The Mental Struggles of Going Zero Carb

I have loved eating great-tasting foods for the whole of my life. I was known as a bit of a creative cook back in the day and spent ages dreaming up new recipe combinations to try out.

This led to me spending many hours in the kitchen experimenting and creating motherloads of washing up as a consequence. In my family and group of friends, I would have been considered the last person most likely to go zero Carb – but I did, and I don’t regret a single moment.

Since going Zero Carb, I have become the laziest cook in the world. I love the simplicity of preparing carnivore foods and the minimal washing up created by eating only two meals per day and using so few cooking utensils.

I mean, who in their right mind can say they love spending time doing the washing up, right?

No matter your reason for switching to Zero Carb, whether it is to get healthy, eliminate allergenic foods or reduce brain fog and boost your brain function, the simplicity of ZC is your most fantastic tool. Still, it can also be your greatest downfall.

Suppose you have spent decades trawling supermarket aisles each week and hours in the kitchen each day weighing out ingredients, prepping fruit and vegetables and frantically stirring lumps out of your sauces, gravy and custard. In that case, it can be a real shock to the system to suddenly go from all this activity to wasting zero physical and mental energy on preparing your food.

Goodbye complication, hello simplicity

Looking back, I cannot believe how much time and effort I spent preparing food each day. Overcomplicating your meals can be such as waste of your mental energy – no wonder people find themselves so exhausted after working all day and then have to keep slogging away in the kitchen to prepare food as well as all the clean-up needed afterwards.

Naturally evolving to follow my hunger signals and eating only two meals per day is also a massive time saver. Most of my meals now only consist of one meat, such as beef, with maybe a side of bacon or eggs for a bit of variety, making this way of eating even easier on the mind.

But this mental shift doesn’t happen overnight. If preparing and cooking food and clearing up the aftermath has been a big part of your life for many years, the simplicity of Zero Carb can be very overwhelming. You can even start stressing out about doing ZC perfectly to help fill up all the spare time you save shopping and in the kitchen preparing your old meals.

Photo by Mateusz Dach on Pexels.com

KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid)

This is especially true of people who come to Zero Carb after years of doing keto, where they have analysed every ingredient to ensure it meets with their keto macros. Zero Carb not only frees you physically and mentally from hours of food preparation per week but also frees you of all the mental maths and hyper-focus on meeting arbitrarily set macro goals.

Many new carnivores start their journey geared up to eat the right amount of protein for their ideal body weight or to cram themselves full of fat trimmings from day one despite spending the past few decades eating a low fat, high carbohydrate diet full of grains, sugar, alcohol and seed oils. They expect the switch over to be easy and that it will give them instant results. This is why 95% of people fail Zero Carb in the first few weeks.

The most often repeated advice that long-term veteran carnivores give is to keep things simple, be patient, and stop making food the centre of your life. Zero Carb is all about simplicity. Eat your meal and go and enjoy your day. When you are hungry again, eat more meat. Simples!

1: Eat your favourite meats that you enjoy and can afford.

2: Cook with animal fats only – no vegetable or seed/nut oils.

3: Eat until comfortably full and satiated.

4: Drink water to thirst – there is no minimum amount of water to consume on ZC.

5: Do this for at least six months, and you will be amazed at the results.

The takeaway of this post is to emphasise that we should eat to live, not live to eat. Yes, a massive mental shift is needed when switching from a standard diet to Zero Carb, but we need to learn to get out of our own way on this journey and let our bodies do their job.

For those preparing to move to the Zero Carb way of life, it can help to find yourself a new hobby or something to do that will distract your mind and fill up all the free time you will gain from quicker food shopping and less kitchen preparation and washing up.

I wrote a post back in 2019 about using food as an emotional crutch. This would be a good read for anyone struggling with adaptation and grieving their old favourite foods.

Isn’t all beef grass-fed? An interesting post from Regenerative Beef farmer, Robert Rose.

Want to know more about how beef is fed in the UK? Robert Rose from Rosewood farm decided to take a deep dive into the topic to help answer the most common questions we have about the beef we eat.

https://www.rosewood.farm/blogs/rosewood-farm-blog/isnt-all-beef-grassfed?fbclid=IwAR3cr4HWqLlpEy0QcljakILeJ_hzD5VGf45iCRR3w6NBb8-_6UsgYwqT02Y

Cream of Duck Soup

Cream of Duck Soup

This is a simple yet tasty winter soup that is ideal for a chilly day!

