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Reverse-Engineering Mental Health: Healing the Metabolism to Heal the Mind

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By Kelsey Buchalter (Nutrition Network Nutrition Advisor & Coach Practitioner, Host of “The Human Theatre”  Podcast, Speaker, Singer-Songwriter & Actor) 

Something lit up inside of me when she said this. Something just made sense. I rushed back home, asked for the boiled eggs that I knew were in the fridge and the olive oil, and I ate. And I have never looked back. Almost immediately, my brain switched back on. And for the first time in my entire life, I felt alive. 

The almost incomprehensible recovery that I have experienced since eating my first Carnivore meal in 2018, has left me awestruck. If I had  known that a simple dietary intervention would not just make me feel “okay”, but make me feel impassioned, energetic, joyous, resilient, strong, level-headed, hopeful and ALIVE…I would have utilized this 20+ years ago.

As I write this recount, I am 27 years old. And as I reflect on the years, energy, time and  money spent by my parents trying to get their daughter to feel “okay”, I cannot help but feel emotional. I wish I could have flipped a switch and made the heaviness go away. I wish I could have just pushed through more. I wish I could have finished the first degree I started. I wish I did not have to lose the long, thick, curly hair that once defined me. I wish I did not  have to cost my parents so much money and emotional strain. I wish my brothers did not have to witness all they have witnessed in their young lives. I wish I knew about the Carnivore diet sooner. But in the same breath, I write this recount with a heart that is teemed with gratitude not only for every single struggle that I have endured to this point, but teemed with gratitude for people like Prof Tim Noakes, Dr Christopher Palmer, Dr Georgia Ede, Dr Daniel Amen and Nutrition Network. I would not be alive and living without the work as espoused by these people and the entire LCHF community.  

May we all continue to shine the light of hope and the healing benefits of eating a species appropriate LCHF diet. 

The world needs it.  

– Kelsey Buchalter, Nutrition Network Advisor

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As I write this recount of my health journey, I am still trying to make sense of it all.  Providing a succinct description and analysis of something like Anorexia Nervosa seems  almost impossible amid scientific understanding of the human brain and body being far from succinct and complete. But I will do my best.  

Ever since I can remember, I was a highly anxious and insecure kid. My parents were  advised to delay my start of nursery school due to the fact that I was so wrought with  separation anxiety, I was unable to leave my mom’s side. “Generalized Anxiety Disorder”  was what the first Psychologist diagnosed. On the outside, my life looked perfect, and  intellectually, I knew that there was no rational reason for me to feel so anxious and have  such a destitute perception of reality, but on the inside, I was undeniably unwell. School  was understandably an emotional uphill battle, and so too was living.  

Given that my childhood was teemed with psychological distress, there was never a time  in which I was not symptomatic with some sort of emotional or physical ailment; panic  attacks, chronic headaches, gut dysbiosis, catastrophic thinking, chronic throat and ear 

infections that resulted in many bouts of antibiotics, emotional eating, restrictive eating,  compulsive and intrusive thoughts, fatigue, painful periods, amenorrhea, nervous system  dysregulation, bone fractures due to low bone density, insomnia…the list continues. What  were my magnanimously loving parents to do other than turn to the standard of care?  Insert over two decades-worth of seeing every specialist physician under the sun, trying  any medication that was thrown at me, weekly (sometimes bi-weekly) therapy sessions with multiple Psychologists and Psychiatrists and several admissions into  hospital and eating disorder clinics. After every appointment and after every pill swallowed, I was left feeling even more confused, lost, helpless and convinced that I was just broken. I was hopeless. And I have no doubt that my parents felt the same.  

During high-school, the manifestations of my eating disorder were ever-present, however,  they were somewhat contained given the fact that there was a set-structure within the  school system and everyone was required to follow-suit. But the minute I left school and it  became apparent that there was an entire world awaiting for me, I crumbled, and the  Anorexia spiraled out of control. I could not last one semester of studying anything without  being admitted into a hospital or clinic. The several years after I finished school could be  best described as what would eventually become my metamorphosis, or, how I like to joke  about it now, my ‘mid-life’ crisis; I was not eating. I was not talking. I was not living.  

