Daisy’s latest extraordinary woman, Jennifer, talks about her experience with weight loss surgery and how keto fits into the picture.
Jennifer was born and raised in Ontario Canada and is married with two kids. She has worked as an RN for the past 20 years.
She started gaining weight at around 9 years old when her parents split up. She started her first diet age 11 and subsequently tried every diet under the sun. When she finished high school she was probably only about 20 lbs overweight but it felt like it might as well have been 100.
Over the next 20 years with working full time, getting married, going to college while still working and having 2 children she continued to gain weight despite diet and exercise. She finally considered weight loss surgery but at that time it was not a common surgery done locally and she would have had to travel out of the country for it to be covered by insurance. It was a few years later that Ontario started a fairly extensive program for bariatric patients and she had the sleeve.
After losing about 70 lbs fairly quickly Jennifer’s weight loss stalled as she struggled with the clinic’s ideal nutrition guidelines which was to eat healthy whole foods in moderation. She got stuck back into that viscous carb addiction cycle and spent several years after surgery regaining and losing the same 20 lbs. At one point she even spoke to her surgeon requesting another weight loss surgery but was denied because her weight was too low.
In February 2018 she stumbled across Jason Fung’s book Complete Guide to Fasting. It was a revelation that being unable to lose weight was not her fault but rather the failure of a system that still clings to beliefs about nutrition that are out of date and just plain wrong. She quickly fell down the rabbit hole devouring books, podcasts and YouTube videos.
She lost 20 lbs very quickly on keto but unfortunately regained when her addictive tendency to smother stress with carbs reasserted itself. As she has continued to learn more about herself it’s become easier to manage and she has now lost 10 lbs of that regain. More importantly she feels great – body, mind and spirit.
Kim Howerton struggled with her relationship with food from the time she was 8. As the years went by and her health problems mounted, she felt at the mercy of her body and out of control with her weight. A dedicated seeker of pleasure, she realised that life in a body that was always in pain was no way to live; that a pleasurable life starts by living in a body that feels good.
Enter Keto – a life that has brought together her love of satisfying, delicious foods in a way that makes her actually feel good. She now shares her love of all things Keto by creating recipes, running a Facebook group and with the upcoming podcast Keto Life Support.
Carrie is an ex-professional pastry chef, turned cookbook author, recipe developer, freelance photographer with a crazy, four country, three continent-spanning resume which includes such things as a chocolate TV show, a chocolate cookbook, and making pastries for the Queen of England. She trained at the National Bakery School in London and has now turned her pastry chef talents to creating scrumptious keto/low carb food to help the world eat smarter, live better, and put the healthy back into healthy.
Carrie also shares her love, skills, passion for delicious healthy food, and humor in a Facebook Group – The Keto Kitchen with Carrie Brown – as well as bouncing around all the usual social media platforms as The Real Carrie Brown.
Carrie’s buddies say of her…
“Carrie can often be found in the kitchen, surrounded by her four-legged friends, concocting, devising, developing, and figuring out how to make the impossible very possible (and affordable). And we love her for it.”
Happy Healthy Keto
You can find out more about Kim and Carrie’s program on their website or take a look at my Starting Keto page.
This transcript is brought to you thanks to the hard work of Cheryl Meyers.
Welcome back to Part 2 of the go-to place for where you need to go to start keto. Welcome back Kim and Carrie to the Keto Women podcast.
[Kim] Thank you. I’m happy to be back.
I’m very excited to be back. I’m very excited that there was so much stuff we had to share that we had to come back again
and would you believe I was actually holding back?
How do we deal with those cravings? I suppose particularly, well not particularly, but two different things, in that first week when they’re really strong and at the forefront of your mind and then as you go and they just sort of crop up every now and then and can really take you by surprise when you think you’re doing really well.
Yeah, week one everyone. If you haven’t started keto, you might be pleasantly surprised, but you should be prepared for the fact that you are giving up what is essentially a drug and each it will be hard. That’s not a reason not to do it. Doing hard things is important, but being a little bit for warned can be helpful and having maybe some strategies there can be helpful and I would suggest your first week or even two weeks depending on how it goes for you, do not concern yourself with limiting your food. Only concern yourself with limiting your carbohydrates if that means an enormous bunless burger with some pickles and no bun, no fries, you know, for lunch followed by in the evening and enormous stake with you know, some broccoli and butter on it and enormous quantities of keto friendly foods that first week so that essentially you’re too full to eat any junkie carbs has been a very successful strategy for many people. I find when people initially that first week or two they’re like, but I don’t want to go over my protein macro and I don’t want to eat too much fat because I want to burn the body fat, dahdahdah. Like they’ve heard too many opinions.
Oh and what about calories? Because they could have probably been coming from this place where they had to be concerned about calories. Right? Yeah. The last thing you want to do is to do everything at the same time.
And we can totally worry about those things later. But the first important step is just to get off the carbs, whatever that looks like. Get off the carbs. Being hungry your first week or two is probably one of the worst things you could do. The cravings are going to get you anyway and cravings like mental cravings plus hunger is like Disasterville, so don’t be hungry and then over time we’ll adjust the amount of food you’re eating down to a more, maybe an energetically appropriate level for you, but by then you’re through the hump of getting off the carbs.
My best advice for dealing with cravings is to really do a good job when you’re starting out of clearing out all the carbage from your house. Because if it’s not there when the craving hits, you have no option but to eat something keto because that’s all you have in your house. I find it incredibly difficult–or I did–find it incredibly difficult to get through a craving if there was something in my house that would fuel it, this was years ago. If I’m having a craving and the something carby in the house, I’m eating it. So the best advice I can give you is to, when you start this journey, wherever you are on this journey, get rid, clear all the carbage out of your house so that when the cravings hit, all you have, all the choices you have are quality proteins or fats. That’s it. There’s no carbs to choose from. You’re going to eat what’s there and we’re good with that. We’re good with you eating more. We just want you to stay off the carbs.
I will offer an alternative because, Carrie, your cats don’t set the shopping list in your house, right? But many of us live with non-ketoers. And so that can pose an issue potentially. And this is true of me, my boyfriend–not keto. I know that’s shocking to many, but it is true and I am not the boss of anybody but me. So it’s not my job to make somebody else eat the way that I eat. It’s just my odd job to offer information and they make their own choices.
And cook him delicious food that you hope that he’s going to enjoy.
And he does. He does, he loves it. And he’s also very metabolically healthy. There are a certain percentage of the population that can do so while including carbs. And I try not to hate them. But that being said, my house is full of things that I don’t eat and I choose not to eat. But I do have a few important details on that. You know what your trigger foods are, right? Like for me, I can have a freezer full of ice cream, non-keto ice cream. I won’t touch it. It does not call to me. There are certain brands of cookies they call to me. I cannot have Milanos anywhere in my vicinity. I will want to eat them, but then, like, I don’t know. This other brand of cookies, they don’t really call to me. So I make strategic purchasing choices and or rules about what comes in my house that those foods that we all have that speak to us. You know these foods, right? If you’ve ever been a binge eater, they’re the ones you buy. I don’t bring those foods into my house now we’ve got chips, we’ve got cookies, we’ve got cream. I’m sorry, I’m triggering all sorts of people now.
We’ve got all sorts of those things in my house. I’ve specifically directed the purchases towards the flavors and brands that I’m more like, man, I don’t know that I like oatmeal raisin. You have to know where your boundaries are and then if you’re somebody that lives in a household with non keto eaters, it’s probably doubly as important to have your foods at the ready. You don’t want to get home from a hard day’s work and your husband, partner, children, somebody has been like, well, I made this totally carby food for dinner and you don’t have dinner stuff ready and you have to go to the store and dah, dah, dah, dah, and then you’re like, ah, screw it. I’m hungry and tired and I, I’ll just eat the carby food. If you’re potentially going to be surrounded by choices you don’t want to make, you need alternative options because if Carrie gets home and is like, I’m hungry, but if I open my fridge, all there is is some lamb and I dunno…
I don’t even, what’s a Roll mop?
Oh yeah, no, I would go hungry. I don’t like herring. But she’s going to be like, well, if I want to be not hungry, I’m going to eat these things, but if you have other foods in your house, you actually have to be twice as strategic and know that when I open my fridge, there is something that I can eat in five minutes if I need to, rather than chowing down on that carby meal somebody else made.
There are these different layers aren’t there? If you live on your own or if you can completely dictate what is in the house, then the easiest thing really is to, to clear it out.
What are you saving it for, there’s no reason to have it.
Exactly. And that’s, that’s what it’s like here. If I had any of those things in the house, I would probably eat them. So not having them is the easiest way. But there are obviously these people, like you say, who have to share a house with carb eaters. So it sounds like you’ve come to a compromise with your partner where there are certain things that won’t come in the house.
So yeah, you can have ice cream and you can have the cookies, but just don’t have these particular brands and he’s okay with that. But then there are going to be people, and I have heard of these people and to be honest, I think it’s, I do think it’s unfair. I do think there should be some compromises made and when someone says their partner or the rest of their family refuses to make that compromise and will continue having those things that are really, really difficult for them to avoid in a house, I actually do think that’s unreasonable. I think there should be a compromise, a meeting in the middle where they would at least agree for a certain period of time not to have those things that are the extreme trigger foods for that person because they should be concerned enough for their health and well-being to make that compromise.
I totally agree with you. You know, you have to find the appropriate level for you. For me, this level works. Keebler does not call my name right, so I’m not worried about that. If you’re triggered by any of those foods right? Some people are just like cookies. It doesn’t matter if it’s a crappy brand. I’m, I’m very, I’m snobby, right? So I’m like, wow, I wouldn’t touch that brand. I think then I have had this discussion. You know, it’s like every relationship is different and this is about what we’re talking about here is a lot about relationship. And so having a conversation with your spouse, partner, children, whoever, roommate, I dunno, that is like, hey, this is too hard for me and I need to talk to you about it, because I’ve had clients who are going to die if they eat these foods.
Maybe not today, but within a year, you know, they are super sick and you know, they’ve had to have that conversation with their family members. Like, I’m trying to save my life here. And the fact that you being able to bring these things into our home makes you feel happier today versus me trying to save my life. Like there’s no equation. This shouldn’t be a hard conversation to have. Right. This shouldn’t be a hard decision. Actually, I should say. It might be a hard conversation to have because we’re, we are crap at communicating, but it shouldn’t be a hard decision for your partner to say, you know what, I shouldn’t bring these things into the house.
Because ultimately they can still eat them. You know, I’ve, I’ve had people say that their partner has a stash that is in their car or somewhere.
They go through the drive thru and feed their addiction somewhere else. Yeah.
It’s gone by the time they walk through the front door.
Right. And so this is, this is something you as an individual need to determine where your boundaries and limits are. Absolutely. And no one is going to die because they didn’t get Doritos.
No, that’s right. They’re really not. And actually what you might end up doing is improving your partner or the rest of your family’s health in the process anyway. So you know, there’s that. So we put these strategies in place to try and avoid giving in to these cravings. But ultimately most of us at some point or other probably will give in and fall off the wagon sometimes softly, sometimes very heavily, sometimes for one meal, sometimes for a few months. So what do we do if and when that happens?