I made good use of a duck crown that was on special offer and thought I would try something different by making a soup rather than roasting it as I would normally do.

I slow-cooked the duck crown overnight on low in my slow cooker. Simply add water until the crown is almost covered. Add some sea salt.

My slow-cooked duck crown and stock

Take out the crown and let it stand until it is cool enough to handle. Strip the meat from the bones and set the meat aside.

This is where you can choose to do one of two things depending on how fat adapted you are and how much fat you can tolerate. Duck is very fatty, so if you are fine with fat, then keep the duck stock as it is.

If you cannot tolerate too much fat, leave the stock to cool completely. Put it in the fridge to chill and then remove the layer of fat that will solidify on the surface of the stock. You can reserve the fat to use for cooking. Duck fat is delicious for cooking!

Collagen boosted stock

You can give the duck stock an extra collagen boost if you like. I usually enrich my soups with Wild Isles Beef Bone Broth, but as this is a duck soup I used Dr Gus’ collagen powder instead as it is made from chicken rather than beef.

The next step is to either chop or shred the cooked duck meat and add it back to the whole or skimmed duck stock. If you want a smooth duck soup, use a stick blender to whizz the soup to a consistency you like.

Reheat the soup when you are ready to eat.

Add some double cream and stir through. This is where you can add or adjust the seasoning according to your taste. Add more salt or add pepper or any dry spices you like and can tolerate.

I got about four bowls of soup from one duck crown.

The finished cream of duck soup

Easy Chicken Liver Pate

Chicken Liver Pate made in minutes with minimal ingredients and fuss.

600g chicken livers
Salt and pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of mace
150g melted butter

Put the chicken livers onto a baking tray, add spices and season liberally. Cook at 210-220 degrees centigrade for 5-6 minutes.

Put them into a food processor with the melted butter blitz until smooth, spoon into ramekins. Top with a little clarified butter. Chill in the fridge.

Roasted Pork Bites with Cream and Butter Sauce

Quick, simple and delicious, this tasty recipe uses an economical cut of pork loin and is dressed up with a sauce made from bone broth, butter, cream and black pepper.

Ingredients:

Pork loin steaks ( pre-cut or cut yourself from a pork loin joint)

50g butter

1 tsp Wild Isles concentrated bone broth

A little water added to the hot pan to melt the bone broth and butter together

2 tablespoons of double cream

Black pepper to taste

Method:

Slice the pork loin steaks into bite sized pieces and grill/bake until cooked through. Meanwhile, heat a frying pan on a medium-high heat and add a bit of water to cover the base of the pan.

Add the bone broth concentrate and butter to the pan and keep stirring everything together until melted and well incorporated. Add the double cream and stir well. Add some ground black pepper to taste.

Keep stirring the sauce in the pan over a medium high heat until it starts to reduce and thicken a little. Do not leave the pan as the butter can burn. Taste the sauce and add more seasoning if you wish.

Once the pork bites are done, place them in a bowl and pour over the sauce.

Enjoy!

ZC Salt Beef Recipe

1KG beef brisket

For the brine:

1 tbsp juniper berries

2 tsp black peppercorns

300g coarse sea salt

4 bay leaves

4 cloves

4 sprigs of thyme

The brine ingredients

Put all the ingredients for the brine into a saucepan, pour in 500ml of water and gradually bring to the boil, stirring to help the salt dissolve. Once it comes to the boil, let it bubble away for two minutes. Take off the heat and leave to cool completely.

Beef brisket skewered all over

Pierce the meat all over with a skewer. Put it in a large mixing bowl and cover the meat with the brine, rubbing it in and coating it well. Put into a zip-lock bag and pour in any leftover brine. Seal the bag removing as much air as possible. Leave in the fridge for seven days.

Salt beef in brine and set in the fridge for 7 days

Take the beef out of the bag and rinse it. Put it in a slow cooker adding enough cold water to cover. Cook on LOW for up to 6 hours until the meat is very tender.

