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...That's what I'm shooting for.

Hi, I'm Stef, and I'm a carb addict. I feel bad saying that when I know people with substance addictions that ruined their lives, but I still believe it's true. Carbs give me systemic inflammation and exacerbate my mental health issues to the point that they're unbearable. Despite knowing this, I still routinely overate them until I did my first Whole30 in October 2021. Since then, I've come to understand that I'm incapable of moderating my consumption of certain foods, textures, and tastes, and cannot include them in my life.

I spent over 10 years as a vegetarian and pescetarian due to a history of getting sick after eating meat (especially beef) as a child. After my first Whole30 I started reintroducing meat, and found that not only did it not make me sick, I feel the best I've ever felt when I eat a lot of it. Especially fatty beef. I have several theories on what changed between my childhood and present day. I think that my mom's fear of dietary fat and frequent refusal to cook or serve it made my body unprepared to deal with high or even normal amounts of it, meaning I got significant GI distress whenever I had a fatty meal. I'm not diagnosed with any kind of intolerance, but I do believe I have some kind of sensitivity to wheat and other grains. We often ate pasta or rice with our meals, and I may have been reacting to that instead of the meat all along.

Now I'm swinging in the opposite direction. For the month of January, I'm going to be eating only animal foods with the exception of coffee, a few avocados, and maybe some olive or coconut oil for cooking. I've been doing a lot of reading the past couple of months, and I truly believe that an animal-based diet with minimal carbs could greatly benefit my physical and mental health. I'm so excited to take the next steps in this journey!

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Day 0

Dear reader, I cannot explain how excited I was to put unsweetened almond milk in my coffee this morning. I haven't had it in 30 days and I had sorely missed it every single day. I put the normal amount in my coffee cup (I weigh it on a kitchen scale), poured the coffee in, and... was extremely underwhelmed. I think I actually prefer it black now. Wonders never cease, I suppose.

I also dove into the no-salt-or-sugar-added almond butter and ate several heaping spoons. Now THAT was heavenly. I was planning on also making some scrambled eggs to go with the leftover pork steak in the fridge, but I guess the fat from the almond butter quelled my appetite. Now I'm probably going to be waiting until sometime in the afternoon to eat. That's another bizarre turn: literally every time I have eaten nut or seed butter it's a huge feat of willpower to actually stop, even temporarily. I don't know what's different about this morning. I'm on cycle day 23, well into the PMDD Danger Zone. Any other time, I would have finished off the jar. I always buy unsweetened nut/seed butter, so I know it's not the added sugar... maybe the lack of salt helped me put it down? Who knows.

My husband has ordered a pizza, because he's starting this carnivore month with me tomorrow. I'm probably going to have some fried potatoes or baked potato chips, but that's as carb-y as I'm going to get today. Sweetness is dangerous for me. Sweet potatoes, winter squash, and carrots are as sweet as I dare to go.

I have a lot of hope for this little experiment. I hope that it further improves my mental health and also my inflammation/swelling. I hope to drop fat easier and get stronger. I hope it makes my PMDD milder.

I'm going to eat some cheese today. It'll be the first I've had in 3 months. If I don't have any issues in the next 72 hours or so, I may include it a few times per week. I'm a little hesitant because I've heard other people with PMDD say that dairy makes it worse for them, and still other people claim that dairy flares up inflammation and makes it hard for them to lose weight. Who knows, I may not even like cheese now that I've gone so long without it.

While weight loss is not my main goal, it's still a goal. I'd like to get back to 130 or so, or whatever weight I have abs at. I've had eating and body image issues for a really long time, so calorie and macro counting can make me a little obsessive and often leads to cycles or restricting and "binging" for me. A while back I set my scale to kg instead of lbs, because it would make me less emotional about the number. I've been hovering around 69kg for a couple of months now, and while it's higher than I'd like it to be, every time I see it I think, "NICE." I'm going to try my best to remember to weigh my food this month and record the weights somewhere, so I can go back and calculate the calories and macros at a later time. I'm really interested in the science-y side of this, but I have to take care of my mental health, too. 

 

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Day 1

CD24

1st: 5 bacon, 3 eggs

2nd: chuck roast

3rd: 2 drumsticks and 1 thigh from a rotisserie chicken, cheese

snacks: beef jerky

 

Our power was out from about 1:30pm to 8:30pm. What a way to kick off 2022!

I had allergy symptoms all day- itchy eyes, ears, and throat, runny nose, sneezing. Yuck. 

Overall a very lazy day.