I think a lot of it is based on going back to what are your goals and what’s the reason you’re doing keto. Falling off the wagon for one person versus another person. You know, it can be very different. For me, one of the things that I work very hard to try and denormalize in a way is first thing that will happen when you cheat or fall off the wagon or eat something that you don’t think you should be eating is the world will rush in to say, ‘That’s all right. Everyone does it.’ And though what I actually think, I think that’s a horrible thing. I’m just going to say it because what those people are trying to do is eliminate any discomfort you’re feeling.
What I think they actually mean and what I think would be a good thing is to say, please stop beating yourself up about it. It’s done. It’s done, past. We’re moving on, we’re focusing on the future. The only reason to look behind you is to know what happened, why it happened, and how to avoid it next time. If you’re looking behind you at the wreckage of what just happened for any other reason than that, you’re just beating yourself up. You’re using it to make yourself feel bad. That’s going to make you more likely to fail again. So if something happens where you ate something, you didn’t want to, I mean you did want to, you put it in your mouth. It’s not an accident, it’s an on purpose. It’s an intentional thing. So one, take responsibility. And when you take that responsibility, you can be like, hey, I had a piece of chocolate cake. Why did I have that? Was I sad, was it an emotional thing? Did it look really good?
Had I been restricting myself on food quite a bit and I was starving? What went into the decision? Because I made a decision to eat it because it went in my mouth. What happened along the way? What was the path of that decision? And anytime you start heading into, I’m a bad person, I have no willpower — any of that negative self talk, stop it. Just stop it. It’s not helpful.
I love the way you say that, “Stop it!”
I think I stole that from Bob Newhart. There’s a clip, but evaluate why it happened and know you made a choice somewhere along that route, find that choice point and evaluate. Was it a good or a bad choice in terms of your goals? Did it support? See it’s so easy to go to judging–good, bad, right? Support or not support. Did it support my goals, did it not support my goals? And so looking at things through that lens. But I really do want to say like a little internal discomfort is not always a bad thing. That internal feeling of like, oh, I did something that I didn’t mean to do. I don’t think you want to completely squash that feeling that things went wonky because when you start every time you make a mistake or you do something that didn’t support your goals, if every single time you’re like, that’s okay, everyone does it, it’s fine. Don’t worry about it. There can be a way that you won’t grow and it’s all about growth, not about enablement.
I absolutely agree with just with looking at it from a much more analytical perspective. Just take the emotion out of it a bit and just look at it from an analytical perspective and just figure things out. Because then like you were saying, Kim, you can come up with a strategy for when that situation happens again because it will whatever it was. So you know, whatever that choice point as you refer to it was that something that happened, something that triggered you in some way to make that choice. That’s going to happen again. It might be someone you don’t like very much, who said something personal about you. Whatever it is, it’s going to happen again. So if you’ve got a strategy in place, you’re more likely to be able to deal with it.
Again, it’s choices, right? We’re not children who are bad or good children. You know, we’re making choices and those choices are either in support of or not in support of what we want in the world, in our lives, in our health. For me, if my primary desire is weight loss, then I’m going to look at it through the scope of did it support or not support my weight loss efforts as a whole. But for Carrie it might be how do I feel now after I eat this food?
I think it’s an important discussion to have is to really hone down on why you’re doing this. If you really figure out your why, that can be really helpful when you have those moments because you’ve got that in your mind. Right?
And Carrie had a really powerful why. So we should ask her.
I think, everything, and I think deep down we know this, but on a day to day basis, we forget that it’s all about our why and the bigger a why you have the easier it will be to stick to it. For a lot of people, how they look is a very, very, very big why. For me, it was not running the risk of becoming suicidal. That was a huge why for me, I suffered from bipolar disorder for my whole life. Although I wasn’t diagnosed, I was misdiagnosed and treated with the wrong things, which didn’t help but wanting to get out of that nightmare. I don’t use that word lightly. The nightmare of suicidal episodes and being hyper manic and being depressed and feeling no joy was a big enough why for me and is still a big enough why for me to eat things that are going to support a joyful, happy life. You can’t use someone else’s why and you have to be really, really, really clear about why you’re doing it. I think if you’re doing it for someone else, you’re probably going to struggle. If you’re doing it for reasons because you think you should, you’re probably going to struggle, so I would highly recommend that you really think, not just for a minute, but really think about what it is you want to do, what you want to change and why because you will be more or less successful based on your answers to those questions to yourself.
You do need to build a really detailed picture. Too many times people just say, I want to lose weight. That’s my why is to lose weight because whatever, it’s a mythical thing. Everything’s going to be better when I lose weight, but there will be a detailed why you’ve just got to find it. That’s exactly like what you’re saying Carrie, is to really sit down and think about it, make some notes, brainstorm it and think, well actually why I really want to lose weight is so that I can keep up with my kids running around the park. Something like that, something a really detailed picture that probably has some kind of emotional attachment to it and then that will really lock in to remind you when you’re faced with that food craving that’s in front of you.
Right. I think one of the things that is important when you look at your why is that it stands up to some scrutiny. So if you told me your why was to lose 50 pounds, I would say, well what would that do for you? Right? What would that give you? What would that mean to you? And then looking at those things, you’ll go deeper, right? Maybe it’s, you know, if I lose 50 pounds, I can fit on an airplane seat and I’ve always wanted to travel and I’ve never been to… you know, when you, you start to paint this bigger picture and you get to something actually deeply meaningful. A number on a scale doesn’t do anything. It’s a marker but it doesn’t impact your life in and of itself. So you need to go a layer deeper. If you’re why is simply to lose weight or, and this is what exactly what Daisy said, or you know, to weigh this much or to fit in this size. Well what does that mean? What does that mean to you? Go a layer deeper.
Yes, absolutely. I really agree with that. The more detailed a picture you can have, the more it means to you, the more likely it is to shout a lot louder than the tub of Häagen-Dazs or whatever it might be for you. That’s what it used to be for me.
And write it down and post it–get pictures that represent it and post it on the fridge door and write it so that it’s on the edge of your computer. So you’re reminded on a daily basis of why you’re doing what you do. And then in those moments of weakness or emotion or whatever it is, your why is right there in front of you. You don’t have to struggle or dig around like why am I doing this? Like you never have to have that conversation because it’s right in front of you all the time.
And I know another thing that’s been very, very important to me and I think it’s going to be important to everybody. It’s something that you mentioned right in the beginning, Kim, with your new podcast and finding this life support is finding your tribe. Finding a support system. That’s made a huge difference to me. I can’t tap into one locally. Really. I’m out in the middle of nowhere in rural France. My support system has been online and that has made a massive difference to me. And you know I’ve been lucky enough to meet a lot of you now. That’s been huge and I think it has to be one of the biggest things that you should put on your to do list when you start this. What do you think about that?
Yeah, I absolutely agree. I also think this ties into something that will happen, though, is finding the right support network rather than finding all the support networks! [laughter] Because there are a lot of keto groups on Facebook and there are a lot of keto podcasts and there are a lot, there are a lot of sources and I think it’s good to sample and try, but you know what your people feel like. Find those people, find the people that make sense to you. Don’t let yourself fall into too many crowds because I think it tends to confuse more than support, but I do think it’s important to find, you know, one, two or maybe even three depending how much you can multitask groups or support networks that really feel like home to you.
I think it’s important that you don’t stay in groups that just don’t make you feel good. I mean in any way. If they’re emotionally draining or they’re hard work or you can’t ask a question without being yelled at or made to feel dumb or you know, whatever, just don’t, there’s plenty of great groups out there. You don’t have to be in groups that are not there to really support you on your journey. There’s a lot of groups out there that will support you as long as you’re following their journey. But that’s not what you need. You need to find a group of people who will support you in your journey, even though that might not look exactly like their journey.
Absolutely. You won’t be able to Google keto or go into certain groups without being offered quick fixes by certain products, exogenous ketones. I certainly know what I think about those kinds of products. What do you think?
Um, I think it’s so hard to be nice when you disagree. So I think it goes back to your why and your goals. Okay. So anytime you’re being offered a quick fix or a product that makes a promise, you kind of have to look at what is it promising? Well, first can I believe what it’s promising? And the answer is actually, usually, probably not, but specifically about exogenous ketones. When you are seeking a ketogenic diet, you’re seeking it for some reason. For many of us, I would say it’s probably improved metabolic health, right? Weight loss included in that, but not the only thing in it. But it may be that you have some dementia issues in your family you’re trying to avoid. It might be that you have a traumatic brain injury. It might be that you have cancer. It might be that you have depression issues, right?
So why you’re ketoing is a very important detail to know how you’re going to evaluate products that make promises specifically with exogenous ketones. You have to look at what they do. So exogenous ketones, for the most part, they’re supplementing beta-hydroxybutyrate, though there are some esters that have some other forms. If you’re going to supplement beta-hydroxybutyrate, you have to look at what does supplementing beta-hydroxybutyrate do, right? What is the effect? Well it puts more of that ketone in your system. What’s the benefit of having the ketone in your system? Does that support your goal? If your goal is fat loss, I will tell you right now 100% it is counter-productive to your goal. Why is that? You’re like, wait, but I was promised you know all of these things. Yes, that is the marketing. Adding ketones to your body does not cause fat loss.
Making ketones from your body fat causes the fat to be used. That’s what you want. It’s the effect of producing ketones that supports weight loss. Now in and of itself doesn’t cause it, but it is a supportive in the process of it having net fat loss. Whereas if you’re simply adding those ketones to your body, you’ve now skipped this step that causes the fat loss, so that’s not good because ketones have oxidative priority. They are burned first before you burn body fat, before you burn, maybe the minor carbs you’ve eaten. Therefore you are adding into your system the very thing you are trying to get out of your system.
Exactly. You’re adding an energy source that you’re going to use before using the energy that you really want to use, which is the fat on your body.
Right now, I understand why people are confused because they’re made a lot of promises by some of these, what I would call predatory companies and you can’t listen to that. There’s actually a very funny Q&A online where a keto expert is at one of the conventions of one of these companies that sells exogenous ketone products. And this woman gets up in the audience and says, you know, I don’t even understand it. My client said that she started on a ketogenic diet, was losing weight, everything was going amazing, and then she started taking our product and she started gaining weight. And the expert very honestly said, yes, that’s what’s going to happen. And everyone was shocked because that wasn’t the marketing materials they were given. That being said, if you’re ketoing for something like traumatic brain injury, you’re trying to use it as an adjunct therapy for cancer, there’s some dementia issues. There is some evidence that potentially supplemental ketones can be of benefit. And so in those cases I would say there might be a reason to experiment with them, but if your goal is fat loss, stay far, far away.
What was your point you made earlier about the ketones in your system? If you need to bump your ketones up to a certain level for some kind of therapeutic reason and you can’t do that through food alone, then that’s pretty well the only way you’re going to be able to do it. But if you’re doing it from a fat loss point of view, and that’s the bit about the marketing that I can’t stand is one is a weight loss and also it’s a way to rectify a cheat.
Oh right. “Get back in ketosis in under an hour.” Yeah, high ketones and high glucose are not something that should happen. You do not want that. And so there are potentially very negative repercussions that we don’t even know about from making that happen in a body. And I think it should be avoided.
