Well, I guess the first thing to do is to introduce myself and set the stage to give you some context before we start talking about health issues and ribeye steaks! I’d consider myself to be a ‘normal’ healthy adult male.
I’m in my mid-30s. I work a fairly demanding and stressful corporate job, but still consider myself to be very active. I work out, I train in jiu jitsu, and chase around my three kids. I wouldn’t label myself a ‘drinker’ and I don’t use drugs. Despite truly enjoying and being dedicated to physical fitness for more than two decades, I have typically been ‘overweight’.
You probably wouldn’t call me ‘Fat’, you’d definitely not call me ‘Skinny’ but you might describe me as ‘Stocky’, ‘Stumpy’, or ‘Husky’. Given my height (5’6” on a good day!) and typical weight (205lbs) on a BMI scale.
I’m obese….have you ever tried to get term life insurance with a medical chart calling you obese? Right or wrong you’d probably be denied coverage or be forced to do an intrusive in-person physical just to qualify! Life Insurance for Overweight and Obese People: How Your BMI Affects Life Insurance
Thankfully, however, despite bouts of ‘elevated blood pressure’ I’m not prescribed any medications, haven’t required major surgeries, and aside from a few broken bones have been blessed to be in good health throughout my life.
As I entered my mid thirties and exited the pandemic with a handful of ‘jabs’ and a few deceased grandparents 🙁 I began to develop an annoying, unsightly, and difficult to deal with health issue….I guess this is getting older?!?!
Sitting at the desk and typing away some corporate email filled with ‘pencil it ins’ and ‘circle backs’, I began to notice small bumps/blisters forming on parts of my hand, most specifically, my index and middle fingers on my left hand and my ring and middle fingers on my right hand. Odd placement!
Over the course of time, they’d come and go with differing levels of severity and discomfort. I didn’t think too much of it at first to be honest with you.
As time went on the blisters and cracks on my hands became more frequent, more severe, and especially painful. Playing with my kids, gripping a pull up bar.
After a bit of self study on Google images, I had determined these bumps and blisters were likely eczema. Pro-tip, if you google anything skin related, be ready for some gruesome photos! With no ‘MD’ plaque on my wall, I decided to see a dermatologist. After a brief round of questioning, a review of my moles, and a glance at my hands, he diagnosed it as eczema, prescribed me some cream, and sent me on my way. I didn’t get much in the way to what might be causing the Eczema or how to prevent it, just some cream to help deal with the symptoms. I was feeling a bit silence of the lambs after the appointment ”It rubs the lotion on the skin”!
With my ‘boo boo cream’ applied, I thought that would be the end of this little issue, boy was I wrong.
As time went on, and eczema intensified and I continued to research and began to think it was related to food…. All the cream didn’t solve my issue, so I was desperate for answers. Going with my gut, literally, I ordered an at home food sensitivity test from Everlywell.
I chose their food sensitivity test, but the company offers much more than just this version of the test.
I was eager to find the source of my eczema issues and eliminate it from my diet for good! I was prepared to go full David Goggins and harden up to fix my issue.
Lifting weights, pounding a key board, rolling in jiu jitsu, and playing with your little kids is not fun with red, itchy, and cracked painful hands. Even doing the dishes was a bitch. At times my hands were so busted that these activities weren’t even possible given their condition. In order to get back to what I wanted to do, I was willing to make sacrifices.
All told the testing process took a month from the time I ordered to the time my results were ready. Given the lead time to deliver the package to me and for me to mail the sample back for testing, I can’t say it was that bad, but we have all gotten used to instant gratification more these days, haven’t we? How Instant Gratification is Really Affecting Us!
Everlywell did a nice job communicating the status of my order, the status of my sample and sharing the
Results. It was like Christmas when the ‘your results are ready’ email hit the inbox.
There here – finally some direction to fix my hands. 17 foods! I’m reactive to 17 foods according to the test, but showed that I’m highly reactive to 2 foods specifically.
Winter Squash (should be easy to cut those out as I’m not sure I’ve ever had one)…..and EGGS.
I LOVE EGGS!
THEY ARE PACKED WITH PROTEIN!
EASY TO COOK!
AND LITERALLY IN EVERYTHING….Baked Goods, sauces, dressings, pretzels, you name it. They have found a way to sneak eggs into just about everything…that’s more for a different article.
Welp, time to ‘Stay Hard’, toughen up and revamp the diet, clear up the eczema and get back to a life without bandaids and creams.
