Are you curious about what it's like to try the keto diet during the toughest time of the year? Look no further than our friend's diary chronicling her journey through November and December 2022.
In this long blog post, she shares her thoughts, struggles, and successes as she navigates holiday parties, family gatherings, and tempting treats while sticking to a low-carb, high-fat diet. With honesty and vulnerability, she reflects on the physical and mental changes she experienced, the challenges of meal planning and preparation, and the unexpected benefits of her keto experiment.
Whether you're considering trying the keto diet yourself or simply curious about one person's experience, this post is sure to provide valuable insights and inspiration.
So sit back, grab a cup of bulletproof coffee, and join us on this journey through the highs and lows of keto during the holiday season.
Dear Keto diary,
I feel like I should be writing this under a blanket with my pen for it to be an actual diary. But my laptop and Gdocs will have to do it. My motivation for trying keto is not losing weight per se. I have been on a weight watch program for quite some time now, and I am down to my last 4 kilograms before I reach the weight I wanted.
I was diagnosed with arthritis last year (psoriasis arthritis, to be extra specific), and I am struggling with the medicine I have to take quite a lot. Just a "I don't want them; they make me feel bad" kind of attitude. And I am on the lookout for a change in how I eat and trying to change some other habits to see if I can do something about it and stop taking medicine for the outbreaks.
Keto was suggested simply as a healthy diet (I am aware there is absolutely no proven correlation between keto dieting and arthritis!) and coming from the general suggestions for what to eat or not eat (or drink) when having an arthritis outbreak, it seemed like a perfect diet to try out.
As it is a very "greasy" diet - that is how I see it at this point, I will check my skin carefully in these weeks because I tend to get outbreaks when eating very greasy food, and of course, I want to check my general feeling, am I low on energy, am I feeling better, do I sleep better, etc.
The real challenge I see in keto is that I am a major, major sugar junkie - that is why I am on a weight watch program. I was at a point when I weighed almost 198 pounds (90 kilograms) (to my5ft7 (1,72 m), at the age of 29). If I can't get sugar, give me dough. It is a jackpot if I can get a pastry with sugar in it. See where I am going with this?
Hence, this diary. It started as a joke of keto for 100 days, but I might pull it off. Let's see how it goes. For those that don't care to read everything, after approx. 14 days I always make a short recap of how it was, being on a keto diet. A handy TL; DR snippet.
The Honeymoon phase
Everything is awesome. 🦄 Did not feel hungry one bit. I peed like crazy and sweated during practice more than ever in my life, and I usually sweat A LOT.
Still, everything is awesome.🦄 Had an amazing lunch; this diet works wonders with my schedule. Also, at the moment, I am in the true honeymoon period when nothing can phase me, no bread, no sugar. I took my pills today, so we will see how it works tomorrow with the side effects and general tiredness. I am still peeing like I am being paid for it.
The first cravings appear in the afternoon, for pizza, bread with cheese, man. Probably due also to my sleeping very poorly (pills and the Band of brothers series are keeping me awake) because the more I am tired and the less I sleep, the more junk I crave. I overstretched time between meals and was hungry with a dangerous combination of being in a store (always the worst combo - being hungry in a huge store), and yet I did not buy anything that was off the list. Hence, it is still a honeymoon period.🦄 Had a ball of mozzarella buffala instead of pizza, which was ah-mazing.
My skin is getting slightly oilier, so more fixup is needed in the afternoon; at this point still no breakouts. If you start having skin issues because of the extra fat you are consuming, try a serum with niacinamide as the active ingredient, it works miracles for my mixed skin type and is a safe ingredient to add to your skincare. You can go hardcore on actives (BHA or vitamin A - retinoids), but only if you know how, as they are more aggressive!
Today I weighed myself; I am down to 70.9 kg, which is 0,3kg less than the previous week.
The first day when I had to work keto through a social visit. I have to prepare for these because December is just around the corner, and I plan to eat keto. Anyway, I did the prepping, checked the menu online, and decided what I would eat and drink, and the person sitting with me was ok with everything - no pushing me to eat a dessert with her when I couldn't. People like that are the best. The thing is, the restaurant portions are not keto portions, and I got hungry after two hours and struggled throughout the day. Note to self to simply combine it with a tiny keto snack before lunch when that is possible.
