Why I Hate Diets but Choose to be Keto

I hate diet culture. I think it’s inherently restrictive, can promote unhealthy habits, and demonizes certain foods as “bad” while exalting other foods as “healthy”- even when that might not be accurate. With that being said, my diet is fairly restrictive. I eat a ketogenic, paleo-based diet. However, instead of thinking of my food intake as restrictive, I like to think of it as selective. I choose to eat foods that make me feel good- foods that help my brain and body function optimally. Plus, I think these foods are pretty delicious! You can learn to make healthy versions of pretty much any food, no matter what dietary guidelines you follow.  

Wild caught salmon, definitely one of my favorite meals

Wild caught salmon, definitely one of my favorite meals

But how did I get here? I didn’t just wake up one day and decide to cut out all grains, gluten, soy, refined sugar, starchy vegetables, (most) dairy, and high sugar fruits from my diet.  

I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma when I was 21 years old. Being the science kid I am, I began to do some research, and found several articles detailing the connection between cancer prevalence and diet. Shortly thereafter, two of my mom’s friends were diagnosed with cancer, and were both prescribed a ketogenic diet- the thought behind this being that sugar can feed cancer cells, and harmful cells will not be able to proliferate if they are unable to run on ketones. Ketones are the byproduct of ketosis, the metabolic state one is in when on a ketogenic diet. When in ketosis, your body essentially switches its fuel source from carbohydrates (sugars) to fats. So to enter a state of ketosis, you must deprive your body of carbohydrates and get the majority of your energy (i.e. calories) from fat instead.

I decided to try this ketogenic way of eating. When I first read about what to eat on a keto diet, I scrolled through foods like bacon, butter, cream cheese, ranch dressing, cheese, and heavy cream. So I thought this was what I needed to consume, although I was confused about how this diet was “healthy”. While I was able to transition into the fat-burning stage of ketosis (and definitely had more energy and felt better overall), I would often feel uncomfortable after meals due to all of the heavy, rich foods. I decided to start gradually incorporating more real, whole foods into my diet. I began including more vegetables in my meals, phasing out dairy, and ditched the processed oils I had been consuming in sauces and salad dressings. The results were incredible. I had so much more energy, mental clarity, and fell in love with creating meals that made me feel amazing. I realized that eating a ketogenic diet based around real, whole foods was indeed possible, and I have never turned back. I now eat foods that fuel my mind and body, and can create healthy alternatives to satisfy any cravings I have.

So what do I eat exactly? My diet staples are: 

  • Pasture-raised eggs

  • Veggies (leafy greens, cruciferous veggies, peppers, asparagus, mushrooms, green beans, zucchini)

  • Berries

  • Avocados

  • Nuts and seeds/nut and seed butters

    • Nuts: almond, coconut, hazelnut, macadamia, Brazil, pecan, walnut

    • Seeds: hemp, sunflower, pumpkin, chia, flax

  • Healthy oils (avocado, coconut, olive, ghee, grass fed butter)

  • Goat cheese, coconut yogurt, Greek yogurt, kefir

  • Dark chocolate (85% cacao and up)

  • Wild caught, sustainably sourced seafood not high in mercury (salmon, cod, shrimp)

  • High quality meats (chicken breast, beef on occasion)

If you’re considering trying a ketogenic diet, I highly recommend playing around with your food intake to find what makes you feel your best. It’s not always butter and bacon! If you need a place to start, check out my recipes! They’re all keto friendly, paleo-based, and incorporate real, whole foods. I’m also developing keto grocery guides so be on the lookout for those!  

I hope this information is helpful and encourages you to find a way of eating that makes you feel amazing! Hopefully it brings you one step closer to living your happiest, healthiest life.