This post has been a long time coming. The holidays rolled around, I got busy and, yes, I fell off the keto wagon. I’ve come to realize “falling off the keto wagon” is kind of silly and unnecessary but because of how carbs are so integrated into our lifestyles it’s hard not to fall off. I was having a conversation with my husband’s son about this. How did we allow carbs to enter nearly every aspect of our lives?
Every meal must include carbs, which, as I have come to realize, is completely unnecessary. In my own life I realize they were fully integrated into all of my meals and meal planning. How do you have lunch without bread (as in sandwich) and chips? Of course you can always substitute salad, which is what I have been trying to do more and more. But society has developed extremely tasty carb recipes…and processed food! Some of my easiest meals consist of carbs. I always thought I was doing a good thing by getting the seeded baguette, versus white baguette. I developed a tasty way of eating it too… with that “New Mexico Oro Gold” dipping oil or even just olive oil with a nice little mixture of spices or just pepper. In the meantime my plate had to not only contain a protein and a green, but also a carb side – rice, pasta, potatoes.
This isn’t the only reason “dieting” is difficult for me to sustain. I am the type of person who becomes complacent about eating and the main reason is because I’m “okay” with my appearance and I believe I’m relatively healthy. This happened over the holidays. I figured, I can splurge just for this week or two (which probably turned into three or four) and then get back into it. But I’ve come to realize that adopting a low-carb lifestyle, whether or not you go totally ketogenic, is important, not only because of the weight management and health benefits but also because the longer you consciously limit the carbs, particularly the starchy carbs and whole grains, the less you crave them.
I found myself eating things I didn’t even really enjoy, just because I gave myself a free pass for the holidays. How silly is this?! This is one thing I now realize – how much food and eating is simply a mental issue. Like, literally.
Now, I’m still researching the ketogenic diet so I don’t want anyone thinking I’m suggesting we go all in no matter what. Early on I heard something about keto and women and how it affects us differently because of the way our hormones work versus the male body. The verdict is still out on this and it’s going to take me some time to get to the bottom of it. But suffice it to say I have already seen results in myself by simply going keto for days or weeks at a time. I’m hoping to put it to the test for longer, at least a month, and see what happens then but my idea is not to adopt a fully keto lifestyle. Of course, as I said before, if I had to do it I would. What I mean by this is if were diagnosed with an illness, particularly one known to be reversed by the keto diet – including cancer – I would make the necessary sacrifices and do it. This is a topic for another blog, which I think people will find interesting.
But for now I’m looking at it mainly for some weight loss – for me it’s that stubborn “last ten pounds” – and health maintenance. Dr. Thomas Seyfried, the cancer researcher from Boston College, suggests that getting into ketosis even just once a year for a few days either by a water fast, intermittent fasting, or the ketogenic diet, would be highly beneficial for health if not for weight loss and management. So for those people who try keto and decide it is too difficult to maintain as a lifestyle I would encourage you not to throw in the towel simply because it wasn’t sustainable for you. Do consider doing it as a metabolic reset or even a form of “cleansing” periodically.
As for me, for right now I’m going back toward keto and avoiding carbs as much as I can. I’m not beating myself up over it if I slip but my vow to myself is to listen to my body more and pay attention to what feels right and makes me feel the best. I recently completed my book, The Secret of Energy: A Spiritual and Scientific Tool For Finding Ultimate Happiness, which is set to release very soon. The reason I bring this up is because one of the main messages of my book is for people to recognize that their bodies speak to them in both subtle and very distinct ways and if we pay attention to those messages we are able to harness incredible health, wellness, happiness, and even wealth. When it comes to our diet I believe more than ever that we must learn how to do this in order to determine what is best for being at our optimal weight and having the best health we possibly can.
While the ketogenic diet has a great track record, which has been proven with clinical studies, for not only weight loss but also improving health, it is not going to work for everyone and this might make many people deem it a crock or might dismiss it altogether. I have a friend around my age who has a very nice figure. She isn’t interested in keto but I know she takes care of herself and, although she enjoys “life” in moderation, she’s been able to maintain her figure even at our age and this is because she practices fitness and also healthy eating during the week. Her version of healthy eating is healthy protein along with healthy carbs (like seriously healthy carbs, meaning mainly vegetables and if there are grains she eats things like quinoa and only occasionally pasta in limited amounts). I would say even she (as I really believe we all) would benefit from getting into ketosis once a year for a few days, simply for health and not as a long-term diet. In the meantime she has found a way to maintain a healthy lifestyle with the ability to splurge on the weekends or on a limited basis anyway. This is the ultimate goal in my opinion.