I was always conscious of my health given that I had frequented so many Physician,  Psychologist and Psychiatrist appointments, attended Physio, Bio-kinetics, Pilates and  Yoga sessions, and spent so much time getting blood tests and various scans done.  Moreover, I was also always very insecure within my own body. In a beautiful but sombre  way, I was enforced to become judiciously mind-and-body-aware. Although most of the  meals I ate were home-cooked, the ingredients that often made an appearance would very  much be listed on the Banting Diet’s “red list”. When I was 16, on my first round of  antidepressants and actively Bulimic with severe Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), I went to  a Dietician who was recommended to me by my Psychologist at the time. I was told that  this particular dietician worked with eating disordered patients and specialised in  incorporating Mindfulness. This resonated with me. And she was surprisingly helpful…until  a point. She took me off gluten and educated me on the low FODMAP diet. I fortunately  experienced noticeable relief of IBS-related symptoms, but the Bulimia was exponentially  worsening. All the while, my weight ever-increasing. It was also around this time that my  consciousness around low-carbohydrate diets began to awaken, mostly thanks to my  father, who, as an Optometrist, saw its utility in his largely Diabetic patient population.  Although I was conscious of low-carb, I was not convinced enough to give it a go (mostly  due to the fear of calories and fat). And so I continued taking my antidepressants,  restricting, binging, purging and over-exercising.  

Fast-forward to first-year university, where I wouldn’t be able to finish one semester, I got  diagnosed with Hypothyroidism and was put onto T4-only thyroid medication (the dose of  which would continue to increase). I was also admitted into my first clinic. I was not  admitted into the eating disorder unit, probably because at this point I was tending towards  becoming slightly overweight (I hypothesize my increased weight was due to the  antidepressants and Hypothyroidism), but admitted into the general Psychiatric unit. I want  to add that the Psychiatrist who admitted me knew very well that I was actively Bulimic,  and engrossed with body insecurity. The Psychiatrist was more focused on admitting me in  order to have me clinically supervised during a medication change. This would have been  my third medication change since starting antidepressants when I was 16 (minus many  trials of additional antipsychotics and tranquilizers, each with their own concoction of side  effects). I was put onto a drug called Venlor. I gained 15 kgs (~ 33 pounds) in what felt like  overnight. 

Now, for anyone, with an eating disorder or not, gaining that much weight in such a short  period of time is undeniably scary and enough to evoke a sense of trauma. In an already  hyper-sensitive, insecure and anxious person with an already-established eating disorder  

and body dysmorphia, one can understand how gaining this much weight so rapidly served  as a significant catalyst for the eating disorder to flounder out of control. I immediately  decided to wean myself off of medication, and my life became committed to losing weight.  

Weaning off of antidepressants was enough of an ill-inducing experience to become  wholeheartedly jaded with the use of antidepressants, given that I also never really  experienced any benefits from being on them in the first place, other than gaining weight  and if a dose was missed, losing complete basic motor neuron control. I remember being  on a school tour, forgetting to take a dose of medication, and I nearly fell off a mountain (I  wish I could say I am over-exaggerating…). So yeah, weaning off of medication was no  joke. I had to purchase the anti-nausea medication that is prescribed to Cancer patients  undergoing Chemotherapy because the nausea was crippling. This period of time felt like  a complete blur, and to be honest, I don’t really recall how long it took until I was able to  get out of bed. But all I can say is that from that day onwards, my mind was dead-set on  NEVER putting myself through antidepressants again. Later on in my journey, I actually  found out from a relative who is a Criminal Psychologist, that within the Psychology and  Psychiatry industries, Venlor is apparently KNOWN to induce weight gain. This made me  even more jaded with Psychiatry. Period.  

Life inevitably continued in spite of the experience of it being burdensome, grotesque and  terrifying. Despite being dedicated to Psychotherapy, pursuing a photography course and  Yoga instructor’s course, I was still not “okay”.  

It was after having foot surgery in 2016 where enforced bed-rest was prescribed, that I  somehow began to lose weight. And lose it quite quickly. Of course muscle atrophy played  a significant role, but to my eating disordered mind, this was unfathomable. Being put on  bed-rest was my worst nightmare; if I cannot exercise, I am just going to get fat! I must  make sure to cut my calories. Insert a clinically significant and rapid onset of severe  Anorexia. Finally, I am Anorexic.  

