I’m giving up on Keto, but not on my health
In 2015 I did the “Keto” (short for ketogenic) diet for a full year. This diet is low carb – so low carb that you put your body into ketosis. For 12 months I ate under 20g of carbs per day, existing off meat and veggies. I felt good, and the weight dropped off me. I lost 80lbs, felt fitter, healthier, more alert and in less pain. I lauded the diet to friends and family until they were sick of me. I poured hours into new recipes and learned to love my kitchen in new ways. If you want to read more about Keto, I highly recommend ruled.me’s Comprehensive Beginner’s Guide to the Ketogenic Diet (free website resource!)
Then I found out I was pregnant. When I told my doctor I was eating low carb I was firmly told that it wasn’t safe for pregnancy and that the baby needed that nutrition to develop. Now, some people on the internet will differ and there are articles and forums dedicated to pregnancy and low carb but having been declared infertile, being high risk with an autoimmune and several other health factors, I wasn’t willing to go against my doctor. I do think that a lot more research into the necessity for carbohydrates needs to be done, and many more health professionals are understanding the benefits of a low carb diet. With this baby, I wasn’t willing to take any risks.
The pregnancy was a hard one, with my autoimmune playing silly buggers, severe SPD that rendered me almost immobile towards the end and then pre-ecylampsyia. I shouldn’t have eaten for two, but I did. I put on 40lbs whilst pregnant.
Then after the birth, I was full of anxiety and depression. I still am, but not to the severe degree that the traumatic birth left me in. We were getting take out every night, I was eating chocolates and cakes and comfort food. I put on another 40lbs in 3 months and was back to square one.
At 3 months post partum I looked in the mirror and was disgusted with myself. But it wasn’t just looks, I was tired and bloated, I was getting out of breath going up the stairs, I was struggling to pick up my own child and he’s only a baby. I knew it had to change, so I jumped back on keto. I threw myself into it. Carb counting, taking tablets for my vitamins and electrolytes, watching my calories and trying to exercise.
This time though, it just isn’t working. I’m already sleep deprived from a fussy baby who thinks night time is for yelling and kicking, I’m still mentally drained, suffering from anxiety, panic attacks and crying every day. I’m struggling. I’m exhausted. I tried to have the time to cook but who has time for slaving over new recipes? I started to hate my kitchen, not love it. I started to hate the sight of meat, not love it. I started staring at nothing in a brain fog and my autoimmune flared up with every joint in agony. I started popping painkillers. Even on a good day, when I forced myself to go out to a restaurant and meet with friends, I couldn’t drink because of the diet and I could only eat very basic foods with no sauces – if you read my food reviews prior to this post they’re all the same. A burger, without the bun, and a side salad with a diet coke. It’s not bad but I don’t want to eat it in every restaurant I go to for all perpetuity. I stopped wanting to go out.
After a month of this and 10 lbs down – yes 10lbs in a month, it really does work for weight loss, I had to evaluate whether it was working for me as a lifestyle choice. It’s not. I don’t have the time and my anxiety levels are too high. I need to find a balance that works for me and perhaps revisit this in the future. I’m giving up – I’m a quitter.
What this month of Keto has done is reset my “greed”, so to speak. It’s reminded me that whether I want that cake is irrelevant, I don’t need it. It’s given me a boost into portion control and in thinking about what I buy and what I eat. Now I’ve had a month of tracking what I eat with an App, or checking the ingredients before I buy things, and really thinking about what I’m planning to do for a meal. I’m going to continue that and try to eat sugar free, low calorie and healthy. I will be continuing to track everything that goes into my stomach as it helps me hold myself responsible for my choices but instead of limiting my carbs completely, I’ll be keeping to a calorie deficit and allowing myself the mental-health I need of the occasional glass of wine and meal out.
Everything in moderation. Let’s hope it works!
Update April 2018
This post was one of the first posts I wrote on my blog and one of my first personal updates. Since then I’ve been trying to make healthy living choices but as I struggled with my postnatal mental health, I didn’t make a significant amount of progress. For the start of 2018 I started seriously tracking my calorie intake to 1500 calories a day, a healthy deficit for my height and current weight. I’m currently 19 pounds down and feeling really positive about the future. Even though I still struggle with PCOS and am insulin resistant, I firmly believe that I can reach my healthy goal weight one day!