Carnivore During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Interview with Grass Fed Girl | The Hart of Health Podcast
We interviewed Caitlin Weeks (Grass Fed Girl) on our podcast recently. This was our first interview for The Hart of Health and we’re very excited. Caitlin is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and Holistic Lifestyle Coach. She is a carnivore diet queen, has improved her Hashimoto’s disease symptoms a lot through her diet and lifestyle, and is a mom to the cutest little boy.
Learn more about her journey in this episode!
Here is the YouTube version of the podcast:
You can also find the transcript below.
Here are the timestamps from the podcast:
0:21: Caitlin’s journey from Paleo to Keto to Carnivore and how reducing carbs and increasing protein and fat helped her hunger and blood sugar levels, and helped her stop overeating.
5:00: How Caitlin felt after doing carnivore for the first time
6:36: What Jonathan used to believe about health
7:38: How Caitlin started taking electrolytes and how they help her with cramping.
8:48: Why people need to take electrolytes on a carnivore/zero-carb diet
9:14: The salt controversy in the carnivore community
10:42: Caitlin’s carnivore pregnancy, if people gave her a hard time, and how she ate during pregnancy.
15:13: Being judged for following a healthy diet while pregnant.
17:03: How a carnivore diet helped Caitlin during her pregnancy.
18:46: Caitlin’s birth experience
27:12: Breastfeeding on a carnivore diet.
34:40: World Carnivore Month in the Southern Hemisphere
Hi, everyone. This is Caitlin, also known as Grass Fed Girl. On the podcast today, the podcast is The Hart of Health. And we are going to be asking Caitlin a few questions, just to find out a little bit more about what she’s experienced on her health journey. And yeah, take it away Joane.
Okay, so the first question I had was: so you went from paleo to keto and carnivore, and I know a lot of people do that (it almost seems like the natural progression), so what benefits did you see going from paleo to keto and then carnivore in terms of your health?
Well, first of all, thanks for having me on. It’s so great to be here. And, yes, it’s been a long journey. I started doing paleo in about 2010, when I was really sick with Hashimoto’s disease, you know, I had very low energy and I was a personal trainer. So I was used to having good energy and my digestion went really poorly. It was very slow. And that’s a symptom of low thyroid and Hashimotos. So I was interested in paleo because I heard it would lower your inflammation and, you know, take out foods that you were maybe sensitive to. So I did that. And the biggest thing it helped me with was my blood sugar because I’d always been very hangry, you know, always needing to carry a little snack bar in my bag. And you know, coming from the world of personal training, I was always doing the six meals a day and carrying my containers. And so, I was really thinking I had to eat that many times in order to get my blood sugar under control. And so when I did Paleo, I was like, “Oh, my gosh, I could eat three meals if they have some fat and protein. And then I can actually go two or three hours without eating.” So I was shocked by that. And it was really amazing. So that was the biggest thing I think was just being able to have a few hours’ peace from my hunger and everything. So I was just so excited about that. Okay. So I was just so excited about that. And I just kept noticing that I was overeating nut butter and fruit and stuff, and I think I was very carb addicted, I just really wanted the carbs. So I noticed the more I reduced my carbs, I felt better. So I couldn’t, you know, if I ate sweet potatoes, I wanted to eat another sweet potato after I ate the first one. I was learning to cook really well, so I was able to make things really tasty. And so I was just like, “Okay, I think the carbs have always been an issue for me.” I grew up dieting a lot with my parents, we were always going to Weight Watchers. So I kind of knew that I had food issues all along. And I thought I had like a personality problem or something. But I think I was just very sensitive to carbs and sugar. And so I always thought, why can’t I be like everybody else and just eat one bite of, you know, a Snickers bar or Pringles or something like that, like these really tasty chips that we have here. But then when I realized that, you know, it’s not really my personality, I was just eating the wrong foods for me, and when I started eating fat and protein every meal and reducing my carbs, I started just to feel more and more calm about food. And then I learned about low carb and keto. And I met a lot of people in keto. And I kept just doing that and it just kept feeling right. But I was still having tons of problems with my digestion. So I didn’t know what to do about that. And finally, in 2018, my friend Vivica from The Nourished Caveman, she told me “just do 30 days of carnivore”, I think it’ll help your digestion because I was always bloated and I had to like take a lot of magnesium and stuff. And I thought well, okay, 30 days I can do. I mean, of course, I was very resistant. And I waited like two or three months before I started. But then I said “okay, do 30 days”, and she was kind of helping me. I was messaging her and stuff. I was like, I don’t know if I can do this… but then, at the end of 30 days… I think I’ve had a little easier time than some people because I was already kind of low carb. But I did feel pretty bad that first week. And then, after 30 days, it just clicked. And I was like: “Well, I’m not stopping because this is the best I felt ever since I started getting sick”. I mean, I dropped within the first month, I think I dropped 10 pounds, and I was just feeling amazing, and I was so calm around food. I mean, I was eating two meals a day rather than three meals. And I was just so excited because it was the best I felt in my digestion. It didn’t start going better, except the bloating was gone, like the moment I stopped eating broccoli and cauliflower and, you know, salads and all this stuff in my diet, my stomach just, you know, flattened out more and it was just amazing. Like, I used to have, like, you know, my fingers would swell up and everything just from eating all those vegetables, those low-carb, you know, healthy vegetables. And then as soon as I stopped eating them, I felt so much better. And I had better digestion. Like I used to always get heartburn, especially at night. And as soon as I cut the vegetables, that went away. And so, I was just like sold and I just kept wanting to do it. And then I just kept doing it. And it’s been, in October, four years.