In 2017, I got accepted into a specialized Bachelor of Psychology Degree at a private  institution in Cape Town. This seemed a lot more congruent to who I was as a person (and  what I had been through) than a BSC in Property Studies (at The University of Cape Town  in 2015), which was my first degree I started upon leaving school in 2014. I had been in  therapy for most of my life, and so I deeply resonated and enticingly connected with  Psychology. In an almost mystical, enchanting and out-of-body way, the deeper I dived into  the science and philosophy of Psychology, the deeper I dived into my own mind, and the  more sick I became. At this stage, I was deemed medically unstable, and enforced into my  first Anorexic-specific eating disorder clinic. I had been waiting for this day my whole life;  finally, I was ‘sick’ enough.  

Much to my dismay, or I should rather say much to my eating disorder’s dismay, the eating  disorder Psychiatric clinic was not what I had anticipated. In fact, it left me more  traumatized than before I was admitted. It felt like an all-female high-school dormitory on  steroids. The girls who had been there the longest had special ‘rights and privileges’.  Some of these included being able to dish up their own food (which was blatantly lacking  in portion-size compared to everyone else who was not allowed to dish themselves up),  having their own private rooms (in which they were blatantly utilizing to exercise in secret),  go to the bathroom unassisted (those who took an extra-long time were undeniably 

purging in some way) and ‘special cahoots’ with the staff, Nurses and Registered  Assistants (RA). More than that, calling someone out on “eating disordered” behaviour was  encouraged, and in that regard, naming and shaming was a daily norm. The latter  completely terrorized a highly sensitive, distressed, perfectionist Type-A like me, who  absolutely avoided confrontation, assertiveness and disappointing people at all costs. I  also was not allowed my cell phone, and not allowed to contact anyone. If I absolutely  needed to call my mom, someone had to be in the room with me so as to hear every word  I would say. I knew something was ‘off’ when my parents were not allowed to enter the  building after a certain point when they dropped me off on my first day of admission. I have  a vivid memory of that door closing, and all of a sudden feeling cold and trapped.  I’ll never forget my first meal. Meals were to be eaten all together at one table, with a RA  seated at the head of the table. A massive plate of food was handed to me. I am talking  about a huge ciabatta roll (the size of my Anorexic head), a boneless and skinless chicken  breast smothered in what looked like copious amounts of chutney, tomato sauce and some  ‘magical’ sticky-sauce, and a mountain of french fries. I will commend them for making  sure there was some protein amidst the carbohydrates. Now, in the physical state I was in,  there was absolutely no way that I would be eating all of that food. That amount of food left  me in a state of disbelief that that was for one person, let alone someone as medically  malnourished as myself. And of course, there was absolutely no way that the Anorexic  mind would even take a single bite of anything on that plate. Panic ensued. To make it  worse, I was then told that no one would be able to leave the table until I ate everything on  my plate. Hysteria ensued. This was enough trauma to completely frazzle my mind and put  me into a chronic-state of derangement and terror for the duration of my stay. Every new  admission that came meant another viewing of despair, shock and horror when they were  told that they had to eat everything on their plate otherwise no one would be able to leave  the table.  

After many sessions with the Psychologist and Psychiatrist who came to see me at the  clinic, the Dieticians were informed that I at least receive gluten-free meals. All agreed,  given how I had been gluten-free even before the Anorexia became severe.  Lastly, every morning, we were all required to meet in one room and recite that we were  sick, not normal and eating disordered with a disease. I am not a medical doctor, scientist  or Buddhist, but repetitively chanting something like that surely disempowers an individual  from experiencing any ounce of serenity and hope for his/her future and an understanding  that they are not broken. Well, I found that somewhat perplexing and counterintuitive to  what was meant to be a place of healing.  

Suffice to say, I became mute. And I walked around with a metaphorical brick choking me  in the back of my throat, chronically. This particular clinic had been sending email updates  to my parents daily (again, given the fact that I was not allowed to communicate or see my  parents). Subsequently, I found out that these emails were stating how settled and happy I  

was and how I was making new friends and progress! This could not have been further  from the truth. I was distressed out of my mind. At one point, my mom was contacted to  bring me warmer clothes. And so she did. I was obviously not allowed to be alone with her.  I saw her, and I just remember the strain I felt in my neck and throat trying to hold back the  tears. My mom approached me for a hug. There is no way she could not see how  distressed I was. And she whispered into my ear; “Are they hurting you?”. I did not have  the capacity to formulate a word, I just whimpered and quivered. She knew what I meant.  