 

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Day 2

CD25

1st: leftover rotisserie chicken (~300g)

2nd: 2 cheeseburgers with bacon and fried eggs on top (holy YUM)

3rd: 5 bacon

snacks: beef jerky and cheese

 

Still having allergy symptoms, plus a sinus headache. Took antihistamines and ibuprofen, which helped a lot. I can't help but wonder if it's the cheese. I'm going to stay away from it for at least two weeks and reintroduce a single type of cheese next time. I'll be disappointed if cheese is what's doing this, but at least I'll know.

I went to a friend's house to help lay flooring and was sorely tempted by the snacks she had out: fruit, party mix (chocolate covered pretzels, chocolate drizzled popcorn), and cheese and crackers. Part of me was like, "That's not even food," but part of me REALLY liked the smell of the pineapple. Woof. I may have to see about marinating something in pineapple juice soon.

 

 

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Day 3

CD26 CD1

1st (5:30am): 4 eggs cooked in ~2tsp bacon grease

2nd: leftover rotisserie chicken

3rd: 4 small chicken thighs

snacks: beef jerky

 

My headache is gone today and I'm less itchy, but still sneezing occasionally. My eyes are still puffy and a little irritated. Saturday (January 1st) it was in the mid 70s and we had wild storms, a 7-hour power outage, and were under a tornado watch. Last night, we got 2" of snow. I think I remember seeing that the grass pollen levels had been high, so I'm not COMPLETELY convinced the cheese was the only culprit for my allergy symptoms.

It feels like I'm going through carb withdrawals again, blah.

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Day 4

CD2

1st (11:30am): 5 bacon, 3 eggs cooked in ~2tsp bacon grease, 2 salmon patties

2nd: 2 salmon patties

3rd: pork butt roast

snack: salmon patty w/Whole30 ranch

 

I've been sneezing like crazy. So much so that I took an antihistamine and a nasal decongestant. Now I feel like hot garbage and I'm too wired to take a nap. I took a rapid COVID test and it was negative, but I think I picked up some kind of bug from the New Year's party (there were seven people there including me and my husband). I have a ~100° fever. On top of all this, the HVAC is acting wonky.

I just kind of laid around most of today and tried to rest.

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Day 5

CD3

1st (7:45am): 4 salmon patties w/Whole30 ranch.

2nd: 4 eggs cooked in ~2tsp bacon grease, salmon patty

3rd: 3 chicken thighs

 

My temp was 98°-99° when I got up this morning, which is a little high for me, but better than yesterday. A few hours later, it was back up to 100°. I got a PCR test at an urgent care, just to be safe. My results should be back in 24-48 hours.

My friend, who is part of my chosen family, lost her dog to cancer today. Heartbreaking. The grief definitely stirred up some cravings for junk food, but I know nothing I eat will make this pain easier.

 

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Day 6

CD4

1st: 2 burger patties topped with fried eggs, 4 bacon

2nd: 2 salmon patties w/Whole30 ranch

3rd: chuck roast

 

Feeling a bit better today. We were supposed to get some snow accumulation, so a lot of customers at work cancelled their appointments and I got to stay home an extra day. The snow didn't amount to much, but it's very pretty.

I've been craving beef the past couple days. Those burgers were AMAZING. The roast was pretty good, too. I might try to make an effort to have a little beef every day, or at least every other day. Maybe I'll try taking beef patties to work for lunch when my salmon patties run out.

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Day 7

CD5

1st (9:00am): 2 salmon patties w/Whole30 ranch

2nd (6pm): 2 beef patties w/fried eggs, 6 bacon

 

I'm still waiting on my COVID test results so I didn't take food to work with me. I work in a small area with two other people who have high-risk relatives. I wore a mask all day and went into a different area to drink water. At least I don't have a fever. Still tired and feeling kind of blah, but it's much better now.

Dinner was excellent. I'm so thankful I can eat beef. Fatty beef just hits the spot, every single time. I love being able to eat until I'm full and actually feel satisfied.

I remember when I first started Whole30, salmon was sooo decadent and satisfying. I thought it was the ideal food for me. Now I much prefer beef. I remember when I first started reading about zero carb and carnivore, I thought some of these people were crazy for only eating ground beef patties most days. I thought that seemed so bland and difficult, and I could never stick to it for even a short time. But my thoughts on that have changed. I do love bacon and eggs, but I could definitely eat beef patties every day.