I think we’ve made it pretty clear what we think on that. But it’s something to talk about because it’s something that will come up. It’s something that will be offered as a seemingly magical fix. And I think any of us who have been in a position of particularly wanting to lose a lot of weight, if someone says there’s a magic pill that’s going to do it really quickly, we’re probably at least going to want to give it a go.
Oh, I get it. I want the magic pill. Sadly, it’s not what it’s cracked up to be.
The magic pill is to stop eating carbohydrate.
Yeah, it’s true.
I want a more magic pill.
There is no more magic pill!
I want to be like Sabrina on, what is that? I just wiggle my nose. And you know, it instantly changes.
The number one driver of ketosis is absence of carbohydrates. That’s the number one driver. So if you’re doing anything else to drive ketosis, that’s not that, then you’re missing the main route to get you there.
There are no shortcuts.
And you’re going to be poorer financially and you’re not going to get what you want if you try and do these other quick fixes. So trust us when we tell you don’t, just don’t, just focus on the things that actually work.
We talk about levels of ketones and a lot of people find it useful, but it’s certainly not necessary, but it can be useful of testing those ketones. What do you suggest on that score for someone who’s starting out?
Well, I think Carrie mentioned earlier that she used the pee strips, which can be useful initially. I tend not to recommend them long-term, not because they’re not that expensive. So it’s not that big a cost investment, but over time they don’t work very well because what the pee strips test is Acetoacetate. And Acetoacetate is downregulated by the body. You still have it, but what is spilled in your urine is the access and your body gets very good at, well, some people’s bodies, get very good at downregulating the amount they’re producing slash using, so there’s not as much excess. So they’re now peeing on a strip that’s not changing color or not getting dark purple anymore. It’s not actually an indication that you’re no longer in ketosis, but that’s what people assume. And so the reason that I don’t recommend them is they cause people heart attack. I mean, not literally. They caused people a lot of agitation and anxiety where they probably don’t need to have that anxiety. There’s three basic methods of testing. There’s pee strips, there’s breath acetone meters and there are beta-hydroxybutyrate blood tests. Those are the three methods of testing. Of those, as I said, the pee ones for some people are never accurate. For other people, they become less accurate over time and for still more, they stay accurate. The problem is, I don’t know which one of those categories you fall into.
They’re quite good to start with, you know, fairly cheap. Quick seeing a color.
Yeah. Except I did not test positive on a pee strip one time. So for me, they were not a good indicator. But then when I went to blood testing, I did find that that was helpful for me. But for a lot of people, the pee strips are very helpful initially. So it’s more that I want people to go into it knowing that the pee strip is not god, it’s not going to necessarily tell you everything accurately. Take it with a grain of salt.
And for the other two. Both are going to be a fairly large expense.
Right. So, so the beta-hydroxybutyrate blood tests, in the United States, there are currently, I think now there are four, but there are two that were primarily used for diabetic testing that are very expensive. You can get them without a prescription, but they might be a little harder to get your hands on. All the meters that test ketones in the United States also test glucose. They’re called dual meters. But you’re looking at things like, my favorite is the Keto Mojo and that one, I like it because I liked the company. I like what they stand for. They’re specifically geared towards the keto market. They test both glucose and ketones through specific strips and that will give you your level of Bhb, beta-hydroxybutyrate and glucose. And I liked that one because it tends to stay a little bit more stable.
And it’s kind of the gold standard test, so when you read keto studies, if you read keto studies, that’s the marker they’re usually measuring. It’s probably about a hundred bucks a upfront costs to get started. And then ongoing would just depend on how often you’re testing. And then the third option are the breath testers. Those test the level of acetone you’re putting out through your breath. There are a few good meters. They’re expensive. There are a few cheap meters, they’re not very good. So I don’t know that those are worth the costs. They’re kind of along the lines of the pee strips. They may work, they may not work, they’re not well calibrated. I don’t know what this means. And they might cause more confusion than they’re worth.
Yeah, I certainly thing that blood testing is probably the easiest. And like you say, you can test the glucose at the same time and that can be just as useful, but neither, neither, neither nor all three, are necessary. They’re just useful if you find that kind of data useful, they can be very useful for tracking what impacts certain foods have. But you can just use your noggin, can’t you? You can track yourself by how you feel and how you’re doing and you can, you can just use that as your gauge.
Again, we come back to goals, right? Is your goal to have high levels of beta-hydroxybutyrate? Well, maybe if you’re looking to treat a disease, it is. It’s one of your goals, but if your goal is to lose weight, are you? That is your best check versus what is my Bhb level, right? One of those is goal oriented and the other one maybe not. So it’s not a necessary thing for most people’s general goals, but you know, it’s situation specific.
Carrie, I don’t think you haven’t bothered testing after the pee strips have you? You don’t test your, your blood or your breath.
I went through a little phase where I got to Keto Mojo because I was curious and I just wanted you to see. And so I went through a little phase where I tested and then after about a month I think, oh, I think I packed up my house and moved across the country. And the Keto Mojo is still in a box somewhere. And so it just, but it was never really a big thing for me. Once I got the hang of how I felt on keto, then I just go by that. And again, I’m not, if I feel great, then it’s all good. I know when I’m going sideways and I can course correct without having to measure it, without having to see a number. But I understand that not everybody’s like that. And of course people that are doing it for different reasons, will have a different motivation or maybe they’re just trackers and they love to see numbers and see trends and it makes them happy. And that’s awesome. Just because that’s not me, that doesn’t mean that I think nobody else should do it. Whatever works for people is what I want them to do. As I say, I was curious. I tracked it with the Keto Mojo for a month, but I know from how I feel, how it’s going, I don’t feel the need to track. I guess I’m just giving permission for all the people who are going like, oh my goodness, I have to track? No you don’t.
No, you really don’t.
I’m giving you permission not to, but if things aren’t going your way, you might want to track for a little while so that you can uncover why it’s not going your way, you know, so it’s not like an all or nothing proposition. You don’t have to decide I’m tracking or I’m not tracking and then stick with it. You can track, you can not track, you can go back to tracking. You can track different things. You can, you know, whatever works best for you to get you to your goal is what we want you to do.
Well hopefully, we’ve covered just about everything we can think of to get you started the best way possible. However, sometimes people feel they need a bit more help, they need a program and some coaching that’s going to help them through those first couple of months. Or perhaps they need a reset and just feel they need advice. And I happened to know that you two have the perfect program, so perhaps you could just tell us a bit about that. If people feel they just need a bit more help.
Well, first, I think I should point out that a program is not a necessity. It’s not something that you need. It’s perfectly possible for you to reach all your keto goals on your own doing the things or doing some of the things that we’ve described in this podcast. But we have found that a lot of people do do better when they have a structure or they have a framework or they have something to hang their hat on. Particularly something that involves a community. So programs are not necessary, but if you do better in that environment or you want some help, maybe because you’re the only one that’s keto in your household or you just want some community, you want someone to share your successes and your not-so-successes with… Keto does take a bit of time to work out, you know, switching like what am I going to eat? A program such as ours just gives you the framework to just get started straight away without you having to spend days or weeks or months trolling the Internet to try and figure out how to do it, if that makes sense.
I think for me, you can absolutely do keto by doing your own research, your own food plans. You know, you can do all that work. The only reason in my opinion to pay for a program is because you’re like, look, my time is valuable and I would like you to do it for me, please. Right? We can’t do the work in terms of your life for you, but giving you the real deal, tried and true, what actually matters, what actually works, streamlining your experience. So you don’t have to do like kind of what I had to do when I went keto, which is spend several months doing it wrong so that I could figure out what was right, what was wrong, what does that mean, why is this happening? People who’ve been there before you and can guide you through some of those choices so that your experience will be more successful, more streamlined, lot less effort, and a lot less confusion then if you go it alone.
And so for me, that’s kind of the main reason I suggest a well-structured program to start with is because it takes a lot of the guesswork and the anxiety out of starting. Or maybe you’ve fallen into kind of a place that doesn’t feel as structured anymore and you used to have a lot of momentum and it feels kind of gone and you need that again. I feel like that’s when a program can be very helpful.
Yes, because you’ve got a mixture of those people in your group, haven’t you? You’ve got people who are starting from scratch, but you’ve also got people who just need that bit of a reset and reinvigoration.
And from a recipe perspective, because of course all I do is think about food all day–from a recipe perspective, the Internet is a nightmare. There’s so many terrible recipes.
People would be like, just go to Pinterest and you’re like, Pinterest is a mine field.
There are several problems. One is that a lot of people are trying to get hits on their blog so they call something keto and it actually isn’t. When you’re new is very easy to get sucked into that. Oh, you know, typing keto and you know, whatever it is you’re looking for and coming up with all of these hits and you’re just assuming because you know you trust people that nobody would put a recipe up there if it wasn’t actually keto. But you’ll find, and unfortunately as Kim said, a lot of trial and error and wasted money and wasted ingredients and wasted time–you’re going to find out that a lot of the recipes on the Internet are either not keto, don’t actually work and/or taste nasty. One of the main benefits from my perspective of getting a program like the one that we offer is that you know ahead of time that all the recipes are going to be keto. They really are. All the recipes are going to work, all the recipes are going to taste fabulous and all the recipes, because this is something that I always focus on, all the recipes are going to be capable of being made successfully by even someone that’s really never spent time in the kitchen. Cause there’s a whole generation of people who have never had to learn to cook because there’s been enough packaged and pre-prepared meals available that they’d never had to do that. So one of the goals for this program was that anybody with any skill level would be able to come in the kitchen and make truly fabulous, truly keto recipes, meals for themselves that would be better than anything they’ve eaten before.
And we’ve got those recipes structured into various different combinations of meal plans. There’s a whole book that’s got the recipes and the meal plans, but also all the science involved and various bits and bobs. What else can we expect in this plan?
When you sign up for the program and the program starts, you’ve got a really comprehensive guide. It goes through pretty much everything that’s going to come up along your journey, including the science of it, the why, the how. A lot of the things we talked about on today’s call. We go into great detail on plus more things and then we go into giving you meal plans. How do you follow them? What are these ingredients about these recipes like Carrie was mentioning, we also have more interactive elements. We have videos for specific topics that you want to delve a little deeper on. We’ve also got, like Carrie said, the group. We have this very, very, very active Facebook group that comes with a program so that you can go deeper, get your questions answered, get that support, have people celebrate with you. Somebody the other day posted that they went down a shoe size, you know, these really, you know, amazing, funny, non-scale victories, scale victories, all sorts of victories. And then on the flip side, the places where people are struggling and getting that community support in those spots.
The group that Kim’s talking about is a private group that only has the people that are part of the program, it only has the program enrollees on it. And the power of that is that everybody’s on the same page. Everybody’s cooking the same recipes, everybody’s following the same meal plans. It’s an eight week program. So everybody’s going along on this road together and it just makes it, the camaraderie that has been built up. And the support that is generated in that group is just, it’s really magical. It’s actually become my favorite place to go now because it is so–even when people are sharing where they’re struggling, it gives Kim and I the opportunity to one on one, you know, help them in a way that not only helps them but helps anyone else who might be struggling who’s seeing the same problems. So we have the opportunity to go in and help people in the moment when they need us, but also we get to see their successes. We get to cheer along with them and we get to high five them and it’s just–it has, it’s become my favorite place on Facebook
And we also do some coaching calls along the way where we will get on a live video where we talk with people and can work through where they’re at, what’s going on and give them a little bit more personal attention.