First time I tried the cognac 0-carb spaghetti for dinner too. That is not pasta; Italians will be mortified to see them labeled spaghetti. 😀 But it does somewhat satisfy the idea of eating pasta; the brain seems to be simple enough for this trick.
All in all … watched an amazing dessert come to our table without ordering one; I am calling it a honeymoon day.🦄
I still do not have strong cravings (waiting for that other shoe to drop any day now), my skin seems okay, and my arthritis is still here. I stopped peeing my kidneys out, though. So my next thing to upgrade is weighing the food to control the macros more.
The honeymoon period is officially over, I think. I had a major cravings attack around lunch; I swear I saw every cookie going into the mouth of my coworkers. My lunch did not taste as yummy as the previous days … so yeah. I compensated with smaller snacks; then I went for a 4-hour dance practice, which probably saved my diet, as I could not think about eating.
From my years of being on a program for weight loss, this is the thing I recommend: you need 12 minutes for your brain to let go of the craving and the need for the reward you get with your crave-food. So get busy for those 12 minutes. For me, exercise works best, as it releases endorphins and gets me somewhere else mentally. But leaving the room works. Taking a shower works. Calling somebody works.
I am finally starting to write down macros from tomorrow morning on, I finally got that scale!
A good day, without any cravings. The portions still baffle me; I got used to smaller portions. Keto has enormous portions, so I tend to eat the other half of lunch for dinner. Energy is still low.
Finally, I started weighing food so I could write down proper macros. Finally, after trying two apps, locking my Google account and panicking for a solid hour, I started writing them down in an effing notebook. So much for going digital. I am using the Diet doctor app though; it has some lovely articles, and the guide for ingredients is dead useful for me; plus recipes give you an excellent idea for dishes. The major disadvantage is you cannot write down your menus - the recipes have the macros down of course, but then you need to stick to the recipe and I usually can't because I lack an ingredient or two.
Anyway, writing down macros is really useful. You get the gist of how easy it is to overdo carbs, even with something as simple and a staple in my kitchen as an onion. Ogres are like onions. Any Shrek fans here? I cook everything with onion (and garlic). So imagine my demise, meltdown and general appalment upon realizing onion is semi-keto at best. I made my lunch with it anyway, but I remain shocked by the fact I need to be careful when using onions. Little see-through ball of sharpness and tears and is not keto-friendly. Who would have thought.
It is a Sunday, which means meal prep, as much as I can prepare in advance. Weighing food and writing down proper macros is a huge reality check. I doubt I reached the shift until now in fat - carb ratio. In the previous week, I used a lot of leek; guess what? It's not keto-friendly. It always surprises me that a vegetable can be tricky.
And you can think as I did: it is a vegetable. I am not eating sugar/flour; it is enough. But if you want to be under 30g of carbs, vegetables will cover that and more. So buy a scale, get an app that suits you (or write it down on paper like the man of the Middle ages and moi still do), and get that reality-check if you want to do this keto-way.
My smartassing away - I cooked an amazing pumpkin soup I plan to eat, even though pumpkin is semi-keto. One part of it is that I love pumpkins; the other part is that I have one at home and loathe throwing food away. Giving it away? I love pumpkins! And it works; that is my point. I know it is semi-keto, and I need to calculate those carbs carefully, but it is not like all semi-keto food is forbidden from now on.
In the evening, I went to the theatre and researched drinking alcohol. I consume as little as possible in general (it is a big no-no for arthritis), but theatre usually means a glass of wine. It turns out I can have a glass of dry white wine or champagne, neat!
All in all, my energy is pretty low, and I am irritable. Not that I noticed that (it is a feat usually others notice), until I drove to my mother's house on my bicycle, unable to drive fast because I was so tired, and it got me so angry I had an impulse to chucking the bike in a ditch and calling a f* cab to drive me onwards. That was the moment when I went: oh … perhaps I am a bit irritable. That being said, and I will probably say it a few times more, I always was and will be a sugar addict; it is what got me into a program on losing weight and fighting food addiction (both chemical and behavioral-emotional), and getting me off carbs will demand a lot of energy from me.
