Are you living to eat or eating to live?
Eating consumes a large portion of our mind and our day. It is one of the first things we think about when we get up in the morning and often one of the last things we do before bed. How many of our social interactions are based around food? I vividly remember as a child getting to eat a snack after dinner while we were watching tv with my family.
After the birth of my 4th child, I was the heaviest I had ever been. I found myself consumed with cravings and constantly wondering when I would eat next. In hindsight, I was living to eat instead of eating to live.
Initially, I found success with Weight Watchers. It was the accountability I needed to jump start my health journey, but something was still off. My cravings continued, my weight loss plateaued, and my hunger grew. I would eat an apple and afterward felt hungrier.
My husband randomly decided to start an Atkins based diet and I begrudgingly agreed to try it with him for 30 days. We were only allowed 20 carbohydrates a day. The first week was miserable, I felt terrible, had to pee a lot, and had no energy.
Meanwhile, my husband, kept saying he wasn’t even hungry, and the pounds just fell off of him. I was ready to murder him until I finally started having similar results. My cravings lessoned, my bloating decreased, and the scale started to slowly move towards my goal weight. What. Was. Happening?
After a little research, we learned Atkins is a weight loss program based on a ketogenic diet, meaning low carbs, high fat, and moderate protein. You can expect to experience a period of fatigue, or the “Keto Flu”, as your body depletes the carbohydrates/sugar, what your body naturally burns for energy. A Keto diet puts your body into a state called ketosis, which instead burns fat, producing ketones for energy.
Here’s the thing about a ketogenic lifestyle, there are no cheat days. If you reintroduce carbohydrates your body will automatically shift back over to using them for energy and kick you out of ketosis. It takes your body 2-3 days to get back into ketosis, so if you are cheating 1-2 times a week you are hardly ever in ketosis. It takes a consistent state of ketosis for the health benefits to begin.
So, what are the health benefits? When you are in ketosis your sugar levels and insulin response decrease, which is great not only for individuals with Diabetes, but pretty much everyone. Lower sugar in your system will:
- Reduce your risk of cancer
- Improve your digestive health
- Help epilepsy, seizures, nervous system diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and sleep disorders, PCOS, and skin disorders.
- Lower cholesterol
- Reduce inflammation, which can improve autoimmune diseases, bloating, and so much more.
Personally, I no longer struggle with insomnia and I feel great all the time. I have more energy, better concentration, and coupled with exercise, I am in the best shape of my life. I have lost over 30 pounds and my husband has lost over 50 pounds since having started our ketogenic diet. My favorite side effect of being in ketosis is no cravings. Yes, pizza still looks delicious, but I don’t feel like I have to have it or any of the other tasty treats anymore. I finally switched my mindset from living to eat to eating to live!
So, the next question is, how do I maintain this lifestyle? We switched to almond flour, almond milk, natural sweeteners like monk fruit, and cut out bread, sugar, grains, and fruit from our diet. My husband and I knew we would also need to find acceptable alternatives to our favorite foods. We were blown away with what we found. There are alternative ice creams, cookies, cakes, and even pizza. You can find an alternative recipe for almost any of your favorite foods.
The next big challenge when maintaining a new diet is getting through the holidays, birthday parties, and summer barbeques. You can still be successful if you are intentional about it. Here are a few of my favorite tips:
- Find out what will be served. It can help you decide if you need to eat before you go. Showing up hungry to a party with nothing that fits your diet will set you up for failure every time.
- Meat and salad are easy and safe options. In general, meat without breading or sugary sauces is ketogenic. Most salad dressings are low carb, such as ranch, Italian, and Caesar.
- I generally bring a veggie tray or side dish to all holidays and parties at this point. That paired with a meat is all we need to fill our bellies and keep us cheat free.
Thinking ahead and being prepared is the advantage you need to maintain good health in all areas of your life. Your diet can hugely impact your physical and mental health. Ever heard that adage “you are what you eat”? Its truer than we want to admit. Nutritional health is so important. Maybe now is the time to reflect on how you eat and consider how it affects your mood, your mind, and your physical health. It is a critical step towards the ultimate goal of full life, healthy living. Please feel free to contact me if you want to know more about a ketogenic lifestyle. You can also find me on Facebook and Instragram @embracelivethrive.