I’ve been interested in nutrition for about a decade, have been a Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (FNTP) for 5 years, and worked at the Nutritional Therapy Association (where my husband and I met in our class!) as the Alumni Community Manager for 2.5 years.
In that time, I’ve seen the first bubblings of many new ways of eating about 5-7 years before they reach mainstream popularity, such as paleo, the 21-Day Sugar Detox, Whole30, keto, intermittent fasting (IF), and the about 3 years ago, carnivore.
Back in 2010 when paleo was gaining steam, I lost 40 pounds and resolved many health issues when I took out grains, dairy, sugar, and soy. This ancestral approach was a revelation for me, and forever changed how I think about nutrition. My before/after photos were even featured on Ditch the Wheat and I Quit Sugar.
But despite the revelation, some old eating habits eventually creeped back in, along with many of my previous health issues and pounds…
Then, around 2014, I tried keto for the first time. It went well at first, and I felt AMAZING when I could stick to it for a few weeks. But the “high” was only temporarily. I quickly grew bored and old foods (and pounds) crept back in.
In 2017, I tried a combination of keto and intermittent fasting, compressing my eating window to about 6 hours, or even doing OMAD (one meal a day) sometimes. This approach worked really well for about 3 months, until I binge-ate a gluten-free birthday cake I had made for my niece’s 1st birthday, felt terrible, and gave up. UGH.
In November of 2019, I realized I was at a really unhealthy place. I didn’t feel like myself anymore. I was binge-eating, suffering from depression and anxiety, and experiencing annoying acne, strong sugar cravings, and debilitating fatigue. I was almost back to my pre-paleo weight, and was experiencing nearly all the same health issues once more. Which simply led to feeling even worse and binge-eating even more.
2019 had been an incredibly stressful year.
In August, my grandmother’s health began to rapidly fail, and then she passed. She was like another parent to me, and the grief was unbearable.
I had agonized for months about leaving an unsustainable work situation, and eventually did in September. I had intended to focus on our business full-time, Flourish Fundamentals, but was simply too exhausted and burnout to give it the time and energy I had hoped. I felt alternating apathy, anxiety, and dread about making a living for myself with our business.
On top of all of this, my seasonal depression was rearing its ugly head in early fall, and I knew it would get worse through January and February. I’ve always felt a sense of dread in fall, knowing winter is around the corner.
It’s not like I didn’t know what was causing all of this.
My dirty secret is that I was binge-eating, constantly snacking, and just giving myself whatever I wanted as long as it was “gluten-free.”
That meant anything from “treaty” whole foods like heavy cream, cheese, and dark chocolate, to store-bought gluten-free breads, crackers, and pizza, and even straight up candy again when at other peoples’ houses. DOUBLE UGH.
I have felt so much private guilt and shame being an FNTP―knowing the right things to do (choosing nutrient-dense options like high-quality meats, fats, and veggies―but for some reason not being able to actually practice what I preach.
And I’ve felt more guilt and shame about how inflamed and puffy I felt and looked, and I was sure people were judging me, too. I was thinking:
I’m an effing functional nutritionist. Why can’t I get it together? How can I talk about healthy eating when I’m not doing it myself?
I knew that I was an Abstainer rather than a Moderator (click for the quiz), but nothing was sustainable for me long-term. For example, keto involved carefully tracking carbs and macronutrient ratios, and ain’t nobody got time for that.
When I first heard of carnivore, I thought it was interesting, but considered it too extreme for myself.
That was, until my husband and fellow FNTP John, in the middle of his own carnivore challenge (second time around, this time no dairy, and having great success himself), told me there were other Abstainers in the carnivore community who had overcome their food addiction with the carnivore way of eating.
They also had tried keto, but found themselves unable to moderate―as I had.
They said they were now able to see food as just food and not entertainment. I couldn’t even imagine a world where that was a possibility for myself.
So, even though I had previously brushed carnivore off, saying I was “happy for them, but it’s not for me,” that piqued my interest.
Since John was already about 20 days into carnivore, I decided to join him with a 30-day experiment. I wanted to change my habits around food, and most importantly, to feel better.
I’m currently 24 days into my experiment, and I will say I’m cautiously optimistic. I’m also curious to see if I’m able to do this long-term after the initial 30 days, or whether I will fall into old patterns.
Though I am not doing eggs or dairy, I am doing some spices and some “transition meats” to help me adapt and develop the “habit of the habit.” Although I’ve made amazing progress already in terms of how I feel, my food addiction issues aren’t yet 100% resolved.
I can already see a tendency to go for more palatable carnivore foods like sausages, salami, bacon, or pork rinds (surprise, surprise). I’m not worrying about it too much in the first 30 days because I recognize it’s a transition period, but will probably reign it in in the next 30 days and try to stick to just meat, salt, and water.
I’m finally realizing that no way of eating can change me, that I have to actually do the work to change myself (duh), but I’m making progress with changing my own habits and changing how I see food.
My goal for Real Food Carnivore is to a) keep me on the path, and b) help other FNTP + NTP Abstainers who want to transition to carnivore, too.
If my experience sounds like yours, I’m glad you’re here. It’s a little uncomfortable for me to be this raw and honest and question so many “sacred cows” in the functional, holistic health world, but if this resonates, I hope you’ll find it helpful and inspiring.
Drop me a line if you want to share!