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  • Writer's pictureTamara S. Graham

To Keto or not to Keto? Listen to Your Body

Updated: Jan 15, 2021

Journaling through new discoveries:

So, here I go again. Begin Keto, have keto flu, knock myself out of keto, begin keto, have keto flu symptoms... do I power through? My friends and coworkers have lost 30, 35, 40, and 50 pounds, but do I have what it takes to ride this eating plan out? I have enjoyed a few positive aspects of eating more fats, like feeling satiated and being able to give up grains and sugar without any cravings. That in itself is HUGE for me. I have noticed adding ghee to my coffee in the morning gets me through the work morning and even seems to feed my brain. However, the "keto flu" side affects always make me question if this is the right plan for me. I may be more suited for Paleo. I am on the fence if my body tolerates dairy, and I don't want to give up fruit. Hmmmm.

In the beginning of this new way of eating (higher fats and smaller amount of carbohydrates), the digestive issues and constipation as well as the inability to get a good nights' sleep made me question what the hell I was doing. I did feel better without the grains and sugars, but felt a bit limited by the diet restrictions. I don't like the gentle reminders from people around me that I am choosing too many carbs. I don't like feeling like I have failed. I wanted to approach my eating as a way of life, a healthier choice than I have been making - and with NO guilt. I don't want to tell myself I "cheated" or was "bad" by tasting something my body is craving. I am grateful the cravings now are more for burgers, greens, banana, apricots and potatoes - rather than my usual cravings for sweets and baked goods. Refreshing change!

I noticed I need to do more research and can't just "wing it" like others do to find their balance in all of this. First and foremost my goal was to reduce inflammation and just feel better in this 57 year old body. I would welcome some weight loss but it's not my first priority. My knees have been yelling at me for years, and my lower back has been an issue for about 20 years now. I have had some recent hip pain that has waxed and waned since this new food plan. Not sure where it will settle but I am open to that being completely healed as I reduce inflammation in general. I think my knees and back would be happier without the extra weight I have been carrying.

Once the "Keto flu" resolved, I found I had more energy and looked forward to getting out of bed in the morning. I ended up finding my balance and a few essentials that have kept me happy:

  • Electrolytes

  • Smart Scale

  • Healthy Fats

  • Buttered Coffee

Electrolyte balance is crucial for success on this type of diet. I think there is a tendency to get dehydrated and that can make you feel sluggish and crabby, which may make you give up. I highly recommend a good quality electrolyte supplement, without added flavors or colorings. This has been one of the best things I have done for my body!

I also invested in a "smart scale" that connect to an app on your phone that can tell you the status of your weight, BMI, body fat, body water, muscle mass and converts that to your metabolic age.

It helps you track your progress and for me, it encouraged me to continue. There are many out there but what I use is this one with the Arboleaf app. (Click the photo to find out more) I don't recommend that you weigh yourself every day but twice a week worked for me. It helps you track your progress and it's easy and fun to use.

I am loving the healthy fats like more avocados and macadamia nuts. These nuts have become my best friend! I think this is my secret weapon. I have a handful as my mid morning snack at work, and a handful at night before bed. This keeps my fats up and keeps me satiated. I don't lose as much if I skip the macadamias! I personally love the salty protein and satisfying crunch. I suggest finding an adorable glass jar to stash them in and you will feel like you have a very special treat, which makes the whole snack more satisfying in my mind. My little indulgence that keeps my heart happy and helps me absorb the Vitamin D that I supplement with. I had previously had trouble keeping my Vitamin D levels up, until I remembered it's a fat soluble vitamin and voila! I'm feeling great even in winter!

I am grateful that I have discovered that I LOVE keto/buttered coffee!

I actually prefer the slightly candied taste of ghee vs unsalted butter. This one simple change has dramatically improved my life. If nothing else came out of dabbling in a Keto-ish / low carb diet, I now love my mornings and no longer have brain fog! If I start my day with this combo, it curbs cravings and I don't get hungry all morning. But the best part is that I have brain power and can actually wake up better than with coffee alone, and all morning I don't ever get foggy. Life changing for this non-morning person! (I only began drinking coffee regularly in my 50's!)

