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

103 Replies to “Charlene Andersen”

  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!

  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.👍🏻🥩🍽😀

    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.

  9. 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. 😉

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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. 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!

  13. 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!

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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!

  17. 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!!

  18. 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!

  19. 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!😀

  20. 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!

  21. 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!👍🏻🙂

  22. 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!

  23. 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

  24. 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!

  25. 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!

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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! 🐂+🧐+🧠+🔥+🌡+❤️+💗=🍽🥩💪🏻!

  29. 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!!

  30. 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

  31. 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.

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