I was meant to stay at least a month, but I left after three weeks, needing to sign a Refusal  of Hospital Treatment (RHT). Later on in my journey, I actually found out that this clinic  was not registered with the Health Professional’s Council of South Africa (HPCSA), and  that several of the main people who headed this particular clinic were ousted due to their 

unethical treatment. This did not surprise me in the slightest. Sadly, when I was in my last  eating disorder clinic (this would have been early 2018), there was a young British girl in  the unit with me who had come from this same terrorizing eating disorder clinic. She had  been so traumatized that she literally jumped the wall and escaped. She was found and  taken to another clinic – the one I was admitted into in 2018.  

Of course I relapsed, and relapsed hard. My life became even smaller and more myopic;  only able to comprehend moment-by-moment, meal-by-meal. I remember going to bed  wishing I would never wake up because living was too scary. I would be awake during the  day and all I could do was weep and howl, but because I was so malnourished, no tears  ever came out. At any given time, clumps of my former long and thick curly hair would fall  out. My skin was turning grey, and when I saw my dad cry for the first time in my life after  weighing me, I knew that things were getting out of hand. 

I was still under the supervision of the same Dietician that worked at the first clinic, who,  unsurprisingly, espoused conventional eating disorder recovery paradigms and general  dietetic standards. I had to have mostly carbohydrates, 6-times a day. As ‘warned’ by the  clinic, my mom became the policeman, monitoring my every move because I was  “manipulative and could not be trusted” (I am not completely disagreeing with the  manipulative and deceitful nature of eating disorders, but this still evoked a situation in  which I constantly felt as if I was being hurled into a corner, unable to speak, let alone  move. I felt like a criminal. I felt as if having Anorexia was a crime. I felt like a bad girl. And  this was equally traumatic).  

This was the beginning of the end of the relationship between my mom and myself. Our  relationship completely broke. We could no longer be in the same room as each other. We  could not speak to each other. And eventually, we could not live under the same roof. In  times when I was not an in-patient, I had to stay at a family friend’s house. Needless to say  that the relationship between my mom and that family friend also ended for many, many  years. The strained and toxic relationship between my mom and myself stood in a stark  and incongruous contrast to the relationship we had had before; where I loved her so  much, I couldn’t leave her side. And of course a contributing factor to the trauma I was  experiencing was due to the fact that I was not ready to let go of the eating disorder. I felt  stuck between a rock and a hard place; all I wanted was to feel safe enough to let go, yet,  the environment around me felt anything but safe. To be honest, my experience of having  Anorexia can be best described as the most intense anxiety I have ever experienced in my  life. Anxiety was at the root, and Anorexia was the superficial manifestation of it.  

After many months of relapse, my parents were depleted and distraught. They set up a  consultation with a Social Worker at a local Government hospital. We were all under the  impression that I was going in for a Psychiatric assessment. Low-and-behold, I was  admitted involuntarily then and there. It felt like a real-life horror movie; there I was, once  again being taken away from my parents. I had nothing on me except my cell phone, which  I knew would eventually be taken away. Given that this was a Government hospital and  one of their Psychiatric wards, I was enclosed ‘behind bars’. It looked and felt like a prison.  And I still hold back tears every time I recall this day. I was there for 7 months, never  knowing when I would be discharged. I do have to add in a very special thank you to my  father who, every day, for 7 months, and every visiting hour that there was, came and sat  with me. The minute I received my phone at 5pm every day, I would immediately call him  (this was when he was leaving work). I’d just be in tears for the duration of his drive.  Weeping. Desperately weeping. He would then arrive at the hospital, and just sit with me  for the full 2 hours. He remained strong, although I am sure he felt more than what his  posture portrayed. He was my rock, and always has been. Given his medical background, 

he dedicated every non-working moment researching everything he could about Anorexia  Nervosa and mental health, so as to understand me empathetically…and probably just get  me to eat food again. While I’m speaking about my dad, I also want to acknowledge how  from the beginning, he was against me taking all the medication I did (specifically the  antidepressants), and he was even against me having anaesthetics. In hindsight, my dad  called it. And I appreciate him extensively. The mere fact that he was knowledgeable,  conscious of and averse to antidepressants created an environment that allowed me to  stop taking them. I shudder to think that if I were in any other environment in which a  parent or parents entrusted the ‘man in the white coat’ and took whatever he said as  gospel, I may not have ever been able to wean off of antidepressants in the first place. And  to add to that, thank goodness I had a predisposition to be so body insecure, because I  equally shudder to think that without it, I would probably still be taking them today!  