The keto-flu period
Ohhh, hello keto-flu. You know, I kinda thought the two days were already a keto-flu, but I think I was formally introduced to the lady today. Major headache; I felt dizzy every time I got off the chair and generally felt like a zombie. So yeah. The flu. Once I took a painkiller for my head, it was much easier to cope with, although the energy was way too low to do anything properly. I got to dance practice in the evening and noticed brain fog as well; I danced everything on auto-pilot, thank the universe for muscle memory.
I think the keto flu period would start even sooner if my food intake in the first few days would be properly controlled. That being said, the gradual descent into keto might not be a bad idea if your general diet is heavy on carbs (I indulged quite hardcore on them in the previous month, which was not good even not being on keto), switching to 20-30g in a day can be a lot. But I learned that it depends entirely on the type of person you are; some people prefer it that way.
Interestingly enough, no cravings. Everything else is totally fine. It is my brain going: WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON at this point, I think.
I woke up, ready to feel bad and I actually felt good. Throughout the day, no headache and no major cravings. Nothing special, really. By the evening, I got insanely tired and went to bed around nine. No headache. Let's call it a victory.
The tiredness continued; I overslept even if I went to bed really early. The headache returned, but at a lower intensity. I generally feel tired and listless, so I am taking it easy. Surprisingly, I started bleeding in the morning, about 14 days too early. Oversharing moment, I know, but here we are, it is my diary. My period is never really regular, but there is usually a reason for it being early, and I am pinning it down this month to being on keto, as one of the side effects is also hormonal regulation. In the afternoon, things get a bit worse with cravings.
I had my meeting with my nutritionist, and I weighed 152 lb (69 kg). She is taking extra care about my menu now (I have been writing it down since I started using the kitchen scale) but is happy with what I am eating. She suggested I take notes on calorie intake as well, ATM I am writing down only carb intake.
I am slowly getting tired of feeling this tired. It is really like those last days of heavy cold or flu when you are kind of ok but still not ok. My energy is extremely low and I feel sleepy all the time. Irritation is also present. Being that I am not in general a bubbly, happy-go-lucky person, I can turn very dragon-ess in this mode. But with all this, I do not feel hunger. Last night the doctor explained to me that my blood sugar is simply constant, with only minor changes, unlike with starch-highOH-sugar intake, where the blood sugar is jumping up and down, creating hunger and cravings. I still do crave carbs though, especially right before my meals, when I am hungry, of course. But normal kind of hungry, which is quite a relief.
Today is the last day of the leek saga! It is finally finished! Wanna hear my leek story? Before I started keto, our fellowship closed off in a hut, playing board games, drinking, singing, like the regular hobbits we are. So naturally, there was tons of food and on Sunday, I grabbed all the vegetables left, thinking, hey, vegetables are good for keto, right. So I took two huge-ass leeks, the size and thickness of my arm, total mutant-ninja-turtle leeks, and gathered that I could cook with them without a problem. I guessed wrong, my friends. As it turns out, leek is quite high on carbs, with a whopping 12g per 100g. Thus imagine me cutting these leek-monsters each freaking day, 30 grams per lunch, as that was my maximum I could afford and I swear they keep regrowing in the fridge during the night. So it is safe to say I am done with a leek for a while.
For the first time, I tried tofu instead of meat because I needed the change from meat and eggs and the portion was so big, I barely consumed everything. Keto really has huge portions, and a strong satiation factor. You have no excuses for craving those cookies and chocolate croissants (man, I love croissants). At this point I think my cravings come from behavioral addiction to sugar more than chemical.
In case you are interested (otherwise, skip the paragraph), when I started losing weight in 2019 under medical supervision, I went all in at a medicinal center that treats obesity as a whole - a physical, health and psychological problem. We established then that my sugar addiction is not only chemical but behavioral as well - I made it an emotional habit of feeding my emotions, or lack of receiving them with food, in a ritualistic way that became my habit throughout the day. If you simply must eat something while watching TV, and that makes your day just perfect, you create a ritual for yourself that includes food. Naturally that is not a problem if you have everything under control, but I sure as hell didn't. In one sitting, I could eat enough for a small movie party of 5 people, which is not an exaggeration. Hence, behavioral addiction is a very strong one. I still crave a cookie or something sweet after lunch. Every single time. Because that was my ritual. A dessert. Yum. Can't wait to try all the recipes for keto desserts, I tell you.
