**Disclaimer- I am not a doctor or a dietitian, I'm simply sharing what has worked for me and also those that I have worked with to help along their ketogenic journey**
**While the ketogenic diet has many proven health benefits (e.g.weight loss,reversal of type 2 diabetes) it’s still controversial. Most importantly, there may be a need to adapt pre-existing medications. Discuss any changes in medication and relevant lifestyle changes with your doctor.**
Keto can seem daunting when you first begin. What are macros? Am I supposed to just drizzle MCT oil on my whole life now? All of these pre-packaged snacks are labeled "keto"- they're ok right??
Or you maybe approach it with the mindset of, "It's just too complicated, so why even bother?".
To be honest, when I first started I had no idea what I was doing. And don't even get me started about tracking. I just knew the "gist" of keto was to not eat carbs.
Keto is a journey, and it's one I keep personally evolving along everyday.
This entails many aspects- physical, mental, and emotional. Take a look at your current eating habits. If you are eating a lot of processed foods currently, my advice is to take a 5 step approach to keto. This will lay the groundwork for a sustainable lifestyle.
Often when we make a significant change in our life, we fsll back to our old habits out of comfort. Before starting keto, begin to eliminate unhealthy items in your everyday life. Remove sodas and bread one week, step back from pasta and candies the next, and so on. I've seen much more consistent success from people when they make these small changes slowly. It doesn't become so overwhelming, and it also allows you to slowly introduce this new way of eating to your body and mind.
If you have underlying emotional connections to food, adopting a keto lifestyle will definitely make you aware of these if you weren't already. You may be just fine dealing with these, or it may need to involve steps through therapy. Everyone heals their relationship to food differently, and there is no wrong way. The only difference between the people who heal and the people who don't is persistence. Those who find heaingl stay dedicated to their own process of growth and recovery. Never give up on yourself and your journey. Recognize that there's often a message or life lesson in our challenges and suffering. We're born out of our suffering, and its often here to teach us something. You're not fundamentally flawed, or broken. You are finding a path that deals with life that fits for you.
Here are some steps to success to help you get adjusted to a keto lifestyle:
1)Start a food and liquid journal for a week.
What are you eating for a full week? Jot down every single item. Even if you have a moment where you eat a full pack of oreos, no one is here to judge you. Pay attention to what caused that trigger, and take note of that.
What are you drinking? What are you adding to your drinks? Do you find yourself using excessive sugars/creamers in your coffee and tea? Many of these "habitual" eating/drinking habits are ingrained in our daily activities, and we don't even pay attention to the quality/quantity we are consuming.
2)Are you taking any supplements and/or medications?
Different medications and supplements effect us all differently. Depending on what you are taking, it may cause you to hold onto weight. They also may cause some challenges for your body as you switch into ketosis. Electrolytes are NOT optional on keto. Pick your favorite, and have it handy at all times. Especially in the early stages, your body will be dumping excessive glycogen and you may experience chapped lips or an excessively dry mouth. Keeping your electrolyes up immediately when you start keto may keep you from getting the "keto flu".
The keto flu is simply a time period where your body is switching its fuel choices from glucose to ketones. You may feel sluggish and dehydrated. Taking magnesium, potassium, and a daily electrolyte drink can keep all of this at bay.
Here are some of my favorites:
Ultima: Click HERE
Potassium Pills: Click HERE
Magnesium Pills: Click HERE
3)Process of elimination
The key to maintaining a state of ketosis is to keep your carb intake low but also to eat a diet rich in whole nutrient dense foods.
Start making small changes to set yourself up for long term success. Take week one to remove bread from your diet. If you're already on that track, remove the pasta. Find something to replace your soda habit with, like Perrier carbonated waters. You know yourself best. If you need to abstain completely so you don't cause yourself temptation, don't even have it in your house! Remember, this is going to be a NEW way of life. It's not a temporary diet mentality.
4)Hold yourself accountable
How do you hold yourself accountable? Oftentimes, speaking your goals out into the open with a group of like minded individuals is a good way. Recording your goals in a journal is another option. Pick what is the most meaningful way for you.
Here are some ways I suggest accountability:
1)Download an app, such as Carb Manager, to input your daily food choices
2)Start a social media account. You can keep it private, follow some accounts that are following a similar lifestyle to yours
3)Find an accountability partner. Do you know someone who is already following this way of eating? Someone who would join you perhaps?
Oftentimes we can get discouraged because we don't know the answer to something. Is this keto? Is this going to be ok to eat? What do I order at Starbucks? What about going out to eat? Finding the right support is imperative to your journey.
5)Preparation is key!
Not being prepared with the proper foods is often the cause of dietary mishaps. As you begin to plan your food, make sure you have plenty of items on hand. If you work long hours, pick a day to prep your food for the week. You can do batch cooking of proteins to have ahead, and keep "steamer" bags of veggies on hand in the freezer. Boil eggs ahead of time to have at the ready. Keep cheese sticks, fresh cut berries, and veggies in your produce drawers. Canned chicken and tuna, pork rinds, pickles, and nuts are great shelf stable options to have on hand when you're in a pinch.
If you find yourself invited out to eat, do a little research on the menu ahead of time. In this day and age, with so many food allergies, many restaurants are more than accommodating with special requests. Low carb/keto is becoming very common,you may be surprised to find some menus may even already have accommodating items listed. If you're stressing about going to a dinner party at a friends house, depending on the situation, you can let them know your new way of eating, Offer to bring something that suits how you will eat. Or, eat beforehand and graze on options that are suitable to your lifestyle. I used to feel awkward telling people who invited me as a guest what I could and couldn't eat. It's all in how you approach it! A simple "Thank you so much for the invite! I am following keto right now to better my health. Can I bring something? I'd love to prep an item. It's one of my favorites and I know you would love it too!" Based off of past experience, they are most always more than accommodating to have simple protein options, and accept your offer as well!
Don't allow the feeling of making others uncomfortable deter you from bettering your health!
6)Allowing yourself to evolve
We are in the age of instant gratification. Starting a ketogenic lifestyle involves a lot of changes as whole. If you take on too many changes at once, you will inevitably get discouraged and could even fall off track. Allow yourself the time to learn everything little by little. Join keto facebook groups, recipe groups, purchase some keto cookbooks if you feel the need to. Every day is a step in the right direction! You may have hiccups along the way, What you do after this is what is important! A lot of times people will have a slip up, and just give up. All progress is not gone. Get back in the saddle, and press on the next day! Pick up right where you left off, and continue on your journey. It's a good idea to make a mental note of what caused your trigger to fall off track. Make sure if a similar situation arises, that you remember what happened and address it appropriately. Go for a walk, take a swim, enjoy some hot tea, and meditate. Never ignore your emotions, but allow yourself to process them in a mindful way. Do not succumb to self sabotage.
I hope all of these starter steps help you along the way! I know you have it within you to get on the right track to a healthy relationship with food!