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Day 9

CD7

1st (12:00pm): 2 burger patties w/fried eggs and bacon

2nd: baked salmon

3rd: baked salmon and bacon

 

I probably ate a pound of bacon today. Well, maybe not, but it felt like it. I had some crazy intense carb cravings all day long. According to the Whole30 timeline I'm coming up on the hardest days, and I'm inclined to believe it this time. Oof.

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Day 10

CD8

1st (7:30am): 2 burgers, 4 bacon, 2 eggs

2nd (4pm): RIBEYE <3

 

Gavin is working super early shifts this week, and that means getting up at 3:30am. YUCK. I thought I could put off eating until lunchtime at work, but I started getting uncomfortably hungry around 6am. Bacon and egg burgers always hit the spot. 

After I ate breakfast I felt so full and satiated that I didn't even take lunch with me to work. I wasn't hungry until around 2pm when I got off. I grilled ribeyes for the first time when I got home and they turned out great! I'm going to sear them better next time.

I'm realizing more and more that beef is the most satiating thing I eat. We've been stocking up on steaks since December, and I think I'm going to start tapping into our hoard. I love baked chicken thighs with crispy skin, but there's truly nothing like a thick and juicy fatty steak.

Today I had some clarity that I'm not used to. At this point in my cycle things are usually pretty calm and smooth-sailing, but I felt like I could see more of the "big picture" in regard to my mental health. During PMDD my insecurity and paranoia ramp up and I get stuck in my head ruminating, imagining worst case scenarios, and seeing "patterns" and "evidence" everywhere I look that I'm going to be abandoned, cheated on, left behind, humiliated, and ostracized. Today I could clearly see that wasn't the case, and I could see how different my two states of mind are. Not gonna lie, it made me feel a little crazy. Both of these states feel true and objective while I'm in them.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm a touch borderline. The Venn diagram for CPTSD and BPD is almost a circle. They say that BPD can be diagnosed without trauma, but I've yet to meet a borderline who didn't have significant trauma history. 

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Day 11

CD9

1st (7am): leftover ribeye, 4 eggs, 3 bacon, ~20g dried beef liver

2nd (5pm): 4 chicken thighs w/Whole30 bbq sauce

 

Very hungry day today. Days like today I get a little self-conscious about the amount I eat. I'm trying to have faith that I'm not going to balloon up to 400lbs from eating like this. Gavin's schedule this week is killing both of us. Thankfully he's taking Friday off. The shift is probably making me hungry from increased stress.

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Day 12

CD10

1st (6:30am): 1 chicken thigh, 4 eggs, ~20g dried beef liver

2nd (2ish pm): 1.5 pork shoulder steaks

 

My therapy appointment was cancelled today "due to illness." I'm not sure if the entire office was out or just my provider. I was super upset. We were supposed to start working on my trauma again with EMDR. Now I have to wait until the 26th.

Of course I had some carb cravings pop up. My husband got home from work early and we watched Don't Look Up and Midnight Mass. That helped distract me.

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Day 17

CD15

1st: bacon, eggs, beef jerky

2nd: salmon

 

It's been a rough few days. Gavin started feeling sick Thursday night/Friday morning. My coworkers had very close contact (unknowingly) with a friend who was COVID positive Wednesday night, so they cancelled work Friday. Gavin tested positive for COVID on a home rapid test Sunday (yesterday) morning. One of my coworkers started having symptoms yesterday and tested positive as well. So far, I'm asymptomatic, and Gavin's case is fairly mild, like a really bad cold. I expect to come down with it any time now. Unless, of course, my at-home and PCR tests were both false negatives and I'm not able to be re-infected so soon, which I highly doubt.

I've been having really brutal and constant cravings for the past week or so. Granted, they're cravings for much more benign things than I used to crave, but it's still uncomfortable. Everything I've read says to just eat more, specifically fat. 

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Day 19

CD17

1st: skirt steak

2nd: 4 chicken thighs

 

Started seriously supplementing electrolytes. I pretty much immediately felt a little better. Hopefully it'll alleviate this constant headache.

I remembered that a friend gifted us an air fryer and it had been collecting dust in the garage. I cleaned it up and I'm looking forward to using it soon.

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Day 20

CD18

1st: 2 burgers, bacon, 4 eggs

2nd: chuck roast

 

The air fryer is cool, but very small. The preset cooking times and temperatures are also garbage, haha. The preset for bacon was 370° for 25 minutes. Thankfully I was being nosy and checked it halfway through, because the bacon was overdone. The magic time is 8 minutes! Twenty-five would have probably burned the house down.