I can definitely relate to that story. I studied Human Movement Science at the University of Pretoria and all they told you was “food pyramid”, you know, and “have lots of meals a day.’ And so, everyone would ask me “Oh, you’re studying Human Movement Science, what should I eat?” and I was like, “Okay, if you want to lose weight, you’ve got to eat these regular meals, you know, try boost your metabolism. Have whole wheat whole grains and all those things” and you know, part of that industry is promoting this like really grain-based diet. And you know, “you’re not supposed to have too much meat and like too much saturated fat is gonna make you gain weight” and so, I started with that whole paradigm and also had very, very slow digestion and going to carnivore, I also went from paleo to keto. So it definitely helps being fat-adapted before you go carnivore. And I think if you also maybe tapered your fibre, you wouldn’t have such a bad first week of carnivore. But definitely after the first month of carnivore, I was like: Nope, this is the solution.
I think. I mean, of course, I knew about it. But on keto, I think I was never low carb enough (because I was eating a lot of vegetables) that I needed the electrolytes but then once I did carnivore, I was like, “Okay, I really need to learn about these electrolytes and be serious about them.” I think that was one thing, you know, maybe I was missing the first month or so was I didn’t take it seriously enough that I needed the electrolytes and now I take them two to three times a day and it helps so much because I actually get cramps, especially now that I’m breastfeeding, I’ve been breastfeeding for 19 months. So I will get cramps in my foot. My foot will go like like “this” if I don’t have enough. It, you know, feels like a charley horse. I don’t know if you call it that but that’s what we call it. I get them in my foot or even in my ribs. Sometimes, I get like a cramp and then I’m like “okay, I need more electrolytes.”
Electrolytes make a huge difference for us as well. We try to get a lot of it in.
And especially, when you’ve been having so many carbs, as soon as you start losing that water, your electrolytes just go with them, with the water, so I think a lot of people make that mistake of like “oh I’ll just eat meat” and then suddenly they are full of cramps and they’re feeling a little bit low in energy and I definitely like the recommendation for electrolytes.
Especially when people don’t salt their meat enough.
They’re probably still afraid, you know? And I mean, there’s a lot of controversy on carnivore if you should stop using salts and all this stuff. But I think that’s maybe an advanced technique for later on. Once you’ve been doing it a while, you can experiment with no salts or whatever. But when you’re first starting out, you definitely need as much salt and electrolytes. I mean, of course, salt is an electrolyte but you know some people can get away with just salt like sea salt or Redmond salt but I think some people really need that combination. I mean, I use the Redman electrolytes, and they work really well for me.
Yeah, you also need the potassium, calcium, and magnesium to get a full electrolyte combination.
Absolutely, which I think you could get in spring water. But a lot of people don’t get spring water, they will get still filtered water. And so, then it’s often depleting those natural minerals. So I think if you’re drinking spring water, maybe the electrolytes might not be as important, but not a lot of people get good spring water.
Yeah, most people are drinking city water, so they have to add stuff to it to make it.
So one thing I was curious about while you were pregnant, you were 99% carnivore? Did people give you a hard time about your diet while pregnant?
Well, at a doctor I went to in our city, we have a group of midwives that work within the hospital. So they work with the doctors, and so, that’s who I saw the whole time was the midwives, and they’re a little more open-minded, and they’re more… they want you to try to have a natural birth as much as they can. And also, you know, not intervene. So they were a little more open-minded, but I really didn’t go into it. I just would say, you know, I’m low carb, or I’m eating mostly protein or something. There are ways to say it. You know, it’s need-to-know information, because I know that what I’m doing is safe for me, and I know, I’m getting the best things for my baby and everything, but they don’t know that and so it scares them. And so I think, you know, stick to the words like “low carb”, or you know “I’m prioritizing protein” or something along those lines. And, you know, they don’t need to know every single thing about it, because they’re not nutrition professionals, you know? Doctors are given this halo of knowing everything, but they really don’t. They don’t study nutrition in medical school. So, you know, if you feel confident in what you’re doing, then I think, you just have to be true to yourself. And then, you know, if you’re not sure, I would go outside of the doctor and get some nutrition counselling or something with a practitioner that you trust, but I make sure I supplement with folate, just to be on the safe side. I took the actual folate, not the folic acid, so make sure and do that. That was really the only thing I felt like maybe I wanted to supplement. It was summertime when I was pregnant or most of it. So I got a lot of sun. I felt okay about the vitamin D. And we were just talking about it, I refused the drink, the sugar drink to test my blood sugar, and I did my own testing at home. For two weeks, it was four times a day of testing my blood sugar, and it was always very low. And it always stayed in a very tight range so that I knew that I was not experiencing any, you know, gestational diabetes. So I was like, you know, I’m feeling confident with what I’m doing. And I knew that I wasn’t eating all these antinutrients that, you know, were maybe blocking my absorption of these wonderful foods like butter and eggs and fish and meat and seafood, you know, shellfish. And I did also take liver pills a lot, almost, I think, for several months maybe, I definitely took liver pills. Because I was just like, you know, I know liver has all the stuff that it’s like nature’s multivitamin. And so I took that too. And that just made me feel a little more confident that I was getting everything. And then when I saw my baby, I was just like, “oh my gosh, you know, he’s so perfect.” I was like, “Okay, I did it right.”
Yeah. That’s great. That sounds like a recipe for a healthy baby: liver and no antinutrients
We’re just a little bit unlucky that the family is involved with Joane’s aunt is a nurse at the gynaecologist. It makes it really a little bit tricky to separate the diet because the aunt knows exactly what’s being eaten, so it’s hard to try and use different language because then at the family gathering, you kind of have to explain: we’re just eating meat. And then they freak out a little bit.