Everlywell has suggestions, videos, and guides on how to start an elimination diet.
You can also find some more resources here:
- The Elimination Diet – UW Madison
- How to Do an Elimination Diet and Why – Healthline.com
- Why and How To Start an Elimination Diet – Health Essentials
So I cut out eggs entirely. Adios omelets. Farewell Frittatas and Good Bye Baked Goods.
I must say, a life with no eggs is a sad life…..despite being delicious in a billion different ways, as mentioned, they are hidden in a lot of the foods we eat and enjoy.
Some breads have eggs, some chips, pastas, salad dressings and even tortillas.
It’s actually kind of startling to see the list of things with eggs in it.
Then things start to get really intense. I cut out anything remotely including eggs.
Hard boiled eggs became Greek yogurt or oatmeal.
Strictly vinaigrette dressings for this salad!
Are the wings breaded?
Maybe I’ll get the burger instead…wait, what kind of bun is it served on?
It was annoying.
“Dad can’t have eggs” my kids would chant.
“Are there any food allergies at the table?” the waiters would ask.
After an honest few weeks of very strictly avoiding eggs and all known foods with eggs, however, the eczema showed some signs of clearing up….
I found it easy to cut out eggs, but very difficult to cut out everything that had eggs as an ingredient. I felt guilty having the Christmas cookie and fearing an eczema flair up with every sugary bite. Upon inspection of the ingredients on the grocery store’s rotisserie chickens, I found they coat it with egg whites! It was even on our proteins!
This seriously redefines chicken and the egg!
Months go by….
The eczema never really clears up fully.
It seems to get better at times then dramatically worse.
It kind of takes a mind of its own…..and frankly is contributing to losing mine. It’s kind of a difficult battle to wage. No real solution, no real control over this situation, and alot of unanswered questions.
And so it goes for the next few months.as I try to remain egg free, continuously finding them hidden in things, choosing to have something out of the ordinary or frankly sometimes while being super restrictive on the diet, my hands would blow up and I’d be in for a week plus of discomfort, bandaids, and embarrassment.
They say the definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over and getting the same results….we’ll i was definitely starting to lose it….i think i mentioned that already….maybe I did lose it!
Well, that’s when the eczema became its most severe.
Despite the pain, I continued to train in jiu jitsu, lift weights and live a life. I had an eggless diet and my curated selection of bandaids, tapes, and creams. I was determined to remain active, on the mats, and a good parent.
Anyone who trains jiu jitsu seriously knows the risks of staph and other nasty skin conditions like ring worm.
To that end, we can’t recommend ‘Defense Soap’ enough. Smells great and is full of essential oils that protect grapplers.
Any open wound, crack in your skin or even minor scratch can dramatically increase your risk of transmitting one of these skin conditions. A quick reminder to CUT YOUR NAILS jiu jitsu people!
We’ll as you can probably already where this is headed, my eczema quickly accelerated into a massive staph infection. See below and don’t say we didn’t warn you.
The sores became filled with staph…and they were not clearing up despite my best efforts. Keeping them clean, covered, etc.
Unwrapping and changing the gauze had me yelping in pain and swearing under my breath. The ultra painful blisters began to explode….
Creating a situation so painful that I couldn’t sleep that night. Searing, red hot pain from my hands and I am the type of person who can sleep standing up!
We do like Onnit Sleep Supplements to improve our sleep hygiene if anyone needs a little help getting restful sleep.
I had just so happened to have my annual physical scheduled for the following week, so I rearranged the appointment to the following day. Figured I could kill two birds with one stone. Get my hands addressed ASAP and make sure all my other levels and tests are still on point. As I mentioned earlier, I consider myself fortunate to be in good health.
The nurse was alarmed to see the condition of my hands and at this point, it was warranted. The pain was severe and they looked terrible.
They took a culture of the wound, but she pretty quickly and confidently diagnosed it as Staph given the background I had provided. She quickly prescribed me both a topical and oral antibiotic before re-dressing the wound with non-stick gauze. What a game changer! NONSTICK GAUZE!
If you’ve never had a staph infection, we pray that you don’t. They are nasty and if left untreated, potentially fatal. Protect yourself from them at all costs.
We told you it is nasty stuff!
Recovery time can vary based on severity, but for some, it can be months and months.
Check out some of these infamous staph infections in MMA.