 

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Day 22

CD20

1st: bacon, eggs, cheese

2nd: t-bone and shrimp

snack: bacon and cheese, boiled eggs

 

Super hungry day. I've been experimenting with cheese to get more fat. Yesterday I had some with a couple with a couple of boiled eggs with no ill effects. This morning though, I had some and shortly after had SEVERE abdominal cramps. I did some googling and the internet seemed to suggest that it could have been too much fat. I had more cheese later and no cramps.

Maybe it was a fluke?

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Day 23

CD21

1st: bacon, eggs, cheese

2nd: chicken thighs

3rd/snack: bacon, boiled eggs, cheese

 

It seems like the fat from cheese can easily put me over the amount of fat my digestive system is prepared to handle. That's okay though, it's just going to take some trial and error.

I posted on r/zerocarb about how I've been struggling, and one of the mods said that the illness that I had around the first of the month (possibly COVID) might be the cause of most of my problems. I've just been sooo tired and lethargic and unmotivated, which is the exact opposite of how I thought I would be at this point. It's very discouraging.

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Day 24

CD22

1st: chicken thigh, eggs, cheese

2nd: t-bone w/butter

3rd/snack: 3 boiled eggs w/cheese

 

One of the reasons I've been so hesitant to try and log my food during this experiment is that I didn't think Cronometer would be accurate or have information on stuff like bacon grease, etc. But it seems like it is, so I'm trying my best to log things. The amount of calories I consumed today is alarming, but I'm trying not to panic. It's PMDD time, and I know I'll be back to normal in a few days.

Speaking of which, my paranoid and anxious thoughts are much "quieter" and easier to dismiss. Before, it was so easy to get wrapped up and identify with them, but today they seemed completely false and foreign. I really hope this is a symptom of improvement and not just my depression-related apathy ramping up. I still don't have much energy or motivation. My allergies haven't really stopped acting up all month.

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Day 25

CD23

1st: 4 eggs, 7 bacon

2nd: pork steaks

snack: cheese

 

Feeling a bit better today. I'm interested to see how I feel once my cycle starts over. I don't want to give up prematurely because I've stuck with it this long. I guess part of me is scared that this is as good as it'll get. 

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Day 30

CD1

The last few days have been kind of rough, but not as bad as they usually are. I ended up overdoing it on cheese and had some constipation/ painful bathroom issues. As unpleasant as the experience was, it was actually a good thing. I have a pretty good track record of cleaning up my act when I have direct evidence of a food negatively effecting me. I've been mostly avoiding it the past couple of days, only eating it if it was part of a recipe I was making. I think abstaining is also helping my sinus symptoms. I was popping decongestant and antihistamine like they were candy (haha) there for a while.

The longer I eat this way, the more I find myself only wanting beef, and occasionally some fatty pork. Something about the texture of slow-cooked roasts puts me off a little. I always feel like they're way too lean. But any grilled or pan-seared beef is just heavenly and so satisfying. I've been putting ghee on homemade beef jerky as a snack. It's like carnivore toast, I guess. I would have gagged at the thought only a few months ago, but once my body got a taste of a healthy amount of fat, I crave it.

I've been fortunate to have fairly mild cramps with my cycle until the past few months. Around the time I started Whole30, they started getting bad. I have quite a high pain tolerance, but they would be severe enough to make me dizzy, nauseous, and at times affect my vision. I've been managing it with naproxen, and thankfully they only last a day, or sometimes two. Today was one of those days. I'm not sure if it's the change in diet alone, or perhaps my age is catching up to me. I hope my body eventually adjusts.

The urge, motivation, need, whatever you call it, to exercise, hasn't returned yet. I'm quite disappointed by that. I'm not sure if it's 100% diet, or if it's just so cold in the mornings I can't bring myself to do it. I want to get back to lifting, but it's a big ask right now.

My emotions have been so much calmer this month. I'm identifying less with my anxiety and paranoid thoughts, and not getting "sucked in" to negative loops or spirals. I find myself getting uncharacteristically annoyed or frustrated at people sometimes, but I'm able to not act on it. I did have an exceptionally bad night a few days ago where I woke up around 1:30am and couldn't get back to sleep. I had a lot of flashbacks. I had had therapy the day before. We didn't even do EMDR, just talked, but thinking about the trauma did it. I spent most of the next day extremely dissociated, feeling like I was about two feet behind and above myself. I thought I would be able to talk about it with Gavin and maybe I would feel better, but I couldn't bring myself to do it.

 

 

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