Now the first month I was doing The Lion Diet because it was World Carnivore Month in January. So it was just beef and lamb. And so, that was quite interesting. And then I added fruit. And after that, what we found interesting is I know so many women who, when they were pregnant, were just eating junk food, basically only eating carbs, living on crackers and sodas, and hardly having any protein and fat, and no one had a problem with their diets at the time. But if you eat a diet that’s only meat and fruit, that’s bad. Certainly. So I thought that was quite funny.
Yeah, I mean, you guys have a special situation, but I think generally, most people don’t have relatives at the gynaecologist. Of course, my parents know how I eat and my sister eats very similar to the way I do, so they’re used to us crazies eating like that. They know they have to have a lot of meat and stuff for us. But, you know, with my extended family, I don’t really talk about it that much. Because it’s like, I fight with them, and I don’t want to hear what they have to say. And, you know, so I don’t really bring it up. And it’s better that way, I think.
Yeah. Well, most of our friends, they’re so used to the way we eat, like nobody talks about it anymore. It’s just kind of accepted. My parents as well. Like, we often take our own food when we go and visit and we just enjoy the time with them. And that’s been good at least.
So how do you think being carnivore helped you during your pregnancy?
Well, I mean, I’m not a small person. And I think that, you know, I gained 50 pounds when I was pregnant. So, you know, people, when you’re larger, you get treated like crap, you know, in the medical setting. And so, you know, I think that if I had started to show signs of diabetes, you know, gestational diabetes, I would have been treated more harshly and assumed things. I mean, people already assume things but then if you did have more signs of, I mean, of course, I’m from the south, so everyone is obese and sick, but, you know, people assume that you’re unhealthy if you’re larger. And, you know, I wasn’t unhealthy at all. I mean, I’m not young either. So, you know, having those two things against me, but I knew inside that I am healthy, and I’m doing everything right. And so, it just helped me to be confident in these because you’re dealing with different people all the time. And they’re asking you this and asking you that, and so, knowing that I didn’t have anything really wrong with me, it gave me a lot of confidence going through the process. And, you know, that’s intangible. But literally, I was healthy, and my baby was healthy and everything. And I was able to go to 40 weeks and one day. I didn’t get induced. When you’re a little older, a lot of the talk is an induction, and I didn’t want that, because I felt like, whatever happens with your body needs to happen. Because those things that are turning on those processes, they’re, you know, millions of years old, they need to happen, you know. You can’t just take one drug and I mean, I don’t believe that you can just take one drug and then everything’s supposed to happen starts to happen. So, I felt like I really wanted to let my body go into labour naturally, and I was lucky that I did. And I felt like that really helped me. And I didn’t get induced and at the end, every week they wanted to check and do an ultrasound, which I was fine with because then, once they checked the ultrasound, they said, “Okay, well everything’s fine, so we’ll let you go another week or another day or whatever.” And so, that was good. And they just worked with me. And I read a lot of stuff, I mean, I read Sally Fallon’s book, I don’t know what it’s called, but something about children, and that one’s really good. She wrote that with Dr Tom Cowan, and that’s a physician from San Francisco. And so that one was very reassuring to me. Also, Mama Natural’s book was really good. It was like, step by step, week by week, it was really good. And so, you know, if you know, you read stuff, then you know what they’re gonna say, ahead of time, and then you know how to respond. So that helps a lot.
And I ended up having a C section anyway, but just not having to be induced because I had a friend who was actually way younger than me, and she got induced, and it sounded so horrible, she had a very bad time at the hospital. Even worse than I mean, I didn’t have a bad time other than having to have a C section. But she had a bad time. And so, I was just so glad that I let my body go into labour naturally and experience that. And I mean, I did push for like over 24 hours. It was, you know, very intense, but then they decided that it was getting to where there were some risk factors coming up. I think my heartbeat was very fast. So they were just worried about, you know, when you’re in labour a long time, then your the placenta can start to fail and stuff. So they were just like, you know, “do you want to really go further?” and I was just like, “Okay, I’ve had my bad enough, I can’t do this if there are risks coming up”, I was just like, getting to the point where I was done with the risk. So I just wanted to see my baby.
It was, within 20 minutes, I mean, it was amazing. They have you in and out and you’re holding your baby and you’re like, “Whoa, this is crazy”. Of course, I’d been there for 24 hours.
Yeah, hindsight is 2020.
It sounds traumatic, such a long labour.
Yeah, I mean, it’s kind of disappointing that I had to do all that and then do the C section. But yeah, you never know. You never know what’s gonna happen. And I had a doula and everything. I brought my own doula, which I think everyone should do. And they even have like programs for people with low incomes and stuff that you can get a volunteer doula and stuff. But she was very natural-minded. And she said: “You know what, you’ve done everything you can. So it’s okay, now just let it go.” And I was like, “Okay, let’s just let it go.” And, you know, “all my ideas about everything. And then I just need to have the baby here safe and everything.”
I think it’s good to not get too attached to a birth plan. Because I think a lot of women, they’re so set on “No, it has to happen this way.” And then if it doesn’t, that can affect you emotionally. But if you go in with an open mind, like “Okay, if they have to do an emergency C section, that’s okay.” Like, “I’m still gonna try natural, but I’m still open to things changing.” I think that’s a better mindset to have going into it.
Well, you have to be willing to change, and just go with whatever pops up. You don’t know how long… you know, I was having no progress. And I got to 10 centimetres, and it was no progress. So I was just like, “Okay, well, I don’t know, and I was so exhausted by this.” It was almost like a movie with torture or something.
Sounds like a marathon. Yeah, an ultramarathon.
