Diet trends fascinate me but this wasn’t my first rodeo.
I’ve tried paleo, whole 30, vegan, pescatarian, intermittent fasting and with hesitancy, I finally took the 30 day keto plunge. Admittedly, I didn’t commit to being “full keto” which amounts to weighing every gram of food, peeing daily on ketone strips, carrying around MCT oil, and logging every sugar free breath mint (keto breath is so gross btw). Thankfully, I don’t have a serious food allergy or auto-immune condition requiring me to monitor my food and I don’t subscribe to strict diets since they trigger my past with disordered eating, but more on that another time. Instead, I opted for keto-lite without the neuroticism; high fat, light protein, VERY low to no sugar or carbs from any starchy vegetables, grains, legumes, or alcohol. Basically, I ate coconut milk, avocados, eggs, heavy whipping cream, seeds, and kale by the bale.
No cookies, popcorn, bread, or beer was hard but manageable, probably because of my prior flirting with keto before actually putting a 30 day ring on it. When I change up my eating for an extended period of time it opens up a new channel of introspection beyond the food itself; I learn more about myself, what I need, what I like, and what I can tolerate, and what I can make peace with. I have to operate from a place of patience and trust rather than getting caught up in guilt, blame, or shame. I dive deeper into understanding some of the demons that tend to show up mindlessly as habits in my life, like how do I self-soothe when I can’t eat or drink what I want?
My mom asked if I do these crazy food things from a need to control something. As a Type A person in recovery, there might be some truth to this but my motivation is much simpler; trying new things with my body helps me feel more connected to it. I get excited by changing up the status quo; sleeping before midnight, playing on gymnastic rings, substituting dandelion tea in place of coffee. I’m like a scientist calibrating my somatic tools for a better quality of life. Going in without an agenda means I have to listen to what my body is telling me instead of what social media wants to scream at me.
I can’t learn if I’m not listening.
Being a yoga and meditation instructor, a profession often defined by physical and emotional wellness, people are surprised to hear that I drink and enjoy it tremendously. One of my favorite ways to unwind is having a cold beer and reading some meditation research or youtubing cadaver dissection videos. While I’ve argued with myself that being passionate and engaged with my work is healthy, I’ve come to realize that my inability to shut it down is not. These past few weeks without alcohol helped me confront my relationship to it, it became apparent that the ritual of either wanting or having a drink at the end of a long day was the signal to my mind and body that it was time to chill the fuck out. It was a way of granting myself permission to go into that block of time in my google calender that would have been labeled “relaxation” if I was OCD enough. Without alcohol I’ve been challenged to find another stimulus to help me relax (oh, the contradiction!) and it turns out that doing my own meditation practice and food prep can be pretty self-soothing.
Though I know how to cook, I’ve never enjoyed the process of preparing ingredients or cooking. But somehow, in those hours of making keto fat bombs, roasting cauliflower, and grinding my own almond flour, I felt nurtured, like I was prioritizing myself and my wellness. The extra time spent educating myself on new ingredients, recipe shopping on Instagram, and researching storage techniques felt like a kind gesture that said; “Hey, I care about you. I’m looking out for our long-term health.” I also found some pretty decently satisfying recipes, I just need to bulk order everything made from coconuts.
So, am I a keto-convert?
I take all statements about “how to be healthy” at face value, there are enough competing theories for anything to gain traction. When I hear about a new food or fitness trend I do my due diligence; I read the research, listen to podcasts from advocates and skeptics, ask people who’ve tried it, and then take it to my body laboratory. My time in keto land helped me examine my relationship to alcohol, find a renewed interest in meditation, and become less food prep adverse but limiting my intake of green vegetables while I pour heavy cream into everything felt counterintuitive. For now, I’m planning to adapt a low-carb lifestyle a majority of the week and continue tracking the physical and emotional side effects. Keto improved my sleep quality but I was definitely moodier since I’m resistant to anything with a high degree of monitoring. The trite phrase that my body is a temple doesn’t resonate for me, instead I’d like to think of my body as my laboratory and this was yet another worthwhile experiment.