Tam's morning version of Keto/Butter coffee: 8 oz brewed hot organic coffee, 1.5 Tbsp of MCT oil, 1-2 Tbsp of ghee (or unsalted butter), creamer of your choice, and 1Tbsp of maple syrup (optional). Blend in mini blender like Magic/Nutra Bullet and enjoy the frothy goodness!

3 month mark:

I did amazingly well for about 3 months, and settled nicely into a routine. I lost about 12 pounds without feeling deprived. However, at some point I did get bored with my own food limitations, more laziness than the diet restrictions. Then, of course, some work stressed amped up, my daughter needed extra emotional support, and then the holidays began. So I slid back into "comfort" food, expecting to just indulge and bounce back to "Keto-ish" diet like I had done previously and continue where I left off. Well, I do think once I tasted the non-food, comfort foods again, my body kicked back into dysfunctional cravings again. What a roller coaster. I started seeing my weight creep back on. This time it was different though, I would gain a pound, get back to Keto, lose a half pound, then stress and gain, Keto and lose. It was similar to a yo-yo dieting experience however, this time I did NOT beat myself up and I feel totally empowered that I now have tools to do better when I can.

All-in-all I have had a successful experience and recommend trying it. I like to consider it a low carb "Keto-ish" diet which gives me more flexibility and no guilt! I will march on and hope to settle in to some normalcy and continue to enjoy clear brain and good sleep!

5 months later:

Well, all was well until I went through some emotional stress; family & work issues. I slowly inched my way back to grabbing carbs for comfort - which is ironic since eating them made me oh so uncomfortable in my body. I became addicted to them, and kept justifying that I "needed" comfort food, or to stuff my feelings. Well, I felt stuffed already, bloated and miserable. Constipation returned, poor sleep quality and weird cravings. But, I didn't change my behavior and gained some weight back.

I feel so "not in my body", and perhaps that is what outcome I was searching for during the stress. I feel better and not as stressed now and look back at my behavior the past month or so and see moments of addictive, binge-worthy behavior. So odd, I thought I had figured it out and was so happy when I was doing low carb and not having so many of my lifelong symptoms stemming from inflammation. I question why I retreat back and self sabotage my eating habits. Much to work on still, even after years of thinking I had the answers. Amazing at 57, I am still learning to eat properly? Geez.

I have been talking more about my emotional and physical needs and am understanding all of the ways I use food, besides nutrition. Coming to terms with many issues that stem from childhood. The lack of food and money to buy treats as a child has really carried into my whole life. I really hate how those formative years have given such dysfunctional coping (or not coping) skills. Subconscious programing and limiting beliefs are powerful! But I have shifted in that this time as I look back and shake my head and think what have I done, again... I realize now I am looking back with education, successful triumphs and from my "higher self" perspective. I am the observer of the behavior this time and not just the "reactor".

I finally got brave enough to get back on that scale I have been avoiding and the damage is not as bad as I expected, which gives me motivation to get back on that low-carb horse and ride this thing out longer. I don't like how I feel when I eat the carbs that turn into sludge in my digestive tract. I don't like the aches and pains and brain fog. May that be the motivation for me to power through this back slide and support my body the way it deserves. It's all about self love, and that is a hard one for me, and always has been. I am determined to shift that and am on a journey to self love. I will keep checking back and updating as I realize and heal more and more!

Thanks for listening!

Tami is grateful for all of her Highly Sensitive Person traits because they have made her who she is today: an optimistic, nurturing soul, full of great compassion. Being a mother has been her hardest and most rewarding job since her unique and sensitive children have been her greatest inspiration and teachers. She is currently writing a series of children’s books for HSP families, The Sunshine Books. Follow this blog for more of her heartfelt ponderings about life and love as she continues writing from her heart.

{Copyright 2019 - 2021 - Most photos are the property of Tamara S. Graham unless noted otherwise}

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