The admission in the Government hospital was still traumatic, however, given that I was  the only patient with Anorexia, a lot was normalized for me. I was surrounded by non eating disordered people, and at that point, that was profound in reminding me of what  ‘normal’ (i.e not Anorexic) life looked like, specifically pertaining to meal times, where after  I reached a certain BMI, I was able to get out of my hospital bed and sit at the same table  as everyone else. I got to listen to normal conversations about current affairs, and  thoroughly enjoyed hearing new people get to know new people. It took me out of my  Anorexic head, and that was rather therapeutic, for the likes of a better word.  For the first few months, I was actually doing remarkably well! Also, I was able to have  more say around what food I would eat. I was able to remain gluten-free, and was happily  able to have most of my food be real, whole foods (although I definitely was consuming too  many carbohydrates for my liking). I did have to have special nutritional shakes that were  awfully sweet. But for the most part, my food was significantly healthier compared to the  previous clinic.  

All was well until another Anorexic patient was admitted. And my recovery definitely took a  major knock. But I trudged through. Eventually, I was discharged because I was a safe enough BMI to no longer be considered a medical crisis, and the hospital needed the bed.  But my parents were fore-warned that I would relapse. And I did. And even worse than  before I was admitted into hospital.  

This led to my last and final clinic admission. I was not happy to be going into another  clinic, but at this point, I did not have any ounce left in me to withhold any more resistance.  Besides the young girl who had escaped the first eating disorder clinic I attended, it was  just me in the unit. The young girl, distressed out of her mind, left a few days into the  program to be admitted into a clinic back in her home country of England. And alas, it was  just me in the eating disorder program. Unfortunately, the same dietician that worked in the  first clinic was also working in this clinic, and in general, the food was awful. I also had to  have junk food with respect to the conventional eating disorder recovery tagline of “There  shall be no fear food”. I was still able to remain gluten-free, but when I told them that all the  milk they were making me drink gave me major gut distress, they insisted I have soya milk  instead (which still caused significant gut distress). There I was, eating an entire slab of  chocolate (50-80g), a fruit (usually a floury apple), 3 tablespoons of almonds and a  massive mug of soya milk every night right before bed (this was considered a snack, by  the way, of which I had had two others during the day). But I was a lot more calm in this  clinic than the first clinic, again, most likely due to the fact that I was the only Anorexic  patient. I was also allowed outside time. And intuitively, I always made my way to stand  wherever the sun was. In hindsight, I know how profound this natural instinct was. 

At the end of my 3 week program, I was told that a bed was waiting for me in the  Government hospital that I had spent 7 months in. I was still considered a medical threat,  and had not picked up enough weight. I crumbled. My throat hurt. I refused. I begged and pleaded. And I think I subconsciously became determined to prove everyone wrong,  even though recovery from Anorexia went against every ounce of my core as I was not yet  ready to let it go. I was discharged after 3 weeks but had to agree to medical supervision  as an out-patient, and I was able to go home.  

This was February 2018, and I have not been admitted into another clinic since. And from  where I stand right now, I do not think that being admitted into a clinic is on the horizon for  me. After this discharge, and after growing dismay at the conventional diets prescribed to  

me specifically during the acute phases of Anorexia, I wanted to find a Dietician who  specializes in LCHF diets. The minute I heard about LCHF, I had always had this intuition  that it was right. Additionally, LCHF benefitted the Anorexic mind because it knew that high  carbohydrate diets would ultimately induce weight gain which was understandably a  massive fear for the Anorexia. In hindsight, I know that high carbohydrate diets wreck  havoc on blood glucose (and ultimately mood), and indeed, if I had remained eating such a  high carbohydrate diet, I am pretty sure I would still be struggling.  