But having your doula in there, somebody you know, because you meet them ahead of time, I mean, I would definitely do that. It wasn’t really that expensive. And you know, having that peace of mind that it wasn’t somebody from the hospital pressuring me, that was great. And it was during COVID, so that allowed me to have an extra person. So I did have my husband, but of course, he doesn’t know what the heck’s going on. I mean, was great to hold my hand and stuff, but
Speak of the devil.
And he wasn’t, you know, knowing what’s happening so. So definitely, if you can have a doula, it’s very helpful. And then yeah, that led me to have an extra person that I knew there. So that was good. Of course, all the nurses were wonderful. And they really encouraged me to push and do everything I could natural. But at the end of the day, it’s hard to have a C section, but you get over it eventually. You know, after about a year, you’re like: “Okay, it’s all right.”
Well, for me, I just think there’s no good way for the baby to exit your body, whether it’s natural birth, or like a C section. Both have their own side effects. Obviously, with natural birth, you get the pain, you don’t know how long it’s going to be. You could be in labour for 24 hours. And then with a C section, obviously, they have to cut you open. The epidural freaks me out a little bit. Somebody’s putting a needle in your spine.
I had the epidural too because, along the way, they were like, “Well, if we don’t wait, if you get an epidural, then you can push for a couple more hours.” So I was like, “Okay, I guess I will.” Because I still wanted to have that natural birth. But it was so weird. I mean, you don’t feel anything, especially after you’ve been doing it naturally for a long time. You feel nothing. And they’re like, ‘Okay, push”, and you’re like, “what?” They’re like, “yeah, you’re doing great, what are talking about?” I don’t feel anything. It feels like a cartoon or something. You’re just like, what? You feel the needle, I didn’t feel anything. As far as I mean, you don’t feel any pain whatsoever. But it didn’t feel like I could effectively use my body though. So that was like, the weird thing. I was just like, “I don’t feel like I can participate in this process.” Because now like, you’re paralyzed, you know, so I don’t know if this does anything, you know, but whatever.
It must be such an interesting feeling. And then I also wanted to know about breastfeeding and your diet, like, how do you think the carnivore diet influenced your milk supply? Because I just hear so many women where their milk just dries up, often in the first few weeks. And I often wonder if that’s diet-related. And so, I was wondering if you noticed any things with your diet and how that affected your milk supply with breastfeeding?
Um, I mean, I don’t know. I mean, I just think that doing prenatal nutrition, you know, for several years is so important. And then I do think that maybe it’s an electrolyte problem. I mean, there’s so much stress around the birth and stuff. So in breastfeeding, just like, I mean, there are certain sets of things in your body that need to happen, like your heart has to beat, you know, you have to go to the bathroom, you have to digest your food, these are the things, but then there’s a lot of things that don’t have to happen, like sex drive or your hair growing, those are not survival things, and I would assume breastfeeding is not a survival thing for the woman, maybe. Of course, it is for the child. So maybe that’s something that your body just cuts off because it’s like, we are so stressed. So we’re not going to support that function right now. Because that’s what your body does, that’s why your hair falls out or your skin’s messed up, or you have a priority of just keeping yourself alive, and so, non-essential functions will just stop and that’s why maybe you feel like you have no sex drive or something like that. But for me, I didn’t have any problem whatsoever. Your milk doesn’t come in right away so it took about five days. But you do get this colostrum, you really can’t even see it. So you almost have to just believe in it. It’s almost like a fairy tale or something. So they said, “oh, he’s getting that”. “Okay, whatever I believe you I guess, I don’t see anything. And suddenly, it comes in and you’re like, “Whoa.” But they gave me the pump and they brought it to the room and the one lady nurse was very, very pushy. She was like “you need to pump now.” And I was exhausted and I was like “oh, leave me alone.” And then she said, “You need to pump right now.” It was like the middle of the night and I was like, “What are you talking about? Leave me alone.” But she was very pushy. And she brought the thing, it was like a rolling pump. And it had like, you can personalize them, you know the stuff you put on yourself, like, those were disposable. But the pump thing was rolled around on a stand. And she’s she was like helping me and she was like pump, pump pump, you have to pump, so that was the key, you know, doing that right away. And then I was just like drowning in milk after a few days. It was crazy. I was just like, I mean, it was insane. And I do think electrolytes are a big thing though. I think some people are so dehydrated. I mean, I had to drink, I drank so much water. I had cases of water sitting around my chair, like my rocking chairs and everything because you have to have so much water to get that milk going and everything. So I think it’s probably a case of dehydration. People are just out to lunch, they don’t think about that, and I was of course salting my food and eating really good. My husband was cooking for me and I was eating like goat yoghurt and because that was like an easy thing you could eat out of the container, you know, and I was eating a lot of scrambled eggs. And so yeah, I think people just maybe they’re just dehydrated and also their nutrition is poor because I mean, you’re so tired. So they, again, you could be eating pizza and you know, chicken nuggets and you know, if your body’s not getting good nutrition, maybe it just dries up. So and of course with the stress factor too.
Yeah, that makes sense. When I did some research, I read that you need to eat enough fat because your body needs fat to be able to produce proper breast milk. And then also, you need enough fat on your body. And I guess that’s also in case you’re not eating enough fat. So I think with a carnivore diet, if you’re eating enough fat, that should also help quite a lot.
I wasn’t super concerned about carbs right then at the beginning because I was so just exhausted. So you know, I was eating more dairy and things that are higher in carbs and I was eating berries and stuff when I first came home from the hospital, but over time, I tapered that down after I got stabilized because I was still eating, you know, carnivore-ish, but I was just needing to just eat easy foods. But, you know, I still kept to eggs and all that stuff, but the berries were kind of helpful for my mental health.
Makes sense. Yeah, I don’t know if I could do strict carnivore for very long periods of time, like I do like being more carnivore-ish, like having a little bit of fruit or just that breathing room. Like I think I’ll probably cycle between going strict carnivore, and then also adding things in like berries, and then… you also cycle?