And people love those. They’re really useful to watch everyone else’s questions and answers, aren’t they?
Yeah, I mean there is a reason that group programs are so great is because you don’t just get to learn the questions that were in your head. You get to learn the questions you might have later because somebody else asked them and now you’re way ahead of the game.
That’s actually the good bit of Weight Watchers, I think. I was having this conversation with somebody the other day and they were saying the one good thing they got from going to Weight Watchers support groups was the support group. That was the element that worked well for them. And it is very important, isn’t it?
I think the support group is key. It’s a wonderful community and I see a lot of people just really being able to be themselves and share themselves and know that there’s no stupid questions and nobody’s going to yell at them and they’re going to get all their questions answered. So I think the program is really, it’s for lots of people, but it gives a brilliant framework for someone just starting out, okay, here’s how you do it. Without spending months researching like Kim had to or trialing and erroring on recipes, spending a lot of money and time making things that don’t work and don’t taste delicious. But it’s also for people who have maybe got a bit off track or maybe they’ve had a hard moment in life and they need to get refocused. People who are experiencing a stall. So we have people from all of those categories. We have people who just want to get re-immersed in keto. We have people who are brand new. We have people who have stalled, we have people who have just got bored with what they were eating day in, day out, and they’ve come to get a refresh.
We also have people who have reached their goal and are saying, I don’t know how to live this life. Now my goal has shifted. How do I reconfigure my thoughts about all of this and how do I live this just as a lifestyle?
Hmm. Good point.
And as I said, anybody can do keto without any of this, but a lot of people find that they are happier and a lot more successful when they’re part of a program that involves all these elements that we’ve put together.
And we’ve got a new intake coming up, I believe at the beginning of May, but you can sign up from beginning of April.
Yeah, absolutely. We will be accepting enrollees starting in April. And so that program will begin in May. And if you’re listening to this a year later, it might not be the same month, but it will be ongoing so you can check out when the next group starts.
You can and you can find out all about it at start.ketowomanpodcast.com and we really hope to see some of you there. It really is a great program that I’m obviously getting behind and I’m sure some of you will too, so perhaps we could wrap up in the usual fashion with a top tip. Who wants to go first?
I talked so much. Carrie, do you want to go first?
I have lots of top tips, but if I was only given the opportunity to give you one tip, it would probably be you do you. Don’t get bogged down in listening to all the voices and all the things and choosing someone else’s path that you hope is going to work for you. In the groups, I see one of the big things that derails people is the confusion that’s caused when people are looking at other people’s progress and trying to make that work for their body. And then someone else will come along and say the exact opposite and then say, well, that worked for me. And then you’re sitting there going, okay, so now I don’t know what to do. My best top tip would be find what works for you. If what you’re doing is working and getting you towards your goals, keep doing that. And then when your body heals and that starts to change, reevaluate, but always do what’s working for you rather than follow someone else’s thoughts about what should work for you.
I think probably what I want people to know is that when you start keto, I think a lot of us don’t put enough stock in the fact that we have potentially been using carbohydrates to manage our mood for several decades. And you start keto and you’ve taken away your drug of choice and you may not even have associated yourself as an addict up until this point and then suddenly that crutch that you were using, the thing that you use to pick up your afternoon, the thing you use when you were having a hard day, that thing you use to celebrate with friends, carbs were like your number one tool. And now you’ve taken that away. And so I just want people to know that it’s okay and pretty normal to feel a little bit emotionally adrift to maybe deal with some unusually strong emotions that you aren’t used to dealing with because you’re not self-medicated in the same way that you were. I don’t want you to think something’s wrong if that happens. It’s simply your body going through this change where now you’ve taken away this thing, this crutch that you used to lean on and it’s maybe time to find some healthier, more actually supportive ways of managing your moods. And so it will get better. There is support if you’re having a hard time in this arena. And I just want everyone to know that it’s not unexpected.
It’s true. I certainly used to self-medicate with carbs. I used to literally numb everything and then go to sleep with the carb crash. So it was just an alternating …
Knock yourself out!
Exactly! That’s exactly what I did to deal with my mood. But of course one of the things that keto is done is improved that mood. So I don’t actually need that self-medication as much anymore. So things change, don’t they? I did have a top tip written down. Mine is almost the same as Carrie’s, but it’s something just like Carrie that I feel very strongly about and mine was focus on you, your goals, your life, and what you can make work for you. It doesn’t matter what other people think you should be doing. You are the most qualified person to become your own expert. Because it’s such a bugbear of mine. People who think they’re more of an expert on you than you are–because they’re not all are they.
In my little world, there’s nothing trumps how I feel. Although I must say that since I’ve been keto, I am much better at feeling how I really feel. I’m very, very–because my body is so clean now–I’m very sensitive to how I feel and it doesn’t matter what anyone else tells me, like carnivores. I’ve tried carnivore. It works brilliantly for a lot of people. I don’t feel as well as on carnivore and it doesn’t matter how many carnivores tell me that if I would just eat carnivore, I’ll feel better. I’ve done that experiment and I don’t, and so there’s nothing trumps how you feel. If you’re doing something that even somebody you really trust says is good for you and you don’t feel better, don’t feel obligated to keep doing that.
I think it’s really empowering. One of the things I really like about keto is that it empowers you to get really in tune with your body and confident in knowing what works for you.
Yeah. Once you’ve cleared away the health hijackers that give you bad intel. You know, then you can start to really listen to what your body’s telling you.
Yep, absolutely. Well, thank you so much. It’s been a great pleasure. As always.
Welcome Kim and Carrie to the Keto woman podcast. How are you doing today?
[Kim] Doing good.
[Carrie] I’m doing awesome.
It’s nice to be back together again even though it is only remotely.
It is, but you know what, Denver will keep me going for a few months. We had a fantastic time in Denver, the three of us all hanging out and being ridiculous and eating great Keto food and just, you know, chewing the cud and catching up and it was awesome. And that’s going to keep me going for a little while longer at least.
I think you two are going to be getting together a bit sooner, aren’t you? Are you both going to Salt Lake?
Yeah, we’ll be in Utah.
We are off to Low Carb Utah at the end of April. So we will uh, we’ll drink a toast to you. Daisy.
Thank you. With the wonderful Keto Chow people – I’m very jealous. I’m sure it’s going to be good; it’s a great looking lineup.
We shall miss you.
So I thought it would be really nice to have a go-to Beginners Episode that we can send anyone to who just wants to know all the basics of how to start Keto. But before we do that, perhaps you could just tell us a bit about yourselves in case people don’t know who you are. Kim?
Okay. Hi, I’m Kim Howerton and I am a Keto coach. I teach people the where’s, why’s and how’s of Keto. I also love food, so I do recipes and cookbooks. But my primary kind of mission in the world is bringing some ease and comfort and joy into people’s lives by making Keto less complicated because I myself can overcomplicate everything. And so I know that instinct and I want to help other people not indulge that instinct too much.
Carrie, what about you?
I am Carrie Brown and I am first and foremost a recipe developer, which means that I publish recipes for free on my blog. And then I also create cookbooks to serve the Keto and Low-Carb community. The other thing that I have a passion about, apart from showing people that Keto can be more delicious than any food they’ve ever eaten before, is how incredibly powerful Keto can be for helping people with mental health issues. I myself spent most of my life struggling with bipolar two disorder, but I have completely eradicated all my symptoms and the need for any pharmaceutical medications through use of a Keto diet and a few supplements. So those are the two things that I’m passionate about and that’s what I do to help people on their Keto journeys.
And of course your, well you have a few podcasts on the go, but you’re a regular Dude.
Yes, I am cohost on the 2 Keto Dudes podcast, which is a weekly podcast that I do with the wonderful Carl Franklin who has healed his type 2 diabetes following a ketogenic diet. I also podcast every month, the first Monday in the month with Aarn Farmer from the My Sugar Free Journey podcast. And in that one we focus on all the cooking things. So that’s a podcast where if you want to know what the best thickener is, or the best Keto sweetener or how to do cooking things, that’s the podcast for you.
And she is a featured player on the upcoming podcast that I’m producing, which is called Keto Life Support.
And I’m very excited about that because that too is going to be a lot about food and Kim and I love, love, love our food.
We do. The first episode we recorded was kind of a hoot because I don’t know that there are two people in the world that have spent an hour happier to discuss a spice. So yeah.
Which spice was it?
To be fair, it was several. There were several, but you know, there was a section in which we were just overjoyed about…
…the simplest. Yours was cardamom, but mine was the simple amazingness of onion salt.
Interesting. Interesting choice. So while you’ve mentioned that, just tell us a little bit more, give us a bit more of a tease about the new podcast.
So the new podcast is actually, um, my idea behind it was that I just find so many people out there in the world don’t have as much support as they want when they start Keto. So maybe their spouse isn’t into it, maybe their kids aren’t into it. Maybe everyone thinks they’re weird and their doctor told them they’re going to get lupus. You know, there’s kind of a pretty negative world sometimes and not all of us have enough soft places to go.
And so the idea behind the podcast was – if you need some Keto besties, I have some to lend you. There’s going to be me, Carrie, who you’ve met today. Um, there’s going to be a little-known man named Ken Berry.
Who’s that? No, I’ve never heard of him!
You’ve never heard of him right? Yeah. Um, and Neisha Salas Berry, who is awesome as well. And so the four of us kind of are rotating through talking about, you know, medical thoughts, uh, food thoughts, lifestyle thoughts, how do we do this, how do we support?
And then there’s also going to be a community right alongside it, a Facebook community so that, um, you get as much support as you need on your journey and you feel you’re just so you’re not alone. You’re not alone here.
That sounds fantastic. I’m wondering maybe if we should give a little bit of a tease, Carrie.
I Dunno. What do you think?
Release the tease? Well why not?
Go for it.
Why not? We haven’t completely decided on the name yet, so we, we won’t drop that yet, but we’re going to start a podcast too aren’t we?
I’m shocked! What’s happening? I usually know everything.
Yeah, somehow… How did we manage to spend all that time together in Denver and it never came up in conversation.
Because we thought we were dying of the plague.
Oh that’s right. Two of three of us. Two thirds of us were dying of the plague. So
You two were very poorly. I feel very, very fortunate that I managed to escape the plague.
I don’t know. We caught it. We were out.
I’d like to offer a suggestion as to why we kind of didn’t talk to Kim or most other people we know about it because it’s not really going to be Keto heavy.
What you mean you have other interests? That’s nuts! What’s wrong with you?
We started talking a while back. I think I was, and I was trying to remember last night who suggested it first. I think I might have originally thrown the idea of doing another sort of food podcasty type thing.
I think, as I recall, it came out of some person on YouTube that was criticizing a Keto Woman podcast that we did and we dared to talk about something other than Keto.
Yeah, that’s certainly where it developed.
This person kind of got upset and we like, well we, we do have other like brainwaves, we have other thoughts that involve things other than Keto and, and we actually have a lot to say about life and the universe and everything and, and… but apparently we can’t talk about it on the Keto Woman podcast.