I am still spot-bleeding, you know, that spotting that is not really period, but it is there, as all people who menstruate will understand. And I can't wait to go to bed. That is that. So off I go.
Today I struggled with the cravings after lunch, so I got dressed and went for a long walk. It helped, thankfully. Still, I overdid my carbs a little bit; even with no sugar or flour I am at 39,4g of carbs at the end of the day. It is just onion and pumpkin. Mostly onions. Just the chance to reiterate: write those carbs down religiously, you go over 30 grams in a blink of an eye.
Today was the first night I dreamt of eating sweets. All my fellow dieters out there surely know the symptom - when changing your way of eating, at some point you start dreaming of eating the drug of your choice. For me it is almost always sweets. And tonight it was also such, I was stuffing my face with chocolate bars and sweet baked goods, specifically a sweet with cottage cheese I adore. While I was eating, I remembered in my dreams, I really shouldn't be eating these things, and I was horrified because I just kept on going. The brain won't let me be a sugar-junkie even in my dreams. Like a strict sergeant going: don't even think about it while sleeping! 😀 Well, it is better for me, I suppose. Still, it amuses me how the dreams come sooner or later, after every shift in eating habits. What is your dream food?
A recap of the first 14 days of the keto diet
I imagine having a short recap every fourteen days of how it is going, especially for those that do not wish to read about every single day of my keto adventure.
Where I started: I have been a part of a losing weight and changing feeding habits program for about three years now, and am adjusted to a certain menu, quite similar to the keto one, that I "cheated" on with sugar and dough quite regularly, but within normal limits. At the start of the keto, I weighed 157 lb (71.2 kg), with my goal weight set at 150 lb (68 kg). The infamous last-5-kgs are stuck with me for months.
I switched to keto under the supervision of my doctor and nutritionist, but as a suggestion for my psoriasis arthritis that I've been fighting and the fact the drugs for it don't suit me at all. Hence a shift to healthier life and food was in order. Keto seemed to tick most of the things off the list (although it has nothing medically proven to do with arthritis! I simply chose a diet that I assume will make me healthier.).
After 14 days, I weighed 152 lb (69 kg) (first time in years under 70 kg), my arthritis was still present, and my collarbone still ached, but the swelling had come down a bit. My skin is completely happy with my way of eating, so there are no troubles there. After spot bleeding, my period was normal and on time; let's see how it goes the following month. And the other keto symptoms?
I started with Tisa's article, so let's go through it together.
Keto-flu, lightheadedness, and headache.
Yes, after a few days, I started to feel dizzy, and my head hurt a lot more than usual. So it is still going on, albeit the intensity is lowering. I am following all the advice, though: luckily, I have always drunk water like a little frog; I am on regular supplements of magnesium and potassium and have been focusing on improving my sleeping habits in the past week.
Actually, I don't really remember having brain fog per se (is that mental fog in itself, then?). Perhaps I put it under feeling tired or overwhelmed by a busy day. The dizziness was more of a problem for me.
Lots of urinating.
Oh yes. First few days I peed like crazy. There is also a so-called Keto urine smell, which some sources warn about, but honestly, urine has a smell that varies with the food and drinks you consume. So if it surprises you, it is probably keto.
I had no trouble with constipation. That being said, I am constantly on 400 mg of magnesium citrate, because it helps me with my heavy PMS and muscle cramps. So if you get constipated, I suggest you take a magnesium substitute (take care that it is of proper quality and a citrate, not an oxide, citrate absorbs much better).
Occasionally, a few times quite severe ones. It helps to remove yourself from the source of the craving - leave the room or busy yourself with chatting while not having the source of your craving at arm's length. Also, they know what they are talking about when they suggest emptying your home of everything that might break your keto resolve. The cravings can shut down your brain, don't let that chocolate you are saving for guests break the keto streak!
Low exercise intensity
I haven't really lowered my exercise intensity (I dance, do yoga and cycle regularly), but I do feel a lot more tired than usual, to the point it annoys me.