I tried several supposed LCHF-conscious Dieticians, but I found myself stuck in feeling  completely overwhelmed with making choices of food from the Green List. I also still very  much feared fat due to its calorie-density. There were so many options, and accompanied  with the Anorexia’s crippling fear of calories, gaining weight and me not yet wanting to let  go of the Anorexia, I really was not doing well. This resulted in me choosing the leanest  cuts of meat (basically chicken and tins of tuna), some lettuce, cucumber and spinach and  a total avoidance of any added fat. This lasted for several months. All the while, my weight  steadily dropped and the relationship with my mom was straining by the day.  

By August of 2018, having lost a significant amount of weight and the threat of yet another  admission lingering, I became desperate. A friend of mine, who had Fibromyalgia, told me  about a Health-Coach who utilizes LCHF diets (which of course was a priority for me). She  highly recommended I make an appointment with her. I was desperate. And so I went. This  

was a 3-hour consultation, and at the end, she said to me, “Kelsey, for the next 10 days,  you are going to eat fatty red meat, eggs, salt and 8 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil”  (she suggested olive oil due to the state of my gut at the time. In hindsight, I think extra  

animal fats besides what naturally came on the fatty red meat would have been adequate  to include from the get-go, but regardless, I loved the taste of quality olive oil).  Something lit up inside of me when she said this. Something just made sense. I rushed  back home, asked for the boiled eggs that I knew were in the fridge and the olive oil, and I ate. And I have never looked back. Almost immediately, my brain switched back on. And for the first time in my entire life, I felt alive.  

My parents were of course absolutely shocked and speechless. But despite observing  such a miraculous turnover, they thought that this was just another eating disorder, and  another way in which the Anorexia could remain ‘alive’. Yes, even my father was not  entirely convinced. The vulnerable and sensitive empath that I am took this angst on, but  landed up somehow being able to schedule a meeting with Professor Tim Noakes at a  local cafe, wanting to pick his brain about the Carnivore Diet and whether or not he  thought it would be okay for someone such as myself in my dire state. After I asked his  opinion on the matter, he gave me one of his famous uplifting smiles and just nodded.  “Yes!”. He even suggested I take up CrossFit!  

I got the verification I needed. And that was enough for me. 

This was 2018, and it’s now 2024 as I write this. Although it is obvious that I have  made immense progress, I am by no means trying to imply that my life is now ‘perfect’.  The last 6 years have been dreadfully challenging, but the more I grow up, the more I have  come to internalize that to live means to suffer. Stress will always be inevitable. We would  

not have evolved as a Human species without stress, and we would not be here today if  our cells were not able to withstand the stress that they have endured. The body is  resilient. It’s designed to be. And that’s the whole point: after the implementation of the  Carnivore Diet, I was actually able to apply the 20+ years of Psychotherapy I had  accumulated. This makes sense given that my cells now had the energy and capacity to  do so. The Carnivore Diet enabled me to ‘do the work’. And I essentially view it as giving  me the armour I needed and still need to triumph over the inevitable stressors (physical  and psychological) that will show up in my life. In a magical way, the Carnivore Diet not  only biologically made me stronger, but it made me psychologically stronger, too. This  mere fact drives my desire and yearning to change the paradigm in which Psychiatric  illnesses, and specifically eating disorders, are treated, especially in the acute-phases of  therapeutic intervention, when a patient is profoundly unwell and vulnerable. When  someone is in such a critical state, I strongly believe that nutritional intervention needs to  be prioritized. For all we know, that one simple therapeutic intervention could by-pass  decades-worth of specialist Physician, Psychologist and Psychiatrist appointments, many  trials of antidepressants with inevitable side-effects (specifically the metabolic side-effects  as addressed by people like Dr Christopher Palmer) and disempowerment in the form of  that patient succumbing to his/her diagnosis, thinking that he/she is broken and destined  for the rest of their lifetime to be in and out of treatment facilities and doctors’ offices. Let  alone decades-worth of medical bills and prescriptions. For it was one nutritional  intervention that did it for me.  

Anorexia Nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness. The fact that I  am alive, I feel it my obligation and responsibility to speak out about anything that might  help someone with the diagnosis. The standard of care, although seemingly efficacious for  some, is failing most. After experiencing the terrors of what Anorexia can possess, I stand  with deep empathy for anyone who has been affected by this insidious and tragic  psychiatric disorder. But I want to shed a glimpse of hope and revelation.  

