Rock the Keto Kasbah
Glowing skin. Deeper sleep. Boundless energy. Mental clarity. Decreased inflammation. And yes, pounds lost.
These are just some of the results reported by those participating in a Ketogenic Lifestyle — a way of eating that for many eliminates many of the foods that cause their daily malaise. Examples of foods that may be restricted or eliminated include: grains, dairy, legumes. sugar and alcohol. Depending on your goals and the speed at which you want results, the restrictions are severe, but the rewards are worth it: the identification and elimination of foods and behaviors that are negatively impacting your overall health and wellness – physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Developed in the early 20th century to treat epilepsy, the Ketogenic Diet’s fame has steadily grown over the years, surging in popularity with many low-carb variants and options and further fueled by word-of-mouth praise and social media testimonials. With numerous books, websites, and gurus available, there is a plethora of resources for the passionate community of health improving, body conscious, bio-hackers.
HOW TO “KETO”
Almost anyone can get benefit in testing the ketogenic waters. A ketogenic way of eating oftentimes excludes many of the types of foods that unknowingly cause people issues. People who already know they have skin or digestive issues are prime candidate for this way of life because it does eliminate some of the most common offenders.
Any food that causes inflammation in the body, gas and bloating in the guts, or unstoppable cravings – these are the foods to watch out for. Normally termed “healthy” foods like whole grains, beans, peanuts — can be triggering in the body, setting off a cascade of responses and issues that often seem unrelated to what we eat. Nixing processed foods out of boxes and bags minimizes access to the potentially triggering foods, and allows the body to reset and heal. High-quality meats, whole vegetables, eggs, healthy fats, nuts, seeds, and even some fruits typically fill the keto plate.
Because you are eating whole foods in close to their natural state, you easily crowd out foods with added sugars, additives, chemicals, and colorings. That is one of the greatest benefits of the lifestyle.
I feel there is a spectrum of ketogenic eating. Some people can eat 50 grams of net carbs per day, eat legumes, and resolve their health issues. Others may have to lower their carbs, and eliminate things like dairy, or low-carb tortillas in order to get the most benefit. I think it’s important to not only make changes that are good for the body – but also good for the mind and the spirit. If restricting everything you eat entirely takes all the enjoyment and pleasure out of eating, then it’s time to see if we can loosen up the reigns a little bit, and get you some freedom.
Considering a life without dairy, pasta, bread, or wine may sound like the most inhumane torture, but generally, you only need to remove something for a little while to determine if it’s one of the components that is causing you a problem. Of course, higher carb items may not re-enter your way of eating except on very special occasions, but that’s a small price to pay for the decrease in inflammation, water retention, bloating, and other health improvements you’ll likely see. Many Ketogenic “lifers” start keto for weight loss, but they stay for the “non-scale victories,” or NSVs as I call them, that are really the most important.
If you go into it just to lose weight, you’ll be missing out on a huge portion of the benefits.
Many of my clients have found that eating this way resolves much of their emotional eating issues. Because they are able to gain distance from many of the foods that keep their craving pumps primed, they feel more in control around food: ravenous hunger lessens, and cravings diminish. Instead of being driven by panic inducing blood sugar crashes, you find you have the freedom to calmly pick and choose the best options available for you. Eating this way can restore your power to choose – to decide what is and what is not worth eating.
IN THE KITCHEN
With the rise in popularity of the ketogenic lifestyle, there has been an explosion of keto cooking classes, recipe books, and meal plans being offered. There are even services which offer weekly ketogenic meals delivered to your home.
When switching to a ketogenic way of eating, which can feel a little bit limiting at first, it’s important to focus on flavor and add in lots of fresh, flavorful herbs and ingredients.
To ease your transition, consider using recipes you are familiar with and “keto-fy” them. Get creative with substitutions. Choose cauliflower rice instead of pasta. Spiralize zucchini as a swap for noodles. Instead of a bun, wrap hamburgers and sandwiches in large lettuce leaves, like bibb, iceberg or romaine. Just be careful about your condiments. Prepared dips, dressings, and sauces often have hidden added sugars or sweeteners.
If you’re not sure you want to make it a way of life, try it out for 30 days to see how you feel. You might be surprised by how much food affects how we feel, how we behave, our mood — everything.