What I learned from 3 years of doing keto is that it works, it works well but not forever. As a type II diabetic, keto has taught me how to keep my blood sugars under control and to reverse diabetes. It's also taught me different ways of cooking with new products and creating recipes to enjoy with the foods I love, such as pasta and bread.
Keto - The Beginning
In the beginning it was fascinating to me. I read all the keto books and listened to podcast after podcast. I still listen to many keto podcasts and I learned different ways of doing keto... dirty keto, strict keto, lazy keto, carnivore, fasting, dry fasting. Although fasting is not keto, they often go hand in hand for many keto lifestylers.
By keeping my carbs to under 20 net carbs per day while doing some fasting I could bring my blood sugars down. After 3 months, my HbA1c was down to 5.8. I was so proud of myself. I became a fasting fanatic, listening to any podcast I could find with Dr. Jason Fung or Meghan Ramos. Starting off small I did a 1 day fast, then a 2 day, 3 day and made it up to a 4 day. It became easy for me to fast, I was no longer hungry after 24 hours but I still missed food.
Losing 30 pounds happened very quickly in the first 6 months but then I stalled. Although I still struggle to lose weight, reversing my diabetes was more important to me. Losing weight was secondary and I continued to "keto on" and do some fasting. Eating when I was hungry and I loved to make creative keto recipes, such as keto butter tarts and ginger cookies.
Surrounding myself with a strong keto community, people I could actually call my friends. That I met mostly on Instagram and then in real life here in Toronto at Keto Meetups hosted by Switchgrocery.com. I filled my days with following other inspiring keto peeps on instagram, sharing new recipes and ideas and being inspired by people who have also became healthy. It was fun and motivated me to stick with it, eventually I realized that this would be my lifestyle forever. If I want to keep my blood sugars at normal ranges I need to eat low carb the rest of my life.
Keto - The Middle
After about a year and a half of keto it became second nature to me. I stopped counting carbs because I already knew what foods were high in carbs and which weren't. The only time I would look at nutrition labels is if it were a new product. I didn't lose any more weight but my diabetes was still in check and I was no longer on any meds, so I was happy and content.
About this time I started noticing the keto trend was really taking off. I remember after New Years, many new keto instagram accounts were popping up by the second. Everyone seemed to be doing keto and my followers grew quite a bit during this time. It was nice to see so many people were curious about keto but I kind of felt that most of these new faces were going to pass and it did.
I noticed some of the friends I made on instagram started to disappear. Not sure if they disappeared because they became sick of instagram or because they dropped off keto and felt ashamed. At this time I was creating keto recipes, I would say I was eating a more low carb diet and wasn't concerned about being under 20 net carbs per day. Most days I probably was but I wasn't counting carbs and made sure I was eating low carb foods that didn't spike my blood sugars.
Keto worked for me, it taught me how to enjoy eating the foods I love while maintaining my health. It gave me a strong sense of community, people whom I love and I enjoyed sharing our health journeys together. I have a support system of people who have gone through the same struggles as me. Some diabetics, others with eating disorders or those who suffer from mental health issues. People with cancer and many other health conditions. We all rose together and become stronger together.
I still eat my meat and veg at every meal and I love the food I eat. I no longer think about eating those double bic macs and fries whenever I get stressed out or sad. I've learned to focus on healing myself with food and how food affects me physically and mentally. Food is powerful, it can bring you down or lift you up. We all have choices in life and we can learn to allow food to heal us rather than making us sick.
What I learned
I learned what foods made me feel good and kept me healthy. I will continue to eat this way the rest of my life. Will I call it keto anymore? I don't think so as I am not focusing on being under 20 net carbs per day. However, I will always be low carb because that is where I do best. If I want to enjoy that big bowl of pasta once in a while, I will!
As far as the scale is concerned, I don't often weigh myself. Weight-loss has stopped being my focus. I will probably lose weight but the number on the scale will no longer consume me. I prefer to eat foods that make me feel good and keep my blood sugars low. At the end of the day the weight of my health is greater than the weight of my body.