- Staph Infection VS MMA: The Invisible Battle
- Fighting Fit: What is a staph infection and how do you prevent it?
- Dustin Poirier posts a gruesome photo of a staph infection, will be released from the hospital Wednesday
- Kevin Randleman has a SERIOUS staph infection
- UFC 130: Cole Escovedo: “I Was Paralyzed from the Waist Down”
After 10 days on both forms of antibiotics, my hands begin to slowly recover from the destruction.
They still had a long way to heal up before I was back into the swing of my normal routine.
All told this round of eczema and staph made me a less playful parent and kept me out of the gym and off the mats for over a month.
I felt dejected and frustrated and I wanted answers to resolve this once and for all.
After my second follow up appointment to confirm my hands had healed, I also received the results of my annual physical.
In covering the results, the Doctor was really focused on my A1C reading. It was showing high versus previously being in the normal range during my last physical.
Well – first I’d need to understand what exactly A1C was.
As the nurse explained, The A1C test—also known as the hemoglobin A1C or HbA1c test—is a simple blood test that measures your average blood sugar levels over the past 3 months. It’s one of the most commonly used tests to diagnose prediabetes and diabetes and is also the main test to help you and your healthcare team manage your diabetes. Higher A1C levels are linked to diabetes complications, so reaching and maintaining your individual A1C goal is really important if you have diabetes.
Diabetes is present in my family, so it is something that I am predisposed to. This was a difficult wake up call.
While there may be some link between elevated A1C and recovering from an infection, I took the advice of the Doctor to next take a more comprehensive allergy test from a physician which included Foods, Medicines, Molds, and other elements that can cause allergies.
Actual Food Allergy Test
To say that this experience was a little more intrusive than my EverlyWell test was an understatement.
After some Q&A with the allergist and a discussion over what had been going on with my hands and how it got to this point, we began the allergy test.
They planned to test me for 90 different compounds…from your cat’s furballs to lobster tails. Pollen to mold spores. Soon, I’d know if there was something more beyond Eggs that was causing me these issues.
After an hour’s wait, I had my results.
Surely I’d see eggs on my allergy hit list, but what else?
NOT EVEN EGGS.
I’m not even allergic to eggs….but they have been destroying my hands for months, I’ve been avoiding them. I thought I saw some improvement. How can I not be allergic to eggs after all this??!?!
Well, I wasn’t.
The allergist also broke down how different allergy tests work. Some look for the presence of items, and some test for the allergy. He suspected my former test looked for compounds in your system. Ex. if you eat a lot of eggs, it might flag seeing these in your system as a false sensitivity.
It was over my head, I took this additional test looking for answers but got even more questions.
My initial goal had now doubled in scope.
- Eliminate eczema
- Reduce my A1C
As a huge ‘Rogan’ guy, I recalled several of the podcasts he has hosted discussing the carnivore diet and elimination diets.
The carnivore diet is pretty simple. Eat meat and a limited number of foods as part of an elimination diet. Zero carbs.
Specifically the diet centers around fattier cuts of red meat, nuts, cheeses, butter, and maybe an avocado or two.
It sounded extreme, pricey, and somewhat difficult to plan around, but as mentioned, I was desperate for a change and with my new goal of A1C reduction, I was all in.
What I Ate on Carnivore
The concept of carnivore is about as simple as a diet can be. Eat red meat and pretty much only read meat. Don’t go crazy with the seasonings (I stuck to salt, pepper, and a bit of garlic powder). Don’t add some crazy sauces (I avoided them entirely) and that’s pretty much it. Lots of water, occasionally with a touch of pink salt if you are feeling a bit dehydrated. I also took some liberties with my diet and ate vegetables along with red meat….I know I know, probably not true carnivore, but I needed to mix it up a bit.
No sodas, No juices, No fruit, and definitely nothing processed.
As the experts suggested, I generally found that the fattier cuts of meat kept me full and satisfied for a lot longer. As I hit the meat counter at my local grocery store, I was looking for my new best friend, the ribeye!
These ultra-flavorful steaks are essentially individually cut prime rib roasts, and they come from the cow’s upper rib area. Ribeyes are super fatty, which allows them to retain their juiciness even when cooked over very high heat.
What the ribeye marketing team doesn’t tell you is these puppies aren’t cheap. I have found them to typically cost anywhere from $15.99 – 19.99/pound. This adds up if you are taking down a few of these a week.