Yeah, I feel it’s quite natural to try to go with the seasons and not be so stuck on just one way.
Yeah, it was still summertime then because I had him on September 5, and we have really long summers. And so, it was still very hot. It was like 100 degrees when we came home from the hospital. So it was pretty crazy.
At least the sun helps with vitamin D then, because I was worried about having my baby in winter and then thinking “oh, then you’re not going to be able to give your baby some vitamin D if you go for a walk in the sun or something like that.” So I think that’s very beneficial. I’m due in the spring, the weather starts to really get warmer. So that’s quite good.
Oh, that’s good. So next year.
No, this year September.
Southern hemisphere, so our spring is your autumn.
I was like, “Huh”
Yeah, that’s often funny. Jonathan has this idea where you know, World Carnivore Month is in January, where he feels in the southern hemisphere, it should be around July because then it’s wintertime here and then it’s more seasonally appropriate. Where you know, you don’t get as much fruit and stuff growing naturally and then being strict carnivore would be better.
So you should have the northern hemisphere World Carnivore Month and then the southern hemisphere World Carnivore Month.
Start that. You need your own like Shawn Baker down there.
But at least we have Tim Noakes in South Africa but yeah, he speaks more about keto than carnivore. I know he’s open to that.
Yeah, he started being more carnivore.
Maybe he can do it.
Yeah, there you go.
We can do it.
We can do it. And then after your baby, obviously the first while, I’m sure you weren’t too worried about weight but what do you think helped you lose some of the baby weight afterwards? I know that now you’re pretty close to what you were before.
Well, I mean, I’ve lost the same weight like three times since I had the baby. I mean, I think maybe I thought about it too much at first and I was too worried about it because I thought I’m so healthy and this will be easy and I’ll just, you know, jump right back into it but I think maybe I put too much pressure on myself at first. I mean not at first, but even the first year, I think you should just give yourself a whole year of just don’t think about that because it’s not healthy to push yourself. I mean do eat right and eat meat and you know, eat all the right things for carnivore and even keto if you want to is good. But you know, you don’t need this mental pressure because the most important thing is your baby gaining weight and getting healthy and, you know, you’re not going to be sleeping well most of the time at all. So my baby still struggles with sleep. Because we’re still breastfeeding. And you know, he’ll do really good for a while for a few days, and then he’ll have a teething thing or something. And so it’s like, if I don’t sleep, then my appetite is messed up, and then I’m very hungry, or I’m just stressed. And so, I want to eat something that I’m not supposed to eat or whatever. So you just have to give yourself a lot of grace and wiggle room and stuff. Of course, you’re gonna feel best if you eat the more carnivore-ish diet. So I always remember that and you know, stick with it. But for me, I think because my autoimmune is pretty strong (like my problems are pretty big with autoimmunity or at least my food sensitivities). So I’m very sensitive to dairy, and maybe even egg whites, I found I will bloat up if I eat egg whites. And especially if you do those recipes with the breads, and here, they sell these wraps that are made out of egg whites. And so, if I start eating that kind of stuff, I can really get, just not feeling well. And so, I gain a lot of weight if I eat dairy, unfortunately, less so with goat dairy, as I mentioned, but really, I feel best with no dairy. And so, it’s kind of depressing. But I’ve had to just get really strict, almost do The Lion Diet, basically. But I didn’t really do that until the second year. Because I didn’t feel strong enough, you know, to really be that, you know, regimented. So this year, I’ve been doing more all-beef months, I’ve done three all-beef months. And I’ll do lamb, too. And then, but I’m not adding butter or ghee, even ghee, I just don’t add. But you have to be mentally prepared for it. So you can’t just do that out of the gate. I’ve been doing it lately because I feel like I want to do it. And I want to feel my best. And so, I’ve been doing the all-beef months, not back to back. Like I’ll do one month, and then I’ll take a month off, and then I’ll do another month. But yeah, I’m getting close to where I was before I got pregnant, which was a really healthy weight for me. And but again, I’m just, if it happens, it happens. So whatever, you know, I’m still breastfeeding, I’m still not sleeping well. So, you know, I have to just if I have an off day or whatever, like, whatever, you know, because I’m not training for a competition or anything. It’s just me wanting to feel my best. And so, you just have to give yourself a lot of leeway and grace.
Follow your intuition.
Yeah. I think especially if you’re not getting proper sleep, you have to have realistic expectations. Because sleep is so crucial for your health. And like you said, you know, your appetite would be higher if you didn’t get enough sleep, and that’s probably because your ghrelin levels are higher. So yeah, I think you did really well.
Thank you. I think when you don’t sleep, absolutely, you’re more hungry. And then you might make bad choices because, I don’t like the word, I don’t like to say “bad” and I’m not into this guilt. It’s just that you might make choices that are gonna stall your progress or whatever. But then you know, you can always, when I do a month of all beef or something, it helps because I’m like “Okay, I know it’s over soon.” So if I want more variety… so I did an all-beef month in March and that works well, meaning I lost the weight. And then in April, I introduced different proteins like seafood and chicken and stuff. And that just gives me more variety, so that was better. It’s easier to eat with my family and friends and stuff and go out to eat when you’re eating. Because if you’re eating all beef, it’s difficult to find the right things all the time. Like McDonald’s doesn’t serve hamburgers until like 10:30 or 11:00, so you’re like, what am I gonna have before that? You know? Or something like that. Um, so then when I can eat chicken wings, for example, I went to lunch yesterday with my stepmom for Mother’s Day, and I was like, “okay, I can have the chicken wings.” So it’s like a treat, you know? So that was really good that you can have more variety, I think, I have learned best what the carnivore diet, I think, teaches you, your triggers. Like I’ve learned that the egg whites don’t work for me, especially in excess. Like, I can eat a couple of eggs, you know, in whole form, but if I eat egg white bread, which is 20 egg whites or something, then I’m gonna be all messed up. So learning those triggers, I think that’s why the carnivore diet is so powerful, because you’re like, “Okay, I don’t do well with that” but I seem okay with chicken and fish, and those things, but maybe I don’t do well adding a bunch of butter to my food, you know? Or you add it to your coffee, and then you think, “well, everybody else is doing it”. But then you’re like, “well, maybe that doesn’t work best for me, you know?’ Or eating a lot of cheese on top of things or making things with cream cheese. I mean, it’s, you know, with keto, there’s so much cheese on everything, and everything like cheese chips. And so, if you want to lose weight, that is not gonna help.
