Some people find it helps with issues (cramps, energy, etc). Just my experience though!

  34. Thanks again!!! Trying to cut out coffee starting today and will continue no salt. Thanks so much!!

  35. Hello,

    I read that you had a tricky time at first transitioning to all meat as the Lyme bacteria died. I am super interested in trying this diet, but I know I have a bacterial overload, and am concerned that without working with someone who knows what to expect, I may confuse die off for actual illness. How did you know when to push through and when something just wasn’t working? My body is so sensitive, I know any new diet/lifestyle change can be potentially very harmful and so I’m trying to figure out how to navigate all of this.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Hannah!

      My response in the above comments to David on March 5, 2018 discusses the reaction/die-off issue, especially the last part of it.

      As a person dealing with an overload of bacteria, this can get very tricky, confusing and painful as you know. Since everyone is different, you may or may not experience the “relief” cycle I got that I recognized as healing instead of reaction. If you don’t already do so, keep a journal and look for consistencies. Your body works in cycles when it heals (kind of like childbirth). You can handle pain up to a point, then it relieves itself just when you feel you can’t take it anymore. With a reaction, you get acute and chronic issues. That’s the best way I can describe it. I’m not a professional, so I can’t give you any promises.

      When you’re dealing with bacteria, even all-meat eating may need to be a little “cleaner”. Ground meat can feed a ton of bacteria and can lead to problems and reactions. Buy meat as whole and fresh as you can. Keep pursuing and recording your successes and failures. And, the best of luck to you in your process!

  36. Charlene, thank you so much for being so open and candid with your story and replies. I have questions about eating outside of the home. How do you handle meals on 1) vacation, 2) at family/friends’, 3) events like weddings, etc, 4) restaurants, if ever? Thanks again!

    1. Hi Pamela!
      Almost any place you go (family, friends, restaurant, vacation), has meat. We always leave our house well-fed if we know meat won’t be available. And we eat heartily when we get home!😀

      1. Oh ok, I don’t know where I got the impression you ate strict ribeyes only. Makes sense! Thank you

        1. I really was referring to what I suggest for others. I eat fatty ribeye and make it happen in almost any scenario.👍🏻 Just take what I said as good advice for just about anyone on the carnivore diet. 😀

          1. Oh I see, no problem. I guess what I’m asking is really more specific. Hoping you have advice as you are also specific about your meat choices. I’m less picky on the cut, but more so about the source. I don’t do factory farmed meat. I’m used to eating prior or bringing my own food to any event or overnight, that’s not a problem. But I’m really hoping you have some tricks for longer trips. Like if I’m going on a weeklong vacation and won’t have my own kitchen to cook my own food I’ve packed. I find it hard to find restaurants that serve meat that I’m cool with. What would you do on a long trip like this, without a kitchen, and without a guarenteed source of ribeyes? Any helpful tips?

  37. great story!! I’m primarily doing this for weight loss, I saw that you didn’t want to become to muscular or masculine. Is that something I should worry about??

    1. Hi Laura!

      Here is the explanation I gave to Laura (a different one!?😀) on April 21, 2018 above…

      As far as exercise goes, do whatever feels right. I know muscle gains are VERY easy on this diet (for most) due to so much nutrition. And given this wonderful nutrition, I think the body easily nourishes itself where it needs. If a physical activity is required (either from daily living or intense feats of strength), the ability can be there. Muscles respond to what it feels it needs to be able to perform the required tasks. So, depending on your desires, do what feels right. I love to be outside. I like to cruise on my bike with the family. I love to walk the paths at Seaside, but I don’t do formal exercise. I found my old, intense routine built too much muscle and gave me more masculine traits (broader shoulders, less small of a waist, thick legs, and more squared off jaw). But, more than that, I couldn’t ignor how it made me feel (fatigued and irritated). So, it was a gradual process of reducing and feeling better, reducing and looking better, and finally reducing to (gasp!) nothing. What I do know is that this diet nourishes me so I can run fast if I want to. I can lift things if I need to. I have endurance if I need it. But, I personally don’t practice those things. I believe a healthy human is a strong and capable one. So, depending on your interests, be as active as you’d like and feel good doing!