Remove from slow cooker, slice and eat warm.

Hot salt beef straight from the slow cooker. It seemed to dry out really quickly.

Serve hot or cold. I found the beef to be a bit dry, so ate some cold with a generous dollop of cream cheese with herbs and garlic. While I did like the results, I found the meat tastes mostly of salt rather than beef, which some people may like, but I like to taste the beef and found the brine to be a little overpowering.

Cold salt beef with garlic and herb cream cheese

Creamy Blue Cheese and Egg Salad

Creamy blue-cheese and egg salad

When eating Zero Carb you may eventually be happy with just one type of meat on your plate, such as a juicy rib-eye steak or a huge pile of bacon (me), but if you are also catering for non-ZC family members or friends who come round for lunch or dinner, then you don’t necessarily have to go out of your way to make them something that you cannot eat.

This is just such a recipe and as long as you can handle dairy OK without it giving you any issues, then this Creamy Blue Cheese and Egg Salad can be used in place of regular egg mayonnaise and also commercially made blue-cheese dressing that both contain non-ZC ingredients.

Creamy blue-cheese and egg salad

This recipe is simplicity itself and you can tweak the amount of ingredients you use to suit your taste and needs. Here is my basic recipe:

6 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1 tub (300ml) soured cream
1 tub (200g) full-fat cream cheese
150g Danish Blue or Stilton cheese, crumbled

Mix everything together in a large mixing bowl. Chill in the fridge until needed. Serve with your meat and enjoy!

If you want something that more resembles an egg mayonnaise salad, then leave the eggs quite chunky and use less soured cream. You can buy smaller tubs of soured cream (150ml) to use and this will give you a thicker result.

If you would like to use the mix more like a dipping sauce, then put the chopped hard-boiled eggs and crumbled blue cheese into the mixing bowl first and mash with a fork until smooth.

Add the cream cheese to the egg and blue cheese mixture and blend together. Use a larger tub (300ml) of soured cream and gradually add the cream a bit at a time, blending it into the mixture as you go. This will give you a thick yet smoother blue-cheese dipping sauce which is great for serving with chicken goujons (coated with crushed pork scratchings) or for dipping crispy bacon rashes into etc.

I hope you enjoy this recipe!

Minced Beef, Bacon and Cheese Bake

This is a recipe for a meaty, cheesy kind of bake. I sort of stole this from the Sunday Brunch TV show and adapted it for ZC.
Trying to encourage my son to try something different πŸ™‚

Ingredients:
500g minced beef
250g bacon (chopped)
1 tbsp dried mixed herbs (if you can tolerate them)
Salt to taste
300ml double cream
Gruyere cheese (about 100g, but to taste)
125g mozzarella cheese (sliced)
50g grated Parmigiano or parmesan cheese

Method:
In a large mixing bowl, combine the minced beef, chopped bacon, salt, dried herbs. Add the double cream and stir well until combined.
Pour mixture into a baking dish and flatten down. Sprinkle the grated Parm over the top. Place a layer of sliced mozzarella over the top.
Top with thin slices of Gruyere cheese.

Bake at 200C for about 30 mins or until meat is cooked through and the cheese topping is brown and bubbly.
Leave to stand for 10 minutes before serving. Can be frozen, thawed and re-heated. Enjoy!

Using Food as an Emotional Crutch

So, I often take the time to read posts on other carnivore groups and there is one thing that I notice a lot. People that are using food as an emotional crutch.

There is no denying that people love food and enjoy the physical pleasure of eating, even when the foods eaten are not that good for your health.

Another aspect is the preparing and cooking of food. We all know that with ZC food shopping, food prep and cooking is simplicity itself. However, this often removes another ritual that people struggle to shake off – and what do you do with all your extra free time out of the kitchen…?

Food is fuel – not entertainment

Food is fuel

I believe that food is fuel, but it should also make us feel good and be a pleasure to eat. Who’s mouth doesn’t water at the thought of frying up a juicy steak or some crispy bacon rashers, right?

However, our biological programming to seek out pleasurable foods as well as the cultural aspect around eating means that we have developed very emotional attachments to some foods. We are drawn towards eating certain foods because they act as an emotional crutch for us.