I read about Keto breath in one of the additional book sources I have read in the previous days. I would say yes, there is definitively a breath involved. However, I should point out that I have been a heavy coffee drinker since the age of 15 and thus, I have consumed tons of breath mints (and aspartame with them, yay me!), in fear of my breath smelling bad after coffee and milk, so I am especially sensitive to it. That being said, nothing beats the aftertaste and breath of drinking poor red wine with Coke for three hours straight, not even a keto breath. So relax; it could be worse. 🙂
My suggestions after 14 days: prepare yourself by reading some "how to start keto" articles; they will give you an insight into what can be going on while shifting your habits.
Start with a handy app; it has saved my life with quick and easy info on carbs and recipe suggestions. Diet doctor is the one I am using, but there are hundreds out there, pick one that suits you best.
The sooner you start following your macros, the better. I know it sounds like a pain, but it is a reality check you need, and you get used to it fast. Be prepared - get a kitchen scale if you haven't got one.
Prep your food. Do not let your hunger dictate your menu because if you are like me, you will crave a pizza with extra dough and cheese. Keto recipes are SO quick and easy; when I had literally 7 minutes in the morning to prepare my lunch, I grabbed some mushrooms, three eggs, avocado and a salad and was set. If you are running on a tight schedule, like me, make sure to always have something in a fridge that will take you literally 3 minutes to grab and put in your backpack for lunch.
Also, I weigh my snacks - mostly nuts for now - and put them in small containers, so I know what my break snack can be if I run out of time for a proper meal. My bag may sound like I am a rattle player, but I don't grab that pizza-roll on the go!
After 14 days, I will not write every day, as the days are beginning to feel similar diet-wise. I feel less hungry, my keto-flu is slowly dying off, and my energy is returning. I still have cravings, but they are controllable. So far, I have yet to break the keto streak.
I am going to tell you a love story today. You see, I have a very tight and passionate relationship with a certain brand of biscuits. Ok, truth be told, I feel like that regarding a few brands, but no matter, this one always gets my heart beating faster. The brand is called Mulino Bianco and their entire cookie line is perfect. With apple filling, cocoa, chocolate, "plain" cookie, you name it, we have a perfect relationship. They support me, give me what I want and create a happy bubble of chewing. Naturally, the love does not end with one biscuit. I am a professional sugar junkie. I do not stop until half of the bag is consum(mat)ed, but truth be told, I can go all the way.
And now, picture this. In our office kitchen, I am waiting for my 100g of cauliflower to cook so I can spread a delicious sauce on top of it. My salad is already done. As I am cooking my full meal (weighed and prepared the evening before), it takes longer, and most of my coworkers have already finished with their meals. And a colleague walks to our cookie drawer and pulls out a full Mulino Bianco chocolate biscuit bag. I was stunned. Flabbergasted. In shock. And other dramatic adjectives. When he opened the bag. Entire. Freaking. Room. Smelled. Like. Cookies. Not just any cookies. Mulino Bianco cookies, man! I ate my meal, pretending not to see the bag and not to hear the happy munching. Playing hard to get. You know how it is.
I've won the battle, but not the war. Namely, if you want to visit the toilet in our office space, you need to pass the kitchen table. And I drink a lot, and I pee a lot and every single time I pass the kitchen table, the cookies smell heavenly. Of cookies. After three passes, I decide on my favorite pickup line. "I'm just gonna have one. One can't break my streak; come on." As I approach the bag, I cannot help myself. I ask for its number. Well, numbers. But specifically, the number of carbs per 100g. It was a very friendly encounter; they actually have the number per biscuit written down. One, one single bloody cookie, has almost 4 grams of sugar. 3,8, to be precise. ONE. That means one THIRD of the cookie is just plain sugar!
Thus I turned around empty-handed and put the heater on for another cup of tea. A sad love story. But sometimes numbers just don't match.
Oh, I had my nutritionist today and weighed myself: 150 lb (68,3 kg, 0,7kg) less than the previous week.
Today is a bitch keto day. When you think you are out of the keto flu and all is right and dandy, it hits you like a hurricane. I have been craving food since the moment I got up. Seriously, whatever I eat, it is just not enough. I must add it is a stressful day and I dread the evening and the next day because of a very stressful factor, and stress has always pushed me over the edge with food and hunger. I compensate with nuts, which is a bit tricky, as they are super high in calories. I am highly irritable, like, to the point I feel I can't stand people around me. I put my earplugs on in the office and hoped for the best with any kind of socializing. The real test arrives in under an hour. I have my nephew and niece here for an overnight stay.
