First of all I have to mention that I’m not a booster of any diet. I have never been on any diet before keto, and I’ve always thought and I still do, that moderation and balance is the most healthy way of life. Everything is for people, but not everything serves to everyone. So in my opinion the most important is to find what serves you best, and stick with it. We all have different needs, we live in different climate, we have different jobs, we are more or less active, our metabolism is different. There are so many factors, and they also change throughout our lives, that I can’t imagine having only one diet that would be right for everyone.
If you consider only one of these factors like climate: imagine two people – one lives in South Australia with very warm, dry Summer and extremely mild winter, the other (like me) lives in Northern Scotland humid all year round, with wet and windy Winter and mild Summer. Our needs will be completely different. From only logical point of view – body which lives in a colder, more humid climate will need more of cooked warming food. In cold temperatures our metabolism tends to be slower. Because of that raw and cold food might be indigestible, so your body will need more energy to digest this kind of food. On the other hand living in hot climate will make your body faster loosing water and mineral salts, metabolism will be faster, so the body will need other kind of food. Even the amount of sun in our live will have an impact on the way we should nourish our body. High exposure to the sun increases burning of fat, stimulates hormone secretion (because of higher levels of Vitamin D), low sun exposure will have the opposite effect. Maybe that’s why nature organized everything this way, that in warmer climates we have a lot of tropical fruits and veggies that can be eating raw (they have cooling nature), and in colder climate we tend to eat more animal products, more fat and cooked food (that has warming nature).
A we have just considered ONE FACTOR. What about the rest: our activity, health condition, if we use more our brain or our muscles at work (or both), we work out or sit all day at the desk. All these factors have an impact on the way you eat. And they change in time, according to your age, season of the year and your body condition. So it’s not possible to find one diet that fits all. I don’t believe that.
Of course diet, if it’s well fitted, might be helpful if you want to improve your health, boost digestion, detoxify or cleanse your body. But in my opinion more restrictive it is, there’s less possibility that you’ll be able to stick with it for the rest of your life. Maybe it works for someone, but even my naturopath who’s on keto for years, is not on keto all year round.
Being on ketogenic diet gave me even more that I would ever thought it will. And it was amazing experience, how your body can change if you eat or don’t eat certain food (you can read about it in my post “why I love and hate keto in the same time“). And how your attitude to food may change.
10 THINGS I’VE LEARNED FROM KETO
Noticing the difference between hunger and cravings
We all are guilty of that. Mindlessly eating something during reading, watching, or opening the fridge 40 times a day checking if there’s something I could eat. Keto showed me the difference between feeling hungry and feeling tempted. And maybe even more important – triggered me to use my brain before I put something to my mouth. Simply ask yourself a question – am I hungry or I’m just bored? And give yourself honest answer.
Being more aware of sensations
How my body respond to certain food. Before diet I usually didn’t stop and think how eating certain food makes me feel. Why the hell I feel sooo sleepy after dinner? Why I feel like I would explode after this delicious lentil soup? Why my stomach is heavy and painful after x or y? I’ve never thought about that. I thought it’s normal. The only messages that happened to listen to was cravings for certain foods (and I don’t mean crisps and sweets) like fish (I remember in high school I had days or weeks I could eat fish everyday on every meal – Vitamin D and unsaturated fatty acids) or certain vegetable like beetroot (possible anaemia) or tomatoes (lack of potassium).
Labelling food as “good” or “bad”
My relationship with food was always good. I’ve never had any weight problems, never been on diet, actually I was eating everything I wanted. But after couple months of keto, I noticed that I started labelling food as “good” or “bad”, “carbs” and “fats”. And I didn’t like it. I was looking at someone’s meal and catch myself thinking: “that’s bad, it’s mostly carbs”. That wasn’t healthy. Thinking: potatoes are bad (but I like them), birthday cake is bad (but it’s tasty and it’s someone’s birthday), bananas are bad (but they make great smoothie). If you try to convince yourself (in my case unconsciously) that the food you like is “bad”, even though objectively it isn’t (because highly processed food is bad, high sugar fizzy drinks are bad in fact), you’re building a feeling of fear of eating this foods, and in the same time feeling of guilt and regret, which leads me to the next lesson.
Feeling of guilt and regret
I started feeling after I finished with restricted keto (which you can read about it here) and started trying different food products. I had this moment (and I still have it sometimes) of feeling guilt for example after eating piece of birthday cake on my friends birthday party. And it’s ain’t healthy either.