Emotional connections

Forming new connections

Even following a carnivore-style way of eating we can still develop new emotional crutch-like habits towards our food and drink. With me it is coffee – it gives me that much-needed boost in the morning and I find it hard to get into the right frame of mind for work without a large mug of steaming coffee.

Our emotions can also derail our ZC progress. How many times have you read posts where someone has fallen off the wagon because of an emotional crisis happening in their life? Lots of times, right?

In times of high anxiety and stress, we will often return to eating those familiar foods that made us feel good in the past, quite often with distressing results that only act to make us feel worse. We can use food as a tool to distract us from dealing with the real issue at hand.

Grieving your old favourite foods

Overcoming grief

When you first start out on your ZC path you can also go through a period of grieving. Yes, actual physical and mental grieving for all those foods that you will have to sacrifice for your health, and this loss of the familiar can often be the reason why so many people fail on ZC. They are simply not emotionally strong enough to let these things go.

I went through a grieving stage too. The idea that I would never eat a cream cake again, or eat cheese straws or chew my way through another bag of wine gums actually shocked me! I grieved for all these things – and many more favourite treats too. It was quite a sad experience to go through.

So, what can we do to get through the grieving period and stop using food as an emotional crutch in times of crisis?

Acceptance

Come to terms with life

Firstly, we need to accept that we are going to face stressful times in the future that will test our resolve. It’s inevitable. The death of a loved one, losing a job, the breakdown of a relationship etc. That’s life and this stuff happens. Accept it.

Realising what is causing your desire to dive head-first into the trifle bowl is important, but you also must stop and think about your actions. Question everything. Will eating the entire contents of the biscuit tin help you get you ex-back, get your job back or bring back a deceased loved one? No. No, it will not.

Giving in to your emotional eating will feel good for approximately 30 seconds or until the bowl or biscuit tin is empty. Then what? You start to feel even worse.

So not only are you grieving for your loss (whatever that is) but you have also sabotaged your physical and mental health meaning you are less able to cope with what is really going on in your life at this moment.

Respect yourself

Respect and value yourself

At times like these choose to respect yourself instead. Go and do something to distract you from using food as an emotional crutch. Instead, do something positive and nice for yourself.

Make a list of your non-food related favourite activities. Copy your list and stick it to the front of your fridge, freezer and food cupboards. Make sure this list is bright and very visible. The next time you go to open the fridge in a negative emotional state stop and choose something from your list to do instead.

Choose a few of your favourite things

Make a list of your favourite non-food things

Book yourself a massage, get your nails done, go swimming or take a yoga class, take a long bath, take the dog out for a long walk in the countryside – anything to distract your mind and treat yourself with kindness.

Remember that you are better than this. You don’t have to self-sabotage your health because of a crisis.

Get organised

Prepare yourself

If your stressful situation or grief is driving you to eat and you really cannot distract yourself, just make sure you are well prepared.

Stock your fridge with plenty of carnivore-friendly foods. Stock your cupboard with jerky and tinned fish. Sometimes we can cave into mindless eating where it doesn’t matter what food we have in the house – we will eat it because it is there.

Making sure what is there is carnivore friendly can really help in situations where you cannot escape and easily distract your mind. You will be so glad you did this.

Remember that all stressful situations and emotional reactions are transient – this too shall pass.

Carnivore Diet success stories – Jennie

Another great carnivore health story πŸ™‚ Meat heals – it’s as simple as that!

Ketogenic Endurance

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I love eating meat!

But do I really?

I feel great, living on meat!

I could be lying and feel lousy?

Maybe I am just a snowflake, and I am magically just well suited to the Contemporary Carnivore Diet.

Or maybe an all meat diet could be the basis for anyone to launch themselves off, towards good health.

I am doing well on this diet, I promise. There is N=1

My wife is experiencing similar benefits to me. There is N=2

This Carnivore Diet Success Story series, is to help show maybe it is really, N=Many. Once you have read all the stories I have posted. Then I would recommend you visit Meat Heals for more incredible Carnivore Stories.

If you have a Carnivore Diet success story you would like to share. Please get in touch with me.

Interview with Jennie

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1) Introduce Yourself.

My name is…

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