But a lot of other people were very interested in what we had to say. So I think that’s where the idea came from that then like let’s just do a separate one about all the other things we have to say and just make it completely separate from all the Keto things we do.
Yes, exactly. So it’s separate but linked. So our thoughts were to do a much shorter form podcast but talking about, potentially the ideas we’re throwing around are, putting out two a week – one which is talking about a motivational or inspirational quote that we’ve come across that we really like and the other one was that sort of slightly old fashioned Agony Aunt type thing where somebody has an issue and I’m sure we all see it all the time in our Facebook groups when someone says, “Oh this happened and I don’t really know what to do about it.” So we’re hoping that people will send us those in and we can offer our suggestions.
What’s it called?
We don’t know yet.
We don’t know yet! My idea that I threw out there was “Afternoon Tea with Daisy and Carrie” because I just quite like, it’s sort of having a bit of a chinwag and the whole afternoon tea thing with the both of us being Brits. So that’s an idea. But we haven’t…
…we haven’t fully decided. A cuppa even.
“A Cuppa with Daisy and Carrie”
I speak Brit.
You do speak Brit, you’ve told me that before cause you used to have British nannies. Is that right?
I did. I know what a boot is and a bonnet and things like that!
We have all these different words. Some of them are funny. Some of them can get you into really deep water.
Yes, especially when you’re angry and drunk or something.
I can’t remember which one I used the other day and Carrie wrote underneath for translation for Carl what it meant in American. It means very different than, I can’t remember what it was, but had a very different meaning.
Okay. So let’s get on to the topic for today.
We could do this for like three or four hours. So we might need to get onto the topic.
We’ve sort of lapsed into just…
What we do!
What we do, yes.
Thank you very much to the KKBs for giving me a list of suggestions to structure this podcast around. I thought it would be nice just to sort of flesh out, I suppose a series of tips, top tips of what to do, how to get started, what to avoid, what to do, what not to do, all the rest of it.
So I guess I will just kick off and we’ll go from there. The first one is about measurements and journaling. I always add journaling because I think it’s important. So it’s about the measurements that it’s really useful to take before you start and then all about what might be useful to measure and journal as you go along.
I think this kind of grows out of the number one thing when you talk to somebody who’s really gone into the deep end of Keto and you’ll say, “You know, what do you wish that you’d done before you started?” And they are all like, “Get your baseline numbers”, ” Take before pictures”, “Measure things”. Um, even get, you know, like a full blood panel – if not before your journey, like as soon as you can – because it’s really super interesting later on in your journey to have something to compare to. That being said, if that’s out of people’s budget or you know, lifestyle, you know, a simple picture in a mirror in clothes that show your body the way it is. Um, this will be the opposite of the way many of us like to take photos, which would be in clothes that make it look better than it looks.
Exactly. It’s not for public consumption.
You’re not showing it to anybody.
Just for you.
Absolutely. And to get some measurements – all you need is a tape measure – is really helpful for sort of a starting place to have those things for posterity.
In terms of other types of tracking, are you asking about like journaling your food and things like that?
Well. So for example, I think yes, when, when you’re starting, and that’s exactly me when you said that – I did take beginning measurements. What I didn’t do so much was set like a monthly date or something to do those. And I wish I had, when I see people like Siobhan Huggins, for example, has a wonderful collage of, I think it’s probably just her face, but she sort of took the same picture every month and it’s so good to see that. And I wish I’d done that.
But yeah, I think taking your basic weight, measurements, photographs and doing that, say once a month. But the other things that I think are useful to journal about: what’s your sleep like? what’s your mood like? your stress? what exercise do you feel able to do? And then you see, you start pulling out the non scale victories as you go, which are really important and more important than weight, which is what people often focus too much on.
So I think conceptually you’re talking about kind of two separate concepts.
One of them is keeping track of metrics, right? So, I’m going to have a set schedule that I’m going to track my photos, my weight, my measurements, and on this date, every month I do this. It’s my routine. And with that I can use it to motivate me or to see what’s happening when, because often we only pay attention to one metric. We pay attention to what the scale says. But we didn’t notice that we are down three pants sizes. We only cared that the weight didn’t move, you know, the scale numbered and it moves. So I think having multiple measures to track and not doing it too often, you know, once a month is plenty I think is very important.
And then there’s a second concept, which is the day to day. So, there are different approaches and I think Carrie and I have very different approaches on this specific topic, but what do you track? What data do you want? Are you a person that needs data? Is a question. So what that would look like is keeping track every day of what are you eating? Maybe potentially using some type of an app to track what we call macros. Keeping track of your exercise, keeping track of how you feel, the less technical aspects, right? The emotion, the mood. I’m cranky today, I’m tired today. So like tracking sort of your experience on a day to day basis is sort of a secondary part and for me that was really essential because I kind of look at my Keto journey as a bit of an experiment, right?
We’re our own experiment and when I have data I can use that to reflect how my experiment is going and I can see the effects right from that first category, what are the effects? Oh look this month I gained weight or I lost weight or my right bicep grew, like what’s going on? And then I can compare that to the day to day tracking and see did something change or is something different. Maybe there’s something I need to evaluate here.
Exactly it’s the only way really you’re going to spot patterns because you forget so quickly and the only way you can really spot is, oh hold on. I remember feeling a bit like I feel today, which is rubbish, two weeks ago. What happened? And if you can actually go back in your diary and look at that and, oh this happened on that day and this day so maybe x, y or z is a potential problem that I need to consider going forward.
Right. But I think Carrie has a different perspective, which I think is important for people to know about.
And I think the main reason that the way we track or don’t track and the things we do, Kim, is so very different is that I came to Keto for very different reasons. So I did not come to Keto for weight loss. I’ve always kind of just magically hovered around the ideal weight for my height. So weight loss has never really been a thing for me. I came to Keto specifically for mental health and, in my case, that was Bipolar 2 disorder. And so, for me, a lot of the things that Kim mentioned is not, I’m not gonna weigh myself, I’m not going to measure myself cause those are not metrics that I’m interested in changing.
But what I do wish I’d done a better job of. So whatever your reasons for doing Keto, one thing I would encourage you to make note of, and actually write it down somewhere is your non scale victories or, if you’re doing it for weight loss, your scale victories. Because people ask me now we know what changes have you seen on Keto? And I’m like, they become normal. So no skin tags, right? I no longer have any skin tags, but I actually have to remember that.
It would be super cool now to just have this laundry list of all the things that I no longer have to deal with. And I didn’t do that. And I wish I had. And I think that would have helped me as I’d have gone along to, you know, we all get those days where it’s just like, oh why am I doing this? I’m, you know, and so to be able to get out a written list and go, oh, that’s why, because I’d forgotten that I used to have skin tags because our brains are very forgetful, so, oh yeah, I forgot that I no longer have psoriasis. I forgot that I no longer have skin tags. I forgot that I no longer need to use deodorant because I have no body odor. Because those things just become a normal part of life when you’re on Keto. And so it’s easy to forget that they were irritations that you had to deal with.
So I do wish I had done a better job of keeping a record of that as I went and I think that would have helped me in those times where we all, you know, struggle. Just being able to pull that list out and go, oh yeah, that’s why I’m doing this would have been super helpful.
It’s really true that you forget the excitement, isn’t it? See, I only have to see someone post a picture of their belt done up on an airplane and to go back and experience what that felt like. I was really naughty actually, and I never asked for a belt extender. I just always used to hide the fact that I couldn’t do it up with it draped cardigan or something over the top of it. So I never went through that. But when somebody is super, super excited and posts a picture of said belt done up, I remember that feeling and you’re right, we should have some kind of reminder that we can really remember the excitement for those things. And those are the things I think that make more difference than losing a certain amount of weight.
I mean, we don’t wear our weight. We don’t have a sign on our head with our weight. We live a life, we have experiences, it’s how we, how fit we are within those experiences, right? How well they work for us and we work for them. Those are the real changes. Not you know, what some magical number is, but I think Carrie brings up a good point, which is not everyone gets into Keto for weight loss or not only for weight loss. And so what you track really depends very much on what you’re looking to shift
And at the start, so for the first three months, I did pee on sticks and I did track how dark purple my pee sticks were every day.
My peetones. But again that was not something you really need to do if you’re doing Keto for weight loss. For someone who was having a mental health issue, keeping ketones super high can be super important. So I was just doing that just to make sure that when I got started that the things I was eating were translating into producing large amounts of ketones, which was the goal for us because we were trying to heal my brain. And I did that for three months and then I got confident with what it takes to keep me at a certain level of ketones and then I stopped.
The other thing that I find incredibly useful is my Oura ring. So I do have an Oura ring but you can use other things to track sleep. I find tracking my sleep and my activity is incredibly useful. So that is something I track, although I don’t track a lot of the other things that Keto people do.
Assuming we are going to do some tracking. We mentioned Siobhan earlier, so I think in her honor we will just list a few things that would be a good idea if you’re going to get that baseline blood testing lab work done. And I do think, if you have any kind of sneaking suspicion that you have issues with any of your health markers in that way, it’s so useful to do. Obviously I appreciate that, you know, it might be a budget issue but if you can at all, it’s very useful isn’t it, to just have that baseline panel?
So what things should we test? What’s the bare minimum that’s going to be really useful to have to start with that we can compare say a year later or something?
I think if we’re looking at metabolic markers, there are a couple that are super important. The first would be, and these are ones that aren’t, so there are ones that your doctor will probably like smile and nod about testing, like a CBC (a complete blood panel), you know, that’s a good idea to get. If you have any thyroid issues, you’ll also want to get a complete thyroid panel. Now most doctors, or if you suspect I should say you might not know you have a thyroid issue, but it’s possible. If you have any of the kind of fatigue, brain fog, unexplained weight issues, I would suggest getting a complete thyroid panel. And so often doctors will only test one thyroid test – the TSH, but there are I think seven. And if you go to stopthethyroidmadness.com (it’s a website) they list all seven of the tests.
Yeah, and it’s brilliant. That’s what I did. I was diagnosed with underactive thyroid. I had that diagnosis for 20 years before I investigated and it was that website and that’s when I got my free T3 in particular tested but other things as well and changed my treatment from that point.
Yeah, absolutely. There’s, you know, there’s thyroid is many hormones and well, I mean it’s a thyroid hormone, but it’s many interactions within that system. You know, T4 has to convert to T3. If it doesn’t convert you have this problem. Your TSH could be normal, it could be low, it could be high but, unless you’re looking at the full panel, sometimes you’re going to miss things.
In conjunction with symptoms. That’s the other thing. It’s one of those slightly tricky ones isn’t it, that you can’t diagnose simply by the numbers?
Any good doctor will use the symptoms as well.
Right? We are sadly, or maybe not sadly, but we are not like data input/output machines, we’re complex systems, which means that, you know, maybe if this one hormone is a little bit low, but this other one over here is a little bit high and they’re compensating… you know, so it’s not really clear cut and nothing can be looked at in a vacuum. But I would say your complete blood panel, your full thyroid panel, you definitely want to get your A1c. Now some doctors will just test your glucose, your fasting glucose. However, a lot of things can be hidden in there and they won’t test your A1c. Now there are some, none of these tests are standalone. You have to look at them together. But, for most people, A1c is a great way to look at what your average glucose looks like. In addition to that, I would say you want to get your fasting insulin, which hardly any doctors test. So you have to ask for this.