No, I definitely think carnivore is the ultimate elimination diet. Like, it just teaches you so much. And you can really identify your trigger foods and what doesn’t agree with your body.
Yeah, I like the fact that there’s so a few variables, I mean, your normal standard diet, you just look at one thing you buy from the store and the list of ingredients, just the number of variables of things that could be causing an issue is just too much for the average person to try and work with. Whereas, when you just simplify things and go on a carnivore diet, you cut so many things that could be causing an issue and it makes it much easier to pinpoint exactly what’s causing the problems.
And spices, I think, some people are really sensitive to spices. It doesn’t seem to do much to me. I’ve taken them out, I put them back. It seems like, especially when I’m eating with my family, they like spices, so my husband loves spices too. So it was like, it seems like I’m okay with like paprika, garlic, cumin. But I don’t eat onions, for example. Like I’ll eat maybe an onion powder or garlic powder, and it seems okay, you know, but then not eating like a pepper or real chilli but eating, you know, chilli flakes or something is okay.
That’s interesting. Yeah, maybe something with the processing happens where suddenly, it’s easier for you to digest. So now a lot of people on carnivore still include spices, and they seem to be fine. We haven’t really experimented with spices.
No, obviously, when you’re cooking for yourself, and you don’t have anyone else that’s wanting spice, then salt seems to be good enough for me. But I definitely feel like a lot of the spices that we get in South Africa, they get a lot of fillers in them. So if you’re getting nice, clean spices, where it’s just this or just that, it’s also a better way. Here, we’ll get a lot of soy and gluten and other stuff if you look at the ingredients of the spices that people use on their stuff. And so, I think it’s more a South African thing, where contaminated…
Absolutely. I mean, here, they put, especially if you’re doing like meat rubs or things like that, where there’s five, six, ten things in one jar, they’ll have sunflower oil or some kind of preservatives and things like that, but I don’t use the mixes. I mean, of course, there are some organic companies and stuff that sell the mixes that are okay, but I mostly just use you know, garlic, paprika, cumin. So that’s something where it’s like a steak seasoning blend, you know, I don’t use that because you don’t know what’s in it. And it’s too many ingredients to even read
Rather make your own blends if you’re going to do that. Yeah, for us, carnivore is really interesting. We actually started the diet the day after our wedding, which is almost four years ago. And so literally, the day after our wedding, we decided “okay, we’re gonna do a month of carnivore.” We ate so much pork and chicken in that time. But ever since then, we just switched to using salt on our meat and we just never went back to spices.
It was kind of one of those things where we didn’t realise that the meat itself actually tastes really good and the salt just enhances that flavour.
Yeah, absolutely. I always thought you had to put a bunch of different stuff on steak, for example, but you really don’t have to. I mean and hamburgers, same thing. You just need salts and it tastes so good. Especially, I think, I mean, you guys are younger, but I grew up in a low-fat time when everything was, so the only ground beef I ever got was like the leanest grown beef. So I was like, the taste, once you have fat in it, you’re like, “oh, wow, this tastes so much better”. Or you had ground turkey or something horrible like that.
Yeah, we also grew up in a low-fat era. Like some of my family members, they still really struggle with the idea that fat is good for you. And they just buy like low-fat everything. And I feel like yeah, if you go low fat, you have to add a lot more spices, because I grew up using a lot of spices in foods and then now, if somebody hands me a piece of meat that they’ve spiced like properly, it’s almost overwhelming sometimes with the amount of spices that people use, and then you forget, that’s how we used to eat normally. And that was what we were used to. And now, since we’ve been only using salt for almost four years, it is quite a difference.
It’s not like I’m completely against spices. It’s also simplified the shopping, you know,? You go in, you get the salt, you get the meat, you go home. I quite enjoyed that aspect.
Now we get the salt, the meat, the fruits, and then we go
Learning also about, I mean, I’m married to a chef and so, he loves to cook. And so, I use a lot of spices because of him. But you also learn about good salts. Like well, before I went paleo and stuff, I didn’t know how important good salt was and then you learn the different salts have different flavour profiles and things and you really start to enjoy different salts from different parts of the world and stuff like that. So I think that’s kind of fun on carnivore.
So did your husband help you with your cookbooks?
Oh, yeah. The one that we have about Mediterranean paleo cooking, that one is really his inspiration. So I learned to cook from him. And I wanted to cook things that he liked. And so, that’s when we wrote that one. And really the first time I started learning how to cook was from him. And he was in culinary school in San Francisco at the time. And so, I learned how to cook. And it was great because I was able to learn how to, it was really a self-care thing. I didn’t know. You know, all I knew was like vegetables in a bag and a microwave. It was so horrible. You know, it’s like, I was so preoccupied with dieting, you know. Just, what can I eat for this amount of calories or this amount of points? But actually learning how to cook and take care of myself and learn about different flavours, and you know, a lot of the things that he makes, he’s from North Africa, so a lot of the things are soups and stews and so, learning about broth and cooking things on the bone and things that went along with my ancestral diet. You know, it was really interesting. It wasn’t just cooking, you know, a can of mushroom soup with some steamed rice and chicken breasts. You know, like actually using the meat and the flavour that comes out of the meat was an eye-opening thing.
