(Disclaimer: Don’t give up reading this until you at least make it through the first several short paragraphs. The fun part starts there… 😉)
Where my fad dieters at???
If the next highly proclaimed fad-diet craze is what you’re looking for, then let me warn you- Keto may not be for you. Except that this is exactly what’s happening with keto-dieters. They can’t believe how much they love it. They can’t shut up about it. So much that for most, it’s turning into a lifestyle.
And trust me – for quite a while, I found myself thinking that if I heard one more person say “oh, I’m on keto…” (*insert eye-roll emoji*) I thought I was gonna scream.
And then I realized someone I really trusted was “doing keto” and I was like “ok, what in the world… I apparently need to research this so I can educate her on how she’s gonna kill herself.”
And then, I got it. This wasn’t a passing craze at all. For many it’s a new way of looking at eating altogether. So I jumped in. Literally. I decided on Sunday night, jumped in on Monday, and never looked back. (*not recommended. which is why you’re reading. do yourself a favor and learn from my expensive first whole foods bill. then get a costco membership if you don’t have one already.*)
I’ve been following the keto lifestyle for about five weeks now, and since I don’t have any major health issues that would seem to find support from it (like autoimmune disease, seizures, or chronic digestive problems to name only a few) I haven’t yet decided if going true keto is gonna be for ME forever.
Let me tell you why. (Heads up- I can have a good poo conversation like it ain’t no thang. Consider yourself warned.)
Mostly because I’m a little constipated. It’s not fun. I also don’t drink enough water as it is though. I never have been good at this. (I NEED to do better at this, it’s super important, it’s just never been easy for me.) I also don’t like eating salad when it’s cold outside. Which means I’m taking in less fiber. What do I like to eat? Soup and carbs… which live in stark contrast to the guidelines of the keto diet.
(Side-note: you know what every word of that last paragraph is? A mind-block. A learning opportunity… as if salad is the only place to get good low carb fiber from… my point? If you’re not open to a mindset overhaul, you’re probably not open to keto.)
Another reason is that I can’t imagine that it’s “bad” for me to eat an occasional sweet potato or an apple… it just doesn’t make logical sense to me that a healthy balanced diet should completely avoid such things.
So constipation and a couple of in-my-sleep-almost-leg-cramps that reminded me of the four times I experienced months 8 and 9 of pregnancy have been my only undesirable side-effect of this experience so far. (Side-note again: that’s a tell tale sign of a need for more magnesium. Another common side effect of the keto diet. Which also leads to constipation.)
If you’re still reading, you’ve gotta be asking by now… “omg is keto even safe? Why would anyone wanna do this?? What IS KETO anyway? I’ve heard all people eat on that diet is bacon and cheeseburgers!”
In short- keto is a low-carb, high-fat diet that causes your body to stop burning carbohydrates for energy and instead, burn ketones that your liver produces when your body has run low of carbs as a sustainable fuel source. If done properly, keto focuses on ditching processed foods in favor of whole foods.
Now don’t run from the “high-fat” concept. If you’re a kid of the 90’s like me, you grew up with low-fat food being marketed to our parents as if that were the best things for our diets. Gratefully my mom knew back then that that concept was bogus and she taught that to us. (So while we didn’t avoid healthy fats, we also did not avoid sugar. We also didn’t use artificial sweeteners though either.) Let me interject something for just a second… if our focus is on pursing wHOLe, then any weight loss program that wants to teach you that the best way to take care of your body is to fill it with foods created in a lab and artificial sugar substitutions is not your friend.
So in my experience, the best approach to starting Keto is to approach it with a mindset of only using real food… some meat, a little dairy, but mostly plants. The most “difficult” choice I’ve made in this lifestyle is to not have a soft drink. Ever. I’m not replacing regular with diet. I know that I need to eliminate it altogether. Because it’s poison, and I know it. No matter how refreshing it is with pizza.
OK now that I’ve got that part out of the way.
In my five weeks on keto, I’ve dropped 17 pounds and am fitting nicely back into my size 8 clothes. I want to drop another 8 before making any adjustments to my diet habits, so I will be sticking with strict keto until that time.
But the biggest most exciting and what I believe to be greatest benefit to my health?
I’ve kicked a sugar addiction. And guys, it was bad.
