I’m just going to come out and say this first: I hate the word diet. Most words that can be a noun or a verb are not worth our time, and should probably be rethought or replaced by something more concise. That being said, let’s talk about my history with food, having a ketogenic diet, and being on a ketogenic diet.
My Food History
As so many of us did, I grew up in the ‘fat is bad carbs are good’ era. That lead into the Atkins era where bacon was king and carbs were the antichrist. Then stuff like paleo and all that came along and nobody knew what in the hell was going on anymore. Frankly, I got tired of all of it and gave up for a bit.
I lost over 100 pounds when I was younger and did it high carb, low fat, and primarily vegetarian. I didn’t count calories, exercised regularly, and felt great. Then I had a bad injury and let myself go to hell again. I didn’t stress it too bad and just kept active, which kept me at an acceptable weight for a long time.
When the scale peaked out, I stopped weighing myself, and can only speculate at what my maximum weight was.
Then I got into some aggressive pharmaceuticals in my 30s, and my weight exploded. I even had one pill that slapped 40 pounds on me in about two weeks. The whole experience was entirely unmanageable. When the scale peaked out, I stopped weighing myself, and can only speculate at what my maximum weight was.
Years later I got off those horrible meds, watched what I ate, lost weight, and kept it off for a couple years. I walked to work every day, stayed very active, and felt really good. Then it was shoulder surgery which took longer to recover from than expected, and what recovery looked and felt like in real life was different than the vision I had before surgery. A year and a half later it was time to have both of my knees worked on, and the weight has crept back up since.
I like to blame my weight challenges on my lack of physical activity, but it comes down to what I put in my mouth. I absolutely love to eat, and cooking is one of my favorite hobbies. I’m also an emotional eater, so that doesn’t help.
A Ketogenic Diet
Back during the Atkins era, we tried it out an learned that our bodies responded well to a low carbohydrate diet. Even though it was entirely against what we were taught growing up about nutrition, the weight fell off, and our bodies reacted happily. The biggest problem was that the menu was absolutely terrible.
I can’t entirely blame Atkins for a horrible menu, although the food in the book was altogether uninspired. It was also outside of what we usually ate, so the flavors were foreign and unsatisfying. Remember, I was mostly vegetarian in the 90s, which is where my tastebuds felt most at home.
On top of that, unbeknownst to us, we were absolutely terrible cooks at the time. We thought we did well, and we enjoyed what we ate. But looking back, everything was awful. It was overcooked, overseasoned, and had more to do with what we could afford than what we should cook.
But looking back, everything was awful. It was overcooked, overseasoned, and had more to do with what we could afford than what we should cook.
There was a lot of broccoli, chicken breast, and ground beef. Cheese was expensive, so it was a rare treat instead of a dietary staple. We were also in college at the time and working, so convenience foods were a must, and they just weren’t readily available. So we ate a ton of fast food burgers with no bun.
I remember commenting more than once that the reason Atkins worked was that it sucked the joy of eating out of your life. And I stuck by that until there was this wacky batch of people touting a new diet online.
The Ketogenic Diet
When I first read about Keto, it made me laugh. It was like this collection of people who like Atkins induction phase and never wanted to stop. They also seemed to be foodies, which made me laugh more. While I had known vegan foodies and paleo-foodies, both of them could go take a leap. That crap was terrible and just a sad excuse for real food. But these Keto nuts had some pretty decent looking recipes. I didn’t even care about the diet part of it, I just wanted to try some of these foods.
A doctor years before had turned us on to cooking pretty natural. His rule was only to shop the perimeter of the store, avoid wheat, limit carbs, and eat things that look like things. If you couldn’t tell what was on your plate, you probably shouldn’t eat it.
A lot of these keto recipes were simple, used very few ingredients, and were just designed to bring out the natural flavors of the foods. So we figured we would try a few of them, and we were pleasantly surprised by them. The food was excellent, and even my fickle kid liked them.
Finding that sweet spot where we could eat the food we loved and still being healthy about things was ideal. The only problem with it is we love the food so much that we can overeat, but at least we’re eating too much of the good stuff.
All The Things
Again, it’s what works for us, and we love it. If you’re interested in giving it a spin, just start looking for keto versions of your favorite foods. There aren’t always perfect analogs for them, but with a bit of flexibility and a bold palette, you might just end up with a few new favorites.
So there’s the whole of it. Even if we’re not actively losing weight or watching what we eat, our diet is still primarily Keto. It’s been a great style of eating for us, and when we strictly adhere and watch calories, it’s also an excellent diet.