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

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.

Saturated Fat is Good For You!

Yes, you read that right! Saturated fat is good for you and there has been a lot of recent studies that have helped to dispel the old-fashioned myths created by the food industry to push a high carb, low-fat diet (which has seen metabolic disease skyrocket over the past 30 to 40 years) while turning people away in droves from eating meat, eggs and saturated fats.

This is a fabulous infographic on the subject – a link to the source article is listed below too!

 

 

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Full article : 9 Reasons Saturated Fat is Good For You!

Infographic attribution:  https://nutritionadvance.com 

Saturated fat does not clog the arteries

Fresh from the BMJ:

“Saturated fat does not clog the arteries: coronary heart disease is a chronic inflammatory condition, the risk of which can be effectively reduced from healthy lifestyle interventions”
Fascinating read, not that anyone following a ZC diet doesn’t already know this, but nevertheless it is good to see reports like this appearing in a credible medical journal.
I especially like this paragraph taken from the report:
“Coronary artery disease pathogenesis and treatment urgently requires a paradigm shift. Despite popular belief among doctors and the public, the conceptual model of dietary saturated fat clogging a pipe is just plain wrong. A landmark systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies showed no association between saturated fat consumption and (1) all-cause mortality, (2) coronary heart disease (CHD), (3) CHD mortality, (4) ischaemic stroke or (5) type 2 diabetes in healthy adults.1 Similarly in the secondary prevention of CHD there is no benefit from reduced fat, including saturated fat, on myocardial infarction, cardiovascular or all-cause mortality.2 It is instructive to note that in an angiographic study of postmenopausal women with CHD, greater intake of saturated fat was associated with less progression of atherosclerosis whereas carbohydrate and polyunsaturated fat intake were associated with greater progression.3 “

 

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