Yeah. And that’s why it’s important to get, you get the fasting glucose and the fasting insulin done at the same time. You can actually do things with that. [See HOMA-IR calculators like this one ]
Yeah, absolutely. And then the second test, which is sort of a way to backup what you see through your fasting insulin is your C-peptide (the letter “c” – peptide) because that is going to tell you how much insulin your body is producing over the day. And so your fasting insulin tells you your baseline insulin that day, but there’s some noise in there, but then when you look at also your C-peptide, you’ll get those two in conjunction. You get an idea of what your insulin is doing and those specifically (the last two I mentioned) are ones doctors generally don’t look into, but it’s super important because it can tell you years in advance of your body completely breaking down into metabolic failure what might be going on and it is a lot easier to stop the train wreck than to fix the train that is off the tracks.
And, again, I’ve got Siobhan sitting on my shoulder.
I didn’t even mention cholesterol numbers, so we’re going to go there now.
Well we’re going to have to have a basic lipid panel I think.
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I was taking a breather!
HDL, LDL and trigs have got to be (triglycerides) have got to be a basic panel that are really useful to have aren’t they?
You were talking about, we were having this conversation I think when we were at Denver, you were talking about CRP as well and how useful that can be.
CRP is an interesting test and I really do suggest you get a baseline on it. There are two versions. Get the one that’s called high sensitivity or hs-CRP. It stands for C-reactive protein. What does that tell you? Well, some people will say it’s a heart marker. It’s not. It can be, but what it actually is is a generalized inflammation marker, and I think any of us who pay attention in the news these days know that inflammation is a big hot topic for a very good reason. Inflammation is sort of like, it can be very useful, but it can also be a bit of a wrecking ball within your system.
Now, if you need to tear down a building, you need a wrecking ball, so if you’re sick, if you have some real dysfunction, if you broke a bone, you need your inflammation to go up because you need that inflammation to do what it’s supposed to do. However, when we have rather than acute inflammation, we have chronic inflammation which is ongoing high levels of inflammation that’s causing a lot of issues and a lot of metabolic damage, interactive damage.
And so getting your high sensitivity CRP as a baseline can be fabulous because when most people go Keto that inflammation goes way down due to a couple of reasons. One is the removal of inflammatory foods and then secondarily beta hydroxybutyrate which is a ketone body has in and of itself anti inflammatory properties.
That’s an interesting one. I would like to get that done and again, Siobhan, she was really excited to get her CAC done (Coronary Artery Calcium) to get that score. Now that’s one of the slightly spendy tests, you’ve got to be quite geeky and have a bit of money to spare, but certainly a very useful test to get done.
Right. I would say that they tend to recommend you get your CAC at a certain age within this, you know, Siobhan’s younger, she got her CAC done. There’s a bit of discussion around if it’s worthwhile below a certain age just because you need a certain amount of age to show this kind of damage. But ,in the US at least, you can get the CAC done for around $99 and if coronary issues are of concern for you, say they run in your family or you know, you just know that you have a lot of risk factors for those things, you know, it’s certainly not a bad thing to do.
And the other one that can cost a fair bit of money, but it’s one that a lot of people wish they had done to start with is a DEXA scan.
Absolutely. I 100% totally completely wish that everyone had a DEXA scan to start their Keto journey. What often ends up happening, so if you don’t know what a DEXA scan is, it’s essentially like an x-ray of, that’s not the technical explanation, but it gives you an image of your body and breaks down what is fat, what is muscle, what is bone? And so one, it can kind of tell you how your bones are doing – so it’s important for like osteoporosis kind of issues – but, mainly in Keto, what we like is the body fat percentage.
And one of the things that I have noticed is a lot of people don’t get a DEXA scan to start with and then they get a DEXA scan like six months into Keto and then they have a nervous breakdown because they’re like, “I have lost 50 pounds and I am 50% body fat. How is that even possible and what’s happening?”. Because they didn’t realize that before they started Keto – OK, I will say no one thinks they’re over 50% body fat and that is wrong – they were like 75% body fat before they started and were in some denial. So I mean, DEXAs can be a little bit of a rude awakening, but you know, you will be so glad you have that starting point.
Yes, it’s another one I would have. I would have liked to have that but you can’t go back.
It can also be very helpful in figuring out your macros.
Ah, yes, very true and we will go onto that in just one second. There were a couple that I would add I think especially for women, probably all women, and probably everyone to be honest, but especially if you’ve got any inkling that you might have a problem with iron deficiency is to get an iron panel because I think that affects a lot of people and where you’re at as far as iron goes and all the things that concerned with it, ferritin and how it gets transported around your system, and different percentages, all that stuff, can have a real impact actually on everything else. So sometimes these things, if you find out there’s an issue and if you target that and fix that, it’s the same with thyroid, isn’t it? It can have such a massive effect on everything else.
The other thing I, and I do come from a bit of a different perspective just because my journey has been so different because it wasn’t for weight loss, but for me, one of the things that was super helpful because I have a lot or I did have a lot of food allergies or food sensitivities caused by leaky gut and there’s an enormous number of people who have leaky gut but have no idea and they’re not used to correlating their symptoms with what they ate. I found it incredibly useful to keep a list, not how much I ate because again I wasn’t doing this for weight loss, but a list of what I ate and then I was linking that up.
I mean, I discovered for myself that I was allergic to eggs because I noticed that on the days I ate eggs, about two hours after I ate them, all the skin on my feet fell off, which is weird, but true. Had I not been noting that down like I ate eggs, I ate cheese, hazelnuts, I ate whatever. It’s almost impossible to keep that all in your head and make those connections about what weird symptom could be connected to what food. If you don’t keep track of that because it might be that at some point if you’re not getting the results that you think you should be on Keto, or that you think everyone else is getting, it might be that your body’s like massively inflamed because you’re actually sensitive to eggs but you keep eating them because you didn’t know it was eggs and you take eggs out and voila, everything magically gets back on track.
So that’s why I mentioned it because there’s some foods that can cause a whole lot of issue with anything working right just because you have a sensitivity to them. If you don’t know that, then you’re not going to eliminate it. A lot of people find that they have a problem with dairy. If you’re not keeping track of your symptoms and what you ate the day before or the hour before or four days before, it’s very hard to notice, as Daisy said earlier, those patterns. You can’t correlate them if you don’t write them down. So I would also advocate tracking what you eat, even if you’re not doing it for weight loss, because you can see patterns between what you eat and how your body responds that could be super important in your overall health.
And I think to be honest, you both know, I’m not a massive fan of tracking for myself, just mainly because I’m lazy and I can’t be bothered! However, I did at the beginning and I do whenever I think there might be a problem. So I think it’s something that I would recommend to anyone who’s starting – that they do track, at least for a given time, especially if they’re not aware of how much is in different foods. You get people who are really surprised of, “Boy, I didn’t realize how many carbs were in this food or that food!” and you make assumptions and by tracking for a while you start getting to terms with what’s in what. And, and I know Kim, you’re much more of a fan of tracking food and macros so maybe, I know those are, they’re linked, but they’re kind of two different things. Perhaps we could just talk a little bit about the importance of the two.
I also want to go, just take one step back – there were a few tests I didn’t mention and so maybe what we can do is I’ll give Daisy a list and we can put them in the show notes cause that might be a little bit easier about the baseline tests.
There are additional tests, but that depends on symptoms.
Okay, so in terms of tracking, I definitely am a bigger fan of tracking. Now, what I always tell people is know thyself, right? If you are someone who you say, “Kim, if you make me track, I’m not even gonna go Keto. I’m not, I’m just not going to do it!” then don’t do it. I’m not the boss of you! I just tell people what tends to work and not work. Now, if you are not tracking and you’re not seeing the results you want, then I would come back to you and say, how do you know what to change? Because you don’t have any data. If what you’re doing is working, work it, do it, keep going, go, go you! And, for some people, that works and they do awesome and they’re fine and life is fabulous.
Now, if you are not experiencing the everything you ever hoped it would be about Keto, maybe you’re not losing the kind of weight you want, if weight loss is important. As Carrie mentioned, for her, gut health and mental health were crucial. And so she really pinpointed a lot of that could be tracked in terms of keeping track of ingredients she was using and or level of ketosis.
And so what needle you’re trying to move will dictate what specifically you’re tracking, but the more data you have, the more ability you have to make those adjustments. Also, though I would like to say don’t drive yourself insane! There are boundaries here. Some people just love tracking everything and so you have to find your happy spot. But I certainly recommend tracking your macros.
Now that is with a caveat. Macros are only so-so accurate packages are only so-so accurate. I don’t know how fat that steak was versus this steak, that cow may have been more sedentary, this cow ate more grass. And so there is just some shrug, OK, you know, kind of so-soness you have to accept. However, I will talk to people who aren’t tracking and say, you know, “How many grams of fat do you think you’re eating in a day?” And there’ll be like, “I don’t know, 60, 70?” and then we track and it’s like 240. You know, that you can definitely use to evaluate some choices you might be making because we are just (I was gonna use a bad word!) we are terrible at estimating things sometimes that we don’t actually keep track of.
The other thing I wanted to reiterate (and you mentioned it just now Kim, but maybe I’m coming from a bit of a different angle) is you, do you. I think it’s, when you’re starting Keto, it’s incredibly, there’s like, the whole world is like shouting different ways to do it and it’s very easy to get sucked into, particularly on social media, looking at someone else’s results and copying their macros. Or you know, uh, well she doesn’t eat dairy, so therefore I don’t eat dairy or she eats loads of nuts and she’s losing weight, so I’m going to eat loads of nuts.
You have to find what works for you. And I think it’s really important to understand that you are an individual right at the get go so that you can kind of try and stop yourself getting sucked into this comparing yourself with everybody else because everything for you will be different. I mean the general parameters are going to be the same but, within that, you’re going to find that it takes you longer to reach your goals if you’re focused on looking at someone else’s results and mimicking what they do and expecting that to work for you.
And so how important are macros? Macros, macros, macros gets thrown about all over the place. Anyone’s only got to mention Keto and macros. So, you know, what are they? And do we really need them?
I think yes and no. So, macros (for people that don’t know) macro is short for macronutrients and, when people use the term macros in Keto, they’re often talking about, you know, what is the layout of how much of these three macronutrients you eat. The three macronutrients are fat, protein, and carbohydrates. I do go over macros with people. I do think macros are important.
However, if you think you can plug your height and your weight into some calculator online and it tells you that you should eat 19 grams of carbohydrates, 72 grams of protein and 137 grams of fat, or you’re going to fail! It can’t know that! Your experience matters.
But macros are often a good place to start, but I would rather people have a slightly more nuanced understanding of macros. What are they for? So protein is a building block. We eat protein to rebuild our bodies. They get torn down on a daily basis. We need to rebuild them. It’s useful for building. It is a structural element. It is not primarily an energy source, not primarily, notice I use the word primarily, that is not its primary job. Carbohydrates and fat are primarily energy sources, but on a ketogenic diet we’re limiting carbohydrates so then fat becomes our energy source.