That’s really good.
Especially on the bone. On the bone, the flavours are just amazing.
That must have helped while you were pregnant. Well, because what I found in my first trimester when I was nauseated and had food aversions, I didn’t want to cook, so then he ended up doing all of the cooking. And even now, I’ll crave something and I’m like, “Oh, I’m craving lamb ribs.” And then he’ll show up at home with like this big rack of lamb and he’ll cook it on the fire for me and it helps to have a husband that cooks and that is willing to do it for you.
Yeah, I mean, I like his mindset and even going to visit his country because it’s very meat-based. Everything is around the meat and around the fire and the cooking, and so, it’s like a refreshing thing from where everything’s like trying to move away from the meat. You know, so you go there. It’s like well, this is how all people have eaten for, you know, since we… that’s how we came up.
Yeah, in this country, we have a restaurant chain called CHESA NYAMA, which literally means “hot meat”. And it’s like, the most popular restaurant amongst certain cultures here in South Africa. And so the funny thing is, like, when you translate it, it’s literally “hot meat”.
A lot of our gatherings, they’re centred around meat. Like, usually for us, if we get together with family or friends, we’ll have a braai, which is like our word for “barbecue”. And as always, on the fire. It’s like, you’re gonna have a very hard time getting most of this country to go plant-based because we just like bond over cooking meats. And, you know, like how you guys have beef jerky, we have biltong, which we believe is superior. And I know in like the states, you can get biltong in other countries now to buy. This is one of our like traditional foods. And so, we end up eating that a lot. And it’s a very easy country to be carnivore in, actually and the meat is not that expensive.
And you pay more for grain-finished.
Well, not here.
Here, the grass-fed is the cheapest meat.
It is more affordable but it’s harder to get, but it is more affordable. So yeah, we’re quite lucky with that.
That sounds great. I’m ready to go.
Yeah, and the dollar is obviously way more superior to the rand.
I think it’d be quite a cheap holiday. And I think people from the states would come here and see the meat prices and just be amazed and just go crazy.
As soon as you could get the plane ticket, apart from that, it’ll be a cheap trip.
No, it’s quite cool. So what is your son’s diet like? Because I know, my family, they’re already panicking about our child. And they say like, “oh, the child’s going to be socially isolated. What are you going to do at birthday parties? What are they going to eat?” And I just laugh because the baby’s not even born yet. But what does your son eat and how do you approach social situations and stuff like that?
Um, well, it helped me, you know, I didn’t do any food until six months, which I think is best. There’s no reason to really introduce it earlier. Earlier, you know, you might run into food sensitivities, and he did seem to react to dairy and soy, but he could tolerate goat milk. So it sounds just like his mother. And so, I would give him some goat cheese or goat milk, but only after, like I said, six months. And he did get rash of like, it looked like eczema on his back if I gave him any kind of cow cheese. So that would really only be the thing when other people would want to give him a piece of cheese or something. And I’d be like, I can’t you know, please don’t give him cheese because I was still trying to figure it out. You know, what are the triggers and everything? And then I did find a farmer, a local farmer that makes the A2 milk with A2 cows. And he can drink that. So I was very glad to find that because I was hoping that maybe if I gave him that, he would, because he’s a very big nurser so I was like, maybe it’ll take some of the pressure off me. And um, but it didn’t work but he will drink and he loves the milk and it doesn’t give him the rash. So I was like, this is a win. And you know, at least he has something to drink and I do make him the Re-Lyte, the Redmond Re-Lyte drink, the lemonade, the lemon-lime, he’ll drink that too. Um, I try to stay away from… I’m not doing like super low… I mean, he is pretty low carb, but I’m not really focusing on it. You know, he doesn’t have health issues. He’s not sick. So he’s very healthy, very, very. He’s in the 90 percentile. He’s very large, not fat and he’s like muscle. You pick him up and he’s like a sandbag. I mean, he’s very solid. He’s 32 pounds and he’s 20 months in, like five days, it’ll be 20 months, so he’s very on the good range of everything. But you know, I didn’t want to approach it like as if he’s some sick child because he’s not. So really that thing with the… but it seems less now like if he has a little bite of cheese or something now, he doesn’t react like that. Now if I gave him a lot, he probably might still, I don’t know, because he’s, you know, a little older now, but I try to give him, I always prioritize the protein, give him the meat first, because that’s what I want him to fill up on. And then, always, he loves blueberries and raspberries and blackberries. And that’s what I’ve always given him. And so, he doesn’t even really like other fruits like he will eat the banana, but I don’t buy him a lot. But again, I always try to give the protein first and I give, I mix the butter in or he does seem okay with butter. So I’ll give him like grass-fed butter. So usually, he’ll eat eggs in the morning. And then you know, he just eats what we eat. So he loves steak, and he loves hamburger. So whenever we have that, you know, he eats that first and then I give him his berries. And then like if we’re out somewhere, I might give him like some kind of if, you know if he’s fussy, I might get like… yesterday, I gave him a perfect bar. That’s, I don’t know if you have those, but they’re not that… they have honey, they have peanut butter, and they have chocolate chips. I mean, they’re not that low carb or anything. But, I mean, it’s a whole-food-based bar. But you know, it’s not actually perfect. You know me. But, you know, I will give him something like that. Or he’s more paleo-ish, I would say, you know. Like, I would give him like yesterday, you have these, we were in the Ross and he wanted, it’s like a TJ Maxx. And he, they had these like tapioca-looking chips or something. He was fussing, like I gave him those at the register, you know. It’s like, I’m a normal mom, they express and stuff. And so, I tried to give him healthier snacks, and if we’re away from home or something, but, you know, again, I mean, I always want to have him in it, you know, an ancestral approach, Paleo approach. You know, not completely dairy-free, I want to give him the dairy that he can tolerate. I know, that’s the only thing I don’t like about Paleo, people think it’s completely dairy-free. But like, you know, if he can, if he can tolerate fermented yoghurt or something, then I want him to have it, you know.
