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So you had a bad day

When I kicked off my keto journey, I was pumped. After watching this 2-part video (top 2 videos here) by Dr. Stephen Phinney, I was convinced that keto would restore my health, and my improvements have been exceptional. I am almost three years in and will stick with this for life. My keto lifestyle began in October 2019. I immediately felt better - like a switch was flipped. I could not imagine ever struggling. Sure enough, I never struggled well into my second year. But then I did … big time. It was a humbling experience because I was convinced that no one would struggle if I didn't struggle. Bonus, my struggles helped me become a better mentor and coach.

It is just one bad day
  1. You need to know that one bad day is just that: one bad day. It does not have to turn into days, weeks, months or years. When you have a bad day, please take it as a learning experience. Concentrate on what caused your stumble and try finding ways to avoid the triggers. Also, please know that almost everyone will have bad days. Having a bad day is not a sign of failure; it is a sign of being human. Brush it off and get back on the wagon.
  2. One bad day does not mean you have to start all over. One bad day does not wipe out your progress, scale or non-scale victories. One bad day does not take away the knowledge you have gained. You don't have to start over; you are restarting from that day. Most of all, remember your victories. Read our previous blog: a satirical view about the losses we suffer. Spoiler, it is about successes.
Why do we have bad days?

This is a short and not complete list of struggles that can happen no matter how well we did before:

  • Hunger
    On keto, we eat naturally satiating foods. Both protein and fat trigger satiety. Carbs don't. Satiety is not just a feeling of being stuffed after a meal. It is a feeling of not wanting to eat again for many hours after the last meal. Sometimes even a slight sense of nausea or discomfort at the prospect of eating more.
    But unexpected hunger pangs can and probably will still happen. These hunger pangs don't last long. They are surprisingly short. We can distract ourselves with a fun activity or drinking a warm beverage. I sometimes get hungry when I haven't added enough salt to my meals. It almost seems like my body confuses craving salt with being hungry. ⅛ of a teaspoon of salt diluted in water quickly takes the hunger away.
    Often, we are not hungry but crave certain foods. To test this, choose a food, e.g. a can of sardines. When you are hungry, make that your go-to food. If you don't feel like eating sardines, you are not hungry.
  • Temptations
    We are constantly bombarded with temptations. When shopping, commercials on TV and on social media, watching family or friends eat the foods we miss. This is where supportive friends and family can come in handy. I asked my family not to eat certain foods when I was around. They were happy to oblige. I believe this made a huge difference. Not being tempted by having to watch them eat and being subjected to the smell of my former favourite foods took away that temptation. We also removed trigger foods from our home.
    Learning that processed food isn't real food is what helped me most to ignore temptations. Processed food products are low or devoid of nutrients. But it gets worse: processed food products are intentionally made to be addictive. These food products leave us malnourished and wanting to eat more and more. The food industry calls it the bliss point and spends good money on finding the perfect mix of ingredients. Unfortunately, the consumer gets addicted to processed foods, overeats, and ruins their health.
  • Unexpected health troubles
    These are health issues that we can't plan for or control. It could be a twisted ankle that severely limits mobility. It could be flares of autoimmune issues that wreak havoc on our hormones, stress levels, anxiety levels, sleep, and focus. I had one of these wrenches thrown my way and can testify how devastating and gut-wrenching it is. It makes it so much harder to keep focus and prioritize nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. The threshold to allow excuses or give up entirely is much lower.
  • Well-meant but not so great advice
    While no one cares when we eat a SAD diet (standard American diet), everyone that knows little about keto gets upset and fears for our life when we eat primarily nutrient-dense foods like meat and eggs. They will cite horror stories of people who dropped dead from heart attacks, and that cholesterol will clog the arteries. Spoiler, eating fat does not clog the arteries. For more info on LDL, watch this lecture by Dr. David Diamond
  • Failing to plan
    As the saying goes: Failing to plan is planning to fail. This is true. We need to plan for things that differ from our routine when going on trips (overnight or day trips), when going out for food, social events, hospital stay, etc.
    Planning can be as easy as bringing our food or making arrangements to get the food we need wherever we go.
  • Falling for keto products
    Yes, life gets in the way, and we sometimes have to rely on or want the convenience of ready-to-eat products. There are these pesky, handy keto products. Keto is great, right? Yeah, no, big food wants a share of this market too. They are coming out with tons of products: keto, keto-friendly, and low carb. Unfortunately, on closer inspection of the ingredients, most of these products are anything but keto. They are hyper-palatable, and all too often, the keto promise doesn't hold up. They can be full of sugar, grains, seed oils, food dyes, and other unhealthy ingredients.
    But they taste so good and can't be that bad. Right? Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but they are that bad, they are addictive, and they are impossible for food addicts to moderate. They are a recipe for disaster.
  • Playing with fire, i.e. excuses
    Birthdays, holidays, family gatherings, social events, vacations, short trips, meetings, celebrations, promotions, rewards, and more birthdays. Do you catch my drift? When we are creative, we can make up excuses every day. The more often we give in to excuses, the easier they become. Every excuse we allow ourselves chips away at our resolve, our determination to stay on track. It is best not to allow excuses to become part of your journey.
Everyone will struggle at some point.

You are not the only one struggling. Everyone struggles. That is a given. It is in our human nature. One of my struggles was discovering a keto bread mix that I thought had decent ingredients. It tasted just like the real thing. So much so that I could not stop eating it. It was a trigger. After learning that it contained pea products (something I cannot have because of my autoimmune issues), it was easy to give it up. But before, I could not say no.

What helped me lessen my struggles

I shifted my mindset. I no longer think of what I can't eat but what I can eat. There is a surprising amount of delicious recipes for keto. Even desserts and treats, but these are also easy to overdo. If they are a trigger for you, it is better to abstain.

The other mind shift was how I think about processed foods. These food products contain ingredients to make them more addictive and shelf stable. These ingredients are slow poisons. Many of them are even banned in some countries. For example, Poptarts, Lucky Charms, Swiss Rolls, and Mountain Dew are banned in Finland, France, Austria, Norway, and the U.K.

These days, when I walk the aisles of a grocery store, I can now see right through the perverted advertising. Colourful boxes to imitate colours in nature. Colours that we equate with healthy food. I am often overcome by nausea when I see these food-like products. Processed food products make up most of the food supply and have caused a lot of suffering and disease while generating record profits for big food and big pharma. I no longer want these products.

Final thought

Above all, I recognized how much healthier I feel now. My motto is: Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels. Once I tasted better health, I knew I never wanted to return to feeling sick.

Written by Roxana Soetebeer
Published: July 23rd, 2022

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