We shall see what my research shows as far as women and hormones on the ketogenic diet, which I know can be an issue, but for now I’m going to continue doing VLC (very low carb) during the week as much as possible, with moderate indulgence on the weekend. I know jumping from very low carb to a burger (bun included) with fries is not a good idea. Incidentally this is my all time favorite thing to eat. So this is NOT easy for me. Plus I just love food anyway. What I have come to realize is that I enjoy my burger so much more without the bun, so this is how I have been ordering it for the most part, particularly at sit-down restaurants. This doesn’t mean I never eat a burger with the bun. But I’ll tell you one thing, I feel it in my gut almost immediately. The same is true if I have maintained VLC for a period of time and then have pizza or a pasta dish. Incidentally, I have never been big on pizza but now that I discovered the fathead pizza oh my! It is so good! But I digress…
When I started VLC it took much less to make me feel full and if I had a meal with carbs I literally felt stuffed afterward, even if I didn’t eat the whole thing. This is where I say we must really work toward listening to our bodies. Just because you used to be able to eat everything on the plate doesn’t mean you should after you’ve transitioned and are having a “cheat day”. Even before I embarked on this journey, there were times I was really good at just paying attention to what made me feel good or bad. This is, at the end of the day, the very best advice I can give.
In the meantime I’ll be reviewing some other programs – like this one – and giving my opinion and feedback. For right now I say if you can try keto for any period of time do it, you WILL benefit, if not from weight loss, certainly from the ketones in the brain and body. If you can’t go full keto just try to reduce your carb intake, even if it means just cutting bread out of your diet. If you can’t cut everything out including potatoes, pasta, etc. just work on one thing. I have eaten bread a little more recently, partly due to the holidays but that threw off my entire routine. The good news is you can create a routine at any time and once you’re in a healthy routine it is very difficult to break it. If you are unable to cut out all carbs including bread and pasta then work on cutting out all sugar. This is a MUST if you want not only to lose weight but to be healthy. Sugar IS a poison, and it doesn’t matter which form. Look for lower glycemic fruits if you love fruit. Eat bananas as a treat.
In this post I did want to say this: It is my belief that we got ourselves into this predicament simply out of habit and what is available to us. As I shopped at Trader Joe’s and Sprouts yesterday there was a thought that just wouldn’t leave my head. I was thinking, we are on the cusp of something big right now with all of the studies showing that we should be eating essentially no grains at all. Just read the book Wheat Belly. I haven’t yet but I intend on it very soon, but I have listened to lectures by the author. Full disclosure: part of the reason I haven’t is because once I get the truth on this, I’ll be even more accountable to cut out all grains from my diet, except for the ancient grains. Knowledge is definitely power but with it also comes responsibility. Anyway, I was thinking, very soon we’re going to start seeing the processed food made without grains and it’s going to be a huge industry. Actually, this is why our diets have become so horrific, because of the food industry making available to us only high carb selections. After all, people want easy and many people don’t even know how to cook.
One day soon we’re going to see ready-to-heat twice-cooked cabbage with sour cream and bacon, a low carb favorite of mine, and a ready to bake fathead pizza. Crazy stuff. It’s just a matter of time! If I owned a food company, this is what I would start marketing.
In the meantime I have made some really tasty and even easy VLC recipes, which are not only really good but extremely satiating and satisfying. One thing I love about VLC is that I don’t have to eat every little while like I used to and, no, it is not messing with my metabolism. I’ve kept the weight off that I lost, even over the holidays. I guess it is because of this that I’ve become complacent. I know that once I decide to do it I can do it. The question is, “when will I decide just to do it??” I think a lot of us have this issue.
There is so much to blog on this topic but I want to leave you with this. One of the things I have come across more and more is how healthy some people are when they’ve adopted a strictly carnivorous diet. If there’s anything, which has astounded me more (besides fecal transplants – a topic for another day!) in terms of true health, weight loss completely aside, is that some people are in their very BEST health by removing ALL plant-based food from their diet. In fact, some people have been forced to do it for survival. Perhaps we have been duped even more than we realize?