You know, mostly he’s eating eggs, berries, meat, that’s like 90% of what he’s eating, you know, but then if we’re out or something, or if he was with other kids, you know, you asked about social situations, we’re going to my sister. She’s having her birthday party for her son today. And, I mean, I know they’re having beef hot dogs as like the main meat things. So I actually picked him out, I got the best looking hot dogs that I could get, you know, and so, I know he can eat that. And then you know, if he gets a bite of this or that, I have tested him eating a piece of, you know, small amounts of bread or something. So I know he doesn’t have a reaction. You know, I know, if he eats a little bit of something, he’s okay, he’s not gonna have a bad reaction. I tested, you know, you have to test peanuts and honey, which are things that you have to be careful of. So you have to introduce them at the right times. But oh, he seems fine. So, you know, I’m not gonna stress about it too much. Because I know his diet at home and most of the time is really good. And I, you know, try to keep the carbs in check. Like, yesterday, he had this organic juice box, but I mixed it with like half water, so that he didn’t have the whole thing at one time, you know, because I don’t want him to have these big blood sugar spikes, or like, you know, if I give a little bit and I’ll try to give him half the banana and with his eggs so that he has that, you know, both things together.
I think that’s a much better diet than 99% of the kids out there. Like, it sounds like a really great diet for a kid. And I always think like, you know, people complain about the terrible twos. And you know, you’re getting closer to the two-year mark, and the kids will have so much energy, they’ll have these outbursts, they’ll cry a lot. And sometimes, I wonder how much sugar are they eating and how that’s affecting things? And how much better things would be if the kids were on more of a paleo, lower-sugar diet, not sugar-free or like low, low carb. Like yes, give them fruits and stuff like that. But with the amount of sugar that so many kids are consuming, I often wonder how much better it would be for the kids and the parents if the kids just went to more of a diet like your child is on.
I wonder, kind of, there’s a big a big thing in the 70s and 80s, this guy, I can’t remember his name right now, but he did a lot of studies on food colourings. And you know, most kids are getting so much food colourings. And they had, they did studies and as soon as a kid had the food colouring, they would start acting crazy and you know, have more of a reaction to the food colouring. So he was the first person to really point out this. And it’s in every processed food, you know.
I’ve also recently watched a video where Mikhaila Peterson was talking about her daughter who also mainly eats like meat, vegetables and fruits, and she doesn’t have those kinds of problems with her child. And she was crediting the diet there as well. Like, she doesn’t have like excess energy.
My baby has tons of energy. He wears me out. And we’ll see. We haven’t gotten over to that. He hasn’t really started doing tantrums and stuff yet, so I don’t know, I cross my fingers. But I know it can’t hurt to have a good diet. It doesn’t mean you’re gonna be perfect.
Well, I can remember even when I was in my teens being grumpy when I hit a sugar low, so I think it’s even worse when you’re two.
I used to just eat… all I ate was cereal, I think, for, you know, 10 years or something. Like how can you not be depressed when you’re a teenager and all you eat is cereal?
Well, I found that sometimes I’ll feel anxious (because I do have anxiety sometimes) and then I realize “Oh, it’s just low blood sugar”, and then I’ll eat something and suddenly I don’t feel anxious anymore. So that’s usually the first thing I check. And that just makes you think like how much blood sugar and stuff like that can affect the way you feel emotionally and mentally. And yeah, I don’t think you’d have those problems.
We are just big kids, you know? We’re just as sensitive as children or babies are, we just are trained not to be in touch with it, you know? My mom’s watching the baby, so I better go check on that.
Thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview today. We’re very grateful.
Great to meet you and good luck with everything and your podcasts and the baby and pregnancy, and don’t let me scare you. You know, don’t let people tell you things like, you know, your experience is totally your own and, you know, just set yourself up right with the right support and, you know… I think one thing that people need to do is Postpartum Support, rather than just, you know, we have all this emphasis on the baby shower and you know, what are you going to do for the room and all this crap and that’s not the important thing. The most important thing is set up somebody to come and hold the baby for two hours every day when you first come home because you guys are not going to be sleeping. Like my stepmom came and she held the baby for an hour or two hours every day for the first like two weeks. Because then I could sleep because I had been up all night, you know? So I would go take a nap. And she would tell me to go take a nap now like she wouldn’t let me sit there and chit chat, you know? Because my baby, for three months, I had to hold him 24 hours a day. He did not want to be sat down. And you know, of course, everybody’s different, but he wanted that touch. And so, having this and setting it up beforehand, because you know, you need to have your family and friends helping you out as much as you can, having somebody come to do the dishes or something like that is so important. And don’t feel like you have to entertain people or any of that crap. Like you don’t. Set up your boundaries and everything beforehand. It’s so important because especially, you know, it’s because I had the surgery and everything, I really needed people who understood and weren’t expecting me to entertain them or anything like that. So yeah, I know you guys will get it all together beforehand and have a good experience. And, you know, you’re young and healthy, so it’ll go great.
Yeah, I’m sure it will. And yeah, that’s great advice.