Carnivore diet? 3 weeks in
10th August 2023
I have been doing a carnivore diet for three weeks now, and I want to capture why I am doing it and what the early experience has been like.
Without telling my life story there are a couple of things about my past that I need to cover first because they are very relevant.
9 years ago I began to feel dizzy all the time and become sensitive to noise. Obviously I engaged with my doctor and went through all the referrals and tests and was ultimately told it was Ménière's disease which is incurable and degenerative.
Indeed this has degenerated and has come to include four main symptoms:
- general feeling of imbalance
- extreme sensitivity to vibration and (primarily low-pitched) noise
- severe intermittent pain in one or both ears almost every day
- feeling of pressure and hotness in the ears
I have have been gaining weight for about 5 years and made several failed attempts at dieting. Every diet I tried I just got exponentially more hungry every day I followed it making it obviously unsustainable.
Why did I decide to try the carnivore diet?
A couple of years ago I read online that some people had cured their Ménière's with diet, as it turned out they had some allergy to something they had been eating. This made perfect sense because:
- Ménière's is indeed an inflammatory condition so could be immune-related
- my family has history of immune conditions
- I have noticed my mouth swelling when eating certain fruit in the past couple of years
At this time however I did not feel able to pursue a diet-based approach to curing my Menierres because:
- I had no way of knowing what I might be allergic to
- I had just come off a failed diet so didn't feel that I had much control over what I ate
However just a few weeks ago I found out about the carnivore diet on YouTube. Some are following this diet for the explicit purpose of eliminating any foods that may be causing inflammation or auto-immune conditions.
I was obviously interested in this and decided to give it a go. The version of the carnivore diet I went with is just:
- tea & coffee
I was hoping for the following benefits:
- help with my Menierres
- help me lose weight
- change my approach to food
Week 1 was very difficult as I suffered from low energy (and mood swings) all the time, despite eating as much as I could. I believe this is due to the many changes that have to occur in the body to function on a low-carb diet.
I was watching lots of videos on YouTube about the carnivore diet to try to gather information on how other people do it.
By the end of this week i was already noticing several benefits:
- my heart-burn had almost completely gone away (previously had this every day)
- my bowels were functioning better
- my teeth were super-clean!
I still had low energy this week, and didn't follow my normal exercise routine as a result.
By this point I was seeing a lot of benefits from my diet:
- I was no longer having regular pain in my ears
- I thought my ears felt less uncomfortable, though this is hard to quantify
- my bowels were functioning better than almost ever before
- my heart-burn had gone away almost completely
At the end of this week I tried eating "normal food" to see what would happen. This consisted of a cheese & ham toastie and lemon drizzle cake from Costa Coffee for breakfast.
I assumed I would really enjoy eating these as it would be a change from this 1-dimensional diet. However they didn't taste nice to me and I soon regretted it as:
- after around two hours I had bowel discomfort
- 4 hours my scalp felt itchy
- by evening (around 12 hours) my whole body felt itchy and my ears were burning
So I realised that I really have been eating something I was allergic to and that my diet will never be the same again.
This week my energy really came back and I started to feel much more normal, and started exercising again.
I weighed myself and saw a lower number on the scale than I've seen for 3 years. I know this may be "water weight" but it still makes me happy.
By this point I am starting to develop more of a routine around my food instead of simply planning things day by day. In a typical day:
- bacon & eggs or salmon & eggs. I throw away half the white as the yolk is more important for the fat content
- minced-beef with cheese or pork chops
- a large rib-eye or sirloin steak or two small ones. once-per week have liver also
- milk or kefir, or put lots of cream in my coffee
I tried strawberries and an apple to see if I would react to them but the results of eating them once were inconclusive as I thought they made me feel worse but would need more data to be sure.
I have several feelings about this whole thing.
At this point (end of 3 weeks) I have been doing this carnivore diet pretty strictly for 3 weeks. My low energy has gone and I feel fine both mentally and physically.
I am seeing these definite, measurable benefits:
- less heartburn
- lost weight
- teeth much cleaner
- no bowel discomfort or flatulence
- ear pain gone almost completely
And these more subjective benefits which are harder to measure:
- less dizziness
- less noise sensitivity
- ears feel better
- scalp less itchy
- less dandruff
- better body odour
I find the whole thing just bizarre and amazing. I honestly wouldn't have thought it was even possible to eat like this and yet it seems to be perfectly fine. It's hard to internalise that my entire conception of food and diet has been wrong all my life.
It is also very hard to accept the possibility that this disabling ear condition which has had an huge effect on my quality-of-life for years could have been diet all along.
I am a bit worried about nutrient deficiencies, though lots of people have been doing this diet for years and seem to be fine.
Also I am very aware that perception is easily biased so it is hard to be certain to what extent some of the benefits are just psychological or temporary.
Also Menierres generally destroys the inner structures of the ear over time so even if the diet stops my ears deteriorating that's no guarantee they will return to normal.
This diet has been a very unique journey for me thus-far and challenged a lot of assumptions I had about food and my body.
I will continue with this diet for the foreseeable, probably trying to re-introduce foods one-at-a-time and see if they have any negative effect. Clearly I can't eat bread but fruit and rice would be good things to try.
But it seems certain that my diet will never be the same again regardless.