This post is written by Charlene Andersen. She’s been on zero-carb for decades. Her story reminds me a lot of what I went through. Thanks for sharing.
“I was born on March 22, 1973. Since then, my battle with life began. I was sensitive to every food my parents introduced to me, trying to wean me off of breast milk by 3 months old. I guess they found the “least reactive” combination of foods to give me, but not without consequences.
I developed asthma and extreme allergies at a young age. At age 4 I was allergy tested, after a scary breathing incidence at nursery school, and was found to be sensitive to just about everything. Diet was never considered at that point of being my base issue. Instead, allergy shots were given to me for years, along with oral medications, nose sprays, ear drops, inhalers and cream for all my rashes. I hated every single one of them.
At age 8 I developed trichotillomania. I pulled out all of my eyelashes and eyebrows due to sores on my lash lines. This was seen by my parents as a bad habit I needed to break. I never did “break it” until about 17 years later. So, I grew up extremely self-conscious about anyone looking at me, especially from the side.
I was an only child, so my parents wanted me to be involved with as many activities with other kids as I could. So, I went to a lot of camps, which I absolutely loved. One of them is most likely where I contracted Lyme Disease from a deer tick. I never saw a bullseye rash or developed the initial Lyme symptoms.
When I started to mature around 13 years old, I developed extremely painful and ugly acne. This made my physical appearance even more shameful to me. This crater-like acne plagued me until I was around 25 years old. I developed cellulite around age 12, and although not fat, my body composition was bad.
By age 16 my periods slowed and stopped. No doctor could figure out why since I ate a “healthy” high fiber, low fat diet.
College years my health declined even more. The extreme fatigue and depression really set in. I couldn’t stay awake in class, and I pushed friends away. Even though I’d had suicidal thoughts since childhood, they became more intense.
I got through college and soon met my life-saver, Joe Andersen. I always say, this is the point where my downward spiral finally had a chance to end and reverse, little did I know at the time.
We shared so many of the same passions in life (art, music, etc), including diet and health. I knew that how I ate had an impact on my health. I just didn’t know exactly what to eat to reverse my many conditions.
With the job I had at the time, I was heavily exposed to chemicals, which worsened my physical and mental conditions. So, before Joe and I could figure out the best diet path, my health continued to decline.
I had worsening fatigue (I fell asleep everywhere – at work, in the car while driving, etc), depression (several plans of suicide), mental confusion, brain fog, paralysis/numbness in limbs (Joe had to carry me out of work a number of times), extreme eczema on hands (like 2nd degree burns), neck and face, continued amenhorrea (lack of periods), cervical dysplasia, Degenerative Disc Disease (couldn’t sit – worked standing up, constant sciatic nerve pain), continued weight gain (50 pounds overweight at my heaviest), muscle twitches (over 100 twitches in a minute’s time), personality change (from laid back to full of rage), and on and on….
I tried to use working out to help me feel better, but it didn’t do anything for me but add to my fatigue and anger. I even became a PT throughout the process of trying to figure things out for optimal health.
I tried conventional and alternative doctors, but with each “fix” they gave me, it lead to more issues and even further sickness. Of course, most doctors just thought my symptoms were in my head and said I was depressed.
Joe had always been into physical fitness and old-time body builders and athletes. He knew they used steak and egg diets to improve their athletic performance and abilities. So, we started going toward that approach.
We first started lowering carbs, and that was an instant success when it came to my allergies and asthma. I lost a little bit of weight, but most of my conditions didn’t really improve at all.
Joe and I married on August 8, 1998. It was bittersweet. I was marrying the man of my dreams, but even the adrenaline and awesomeness of the day couldn’t mask how badly I felt. We were the first ones to leave our own reception due to my fatigue.
Soon after I was diagnosed with Lyme disease by an alternative M.D. This at least gave Joe and I something to pin a lot of my problems on, but it didn’t do anything to cure it. That was up to us.
We took the next necessary step in diet to a very low carb diet. Again, things improved (acne, some weight loss), but not enough for me to be content.
We went zero carb and started with a fish and “healthy oils” diet. I felt I was heading down the right path, but didn’t have the results I wanted.
When I turned to all meat and meat fat, I ovulate within a couple days and had a period within two weeks. I couldn’t believe it! All the research I’d done on this subject in countless books and NONE of them talked about animal fat being king for proper hormones!
That alone gave me a huge incentive to keep going, eliminating foods that gave me any type of reaction. I really didn’t mind the smaller and smaller list of foods I ate, as long as I felt better. In so many ways it was freeing to me. I became less of a prisoner to hunger, food, and illness.
As I continued to experiment with Joe, we started keeping food journals of our meals, activities, reactions, wins, and fails. We often would re-introduce foods to re-test for verification. Luckily, I was consistent with my food reactions.
As every one of my issues started to reverse (some within days like acne, to around a year, like the fatigue and muscle twitches), I became happier and healthier.
People around us didn’t respond well with what I was eating. They were (maybe?) happy for me feeling better, but very concerned with what I was (or wasn’t) eating.
Nothing and no one trumped how I felt, so we pursued this venture despite all the rolled eyes, accusations of doing this all for attention, etc. I finally was starting to feel like a “normal” person and I wasn’t going to let ignorance take that away from me.
Not all meats were equal for me. I started out with free range eggs, pork, lamb, beef, poultry, and wild-caught fish. But, as time went on, I didn’t feel as well with anything but beef. And, not just beef, but fatty, ribeye steak, the very thing that Dr. Blake Donaldson and Dr. Newbold talked about being the best food for most people suffering illnesses.
I even started to notice that I didn’t need my contacts, and soon threw them away along with my glasses.
The better I zeroed in on my optimal diet, the more weight I lost and the better my body composition became. I started lessening my extreme workout routine from kettlebells and heavy lifts and HIIT sprints to eventually not exercising at all.
I’ve had two healthy boys in the process and we’ve been able to provide for them a happy, healthy environment.
My diet of fatty, ribeye steak (conventional grass fed/grain finished) gave me the best results, and from there, my life has exploded with energy, happiness, and health.
Approaching my 20-year anniversary (“carniversary”) of the all meat diet, I can confidently say, “There is life after illness”!!”