Therefore, how much carbs, protein and fat we’re eating is very dependent upon our body’s energy needs. And so I would say: one, macros are very important, two, not in the way most people use them, three, you have to actually understand what is happening in your body to properly know how to calculate your macros.
So they’re useful in a place to start. I think so so many of these things is you, you need a place to start, you have to start somewhere and you have to start with something and you have to start with some kind of guideline of how much of each of those macronutrients to eat but, like you say, there are so many nuances involved but you gotta start somewhere.
Absolutely. Macros are a starting place. Experience is what tells you how to tweak from there.
It’s also good to know at this point that you decide are your macros when you start, is going to change because, as you heal and as you lose weight (if that’s one of your goals), your requirements (what your body needs) is going to change. So what you start out with is not written in blood. You will have to reevaluate that every, I don’t know, three months, six months or if you plateau, if you stop getting the results, if things stop changing, then you will need to change your macros to match the new you.
And so you’ll have to go through that process repeatedly as you go along. But I think it’s good to know that now because I think a lot of people think, okay, this is what I’m going to eat forever and in, in my experience, looking at the thousands of people that I’ve interacted with, that’s just not true. You actually, you will progress and your macros will change and your needs will change as you go along on your Keto journey.
And the types of foods you eat will change, though I think the way that you start is not necessarily the way you continue. Maybe you start Keto very dairy heavy and that’s totally working for you and you’re doing awesome and things are going great, and then at some point something has shifted and suddenly it seems like your body doesn’t like dairy anymore and you have to respond to that.
I think one of the tough things that people don’t always love about Keto when some people love it, there’s like two camps, there’s always you know, two camps, but there are the people who are like, “Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it and I want success and I don’t want to think about it.” And then there’s the other group which is like, “Life is an experiment and I’m always tinkering.” I would say the first group will probably struggle with much more frustration than the second because Keto is an adventure.
It is always interesting and it is not one size fits all so, if you’re looking for somebody else to tell you what your body will do based on the information they’re giving you, they’re guessing. Now they may have a very educated guess. I do a lot of guessing. But then you do checking, guessing and checking. And if you’re not doing the checking part you might be very sad.
And I think from the most basic point of view, whether you’re really into tracking or not, the one macro that everyone needs to focus on is carbohydrates and simply limiting them below a certain level.
That’s another question. Well there are two things because you see macros expressed as percentages, which I don’t think works very well, I think it’s better to look at grams. So you hear that magic number of keeping below 20 grams of carbs per day. And again, that that is different for everybody but that’s a kind of a general rule that’s going to work for everyone isn’t it? But the other thing that gets asked a lot, and I know you get this question a lot is net carbs or total carbs, which should I be going for?
I am firmly in team total!
I’m firmly on team total for some reasons. One of which is actually something you just mentioned, right? Which is some of us have a higher carb tolerance and some of us have a lower carb tolerance, but we tend to recommend, and I tend to recommend, the lowest common denominator, right? Which is 20 works for almost everybody, so let’s go with 20 right?
In terms of if you just need a number for grams of carbs and you’re not going to test what specifically is your range for where you stay in Ketosis? Some people can get away with more carbs and, just as an analogy, some people can get away with net carbs. But I don’t go by, I don’t suggest what some people can get away with. Like I don’t suggest not wearing your seatbelt because you may not get in a car accident. I suggest doing the thing that I find most effective for most people and that is counting total.
There are a couple of reasons. One, it’s less complicated. Two, some people are affected by fiber, depending on the type of fiber. And the other thing is that food manufacturers are getting very, very sneaky.
Um, really sneaky.
And so there are a lot of foods on the market that will tell you it’s 2 net carbs but you, it’s all you ate today and your ketones went from 1.5 to 0.2. Now I’m going to say that that’s either net carbs is BS or they’re lying to you with some creative math. And so I just find if you count total carbs, you avoid that whole mess because you’re like, “No, I don’t eat Quest bars because the total carbs are far too high.” I do have some tolerance for people looking into certain types of sweeteners, like maybe you’re like, “No, you know, my body doesn’t seem to have a negative impact from erythritol so I’m going to subtract those carbs are not count those carbs in my carb count.”
I also have tolerance. If you say, “You know what, when I eat a lot of vegetables, my ketones are great and I don’t have any issues, so I’m going to count net carbs on leafy green veggies” and I’m like, “If that works for you, great.” But I certainly would not suggest net carbs on any package products with a lot of fiber because there are metabolically active fibers that they pretend aren’t.
Yes, exactly. People can get freaked out and I think that is often with a packaged goods isn’t it? They’re like, “What? Someone recommended this and it’s millions of total carbs.” And it’s because it’s got the sugar alcohols and everything in it. That’s another thing that’s interesting that is a debate that goes on and I certainly know that I’ve changed my opinion on it as I go and that’s how many of the Keto treats types of foods and the carb substitute types of foods to include in what you’re doing.
And, as I say, I do think it changes as you go on. When I started Keto I wanted to play around with all those kinds of recipes and make the perfect Keto bread and cookies and all the things and that can be really good to see you through that hump. I’ve come to the place now where I hardly eat those kind of things because I find that they tend to bring out cravings and things for those types of foods and I tend to overeat and so on. But have you got a go-to or is it completely flexible about whether to go there with those kinds of foods when you start?
I think this is so, so personality based. It really is knowing yourself, you know, people will talk about – apparently I’m very binary! – there are two groups. There are the people that will say don’t feed the beast, right? If you feed the cravings, they’ll just follow you around. Like don’t, don’t treat him like a stray dog. And then there are other people that say, “You know, when I have the Keto brownie, I don’t eat a regular brownie. That is a win for me and I’m going to call that a win and be good with that.” I think it depends and people tend to know. Like last year at Christmas time I was like no more sweets for awhile. Like I was just done with them and I, you know, I had a month of just kind of meat and a little bit of veg and that was great and then you know, at some point in the future, I might say, “You know, I’m kind of feel like making some Keto something or other” and I’ll do it.
My list of products that I will buy that are Keto treats is exceedingly short because, if it has ingredients that require I have some type of a lab in my house to make, I don’t want to eat them from the lab, from the, you know, the purchased product either. And I’m not trying to like say like science is bad. I’m not, I’m not saying that, I’m just saying I know how certain foods work and if I don’t understand what the food is because it’s been changed so much biochemically, I can’t trust it anymore.
Good point. What about you Carrie? You’re into all things to do with cooking. What’s your view on this for somebody who’s starting?
For package products – and I’m always going to err on the side of how it tastes – Kim’s here to give us the science about why you shouldn’t eat it and I’m just here to say…
Plus they do taste like complete crap as well!
They do. And because I’m less focused on weight loss and I know how to keep myself in my brain happy range, I will try or I’ll have a bite of all of them. And I can tell you that 95% of packaged products don’t even get on the bottom rung of the scale of tasty in my little world. So I would always suggest, for different reasons to Kim, but I would always suggest that learning how to cook some things, simple things, and using real whole foods is always going to be a million times better than any packaged products you can buy.
There’s a few exceptions to that rule, but honestly, if you look at the recipes that Kim and I create, it doesn’t take you to have a degree in the culinary arts. It does not take a ton of time. It does not take a lot of fancy equipment or expertise. We’re really focused on helping you become brilliant in the kitchen in a way that you probably never thought possible, but in very simply and easily and quickly, being able to create delicious Keto meals that are better than anything you’ve been eating for your life so far and are light years better than any packaged product you can buy?
Yes, I must admit what I’ve found with, and I’ve got to sample a few more of these products, the ones that are the nicest are the ones that are quite close to home cooked foods.
It’s the ones that have quite a short shelf life and they are basically home-baked Keto foods that might have a bit of preservative or some kind of thing in there to extend their shelf life a bit, but they’re basically pretty much what you could do at home and they’re the nicest ones that I found.
I think whey is a problem in my experience a lot of people find whey products very difficult to lose weight on. And a lot, I would say the majority of products out there that are kind of like a baked thing or a bar or something that’s cooked, they’re going to have whey in there. So I won’t even look at products that have whey in them.
Yes, I feel that it’s a bit problematic. I know you do too as well, don’t you Kim?
Yeah, I mean I think there is a time and a place potentially for use of things like whey protein isolate in terms of are you a bodybuilder person who’s looking for a specific type of an effect? Biochemically and what it, but I don’t use it as a filler ingredient in baked goods. It’s a targeted type of isolated protein that you may or may not think is useful within a certain context. But I see a lot of people using it as a, you know like a “free flour” in a baked good because, “well it doesn’t have any carbs!” But it does have other effects and I just simply find from experience people don’t do as well when they include it for the most part.
Now the poison is sometimes in the dose, right? Like I once saw a creamer that had what was probably an infinitesimal amount of it. That would be different say than you know, making a whey protein shake. So you know, I also want people to use common sense. But most of these packaged products: one, they don’t taste good, two, they aren’t great for you, three, I think there’s just some sort of like mental pathway that they awaken about junk food eating. It’s just bad layered on, not good, layered on sort of meh. I don’t think that’s a good layer cake. There are recipes you can make that are super easy and there are a few products that are tasty in my opinion and not so bad. So stick to that short list and or cook a little bit is probably the better way to go about things.
However, when you’re starting out, if grabbing one of these products is what’s going to keep you going, do that! Because we would rather you stay on of much of you on the Keto train as you can when you’re starting out than completely go and buy a box of Little Debbies and chow down on those.
Absolutely. I think a very important thing that we have stolen from the 12 step community is “Progress, not Perfection”. I think if you’re like, if I’m not perfect, screw it all. I’m having the Little Debbies. You might want to just reevaluate your mindset and make the best choices you can today and you can make better choices tomorrow.
But if you’re caught out, if you’re in a situation where you didn’t plan well or the day went sideways and you find yourself out and you have a Quest bar in your bag, eat the Quest bar rather than drive through McDonald’s and get a Big Mac and fries is all I’m saying.
Exactly. There are always those choices in the moment to make aren’t there? And I think what we’re talking about underlying this, and it’s an important thing to deal with are cravings. Cravings you’re getting for those old, carby foods, that’s when you’ve been doing it for a while, but it might just be those carby foods that you gave up yesterday.
Well it looks like we’re going to have way too much information for just one show, so we’re going to break it here and come back with part two next week.
Daisy’s latest extraordinary women, Kim and Carrie, chat about how to get started with Keto and share some great tips to help you navigate what can sometimes be rather choppy waters!
Kim Howerton struggled with her relationship with food from the time she was 8. As the years went by and her health problems mounted, she felt at the mercy of her body and out of control with her weight. A dedicated seeker of pleasure, she realised that life in a body that was always in pain was no way to live; that a pleasurable life starts by living in a body that feels good.
Enter Keto – a life that has brought together her love of satisfying, delicious foods in a way that makes her actually feel good. She now shares her love of all things Keto by creating recipes, running a Facebook group and with the upcoming podcast Keto Life Support.
Carrie is an ex-professional pastry chef, turned cookbook author, recipe developer, freelance photographer with a crazy, four country, three continent-spanning resume which includes such things as a chocolate TV show, a chocolate cookbook, and making pastries for the Queen of England. She trained at the National Bakery School in London and has now turned her pastry chef talents to creating scrumptious keto/low carb food to help the world eat smarter, live better, and put the healthy back into healthy.
