No more messing around, I’m pulling out all the stops and embarking on a short, experimental detour in my Crohn’s journey. Pour yourself a drink, sit back, and keep reading if you’d like to come with me…I’m going on a zero-carb, plant-free, all-animal diet.
I know some of you who know me well may be confused right now, because you’re already under the impression that all I currently eat is meat. Contrary to popular belief, I have tried to incorporate lots of vegetables, nuts, and fruits into my diet over the years, only to regret the decision 99.8% of the time.
But, why the drastic change in diet all of a sudden? As some of you may have noticed, it’s been a few weeks since my last blog post. Unfortunately, that’s because I’ve been wrestling with trying to keep a Crohn’s flare at bay. For whatever strange reason, my Crohn’s Disease definitely has a seasonal component to it. Last year around this time, Jeff and I were in New York City with friends for New Year’s Eve. After a week in New York, I was walking around feeling like I had a knife jammed into the side of my abdomen and finding a secluded restroom was becoming a major stressor. At the time, I thought it was just due to traveling and not having my fermented foods and raw milk on hand. Now, I’m starting to think it may have just been the Crohn’s coming at me with everything it had, despite my best efforts. As soon as I got back from the trip, however, I flooded my system with raw milk, yogurt, sauerkraut, farm-fresh eggs, tuna, and grass-fed beef…and after a few days, I was back to feeling great.
The year before that, Jeff and I spent Thanksgiving dinner at the local IHOP. This was before I had started my fermented foods diet and was already experiencing the second worst flare of my life. I was in so much pain at the time that I decided I may as well eat french toast, since it wasn’t going to make me feel any worse, and so, to IHOP we went. A couple months after that, I went back to my doctor and back on medications. I only stayed on medications for a few months until I started on the first version of my Crohn’s healing diet.
So for me, the winter months are more than just cold weather and Christmas break, it’s a pretty reliable emergence of Crohn’s symptoms and thus, another battle of who/what will win: me and my diet or the disease? The past few months before the holidays, I was feeling really good and started experimenting more with my diet. I incorporated intermittent fasting into my daily schedule and brought myself into nutritional ketosis (both of which are supposed to reduce inflammation in the body). I also started cooking vegetables in a pressure cooker to destroy the lectins that make them hard to digest. Now, if I’m being completely honest here, I did a little binging on macadamia nuts and ate way more than just a little sauerkraut…perhaps it is possible to have too much of a good thing? The fact is, whether it was my dietary experiments or just the change in seasons, my Crohn’s reared its ugly head and I haven’t been able to kick the symptoms this time.
This is when Crohn’s becomes quite depressing. You’re doing everything possible to control it and it comes anyway. For me, it comes with the fear that I’ll have to go back on medications or suffer dire consequences if I don’t. Worst-case scenarios usually start running through my head and I start obsessing about bowel obstructions and developing a toxic megacolon. People usually ask me how I know a flare is coming on or how I know I have Crohn’s. Often, it’s because they’re suffering (or know someone suffering) with some unpleasant gastrointestinal distress. Crohn’s sufferers can experience the onset of a flare up in many different ways and no two Crohnies are necessarily alike. For me, however, I know things have taken a turn for the worse when my bowel movements have turned into nothing but blood and mucus, with occasional diarrhea, and painful bloating/distention of the abdomen. Usually it feels like I have shards of glass rolling around my intestines or what I can only imagine feels like a gunshot wound in the gut. I’m not usually one to cry from pain, but when Crohn’s is at its worst, it brings me to my knees.
Circling back to the beginning of this post, I’m pleased to say that I’m still medication free, my colon hasn’t burst, and I have a new plan of attack. Which brings me to my new diet of just animal products. On the off chance you’ve actually heard of this diet, then you’ve probably heard it referred to as the Carnivore Diet or the Zero Carb Diet. Just as it sounds, it’s a diet that consists of eating nothing but animal products: mostly beef, some dairy and eggs, and fish. But, absolutely no plants or plant products (no vegetables, fruits, sweeteners, starches, etc.). I’ve known for a long time that I feel really good when I eat meat and really bad when I eat vegetables, I just didn’t know until recently that this was actually a diet being followed by many, with some pretty impressive research, stories, and results behind it.
Today was day one of my carnivore diet. So, in order to properly prepare, I said farewell to my non-animal foods last night by eating a loaf of home-made sourdough bread 🙂 Following my carbohydrate binge, I fasted all day today and then ate a filet at 7:00 p.m., a couple of eggs over easy, and a glass of raw milk kefir. Since I was still hungry, I then ate a fatty ribeye at 9:00 p.m. Both were delicious. So far, no complaints on this diet! My plan is to be very strict for a week or two and then possibly incorporate a small amount of sauerkraut back into my diet. Then, once I’ve made a full recovery and the winter months have passed, I’ll add my sourdough bread back into my diet, a few more vegetable oils (like avocado oil), and perhaps a couple of vegetables that I do enjoy, but don’t leave me miserable (like boiled carrots, avocados, and sautéed mushrooms). If this works, I’m hoping I will have stumbled upon an eating rotation to keep me well all year long–strict carnivore from November through January and then slightly less carnivore from February through October.
Many of you will probably read this and be worried about my health…believing that a diet full of steak, eggs, and more steak will be detrimental. But as I’ve gone through this process of dialing in my diet, listening to my body and its needs, and struggling with Crohn’s, the thing I’ve realized is that no matter what health claim or statement is being made, chances are, there’s going to be a study to support it and a study to debunk it, a group of followers and a group of naysayers. We’re all different with unique microbiomes, diverse goals, and individual challenges. If you’re lucky enough to be someone in good health, with a properly working digestive system, and can enjoy the plethora of fruits and vegetables out there, then I say enjoy them all and be sure to have a serving for me!
Raise your glass, or your knife and fork, and I’ll keep you all updated on how this little experiment goes! Cheers!