They sure as hell do not eat keto and of course I have food prepared for them and snacks for a movie night.
I prepped, just had my keto dinner and now we'll see what happens. On such a day, I would go out for a long walk and wait for my craving to disappear, but now I will just have to battle through it. I think my cravings would not be acting up so much if there weren't constantly eating sweets in the office. The problem of course, is that it is December. So it will only get worse from now on, until January when everybody will be on a diet. 🙂 For now, I'll eat my nuts and prepare for visits with a full stomach. May the force be with us.
This entry is an equivalent of a walk of shame. Because I broke down and jumped into that pizza-dough-and-sweets-filled-with-carb hole, oh yes I did. It is like I am Cersei and the holy sister is ringing behind my back all the way to the sept, calling shame, shame, shame!
Enough drama? Yes. Indeed. Since I did cave in and ate what should not have been eaten (and a shitload of it too), I decided to be extra vigilant about how I feel after almost three weeks of not eating carbs. The first thing I noticed was that my heart rate went up. Even after several hours, when I tried to sleep, my heartbeat was way up, to the point I felt it in my throat, so not very pleasant. I had trouble falling asleep as well. The general feeling of heaviness in the stomach returned, and I was surprised to realize I had not felt it in the past weeks, so it has to be carb connected. You know, the general heaviness, like you have a big ball of glue in your belly? And I became bloated in a matter of an hour or so after eating the pizza and dessert. My cravings are, of course, much, much stronger, and I packed everything I should not eat for the kids to take home with them. It fascinates me how much better my body feels when not eating carbs and yet, how much it craves them.
That being said. One thing I learned from slipping when you are trying to eat healthy (for any reason whatsoever): you will slip. You will get so emotional one way or the other, so hungry, so nervous, you will grab that fucking pizza and devour it without even cutting it. That is OKAY. If you do it, do not beat yourself up for it. I do it as a joke, but I truly mean it as a joke on my account. I do not beat myself up for slipping. I acknowledge it and switch back to my healthy-eating mode. And that is what I am doing with this slip-up as well.
Because if you beat yourself up for fucking it up, guess what happens? You eat the guilt. No guilt-eating! Love thy body and thy peace. Amen. Tomorrow is a new keto day!
It is the first day since I can remember, months certainly, that my collarbone does not hurt with arthritis. I cannot properly express how amazing that is for me. I frantically wrote down everything that was changed these days, just so I can perhaps crack this code. I am working from home, since I caught a cold from my nephews and I felt pretty sick. So naturally, keto flu came back in a somewhat lesser form, and I had a headache straight up for five days - that might be cold-related and not so much keto-related, but at this point, I cannot tell.
That being said, I pushed my carbs under 20g a day before my collarbone felt better, so let's just see if this is a factor. Keto flu was not as bad as the first time, but that being said, I felt generally worse because of the cold and the sickness, which I don't think is because of the keto or the break in my keto streak. Is it hard to come back? I guess. Cravings are strong. But you switch it back. I don't think I will ever be without cravings. But there are also days when I do not feel hungry even when I prepare food for myself. Which is new and crazy as well.
It was the day of our Christmas party at work. I knew I would breach my carb intake per day, but I tried to keep it as low as possible before the party, and tried to hold back at the party, so I wouldn't go wild as I did last week. The pain in my collarbone was back, due to a very stressful evening the night before, so stress is definitively the factor in all of this. I drank a glass of champagne and a "fresh" cocktail instead of a sweet one at our cocktail workshop and then stuck to soda water until the end of the evening. The food was excellent, but not keto. That being said, I tried to work with what I had. I did eat the desserts though, which I know was unnecessary. Junkie fever. We'll see how I feel tomorrow.
Apparently, the carb intake was much lower than last week, and I feel better. Last week I felt hungover from all the sugar junk I ate (at least the food last night was of better quality, not just simply the worst junk food you can grab). I do not crave food yet, but the pain in my collarbone has worsened. I am sure there is a correlation between alcohol and arthritis getting worse, and being on a keto diet, I think there is a correlation between sugar and arthritis as well. What fucks up this experiment for me a bit is simply the fact it is winter, and lots of germs are flying around. I still feel a bit nauseated for no apparent reason, and I do not think it is food or diet; it is just a bug. Well, after almost one-third of this keto thing I am doing, down, I already broke it twice, which I guess can also be a way to learn how to work it with ups and downs.