Something like Anorexia is not a character flaw. Yes, mindset matters. But underpinning  the quality of our thoughts is the biochemistry inside of us. What came first, the chicken or  the egg? Through the lens of the mind and biology having a bi-directional relationship, I’m  not sure one could ever conclude what came first. But from my stance, the missing link  that the majority of healthcare professionals miss and undermine is the power of nutrition  in the prevention and treatment of mental health ‘disorders’ (inverted commas to highlight  the body’s innate ability to heal itself, when put in the right environment to do so: your  diagnosis is not a death-sentence). Of course the other pillars of health are paramount;  sleep, movement, light, purpose/passion and community. But nutrition has the largest  impact due to the fact that our cells are literally made up of what we consume, digest and  assimilate.  

Dr Daniel Amen has a wonderful analogy that eloquently describes the power of reverse engineering mental health: if we liken the Human body to the hardware of a computer, and  the Human psychology to the software of a computer, how can we expect the software  (psychology) to be running optimally if the hardware is beaten, batted and malfunctioning? 

I have had the most controversial and unconventional recovery from Anorexia Nervosa.  The same Health-Coach who put me on the Carnivore Diet also opened my eyes to  intermittent fasting. Yeah, I recovered from Anorexia Nervosa utilizing a zero-carbohydrate 

Carnivore Diet and intermittent fasting. More than that, most of the vast and seemingly  unrelated psychological and physiological ailments I grew up with are now in remission.  And I know I am but one anecdote and testament to the power of nutrition alone in  restoring an individual’s health.  

As is evident, I am not short of words to write, but I would rather have a brain full of words,  ideas and thoughts than a brain depleted of the fundamentally-human abilities to talk,  communicate and express myself. Before Carnivore, it was as if I was alive, but lifeless.  I am not sure if the fact that the Carnivore Diet relieved me from decision fatigue and the  crippling overwhelm of having too much choice on the Green List, or the fact that the  Carnivore Diet excluded carbohydrates (that were a fear-food for the Anorexia), or the fact  that the Carnivore Diet provided me with the most bioavailable and nutrient-dense foods,  or the fact that the Carnivore Diet most certainly helped me reach nutritional Ketosis  (although I do not doubt that I was not already in a state of Ketogenesis by virtue of the  fact that I had been starving myself for so long), or the fact that the Carnivore Diet  encompassed the foods that I naturally and genuinely loved as a young girl (my plate was  the ‘graveyard’ plate – teemed with everyone else’s skin, collagenous cartilage bits and  bones that I gnawed on)…maybe it is all of the above and more! 

It baffles me that I went to every leading specialist Physician in Cape Town, in all different  sects of medicine; Endocrinology, Neurology, Psychiatry, Gynaecology, Dermatology,  Psychology, Internal Medicine, yet not one single healthcare professional ever asked me:  “What are you eating?”. In fact, I once had the top Endocrinologist tell me that whatever I  eat has no affect on my thyroid (this was in response to me excitedly informing her of my  Carnivore Diet).  

More than that, the undeniable and almost incomprehensible recovery that I have  experienced since eating my first Carnivore meal in 2018, has left me awestruck. If I had  known that a simple dietary intervention would not just make me feel “okay”, but make me feel impassioned, energetic, joyous, resilient, strong, level-headed, hopeful and ALIVE…I would have utilized this 20+ years ago.  

As I write this recount, I am 27 years old. And as I reflect on the years, energy, time and  money spent by my parents trying to get their daughter to feel “okay”, I cannot help but feel  emotional. I wish I could have flipped a switch and made the heaviness go away. I wish I  could have just pushed through more. I wish I could have finished the first degree I started.  I wish I did not have to lose the long, thick, curly hair that once defined me. I wish I did not  have to cost my parents so much money and emotional strain. I wish my brothers did not  have to witness all they have witnessed in their young lives. I wish I knew about the  Carnivore diet sooner. But in the same breath, I write this recount with a heart that is  teemed with gratitude not only for every single struggle that I have endured to this point,  but teemed with gratitude for people like Prof Tim Noakes, Dr Christopher Palmer, Dr  Georgia Ede, Dr Daniel Amen and Nutrition Network. I would not be alive and living without  the work as espoused by the latter-mentioned people and the entire LCHF community.  

May we all continue to shine the light of hope and the healing benefits of eating a species appropriate LCHF diet. The world needs it.  

– Kelsey Buchalter, Nutrition Network Advisor

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