We all know fad dieting does not work. Planning to change what you eat for a month or two to lose a few pounds is an exercise in insanity. Inevitably, when you return to a Standard American Diet (SAD) laden with sugars and copious amounts processed carbs, you will gain the weight back. You have to permanently change your diet by making a conscious effort to eat foods that promote health and well being 90% of the time. Yes, I know that this easier said than done (but really, isn’t everything?), and you may be thinking, “I’ve heard and tried this before, but sticking to it is hard!” Well, one way to ensure that a healthy way of eating becomes a lifestyle, is by adopting one that’s easy to follow and that you enjoy from day to day. Severe calorie restriction, one-food diets, and low-carb/low-fat diets leave you feeling deprived and hungry. They are not sustainable.
The ketogenic diet, although low carb, promotes eating moderate amounts of protein and healthy fats which leave you feeling full. “Because of its satiating effects and the resulting decrease in hunger, the ketogenic diet can be easier to incorporate into a more permanent lifestyle change.” (Wilson & Lowery, 74)
Below are some strategies I use that keep me on track while eating a ketogenic diet. They may also work for you.
1. Meditate on your why
Soul search for the reason why you want to make this change. Journal and meditate on this reason daily. Just saying you want to lose weight so you can look good is not enough. Be specific and determine why you need this better body. Visualize how you want to see yourself. Find images that represent how you want to look.
For me, one big why was a fear of being plagued with chronic illness as I age. Seeing family members, co-workers, and friends struggling with health issues and not being able to live their best life scares me. Not wanting to be sick motivates me to live a healthy lifestyle. I visualize my self getting old and being able to travel, be active, and enjoy old age. Also, I feel like it is my responsibility to do my BEST to preserve my health so I can be available for my child. What is your “why”? What is the motivating factor that you can turn to and focus on during this journey?
2. Focus on how you currently feel and how you want to feel
Get in tune with how you feel after you eat foods that are not good for you. Unhealthy foods may leave you feeling sluggish, gassy, heavy, bloated, headachy, and/or mucous-y. These are signals that what you are eating is not synergized with what your body needs to thrive. Food should nourish your body, not leave you feeling ill. Keep a journal of what foods you eat and how they make you feel right after eating them. Tracking how you feel, and how the ill or good feelings correlate to what you eat, may heighten your awareness and motivate you to eliminate the bad foods and replace them with better options.
Think about how you want to feel. According to Craig and Maria Emmerich, if you consume excess carbohydrates it can cause headaches, chronic fatigue, increased blood pressure, bloating, brain fog, and even depression. Switching to eating a carb-restricting, ketogenic diet can possibly reverse these issues and a host of others. Many people on a SAD diet experience many of these issues on a daily basis. I know I did. I always seemed to have a headache, and would need to crash on the couch after work because I was so tired. Imagine not having to deal with these issues anymore. Imagine how much more pleasurable your life will be. Let this desire fuel you to make a lasting change.
3. Make a plan and execute it
If you have foods in your house that don’t serve your goals, get rid of them. Keeping temptation around means that on your weakest day, it will be easy for your to be plan to be derailed. Toss the crap and fill your fridge foods you can feel good about eating.
What to Toss or Donate
• Breads, granola, cereal, pasta…
• Anything with grains (oats, corn, rice, wheat…etc)
• Legumes and starchy veggies like potatoes
• Cookies, cakes, ice cream…
• Anything with Sugar or one of the 61 names of sugar
So what does go in your fridge? When you shop, buy whole, unprocessed foods. Ninety percent of what you buy should come foods found around the perimeter of the store.
What Ketogenic Foods to Buy
• Meats (Chicken, Pork, Beef, Lamb, Fish, Shellfish)
• Non Starchy Veggies (Greens, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Lettuces, Cabbage, celery…)
• Low glycemic Fruit (Avocado, berries, tomatoes, bell peppers…)
• Nuts (almond, walnuts, macadamias, Pilli nuts, pecans)
• Dairy (heavy cream, cheeses, full fat unflavored yogurt)
• Healthy Fats (lard, tallow, butter, duck fat, coconut oil, avocado oil)
• Low-Carb Snacks (pork rinds, meat sticks, nuts, 85%+ dark chocolate )
Create a weekly or monthly schedule of what you will eat for each meal. See an example of what my meal planning looks like here (link to meal prep post).
Plan out treats. The keto diet has lots of healthy replacements for sub-optimal foods commonly eaten on the Standard American Diet. Do some research, find recipes online, or look in stores for treats and delicious ketogenic foods you can look forward to eating. My treats include low-carb mug cakes and cookies, gelatin gummies, and fat bombs.
4. Get rid of distractions
Watching food commercials, following “foodie” accounts on social media, hanging out with friends that have no desire to eat healthy or get in shape are all going to distract you and make it harder to stick to your plan. Don’t watch live tv, and do fast forward through commercials on recorded shows. Unfollow those accounts that make crappy foods look tempting, and limit your time with your unhealthy friends. Friends and family can be the biggest distractions if their habits don’t align with goals. Be sure to let the people closest to you know the path you are on, and ask them to support you. If they are not willing to, limit the time you spend with them and be strategic about when and where you hang out. For example, make sure you have a say in where you eat out, so you can scope out the menu for healthy options.
5. Know your support
Big changes are hard to make alone. Talking or listening to others on the same path will help motivate you to stick to your plan. I listen to podcasts about health and nutrition while getting dressed and on my way to work. Some of my favorite wellness and nutrition podcasts include: Found My Fitness, Fat Fueled Family, What the Fat, and Keto for Normies I join groups on Facebook that have people living the lifestyle I want to live. Finally, know that you can get a certified ketogenic coach, like myself, to keep you fired up and accountable to what you set out to achieve.
Many people start the new year, making resolutions about healthy diets, but they often struggle and fall off because they don’t have a plan, tools, education, or the support they need to stay motivated. Take these strategies, and apply them. If you can maintain your plan for at least 6 months, it will become a habit and you will see lasting change. The best time to start is NOW!
El-Mallakh, R.s., and M.e. Paskitti. “The Ketogenic Diet May Have Mood-Stabilizing Properties.” Medical Hypotheses, vol. 57, no. 6, 2001, pp. 724–726., doi:10.1054/mehy.2001.1446.
Emmerich, Maria, and Craig Emmerich. Keto: The Complete Guide to Success on the Ketogenic Diet, Including Simplified Science and No-Cook Meal Plans. Victory Belt Publishing Inc., 2018.
Wilson, Jacob M., and Ryan Lowery. The Ketogenic Bible: the Authoritative Guide to Ketosis. Victory Belt Publishing, 2017.