"Do you remember the taste of strawberries?" "No. I can't recall the taste of food."
Over two weeks ago I took on a 30 day carnivore diet experiment. There are various methods of the carnivore diet, from strict (only meat, organs, salt, and water) to relaxed (any animal products including milk and cheese, herbs, spices, coffee, and tea). I'm doing only beef for the first half, and adding fish and chicken for the second half, and clearly saw myself going through the classic five stages of grief.
Going from a part-time vegetarian to the carnivore diet was an extreme transition. I did a lot of research and felt relatively prepared, but I was in denial over the way the diet would affect my social interactions. I could no longer go out with friends for food (sure, I could order a steak, but it had to be cooked in ghee without any seasonings, and this really cuts into already-limited options) or drinks (there's a huge social element you're cut out of if everyone's enjoying a drink and you're sitting there with…water. Can't even spritz it up with a lemon).
I ended up not going out at all because it bothered me too much to be "that person"—having all the crazy diet restrictions and annoying the server.
I was also enthusiastic that I would see results pretty quickly—and when this did not happen, I didn't accept it. "Surely tomorrow results will kick in!"
Ohhhhh, there were days when I needed comfort food—and I could not have it. Who chows down on a fricken hunk of beef for comfort? No, I wanted ice cream or candy or chips—I'd have settled for blueberries for crying out loud.
I became angry I couldn't be like a normal person. Why is my body broken? Why does it have so many health issues? Why can't I just be like everyone else? Other people seem to be able to eat bread and cheese and garlic and potatoes and corn and soy—heck I'd settle for kale at this point—and be just fine!
"Do you remember the taste of strawberries?"
"No. I can't recall the taste of food."
Okay so I know I shouldn't eat dairy, but how bad would it be to have just one piece of cheddar cheese? Aged cheddar has low lactose. Hey, it's even a part of the relaxed carnivore diet. I wouldn't even be breaking the diet if I just had one piece of cheese.
I unwillingly accepted that I had a lot of unresolved and undiagnosed health issues, and nothing the doctors have recommended so far (diet or medicine related) has fixed anything. I did have constant health issues, I wasn't like everyone else, things did make me sick—and I didn't even know what they were. My best bet (since doctors have been so unhelpful) is to focus on diet and do the best I can to help my body, and that might not even be enough.
And to try to help myself—I've cut all food-related goodness and joy from my life. To try to be well, I have to be miserable. This is definitely a depressive state.
Here I began owning the choices I was making, rather than whining about losing all joy in my life to try to not be sick. I can do anything for 30 days, and after that, I get to add back in yummy fruits and veggies and stuff again. I've tried vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and dairy-free, and that didn't improve anything—this was an active choice I could make to try something totally new and see if it would help me.
And if not—no harm done! I've done a fascinating and incredibly difficult experiment for 30 days, broken any chemical addictions to sugar or carbs, and exercised an absurd amount of self-control.When anything drastic and difficult happens, the five stages of grief (in part, or in mixed order) can totally come into play. Starting a dramatic new diet is no different.