Today is the very first time I am trying a My Sweet Keto recipe! Tomorrow I have a tattoo appointment, and when I get tattooed, I am very specific about my food; I cannot eat much, but what I eat is on the sweet side and more like snacks, not a full meal. Usually, I grabbed protein bars, cookies, chocolate, and stuff like that. So I decided to try a very simple recipe for cookies that did not include any machinery or extra stuff (because I am still ill-equipped in this flat, I have no blender, a very basic baker, and honestly, none of the skills). So I went with Almond butter cookies, they sounded so simple and good, and luckily they were. Of course, I made them too large, or rather, I did not put enough space between the cookies and it turned out to be one large cubic-fresco-like cookie. 😀 Nonetheless, they taste really good. It turns out I am not a huge fan of erythritol as a sweetener, I dislike the cold feeling it leaves behind and this nagging feeling in my throat afterward, so I will try something else next time.
What also surprised me was how expensive the keto system can get if you want to replace the "usual" culprits with keto alternatives (for example, almond flour instead of regular flour, sweetener instead of sugar, unsweetened chocolate (I bought the one with stevia) instead of usual sugar bomb chocolate). Because if you just stick to "simple" keto-approved ingredients, I find it quite alright, price-wise. Sure, if you want to eat quality food, you need to pay more for it, and I am all up for that, but the alternatives are where it gets you. Or perhaps I am still in my "cheap sugar-junkie mode", where you pay the 0,80 € for a bar of chocolate, where 80% of the ingredient is sugar, and pay that with your insulin and brain going crazy.
The second thing that really surprised me is that the cookies are very sweet and filling for me. Now, you are talking to a professional sweets eater, ok? I can (or rather could) kill a bag or a box of cookies. I would be sick afterward, but hey, I did it! I can now eat half of the cookie (that turned out to be as big as my palm, but nevertheless), and I cannot eat more. You have no idea how new that is for me.
And the last thing that made me fall under the table … I bought 74% Ecuador chocolate for the tattoo session. You know, less sugar, blah blah. I usually never, and I mean never, have above 50% of chocolate in my chocolate because it is too bitter for me and I just hate it and see no point in it. But, after 30 days of keto … 74% is actually really sweet. And good!
Quite a turn. I accepted my faith as a total sugar addict. It is refreshing to enjoy food and not miss sugar or dough at every step.
A recap after 30 days (days 15 - 30)
Well, I had one glorious day of no arthritis in my collarbone and it felt amazing and I am still on the lookout for the second day!
I am down to 149 lb (67,7 kg). This means I lost roughly 3,5 kg since starting the keto diet, in 30 days, with two days of breaking streak. That is a very fast loss of weight; on average, a "healthy" steady loss is 0,5 kg per week, which is why my nutritionist asked again if I could start writing down the calorie intake. Of course, she checks my menus regularly and feels I eat enough (and I do trust me, I get full every single time I have my meal), but still. And I know I should do that, I know. Next 30 days, ok?
My general feeling is good. I got into the diet, and if I "cheat" for whatever reason (hate the expression, I think we should have another one … if I un-keto for a day? 🙂), I switch back with more ease than I anticipated and I love the keto options for eating. Which reminds me …
Ah, now. I am no cook. I like to cook, but I don't have the improv skills some foodies have when they just know what to combine and how much of something to put in the pot … nope. Give me a recipe. And I mean, a real recipe, m'okay, with grams and minutes. There is no "cut some onion and throw salt on it" in my cooking world, comprende? Plus, I have no time, really no time to cook during weekdays. Hence, I love simple, straightforward recipes for dishes that get me through the week. I found two that are my favorites in the last few days. Wanna know just how simple it can get? Ok!