The biggest ways I could tell, besides my swollen belly and face? It had taken so much control over me that I could instantly tell a downward spiral in my mood and emotions within 10 minutes of consuming it. I. Felt. So. Sad. So “down”… Which means it effected how I treated and cared for my family. I’d always heard how sugar can be more addictive than cocaine, and while I’ve obviously never experienced that and would never want to imply that I understand drug addiction fully, I can say I know what it feels like to be off of sugar for five weeks and the difference has been game-changing for not only my energy, but my emotions. I never wanna go back to the life of consuming the amount of processed sugar and grains that I used to. And from what I’ve learned on this “diet” – I won’t have to. I was so pleased to realize that while the new ways that I make some of my favorite foods have taken a slight bit of adjustment, I am still completely satisfied and find myself still enjoying my food, with absolutely no regrets.
So as promised- here are five simple ways to rock your first week of keto.
Whatever your reasons for “doing keto” are, the first thing that you need to do is actually decide why you wanna do it… write it down. Get clear on your reason and your goals. Doing this will give you something to look back on and remind you to keep going when you reach days 4-5 and not only wanna hit something, but to feel better you wanna go grab a donut and sugared up coffee. Once you hit this point, be strong. This is the moment of breakthrough!
Keep your food real. Plan on it and decide from the beginning. Don’t switch out one type of fake food for another one. Your body will thank you, and you won’t believe how amazing you’ll begin to feel after the first week or so.
While you’re writing down your why, go ahead and write down what foods you think you’ll “miss” most. For me, at the end of September, it was pumpkin muffins and hot chocolate… then while you’re making meal plans, find out if there’s a way to make your favorite food “keto”. If you have the same experiences that I had, it will still be very satisfying to your tastebuds, but your body will be a little confused for a few days. Don’t worry- you’ll get through it.
Understand that if you still feel hungry, you need to up your fiber. That’s what the blackberries and raspberries are for. A handful of each carried me through the tough transitional days. The key was to have them close by so I wasn’t tempted to “cheat”.
Grab these pantry staples.
Combined with other things already found in my pantry, fridge, and freezer (like canned pumpkin, spices and seasonings, babybel cheese, a variety of low carb veggies, ground beef, chicken breast), I have been amazed at what I have learned to make from a combination of heavy cream (I skim mine from the top of the raw milk I get from our herdshare), eggs, almond milk, bone broth, cream cheese, bacon, mozzarella, avocados, cauliflower, blackberries, raspberries, Monkfruit Sweetener, Swerve Brown Sugar replacement, almond flour, coconut flour, and a good container of mixed nuts. After two weeks of relying on keto versions of pumpkin muffins, scrambled eggs, avocado, and bacon, spoonfuls of no-sugar-added peanut butter, cauliflower rice and stir-fried veggies with chicken, and lots and lots of coffee, my body began to adapt to not having sugar and I started to feel SO GOOD that I was able to make time for more recipe research and even stumbled on a recipe for my bread machine that would allow me to have toast and turkey sandwiches again. This recipe is grain and sugar free, but does add gluten. Since I don’t struggle with a gluten intolerance, it’s been a perfect addition to my weekly regimen and lasts about 4 days before beginning to mold. (Basically it behaves as real food should behave!) I also am using my food processor on the daily – something I previously only seemed to use on occasion.)
Biggest advice – start simple, and don’t cheat. The science behind it is real, and the biggest way to reach your goal is to make a plan, while also having some easy to grab foods in a pinch (like nuts, cheese, berries, muffins, and hard boiled eggs). Take part of a day to make up large batches of cauliflower rice or spaghetti squash, then portion them and put em in the freezer to be able to grab quickly. (For example- I had a lunch meeting at chipotle one day, and grabbed a pre-portioned cauli rice from my freezer on my way out the door, popped it in the microwave, and added it to the top of my barbacoa bowl upon sitting down with my lunch order. It was perfection.)
Different health and wellness goals will find you approaching this different ways. My overall goal was to get help in kicking a sugar addiction which included a desire for a grain-free diet as well, with a secondary goal of weight loss. Once I reach my weight loss goals, my plan will be to occasionally reintroduce healthy carbohydrates (things like like sweet potatoes, apples, and occasionally beans for times when I might enjoy a bowl of chili or a plate of grapes, cheese, and hummus) while continuing to bake with grain-free and sugar-free ingredients.
What are your “keto” goals? What sorts of things do you hope to gain in exchange for this type of wHOLe-food-lifestyle? I need to know – there’s always more to learn! To help get you started, follow my Pinterest board of newly discovered favorite recipes, and let me know when you find new ones that you love too.