My Healthy 2020

I’ve Been Eating Low-Carb for 3 Years, and I’m No Longer Tired All the Time

updated Apr 14, 2020
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Credit: Design: Kitchn; Photo: Courtesy of Meg Haberbusch

“I had brain fog and was exhausted all the time. I went to a functional medicine doctor who suspected it was my thyroid.” Meg Haberbusch, a digital consultant based in New York, has been following a low-carb diet for three years. “Once I read Dr. Amy Meyer’s book, The Thyroid Connection, I eliminated grains and felt better within three weeks. I spoke to Meg about her food journey and she shared her secret to staying faithful to her low-carb lifestyle during even the busiest of times.

20 people, 20 stories of what healthy means for them in 2020.

My Healthy: Low-Carb Diet

  • Name: Meg Haberbusch
  • Location & Occupation: Digital Consultant in New York 
  • What Is a Low-Carb Diet?
  • How Long Following Low-Carb Diet: 3 years

What does “healthy” mean to you?
Healthy means I’m thriving and have lots of energy. It means that I’m able to do whatever I want like work, socialize, exercise, etc.

So health for you is defined in relation to thriving? That’s a great word. Were you not thriving before you went low-carb?
Yes, I definitely wasn’t thriving. Before I made the switch, I was tired and I had brain fog. I also had swelling in my hand and my memory was just not as sharp. 

What eating style helps you feel your healthiest?
I eat according to a modified Paleo food program [a program that’s not low-carb by definition but often is low-carb in practice]. I eat some dairy and some non-gluten grains occasionally. I also eat very high-quality animal protein and I aim for at least four ounces of animal protein about three times per day. I also eat a bunch of vegetables. I add them in for lunch and dinner. Sometimes, I even eat vegetables at breakfast! For example, if I’m eating eggs, I’ll typically sauté a shallot with some spinach to enjoy alongside them. 

What were your goals when you made this change?
I had brain fog and was exhausted all the time. I went to a functional medicine doctor who suspected it was my thyroid. My doctor tested my thyroid through blood tests over several months. My thyroid hadn’t been thoroughly tested previously and that means that I didn’t have a good baseline, so it took a while to sort through. Once I read Dr. Amy Meyer’s book, The Thyroid Connection, I eliminated grains (which are generally higher in carbs) and felt better within three weeks.

Credit: Joe Lingeman
Loaded Cheesy Cauliflower Bake

How did you make this change? What motivation pushed you on?
At first, I didn’t think I’d last from lunch to dinner without carbohydrates. I was so sure that I’d need a snack. Frankly, I was just doing it so I could tell my doctor that I tried. But I was fine so I kept on this modified food plan. I’m motivated to keep going when I slip up by mistake. I’ve accidentally had gluten a few times and I always feel awful. That’s been great motivation to keep eating this way. 

What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud that I’ve avoided thyroid medication and that I’ve finally gotten my health back on track. You see, once you go on thyroid medication, you are usually on it for the rest of your life. And, ultimately, it only treats the symptoms and not the cause.

So what does keep you going? Lifestyle and habit changes are famously hard to make and keep. Do you have a secret?
What keeps me going is this low-carb way of eating worked and understanding some of the science behind it keeps me going, too. Most doctors of functional medicine (e.g., Dr. Frank Lipman, Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Amy Meyers) address this part of this eating style.

But, I do have a secret that helps me keep it up when I know I’ll be really busy at work or with life: I order meals from Pete’s Paleo (a weekly Paleo meal delivery service). It’s expensive but so is New York City takeout and it’s much healthier than New York City takeout. I order during busy times and then I’m stocked with healthy meals that I just have to heat up. 

What’s the one food you love the most?

If you were to recommend a low-carb food program to someone else, what is the most important piece of advice you would give them?
I’d say that preparation is key. If you’re going out to eat, make sure to look at the menu ahead of time. If you ask a waiter very nicely to double check an ingredient or a dish with a chef, they always do. And, remember, you can always get a burger without the bun.

Thank you, Meg!

What Is Low-Carb? Start Here.

My Healthy 2020: 20 People, 20 Healthy Choices

Every January people make changes to improve their health. But which ones actually make a difference? We’re sharing the stories of 20 people who changed their lives for the better and stuck — thanks to choices that are individual, diverse, and sometimes wildly different from each other. Read their stories here throughout January. We hope they inspire your own journey to finding your own, unique, individual healthiest 2020.