You take a small onion (like 100g max), cut it, and brush the tears away. Put something greasy in your pot and be generous with it (I use lard because I like the combo flavor it gives with beef or butter if I don't have lard at hand). Put onion on it, and fry it a bit. Grab 500 g of ground beef and fling it in the pot. Fry it until all the juices disappear. Put whatever vegetables you like in there (I usually go for 100g of either zucchini or cauliflower or mushrooms) and put about 2 dcl of broth in the pan (I usually go with vegetable broth). Let it simmer, while you throw bazillion spices in there: salt, pepper, thyme, smoked paprika, sage, laurel, and basilica. I give at least half a teaspoon of everything, but I like the flavors; if you get overwhelmed by spices quickly, perhaps try with half of them or half the amount and build it up to your taste. Add an additional 400 g of tomato sauce (I use the homemade one I get at the local market). And then just let it simmer for another 40 minutes or so. Best. Comfort. Food. Ever! I eat a giant bowl of salad with avocado in it; sometimes, I put some cheese in the sauce to melt it as well.
There is one craving that still gets me. I love pizza. Lo-ho-ho-hove pizza. What I dig about it is the dough and the chees-iness of it. One day I kind of tried to find an alternative to pizza, and this is what I came up with: Two eggs. Kill them on butter. Put baby spinach next to it, just to get some vegetables going on in there as well. And then, put a whole mozzarella buffala ball in the pan with the eggs and let it get all mushy. Everything takes like … 6-7 minutes max. Is it a pizza? No, but the cheese is nice and gooey and I feel better afterwards. 🙂
To the next 14 days, I suppose!
Day 41, December 25th
So we are right in the middle of the holiday season, which means a lot more restaurants, alcohol, and sweets. I will tell you the truth, in my honeymoon period, I was sure I would not fall off the keto wagon during holidays. I was never big on the holiday season (it is just how we were raised and it naturally developed into a grinchy approach towards it) so I was very brave and confident about it. It is a nice reality check of just how easy it is to slip back into old habits, I guess. Nothing major, but it is more than safe to say I have been out of ketosis for the last 5 days. It started with a neat dinner and wine and continued every other day (I am obsessed with cinnamon buns, and I had two and was stoned with sugar, I am not kidding). I still have most of my meals in keto mode because I cook them (except for two dinners); I just add carbs to the meals in between. After 5 days of doing this, and a serious sugar overload yesterday, I got the migraine aura this morning, which I know is sugar caused, and I am on my migraine pills. My arthritis started acting up again due to the previous week's stress, but my nutrition worsening sure did not help. All in all, I am food hangoverish, which I am sure many people that can overeat will be familiar with.
To find a silver lining in all of this: I actually still enjoy the keto meals. In the long term, that is a very good sign that I really can eat by the keto system without feeling like I am some sort of diet victim here. In the abundance of food around me right now, and sugar and everything else, my favorite keto recipes still taste yummy. I am prepping my food today for the following week. Let's see how it goes, the major holiday season ends with two more days of the danger zone. Anyway. Enjoy your days with your family, and here is to trying to drink more soda and skip at least one cookie with our coffee. 🙂
Day 45, Dec 29th, the 14 days recap
These 14 days were semi-keto at best; let's put it this way. At least the last week was on and off. As I mentioned before, my system is quite simple; I still have my meals done by keto rules, except for two dinners, but in between alcohol, some indulging in sweets etc. happens. Not much, as my idea of party-hard at this point is a lovely classical concert or watching old movies (without popcorn, of course!), but again - my motivation is not losing weight; it is battling arthritis and alcohol and too much sweets worsen my health. It is by far easier to keep yourself in check if you know your joints will swell, not just your belly. 🙂 I took my time preparing food; my fridge and freezer are full. And I indulged in this gorgeous bitter chocolate with plum, walnuts, and cinnamon. Man, I love cinnamon.
The last 14 days of observation? It does make a difference in what I eat. Shocking, isn't it? Since I am less strict with my diet and I eat a lot more sugar and drink more alcohol than usual, my joints ache a bit more (two on my hands and my collarbone, of course). I do not feel bad per se, but I am still taking special care not to eat too much dough, as this will be a problem energy-wise as well. I had a couple of pieces of (good quality) bread for one dinner, and for the other, an Asian rice bowl, and those two, wheat and rice, I did feel energy-wise. Not to mention cinnamon buns. It is a sad fact of life, but pastry does not make my body happy, just my brain. 🙂
...to be continued.