I don’t need to be addicted to eating
We live in a society that loves rules and advices. Or I should say we live in a society that is instantly bombarded (by who – you have to answer yourself) with rules and advices, how we should live, dress and eat. How many times a day we shall eat, what we should have for breakfast, lunch and dinner, what we need what we don’t need. Which food is healthy, which isn’t. And we are lost in this chaos of informations (sometimes mutually exclusive), trying to listen to it. On the other hand we are constantly bombarded with food from every corner. You need to eat in the cinema, you eat doing shopping, before work out & after work out, during lunch time, coffee break… We are addicted to eating like we would die starving if we won’t eat for 3 or 4 hours. We live with this common beliefs without thinking if they are reasonable, if they simply serve us. Which leads me to the next one…
...it’s OK not to eat for a day (or even two)
It might sound crazy for some people, but not eating (but hydrating your body) for a day or even two is not harmful. Actually in 2016 Japanese researcher Yoshinori Ohsumi won a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for deducing the mechanism of autophagy. Autophagy is a vital process in which the body’s cells “clean out” any unnecessary or damaged components. During autophagy, the cells remove these unwanted molecules and dysfunctional parts. This process might be triggered by fasting. Years ago fasting was a natural process, that was happening during winter or when there was less food and calories intake was much lower than usual. In this kind of stress body could “recycle” damaged or ill body cells and reuse it for necessary processes. When the “starvation” mode has finished body could create new healthy cells. Which again leads me to the next one…
…You don’t need as much food as you think you need
I noticed that if I eat better quality food, containing more healthy fats, I actually don’t need to eat much. Sometimes one meal a day was enough. But even if you’re not on diet, you probably eat more than your body needs. Here this question might be helpful: am I nourishing my body or I just stuff it with whatever (like a dead animal)?
After some time I started noticing which food is good for me,
which one isn’t
After which I feel good and energized, which one makes me feel bad. And the difference between being full and being stuffed after meal. I first case you can run the day without thinking about food, in second case you are stuffed but still feel kind of hungry, and after an hour you would like to eat something. For example after eating regular pizza I feel stuffed but I’m not full. And after couple hours I’m thirsty as hell, like my body would like to flush it all from my intestines. Lentils makes me feel like I’ll explode. Alcohol (even in small quantities) is like poison for my body, and I have to digest it for 3 days (or for a week if I drink more that I should). Good nutritious breakfast or fulfilling soup in the morning keeps me awake and gives me energy for couple hours, without thinking constantly about food. Being aware about this things, I can make concious decisions about how I want to feel. It doesn’t mean though that I don’t eat full box of ice cream. At least now I know why I feel sleepy after that. So what I want to say: I can eat everything and anything, but I choose not to eat everything. Some people say “oh, you have a strong will, that you don’t eat x or y”. It’s not a strong will, it’s just when you feel the difference in how you feel, you don’t want to come back to the food you’ve been eating before.
Eat when you are hungry
Simple as that.
Healthy body (and mind) doesn’t need shitty food as a treat
We are not learned to take care of ourselves in a basic form, like food, sleep, rest and mental health. Sometimes we treat it more like a rubbish bin than a temple. We don’t give it enough sleep, enough air and sun and exercise. We’ve stopped giving ourselves opportunity to play and laugh. We don’t spend time in nature building our connection with Earth. We spend time and energy on things that doesn’t matter instead of giving this energy to ourselves. We eat our sorrows away instead looking for solutions for our problems.
Before you start any diet, ask yourself why you want to change your eating habits, and do you really want to do it? If you want to do it for yourself or for others? If you have enough motivation and where this motivation is coming from? Because most probably after diet your life is not going to be the same. Make your reaserch, don’t throw yourself in the deep end without knowledge. So the process you will go through will run more smoothly. And most importantly observe. Your body, your mind, your thoughts and your feelings and learn about yourself.
And what’s your lessons? If you have some thoughts you’d like to share, do not hesitate 🙂
3 thoughts on “10 lessons learned from keto diet”
What a great post, thank you for sharing! I have the same mindset about food as you do, I don’t really believe in restrictive diets, just in balance and moderation, so it was super interesting to see your take on this diet. And I loved how you focused on mindset in all of it as well!
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I’m very happy you like it. There’s so much confusion about food and dieting these days, that you can literally go crazy. Finding yourself in this chaos it’s not easy.
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