Exactly two months ago I started the keto diet. Why? Well, for many reasons. I have suffered with digestive issues most of my life. This is typically exacerbated by stress and anxiety and these symptoms have been amplified since my dad committed suicide two years ago. I have done EVERYTHING to manage these symptoms—dairy-free, vegan, no pop, blood tests, colonoscopy, prescription medicines—the list goes on and on. And so when my GI doctor suggested that I try the keto diet to manage my symptoms, I thought “Sure, why not?”
I must admit, the benefits of quick weight loss was enticing to me as well. If you know me personally, you could probably be saying right now “Wait…you don’t need to lose weight! You are small!” But honestly, at the beginning of December I weighed the most I had in my life (besides being 41 weeks pregnant with my son). I am an emotional eater, and I definitely ate ALL THE THINGS as a way to cope with the loss of my dad. And then I started working from home and I became a sloth. You don’t realize how many steps you get from walking to and from meetings, heading to the parking garage after work, and walking to the restroom multiple times a day. In comparison, when I started working from home the closest restroom was literally 12 steps away. The culmination resulted in me being 20 pounds heavier than when I was before my dad died.
In the past two months on keto, I have lost 17 pounds and I am feeling a lot better. While the keto lifestyle is most certainly not for everyone, it is the right lifestyle for some. And here are some suggestions for success if you think the keto diet is right for you:
- Track your food: For keto to work, you need to stay within a certain percentage of macros. I am to eat 70% fat, 20% protein, and 10% carbohydrates each day. If I did not track this via the MyFitnessPal app, I would not know the breakdown of the foods I eat. Also, there are so many foods that I thought were low-card that actually were NOT! So, at least in the beginning, I was extremely vigilant in documenting what I was eating so that I could train myself on how to be successful with keto.
- Don’t get discouraged: In the beginning of my keto journey, I love 8 pounds almost immediately. It was such an exciting feeling and it’s easy to stay on track when you have rapid momentum. Know what’s not easy? Staying on track when your weight loss has plateaued, when your family is eating your favorite high-carb foods, or when your digestive system is feeling crummy. When this would happen, I would say to myself, “What’s the point of doing this? This is not working for me.” And in the past, at this point I would go off the rails and eat a pint of ice cream, AND chips and dip, AND pretty much all the food I’d been depriving myself from. This time around, whenever I am in a slump I’ve been telling myself “Misti, you can get through this. Be patient with yourself. Be kind.” Or if I do fall off track (like this week, when I ate 10 Oreos when my son was sick and I was super stressed out and tired) I tell myself that this one setback will not ruin all of my progress and I can get back on track and make the right choices starting now.
- Working out helps: There are some people who say that keto works without working out. This might be true, but I don’t think that you should stop moving your body just because you are trying a new diet. My goal is to move my body in some way for at least 30 minutes each day. To do this, I love the Peloton app and Beachbody workouts. I also love running around with Blake or swimming in our pool. I find when I move my body, my mental health and digestive health is way better and something I need to continue while I am doing the keto diet.
- Keep yourself accountable: It’s helped me to be successful with the keto diet because I have let my loved ones know I am doing it. In the past, I have been very secretive with my digestive journey because I have felt embarrassed and did not want to inconvenience others. But my family and friends have actually been so supportive. For Christmas, my mom asked ahead of time what I could eat and made sure to have foods available for me. My best friend started keto with me. And others have asked me to pick out the restaurant before we eat out to guarantee that I have options. Also, I have found accounts to follow on Instagram that provide keto options and inspirations and this has been so motivational and helpful for me.
- It’s easy to eat out: When I was on a dairy-free diet, it was really hard to go to restaurants with my family. Thankfully on keto, there are always some type of protein, cheese, and salads on the menu. My favorite go to? A McDonald’s Big Mac with no bun. When you do that, you will essentially get a Big Mac salad. It’s very filling, low carb, and my son loves getting a Happy Meal at the same time.
- Test for Ketones: Each morning, I test my urine with ketone test strips. You might think this is gross, but it is really simple and lets me know the level of ketones in my body (and essentially if my body is in ketosis). It’s also really cheap—the bottle of test strips I bought was $6 on Amazon. I also have friends who test their blood levels, similar to a blood glucose monitor, my that really scares me.
- Plan Meals Ahead of Time: It has been easier for me to follow a keto diet when I plan my meals ahead of time. This includes when I know I am going to a restaurant. But specifically relating to home, here are a couple of my go-to meals (and then I just add some type of carb for my family to eat with it):
- Eggroll in a bowl
- Taco salads
- Philly cheesesteak salad
- Caesar salad
- Protein (steak or chicken, etc.) and a vegetable
- Tuna salad
- Bacon (not a meal, but I cook a bunch of bacon at the beginning of the week)
- Have Easy Snacks Available at All Times: Most of life is about habits, and to set yourself up for success, you have to create new habits to set yourself up for success. During the work day when I was stressed or hungry, I would walk upstairs and get a couple cookies or some chips and dip. Not very keto friendly. I researched the best keto options for me and now I make sure I have these on hand so it makes it easy for me to make the right choices. What are those food options you ask?
- Slim Jims
- Sugar free Jell-O cups (lime is my favorite)
- Cheese slices
- Sugar free whipped cream
- Olive cups
- Coffee with regular creamer or sugar-free French vanilla creamer
- Slim Fast keto bombs (Peanut butter or caramel)
- Dry roasted almond 100 calorie packs
- Crystal light
- Rebel ice cream (mint chocolate chip is my favorite)
This is my experience on keto right now. I hope this is helpful if you’ve been contemplating if keto is right for you. And if you are on a low-carb diet yourself, I would love to hear what is working for you and your tips and tricks!
I’m not sure if I will be on a keto diet for the rest of my life, but it has been a great learning experience for me to figure out what foods bless my body and which foods make me feel terrible. The word diet comes from the Greek word diaita which means ‘a way of life.’ I learned this many years ago, and this has always stuck with me. So many people view the word diet with a negative connotation, but for me I am constantly finding a way for my diet to be a way of life. It’s not a fad. It is all about finding foods that bless my body, and for right now, the keto diet is the best option for me and my body.