I also tossed in things like
- Ground beef
- Chicken thighs
- Pre-smoked salmon (lox)
- Cheeses including cream cheese
- Green vegetables (I’ve learned to love cabbage apparently)
- Bone Broth
So long as it’s made up of protein and fat, I felt good about tossing it in the cart and giving it a go.
Perhaps the best thing about this ‘diet’ is there is literally no counting, measuring or caring. If you are hungry, eat the things on the list. If they don’t sound appealing, you probably aren’t hungry enough. If you are hungry after eating the above, eat some more things on the above….
I’d typically fast from sleep till 11 before starting the day with my world renowned lox lettuce wrap.
- Grab a few pieces of iceberg lettuce
- Smear them with your favorite type of cream cheese
- Add some veggies or jalapenos for crunch and flavor
- Add a piece or two of the smoked salmon we just bought
- Sprinkle lightly with salt or everything bagel seasoning for a more real bagel experience!
That lettuce wrap would usually leave me full till 1-2. After a mid day workout, it was ribeye time. Usually I’d just have it without much garnish or flash, which made my peers in the office look at me a little strange. “Who is the serial killer eating a microwaved ribeye with plastic utensils” I could hear them think.
But to me, that was better than ‘Who is the serial killer with those crazy bandages on his hands and cold dead look in his eyes”….
So the diet was easy, because I was eating things I liked, and felt a higher purpose to stick to it and get my life back on track.
My Carnivore Diet Results
The results of carnivore were almost immediate. The scale weight literally fell off. Understanding that a lot of that early weight was water. Some of you know, but as the name implies carbohydrates.
Some of the carbs you consume are stored in the form of glycogen. For every one gram of carbohydrate stored in the body (as glycogen) there is approximately 2-3 grams of water retained.
Makes sense that as you remove carbs, some of the retained water your body held for those carbs begins to be eliminated.
It was kind of fun to watch the normally stubborn scale begin to move the ‘other way’ pretty quickly….Beyond that, I was feeling good. After months of questions that remained unanswered, I felt like I was on the path to resolving this painful, annoying, and frustrating period of my life.
I started this new lifestyle around 200 pounds as I think I mentioned above. Within two weeks I was right around 193 pounds. Seven pounds within two weeks really had me feeling good and gave me encouragement that I was on the right path.
As mentioned previously, my goal was a reduction in my A1C levels and the elimination of eczema. A1C is a test that measures roughly your body’s monthly blood sugar average….
I set a date 90 days out exactly from my last reading. I wanted proof beyond the scale that this was working and not altering any of my other health markers negatively.
October, November, and December were filled with ribeyes, lox lettuce wraps, and bone broth. I was disciplined to avoid the ‘holiday’ traps and really didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything. I had a scoop of ice cream on my birthday as my children bemoaned that I should not blow out a candle stuck in a hamburger. Not the end of the world.
90 days exactly and I head back to the doctor. At home, I weigh in the high 180s now, Like anywhere from 192-187, thanks to my super precise scale from Bed Bath and Beyond :). I clocked in at 195 at the doctor, who had me keep most of my clothes on.
My hands are totally clear. I’m talking smooth as a baby’s butt. My overall mood is way better and my outlook on things is rosier.
My doctor was kind of shocked to just see the number on the scale go down. She is used to the typical American patient who sadly almost never sees a reduction in weight over the course of their lives, let alone in 90 days….It’s hard guys and I get it.
- The food pyramid is a lie!
- The companies selling food don’t care about you, they only want your money
- And your internal medicine doctor isn’t going to give you nutritional advice ever!
So scale weight dropped and visibly my hands are better, but what about the A1C….for that I’d have to weigh 72 hours for the labs to come back.
When the ‘your results are ready’ email came in, I was a kid on Christmas. Three months of lifestyle change would soon be worth it or a huge waste of time, money, and propane for my grill.
My A1C dropped .3 points and I was back in the reference range! My provider was thrilled to see the results as was I.
I looked better.
I felt better.
I could easily stick to and enjoy carnivore!
A few months later
It’s been a few months later and I’m still following the carnivore diet. My weight is down in the mid 180s, I’ve bought all new clothes and feel 100 times better. Surprisingly my strength has not diminished. My lifts in the gym are better than they ever were and I’ve found my cardio and explosiveness in jiu jitsu have improved as well.
I’d strongly encourage anyone suffering from eczema, allergies, blood sugar, or other ailments to give carnivore a 90 day trial and see how dramatic the results can be.