My whole life, my health has been an enigma to me. I was always skinny as a kid and could, and did, eat pretty much anything I wanted without gaining weight. That included a lot of sugar. Sugar poured over my cereal in the morning, sugar in the juices and sodas I drank, and any candy, ice cream or cake I could get my hands on.
What could possibly go wrong? I was skinny, which means healthy, right?
But I had a variety of chronic maladies that would crop up from time to time – back pains, fatigue, OCD symptoms, infections, joint problems, digestion problems, and increasingly, anxiety. An athlete I was not.
As I got older, the problems came and went, and at times I even became athletic. But my blood tests started getting worse, and symptoms came more frequently. I gained a little weight as I grew through my 30’s into my 40’s but kept exercising and trying to eat what I thought was a healthy diet.
But my A1c, blood pressure and cholesterol climbed anyway. I was already taking statins and blood pressure pills in my early 30’s, even though I looked perfectly healthy. I was, as they say, skinny fat.
Well, my fragile world crashed down about 7 years ago following surgery to remove a non-malignant tumor from a nerve in my thigh. The surgery ‘went fine’ as the doctors told me. But 3 days later, I could not get out of bed. I was crippled by a fatigue and anxiety that left me confused and helpless. Over the following months, my symptoms got worse and worse until I could barely leave the house. It was like living with a migraine that never went away. Among the more notable symptoms:
- Hypersensitivity to light and sound – I literally wore silicon earplugs and dark glasses every time I left the house. Public places overwhelmed me with noise.
- Insomnia – I did not sleep for days and weeks at a time, leaving my waking hour a walking nightmare.
- Asthma – Never had it before, now I was taking multiple inhalers.
- Carpel Tunnel – all of sudden, I started waking, when I could fall asleep, with crippling hand and wrist pain.
- Digestion – swung in both directions.
- Sinusitis/Allergies – my nose was clogged, my eyes teared endlessly.
- Fainting – the falling over without warning and slamming my head into the floor was definitely a low point.
- And CRIPPLING Fatigue. Crippling. That was the worst – sitting almost paralyzed for hours.
I thought I was dying.
Then, a series of chance events led me towards the carnivorous diet I strive to maintain now. I visited every kind of doctor I’d heard of (and some I hadn’t), and eventually settled on the diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and took more medicines and supplements that you can possibly imagine. Some helped.
But it was an encounter with an acupuncturist that started my shifting paradigm on food and diet. He asked me about how I ate. I said I eat pretty well. He smiled and said, “what do you consider pretty well?” Hmmm. What did I consider well and why?
I expected a lecture on plant-based diets and fiber, but was quite shocked when he told me I needed to eat more meat. Meat? Seriously? Last thing I expected from someone I thought of us very spiritual.
Now his diet recommendations were based upon the Weston Price work and foundation. Naturally raised meats, raw dairy, and traditionally prepared plant foods – ferments, soaking/sprouting, stewing, etc. Not carnivorous, but certainly not vegetarian.
In the coming years, I found, researched and tried all the usual lower carb suspects – paleo, primal, bulletproof, keto, intermittent fasting, etc. I read the books and blogs – all of them taught me things. They made me rethink all I thought that I knew. And not just about which foods to eat, but when, how much and why.
And then the fateful day I stumbled upon the story of the Andersens, the family happily raising a family of 4 on nothing but ribeyes. I was stunned. It seemed impossible. What about a balanced plate with lots of colors and macros and such? What about disease and cholesterol and heart attacks?
A bigger challenge was trying to explain to my wife, who had quietly suffered through my illness and countless doctors, pills and potions, that I was now going to eat steak for breakfast, lamb burgers for lunch and more steak for dinner. Now she was convinced I was going to die, and while I thought she might be right, I felt better than I had in a long time. Digestion was simpler. I slept better. I stopped wearing ear plugs and could go in the sun without bursting into flames. I cut back on medications, I started doing more around the house, I was increasingly productive at work.
I know I don’t have all the answers. I still have health challenges and take some medications. But the simplicity and consistency of carnivory is a huge help. I don’t know if it will change my life expectancy in the long run, but it has increased my quality of life tremendously right now.
I’ll sum it up simply by saying I am blessed.
I am blessed that I am not dead.
I am blessed that I can work full time and even travel.
I am blessed that I can still learn new things.
And I am blessed that I get to eat a ribeye any time I damn well please.