  38. thanks for your prompt reply! I appreciate the advice! I guess Ill see what happens and back off if I think i get too bulky

  39. Pamela, I have a great solution to your issue of travel and wanting a good source (grass fed/finished) and that is US Wellness pemmican! Here is a list including no salt, no fruit pemmican… https://grasslandbeef.com/osearch?q=beef+pemmican
    We’ve made plenty of pemmican over the years ourselves, but this would probably work perfectly for you in all regards. Happy trails!

    1. That’s funny you say that. Great suggestion. I actually tried that exact thing from that US Wellness after reading about your experience with pemmican, something I had never heard of previously. I would totally use that as a solution. My only problem is I found that when I eat concentrated meats like that and hamburger, I overeat, to the point of pain or at least discomfort. Have you experienced this at all? Thanks again for answering all these questions!!

      1. Pamela, that’s exactly what happened to me when I ate ground meat (of any kind) – if overeat ro the point of feeling very uncomfortable (followed by other nasty reactions). However, pemmican was the best thing I ever put in my mouth years ago (before I tried the fatty ribeye which I prefer even more, as you know!). I felt great mixed with healing. Then less healing, and just plain feeling great. So, do what works best for you! If you tend to not get full from a type of meat or process, drop it and try something else. I wish you the best!

  40. Hi Charlene,

    Thank you so much for your story. Can you tell us more about how much meat you eat in a day, and how long it took for you to lose the weight? Did it start dropping off right away?

    I know this may seem like one of the more trivial points to you, but it’s something I’m struggling with. If I eat to satiety, I could eat A LOT of meat, and I’ve gained a few pounds since I started a carnivore diet a few weeks ago. I could eat a lot of meat and sleep all day. I’ve heard that some people say that it is a reaction to extreme previous dieting, and that it should balance out, and I know meat is great nutrition, but I would really appreciate hearing more about your experience.

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Victoria!

      I have answered this question here in this thread, but details can get lost, so here it is..

      I eat twice a day, totaling 1-1.5 pounds of cooked weight fatty ribeye.

      Of course everyone is different with how long they may see physical and weight changes, but as soon as I went all meat (still having eggs, pork, organs, seafood – reactionary foods) it was about a month that it took to lose 15 pounds.
      But then it stalled until I went all beef almost a year later. My weight loss was solely dependent on removing my reactionary foods.

      Once I went all beef, I lost the last 35 pounds very easily which was a relief and a sign I was eating what I should for my body. I think I probably lost that last 35 in a couple of months, if that.

      I’ve experienced and also heard from many that a lot of things have to regulate and repair, so I understand your need to feed and rest. Make sure you’re eating enough animal fat too. And listen to your instincts.

      I found out pretty quickly a few things if I ate too lean a meat: I would not lose weight, I’d be hungry and grouchy, I’d have higher blood sugar, and the fatigue wouldn’t go away (it would cycle if I was healing).

      I hope this helps!

  41. Charlene, thanks so much for sharing your personal story. May I ask a stupid question? Does your kitchen look really empty? I cleaned out all the non-meat stuff the other day, including my spices and condiments, as well as the LCHF keto stuff (canned tomatoes, almond flour, etc.) and my kitchen is positively bare. Do you do anything to dress it up?

    Like I say, probably a stupid question, but there’s something disquieting to walking into an empty kitchen.

    Much love & respect, my dear, to you, your husband, and your dear sons.

