This was a hard weekend for me and I have come to the realization that I will need to make another life change...again. So for those that don't know (and that would be most as I tend to keep some details to myself), I have RA (rheumatoid arthritis) and I was diagnosed with it about 3 years ago. Before I was officially diagnosed with it, I was living with the pain of inflammation and joint pain for a year in Japan. Unfortunately, as much as I loved living in Japan, not knowing the language and being able to communicate effectively made it hard for an effective diagnosis. Plus, no one in my family has RA and before this, I had absolutely no idea what it was. My pain was centered around my right knee, and then both knees which is what RA does - it mirrors itself. Not to go too much into it, but the pain got so bad that I was pretty bed bound for a long time. The inflammation was relentless and because it was untreated for so long, my knees atrophied to the point that I couldn't straighten my legs fully. I had to do months of really, really painful physical therapy to get that to happen. It was a pretty awful time but we finally found a combination of medicines that helped.
It was a hard road to say the least and those medicines, while they really helped me live more of a normal life, are incredibly bad for a body. Besides terrible side effects, they attack the kidney's and liver so I have to take blood tests every 3 months to make sure that these medicines haven't harmed them. This is especially awful for me because I am highly needle phobic...but it is what it is.
So anyone who doesn't a chronic pain issue, it's really hard to understand what it is to live with something like this. I hope that my friends and family don't get to see it as I work super hard to act normal as much as I can. But imagine, going to sleep thinking the pain was not that bad and waking up and not being able to move your hand or shoulder. It happens quite a lot. So the really sad news for me was that at the beginning of this year, my RA moved into my hands, wrist, arms and shoulders. I don't really know if I am plateauing on my medicine or what exactly is going on but I am determined to see if my eating habits can help my RA pain. Thus far, I have tried a lot. I have tried the Mediterranean diet, the Wholefoods 30 diet, low carb, gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian, etc... I have lost weight, gained weight with medicines, lost weight again and the cycle just keeps happening.
The past couple of weeks I was trying the Bright Line Eating as you have seen. I was really hoping that it would improve my joint pain but unfortunately it hasn't and this weekend I had a painful flare up. This led me to do more internet research and came across something that I have been putting off for awhile. It's basically an elimination diet. You basically cut out everything except things that you know your body doesn't react to and slowly add things back to see what works and doesn't.
This brings me to my uncle. He is in incredible shape and he is like a machine. He has been doing the keto diet for years and years (10+) and in the last 3 or so years he has gone completely carnivore. What does that mean? I had no clue either! I looked it up and listened to some podcasts and it's basically the opposite of everything that I have ever thought of. It basically means that you JUST eat animal products and nothing else. So not low carb but NO carb. To be a true carnivore, you would just eat red meat, salt and water. That's it.
Besides adding in some eggs, that is basically what my uncle has been doing for the last few years. Sounded crazy to me and I was like most people and thought it can't be sustainable and it couldn't be good for your health. Well tons of research and case studies have proven those theories wrong. The thing to remember with my uncle is that he has definitely worked his way up to how he eats now. If you ask him, he will tell you that he has never felt better in his whole life as he does right now. Now this is a very smart man who works for NASA and does all his research before doing anything. By him telling me that eventually eating this way will help with my RA pain to the point that I may be able to eliminate all my medications in the future, I am willing to give it a chance. I mean...I've pretty much tried everything else. That being the case, me being me, I have to come up with some variety - even if that means I just have meat, eggs and fat to work with! While many people also eat dairy on a carnivore diet, I have decided to cut that out as well for the time being so see how my body reacts to not having it. If it all goes well, I will definitely add it back in as I have a love affair with cheese!
For the next 30 days, this will be my life. I have already gone all in for the first two days and I am super thankful so far - my joint pain as I write this post has been not as bad this morning. Some days I can't even bend my fingers and I am currently typing this on my computer so that tells you something. Even better? I slept really well last night ... without taking 2 to 4 ibuprofens! That's huge. So even just two days in, I am committed to making it the next 28 days. Then if I can add cheese back in?? Smooth sailing from that point!
First things first. The premise of the carnivore way of life is eating animal products but also incorporating in a lot of fat. That was a challenge for me since my whole life until now has been with keeping things low fat. So dousing things in butter/ghee and or beef fat or whatever didn't seem very appetizing. I am starting slow in this diet so I am eating all fatty meats as well as eggs. Bacon will literally pave my way to this sort of eating. One of my most favorite brunch meals is eggs Benedict mostly because of the yummy hollandaise sauce that it's topped with. If you have ever had hollandaise sauce, you know that it is made with lots and lots of butter so in this case, it is THE MOST perfect sauce for me to add fat (and lots of flavor!) into my meals. Traditionally, hollandaise sauce includes other flavors like dijon mustard and lemon juice but I wanted to simplify it as much as possible. This is what I came up with in case it helps others in their journey. Technically, to make this true carnivore, you would just have the egg yolk, melted butter and salt in this recipe. I added some white wine vinegar sparely just to get that tang that I associate with a hollandaise sauce. You can omit this if you want to keep it as simple as possible.
Hollandaise Sauce (Carnivore Style)
2 egg yolks
250g of butter
2 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar (optional)
big pinch of salt
freshly ground pepper
Melt the butter in a sauce pan until bubbling. Turn off heat and set aside.
Place the 2 egg yolks in the bottom of a tall handheld blender container. You can use a traditional blender to if you don't have a
Add the water, vinegar, salt and pepper to the container.
Using a handheld immersion blender, insert it gently into the container until it is freestanding. Holding it firmly to the bottom, turn on the blender and blend for about 15 seconds without moving it. As the blender is still running, slowly drizzle the hot butter in. The hot butter will cook the egg and the sauce will start to thicken up. Gently start to move the blender wand up lifting it slowly and blending as you go to make sure everything is incorporated.
Blend for another 30 seconds or so. The sauce should coat the back of a spoon when ready.
For a traditional blender, just slowly drizzle in the hot butter while the rest of the mixture is blending on medium speed until everything is emulsified.
Pretty easy right?? It really is and it makes a good amount so you can store it in the fridge in a glass jar and use liberally (which I do!). I can't wait to test out recipes using this yummy sauce.
Don't worry - I still make plenty of other types of meals for get togethers and other householders so I will definitely be posting other recipes too. In case there are other readers out there who struggle with RA or another autoimmune disease and are wanting to try out the carnivore way of eating or are curious to see how I am doing on it, I hope that this is helpful for you. Even though I try and keep things positive, I will try and track my pain levels so that I (we) can really see how this way of eating is either helping or not helping me. I do know from all the case studies I have seen that this way of eating does take a long term commitment. My philosophy is that if I can find something to allow me to live a more functional life, it is worth that commitment. So here goes a new page in my story. Wish me luck!