Keto cuisine on a sewing blog? Read on to understand why, for me, both of these are necessary for happy living…
My story starts as an average-sized little kid eating an average American diet in the 80s. My parents made me and my sibs eat veggies and fruit, and we had sweet treats at celebrations and holidays. Life was good. But then, as a young teen, I became overweight. I probably consistently weighed ~8-10 lb above the normal weight range for my age and gender, with the extra weight predominantly in a pear-shaped distribution. I was not obese, but I felt huge around skinny teenage friends. I played volleyball and softball and was an active person. I put on muscle easily and took pride in being strong, but the weight and body shape issue eroded my self-esteem and made me really self conscious. I followed Weight Watchers with my mom in 8th grade following the low-fat advice of the day, did some running (I hate running), and lost some weight. But it came back. I dieted off and on through high school and college with the same results, but I lived perpetually in the overweight range despite not eating any more than others my age and being an active person. It was frustrating and defeating.
I got married shortly after graduating from college, and started having kids shortly after that. I’d gain 30+ pounds with each pregnancy and lose most of it as well. But after 3 kids in 4 years, my weight was consistently 20 lb above the normal range. Over the next 4 years I tried Weight Watchers and went to a gym and used My Fitness Pal and did Tai Bo and Zumba during nap time… but nothing really changed. Then I had another baby and did it all again. I remember going to my GP (with all 4 of my kids in tow) for a routine follow up about that time and, at the end, the doc asked if I had any other questions or concerns.”Well, I’ve always been overweight…” I admitted. “You are so busy right now… you can deal with that down the road,” she said. I’m sure that was supposed to feel relieving, but it was just demoralizing. I couldn’t even get an answer from my doctor about how to lose weight so I could like my body. Now, my whole life didn’t revolve around feeling fat… I had and have a full life, friends I treasure, hobbies aplenty. But feeling fat was a theme… something I considered every time I went to put on a swimsuit. I wasn’t depressed abut it so much as annoyed and completely unsure of what to do to improve the situation.
my turning point
I kept trying different things and getting the same results. Finally, in August of 2016, I decided a ketogenic diet was probably the one thing I hadn’t tried. So I learned about ketogenic basics, including the acknowledgement that this might need to be a life-long change to be successful, and applied myself with gusto. I avoided essentially all refined sugar, limited myself to about 20-30 g of net carbs per day, didn’t eat too much protein, and ate when I was hungry. I didn’t count calories. I had no particular exercise plan.
By the end of 2 months, I had lost all the excess weight and plateaued at the very top of the normal weight range. While changing my diet at first wasn’t fun, if not difficult (cheese, peanut butter, salads and meat aren’t exactly rocket science to prepare), it had become much easier after 2 months. I was never hungry, did not have uncontrollably intense cravings and, instead of feeling cold and tired all the time as on previous calorie-restricted diets, I was often too warm and had a rosy glow that I have never before had as an adult. I felt better, looked better, and had more energy.
full steam ahead
I was really happy with my transformation at that point and still hoped to continue losing a bit more weight, so I continued eating keto that Fall. One day, while listening to old episodes (episode 33, to be exact) of the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast (I am still a regular listener, and recommend it), she mentioned reading Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes, and how it immediately changed the way she ate (she later interviewed Taubes in episode 98). I was intrigued, of course, and requested the book from the library. There was a huge wait list, so I requested both of Taubes’ other bestsellers, the seminal Good Calories, Bad Calories as well as the newly released The Case Against Sugar.
Long story short, I have now read all three of those books and my life will never be the same either. Taubes outlines the effects that refined sugar and general carb overload have had on human health and modern disease, and why we are now in a place where current medical advice about solving overweight and obesity doesn’t align with reality. All the books are very detailed, rigorously cite the research, and offer examples illustrating the science. He is not selling anything (other than books), and doesn’t dumb the science down for readers… you get full-strength data but in a very readable context. My mind was blown, and I cannot unknow what I now know. I would recommend these books to anyone who is looking for improved health and longevity, especially The Case Against Sugar. It is very compelling.
I have continued eating very low carb since then with no plan to go back to a Standard American Diet. My last physical exam was the best one of my adult life at age 35, my teeth are healthier, I reject the food pyramid, and I know exercise is not a solution for weight loss (though it may have myriad other benefits that I can enjoy now that I have enough energy to want to get out and move). I am still on an active quest to learn more about ketogenic eating, controlling blood sugar, metabolic pathways, and diseases of civilization. I have taken much more control of my own health, and I am grappling now with my responsibilities as they relate to the food I prepare for my husband and kids, who may not be as sensitive to carbs and may not need to restrict them in the same way I do. No easy answers there, but my plan is to keep offering healthier options and keep eating the way I do so I can support them if/when they decide it might benefit their health too.
I am not “paleo” or “primal” or “raw” or “vegan”, though sometimes my recipes fit those descriptions. I use artificial sweeteners in moderation. I have the luxury of not needing to avoid any particular food allergens for myself or my family. I plan to share recipes here when I discover good ones that might help make a ketogenic lifestyle tastier and more appealing to others. If you like a recipe I put up, tell me and share it! It’ll encourage me to come up with more of them! If you have a good recipe, send it my way! I am always on the lookout for tasty keto-friendly recipes.
Dear reader, if you are unhappily overweight or obese and have not yet tried a low carb diet, learn about it! Give yourself a gift and read Why We Get Fat… If you have ever felt that if only you had the willpower to go exercise more, or eat less, you’d be able to lose the weight, this book will give you the freedom to stop feeling like it is your fault as well as providing the information you need to make a lasting change. It is 100% worth the effort to regain your health and self-esteem. And no better day to do it than today 🙂
(links to those books can be found on this page)