    1. Hi Kate!

      Great question. Well…most people would laugh if they looked in our kitchen cabinets! There are George’s art supplies and gadgets for making his stop motion movies, Joe’s art supplies, cables and batteries for all our electronic equipment, a drawer of a handful of knives and forks/knife sharpener/scimitar knife/ruler, a cabinet with a few plates, a catch-all drawer, and lots and lots of space dedicated to my sewing. I use the kitchen island as my sewing and cutting table. Oh, and Joe does dishes in the kitchen too. And…ummmm….I think…that’s…it.☺️

      So, what “dresses up” our kitchen is actually my sewing stuff! Funny and maybe a bit weird, but so are we!👍🏻😀

  42. Hi! I just want to thank you for being back to speaking about your journey! I mention you often when people ask about why I’m ZC and about how it can’t be wrong if your family is doing it without incident!
    I’m another ZIOH member inspired by your articles a few years ago, without it, I wouldn’t have taken the plunge from Paleo to ZC. It’s not been easy, especially peer pressure in general (both on purpose and no).
    After regaining all the weight I had lost (Started with exercising, then Paleo and finally ZC), I’m finding it harder to convince myself this is the way to go. Once again, stumbling onto an article of yours is just what I needed to motivate me again.

    Thank you so much for sharing.

    1. Hello fellow ZIOH member Andree!

      I know that some people who have been zero carb for years don’t lose the weight. I know some gain weight while on it and never lose. So, as you know, you’re not alone in this situation.

      Not that I have the answer, but you can try a couple things if you haven’t done so already.

      The body is pretty good at letting us know what works and what doesn’t. Chronic weight/excess body fat gain seems like it’s a sign that things aren’t right. I don’t believe it’s strictly about an all meat diet, but even more specific than that.

      Some meats may not agree with some people. Most people do best with beef, and not just beef but steaks. Possibly because it is based on our evolution as scavengers (earliest humans – not yet hunters).

      Dr. Blake Donaldson (Strong Medicine) and Dr. H.L. Newbold (Type A/Type B Weight Loss) both favor fatty steak in curing their patients if all sorts of maladies. This also included weight loss/proper weight. Both books are worth reading if you haven’t done so already.

      It’s worth a shot. I know personally, if I ate other cuts or other animals, I would battle weight and other health issues. Just my experience though! Best of luck to you, Andree!!

  43. Hi Charlene,
    I have two more questions for you…

    The picture of the ribeyes in this post. Is that what your ribeyes look like? I don’t see anything like that at the grocery store.

    2nd, are you concerned about an all meat diet being hard on the kidneys, or have you heard this statement?

    Thank you

    1. Hi David,
      Our ribeyes look like that a lot of the time, although that was an especially fatty ribeye, so a picture was begging to be taken! The reason our ribeyes look a lot different than what you see in the meat case is because we buy ours untrimmed, leaving a really nice fat cap on it = wonderful fat calories and nutrition.
      I’ve heard many times about the “kidney question” as I have all the other ridiculous notions of meat causing gout, colon cancer, diabetes and on and on. Shawn Baker has over and over answered eloquently the fallacy of all these improper claims.

  44. Thank you Charlene for the tip about getting untrimmed ribeyes. I wasn’t aware of that fact. I will search around and see if my grocery store will provide these.

    1. David,
      Most butchers will be glad to provide you with untrimmed ribeye (or any other cut)!

  45. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am just starting out with ZC. I am also a nurse practitioner, which I don’t often share in these settings because there is so much vitrol against conventional health professionals. I will be the first to tell you that conventional providers are clueless about food, and some will even admit it.

    1. Hi Melissa! I don’t envy you in your line of work. When you can see pretty consistent outcomes for people eating an all meat diet and know that most “professionals” you are surrounded by are adamantly against anything but the mainstream nonsense, that must be draining!

  46. Hi Charlene,
    I’m looking for some clues (and not a diagnosis). I’ll be going to my Dr for that. Just want to throw that out there.

    So when I eat a ribeye solo, I get low blood sugar feelings. Shaky hands, did you ever hear of this symptom? It doesn’t feel like a detox but something with hypoglycemia.

    1. Boy, David, I’m really not sure. I would’ve assumed healing had you not said it didn’t feel like detox. I remember getting shakes, chills and sweats when I progressed to something more healing, especially when I finally added BEEF FAT. If you have a doctor that can help you through this process, that’d be great. I guess just keep experimenting and journaling your responses. As always, good luck to you!

      1. Thank you Charlene, I don’t know if you remember a couple weeks ago I tried eating meat again and slept during the day for 3 hours. I’ve often wondered if it’s adrenals for being sick for so long or thyroid as my hair thinned again going higher meat and less carbs, so it could be any of those I guess or detox.

        The really interesting part is that my pain has gone way down since consuming more meat, and my gut calmed down. This all started with a gut infection overseas. I’ll continue on with a journal

        1. Yes, David, I remember your situation. I know there are so many things that have to die, filter out, heal, reconfigure, build and find a new balance. Our bodies are so complex. It sounds like overall, you are giving yourself the building blocks. With a gut infection/bacterial condition, sometimes you have to take more precautions than the norm with everything. That’s what I had to do. It’s just EXTREMELY tough at times (most of the time at first). Hang in there!!

    2. Hi David. Yes this is a common reaction amongst hypoglycemics,( I have been one for almost 30 years). Upon eating just beef only, you will get a shaky low feeling at first. After a few hours it passes, but the real answer is you need more fat. It is hard to get enough fat for hypoglycemics from just fat off the beef, so you need to add eggs alongside the beef. This really helps to balance the blood sugar. The problem with just beef for us, it is just too much protein and not enough fat. I have tried adding lots of butter but nothing works like a couple fried eggs in butter. Bacon and eggs is also great for holding up blood sugar. Also the time of day may affect you more so. If I have just steak or burgers/ground beef and lunch, it causes much more of a blood sugar low than if I eat a steak at night, which works fine. Hope that helps. Regards, Don.

      1. Eggs, butter (dairy) can be highly inflammatory for many. Steak can be a great food for managing blood sugar and hypoglycemia if you focus on untrimmed Ribeye. This cut is upward of 80% fat by calorie. This is the King of all cuts of beef! 🙂

  47. As always thank you. I will try again with more guidance and report back here if anything improves. This thread has helped me quite a bit so maybe if I improve it will help another.

  48. Charlene,
    You’ve mentioned that you felt better eating fattier grain fed beef vs leaner grass fed beef. What are the differences you noticed? Thanks!

    Pamela

  49. Charlene mentioned that they noticed bleeding gums,bruising, and feeling more irritable on grass fed only. Once they switched to grassfed grain finished that all went away.

  50. Hi! what kind of diet is your kids on? My husband and I started the carnivore diet. We like it. We see the benefits in our body and mood. My kids eat the normal high carb diet. What are your thoughts on the best diet for kids? My kids have ezcema and one is under weight and under the height standard for his age. I have two boys, 2 and 4 years old.

    1. Hi Faith! Our boys are given full autonomy in regards to their food choices. And 99.9% of the time they choose ribeye and spring water. They see the benefit first hand of the meat only diet in their own lives.

  51. Thank you for being so generous in sharing your experiences. It’s a tremendous help to others!
    So am I right to assume that you guys don’t age your ribeye loin? Would that be the bacteria issue you mentioned? So was it best for you to cryopac the as soon as possible, rather than letting it air in the fridge and slicing off as needed?

    Also a delicate subject (absolutely no pressure to answer this one as it’s perhaps too personal), but what about bowel movements? It seems I go everyday when eating keto, but should I expect to eliminate less often on “just ribeye”, since there’s not all that insoluble fiber to pass through? I mean, it doesn’t really worry me, because I trust the natural intelligence of our bodies, but I see this as a worrying factor in a lot of posts on some of the ZC groups and wondered what you could share about that aspect… again, sorry if this is too personal.

    1. Kaywren,
      We don’t age our meat. It didn’t work well at all for me. Joe cryovacs the cut steaks as soon as he opens the large cryovac. I’m assuming aging does something in favor of bacteria or yeasts that most don’t react to, but I do.
      Also, because meat digests in the stomach, there’s is very little waste, therefore very little elimination. It is much different if you consume vegetation. So, some have bowel movements each day, every other day or even a couple times a week. I guess it depends on how much you eat and how your system finds its rhythm. Make sense?

      1. Yes, makes perfect sense! …and could also be a true measure of how beef is a perfect food for our system… efficient with little waste!

        When you find the time, would you share how you guys make your pemmican?

  52. Charlene, you are the canary in the coal mine! My heart sank when I heard you had to pull your story, but so very glad to see you back again. Your whole family looks amazing.

    Sometimes I think you must be an alien! What you’re doing defies everything we’re told, but your evidence of good health (and that of many others) defies all naysayers and “science”.

    I’ve had Hashimoto’s for over 10 years now and still feel awful. I’ve researched the AIP diet and it seems so complicated, but you’ve inspired me to try this for 30 days as my “elimination” diet.

    One question…What does your blood work look like and when did you last have a blood test? I’m so tired of people saying you’ll die if you eat only meat, it’s not healthy, you must have balanced nutrition, your kidneys will blow up and so on, and yet here your are, as healthy as can be! Just eating ribeye for what, 20 years? I stand in awe! You are amazing! You’re like the Roger Banister of steak and water!!

    1. Hi Perry!
      I’m sorry to hear of your battle with Hashimoto’s. I’ve known a couple people who’ve had that disease and the struggles they’ve been through because of it. Although neither followed the all meat diet, one of them tried lower carbs and found some, not total, relief.
      As far as blood tests, I haven’t had one for a long time. The last one I had was when I was pregnant with my first. I remember my alternative M.D. was pleased with all my numbers. Before that Joe and I had blood work done at a focus on health through my work. At that point we had been in an all meat diet for quite some time and all of our numbers were great.

  53. Holy moly! Charlene is one beautiful lady. While her figure is much more athletic, she reminds me of those gorgeous pinups of the 1950s. That was well before my time, but I’ve always loved those beautiful women. Charlene has that classic, natural beauty and easily looks 10 years younger than her actual age.

    1. Well, Aaron, as a current designer of women’s clothing inspired by the 1940s and 1950s, you couldn’t have given me a higher compliment. Thank you so much!

      1. You’re most welcome! The truest compliments are the easiest! If only you had a twin sister that were single. *sigh*

        Do you have a website for your design/fashion work? I’d be happy to share it with all the ladies that I know. I did a quick Google search on your name, but mainly found Joe’s Twitter page.

        You have a lovely family, too. Joe and your two boys are handsome men. Joe looks fun, too. I saw him playing a standup bass in one photo and he mentioned rockabilly music – one of my favorites. He’s the kind of guy with whom I’d like to enjoy a ribeye. 🙂

        I’m so happy that you’re all doing so well. I’m currently dealing with Lyme, so I have some small sense of that part of your incredible journey. People with Lyme are mostly left to fend for themselves and try to figure-out things. What a shame.

        Beast wishes to you all!

  54. Aaron,
    I’m sorry to hear you have Lyme. Disease. There are a lot of people out there with it, many who don’t even know that’s what their dealing with. The nice thing is, the meat only diet can make a person feel so much better regardless of whether they have a condition they know they have or not.

    I never want to promote my store using the carnivore diet, but if someone asks, here it is…

    My Twitter which I post my newest retro-inspired creations, vintage inspiration and a little about my carnivore life is: @HandmadeRetro88.

    My Etsy store is at: http://www.etsy.com/shop/HandmadeRetroTopShop

    Best of luck on your carnivore journey!

    1. Thanks for the websites, Charlene. I’ll pass them along to the ladies I know, as well as my guy friends, so they can show their wives and girlfriends.

      Earlier today, I was watching an old documentary that I’d recorded off the show “Biography” on the A&E channel. It was about The Rat Pack. Frank, Dean, and Sammy are among my most favorite performers.

      Anyway, as you may know, Frank’s second wife was Ava Gardner. When I first saw your photo, you reminded me of someone, but I couldn’t place who it was. After watching the documentary on A&E, I now realize you reminded me of Ava Gardner.

      That’s not a bad thing, considering Ava was widely regarded as “The Most Beautiful Woman in the World.” To me, that title still applies, though most younger folks don’t know about her.

      Take care,
      Aaron

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