Carrie also shares her love, skills, passion for delicious healthy food, and humor in a Facebook Group – The Keto Kitchen with Carrie Brown – as well as bouncing around all the usual social media platforms as The Real Carrie Brown.
Carrie’s buddies say of her…
“Carrie can often be found in the kitchen, surrounded by her four-legged friends, concocting, devising, developing, and figuring out how to make the impossible very possible (and affordable). And we love her for it.”
This transcript is brought to you thanks to the hard work of Karen Jones.
Welcome Belinda to the Keto woman podcast. How are you doing today?
Thank you. Yeah, I’m doing very well
Enjoying the conference?
It’s a wonderful conference. I’ve had a great opportunity to meet a lot of very interesting people here.
It’s really good, isn’t it? And I’ve, I’ve noticed there are lots of people involved in the Type 1 community here.
Yes. I was excited to meet many people I’d heard of in the discussion group yesterday and to have the opportunity to exchange ideas and it was wonderful.
Fantastic. Well perhaps you could tell us a bit about you.
I’m in pediatric endocrinology at Boston Children’s Hospital and I’ve taken care of people, and children especially, with Type 1 Diabetes for several years now and worked mostly in obesity research. And we have recently come across a Facebook group called Type 1 Grit that are following a very low carbohydrate approach for Type 1 diabetes. According to a book by Doctor Bernstein called Doctor Bernstein Diabetes Solution. And I was just blown away by the success they have in managing their diabetes as it compares to my experience that I have my own practice and in seeing children with diabetes at diabetes camp who eat a standard diet with a high amount of carbohydrate. And so that got us into wanting to study this approach and into wanting to learn more about it to see if we could bring that to our patients as well.
Yes, because really logically it seems like such a good approach when you’re trying to manage blood glucose levels all the time. So it just seems the easiest way, to eat this way to keep your blood glucose within a certain range. Logically to me that that just seems that it’s going to be the easiest way to manage your insulin.
Logically, it does make a lot of sense, right? And in fact, before insulin was discovered, that’s how diabetes was managed. And then when insulin came about, carbohydrate restrictions were just loosened gradually over the years to the point where now we recommend a fairly high carbohydrate diet for people with Type 1 diabetes. And surprisingly, I don’t think that anyone has really done the studies to show that that’s the way to go. So I’m really looking forward to hopefully contribute a bit to that.
Yeah, exactly. So tell us a bit about the study you’ve been doing.
So this study, this is really a first effort to look at what people are doing and to describe their success. So what we did for this as studies, we just posted a fairly simple online survey to the Type 1 Grit community. At the time of the survey there was about a thousand people following the low carb diet recommended by doctor Bernstein. Now it’s over 3000 the last time I checked yesterday.
And so we ask people, you know, what do you do? Like, what’s your typical diet, how much carbohydrate do you eat, what’s your hemoglobin A1c? We ask them to download some of their meter reads, look at their day to day variations in blood glucose levels. We ask for complication rates because a lot of people are worried that low carbohydrate diets may increase risk for ketoacidosis and hypoglycemia, poor growth, etc.
So we did ask about those things as well. I think what’s special about our study is that we actually also ask people for permission to talk to their medical doctors and providers so that we could get some objective information from those people as well to validate what participants had reported. Because one of the largest concerns with surveys is that you never know what people report or recall correlates with what’s actually happening. And so having information from two independent sources really increases the confidence in your findings.
We were able to survey over 300 adults and parents of children with Type 1 diabetes and found remarkable glycemic control in that group with an average hemoglobin A1c of 5.67%. And that is really something that’s thought impossible to achieve for people with Type 1 diabetes. Because if you want to control your blood sugar to a certain degree, at some point you’re going to risk having too low of a blood sugar. Because what, especially when you eat carbohydrates, your blood sugar goes up and down a lot, right? Every time you eat carbohydrate and cover it with insulin, you will inevitably see a peak followed by a drop in blood sugar. So if you, as you’re trying to bring that peak down, you’re going to risk or have a low sugar reading later. And of course that has to be prevented almost at all costs because that kid cause coma, a seizure, a severe problems down the road.
That seems to be the biggest fear in the community of the Hypo.
That’s a huge, you know, because it’s a huge immediate threat, right? And people experience that, you know, some people have lows every week or every day and so you know, you constantly have to mitigate how low can you go without being in trouble?
And is it true that the, again, my logic, the higher peaks, the lower and the more potential you’re going to have to dip into that hypo zone or does it not necessarily work that way?
Well, it’s likely because a lot of the highs and the lows result from a mismatch between insulin action and carbohydrate uptake. And the larger that dose of insulin that you take, the higher the risk for a big mismatch, right? If you eat a very small amount of carbohydrate and you take a small dose of insulin, you might have a mismatch, but it’s not gonna be as massive as if you ate 10 or 40 times more carbohydrate and you would have taken 10 or 40 times more insulin for that.
Absolutely. How long was this study? The participants, how long were they reporting?
So this was just an observational study so it was a survey that was posted at one time point. And so we had asked people to report on their experience. So the study itself has cross sectionals, but we had people reporting being on the diet anywhere between three months and 60 years.
Yeah. Average time on the diet was right around three years. Most people between maybe two and five years.
So I’d be really interested to hear some of the details with those people who had been on it for such a long time.
Right. At this point we just asked everyone the same questions, so I don’t have a way to know much specific about the people who’ve been on it for a long time. But we do hope to do some followup work. I actually just got funding for a randomized controlled trial for a very low carbohydrate diet for people with Type 1 diabetes compared to a standard diet where we’re going to deliver meals to them and then measure their blood sugar control in our research unit, have them on continuous glucose monitors so we can track their readings very closely.
And so in order to make this a meaningful intervention, I plan to reach back out to some people off the Type 1 Grit community and other people who are following low carb. So I think in that setting, I’ll be able to tease out more details about what do they really do on a day to day basis, what’s their diet, what’s their macros, do they eat plant based or animal base. You know, all those questions are fascinating and unanswered yet.
And so what was the scope of the study and the questions you were asking? And so the results, the feedback you got.
When we heard about this group, you know, first of all that was a phenomenon like achieving such good glycemic control that’s unheard of in people with diabetes. So really our first point was setting out to make sure they actually had Type 1 diabetes and not maybe Modi or Type 2. So we had a lot of questions to ask for diabetes antibodies and age at diagnosis and those kind of things and it really appears that almost all people who participated in the survey do have Type 1 diabetes.
And then we wanted to know their overall blood sugar control, which was very, as I said. We had asked for hospitalizations and hypoglycemia rates, ketosis rates, use of Glucagon. And so all of those possible complications that people think maybe associated with a low carb diet, they were very low in this group when you compare it to other studies that survey people with diabetes and who follow standard protocols. There were low rates for Ketoacidosis, low rates for diabetes hospitalizations, low rates for hypoglycemia.
We had looked at growth in children or height I should say, because if you want to look at growth, that’s difficult, right? You have to look over a period of time. And because this was just a single time point, we could only look at height and we had asked some of the physicians to provide growth data from when they’re diagnosed. So a subset of kids, we actually have growth rates over over a two year period and about 30 to 40 kids. And they appear to have grown normally as far as I can say. And then everyone was above average or even above average tall. So we didn’t see any impacts on growth even though that would not be the right study to perfectly answer that question.
We found that people have a very satisfied with their diabetes control and strategies. They were less satisfied with the medical care that they received. And that was a big concern that study raised for me because at least 30% had said they didn’t feel comfortable sharing with their diabetes care provider that they were on this diet. And, even the people who felt comfortable sharing that, a large proportion of them felt like the physician wasn’t supportive and wasn’t helpful in managing their diabetes in that setting. And so that made me as a physician very uncomfortable because I think that an honest relationship between physician and patient is paramount, especially if it comes to something so physiologically influential as a diet because you have to have a whole different set of considerations – as we heard at the conference, your lab tests will look different; you may have different risks for complications; and when you get sick, you may need different management advice – you may not be managed the same as someone who’s eating a high carb diet.
So I felt that was a very sad finding to see that those people who are so tremendously successful and dedicated are so unsupported or feel so unsupported. And I think there was a real lack of information about this approach and it is very important to do more research, to educate the medical community and to help enhance and make resources available so that there could be better communication hopefully.
Yeah. Because the potential feedback for the advantage of the physicians, I can see so much potential there as well. It’s not just the patient thats missing out, but it’s their physician that’s missing out gaining valuable knowledge for perhaps a potentially better way to manage this problem.
I think it’s a mess all around because diabetes, Type 1 Diabetes especially, is an incredibly challenging, dangerous disease to manage, it’s very high risk, it’s a lot of work. You really need a team, you should be working together. Y you shouldn’t have to start out trying to do this on your own.
No, and that just heightens the fear and anxiety that’s so closely bound with having the condition, I imagine. And perhaps you could talk a little bit about Ketoacidosis in this situation and the potential concern. Whenever anyone starts talking about ketones in the community as a whole, there’s a real misunderstanding between being in Ketosis and Ketoacidosis – it’s cited as you shouldn’t do Keto because of this. And most of us are well schooled in the fact that for the majority of people, it’s not an issue unless you’re a Type 1 Diabetic. And so I can imagine that for people potentially using this way of eating to help manage their Type 1, that must be a red flag that comes up, that is going to be something that they’re concerned about happening.
Yes. I’ll start by saying that there is really no research and no literature to actually know the right answer in this and that’s what makes it scary. The concern with eating a very low carbohydrate diet is that most likely, depending on how low you go, you might be in nutritional ketosis, and in fact, I know that some people specifically aim to be in nutritional ketosis to have health benefits.
As we’ve heard at this conference, if you don’t have Type 1 Diabetes, if you have Type 2 Diabetes or if you don’t have diabetes at all, your ketone levels almost cannot exceed a certain level because if your ketone levels rise to an unsafe threshold, your body will actually make insulin triggered by the ketones themselves to bring them back down, so it’s a calibrated system. It’s stable.
If you have Type 1 Diabetes, you do not have that opportunity, so if your ketones could go incredibly high without your body having the ability to intervene because you cannot make insulin. And so that’s why people with Type 1 Diabetes, no matter what diet they’re on, they’re at risk for having ketoacidosis if they don’t get sufficient insulin by injection or by insulin pump. So that’s always a risk.
When people who eat a standard carbohydrate diet, when their insulin delivery is interrupted or when they get sick and become so insulin resistant that whatever insulin they get doesn’t work, the first thing you see is their blood sugar will go very high and then you’ll know to check for ketones and then you’ll know that you’re in Ketoacidosis, and you could usually, if you’re vigilant, you could treat it before it becomes real dangerous, so it’s preventable.
If you eat a low carb diet, your insulin delivery may be interrupted or you may be insulin resistant from an illness and your blood sugar may still not rise very quickly because you don’t have any carbs on board, right? You don’t have carbs in your gut and you could still have a very low blood sugar event in the setting of insulin deficiency and you may go into ketosis or ketoacidosis even without having the typical warning signs of it, and I think that that’s one of the concerns people have.
I’ve heard people be worried about potentially even having a lower threshold for ketoacidosis because your ketones are already elevated and you’re kind of closer to it, again, there isn’t really any good studies to support this. I wanted to point out that even though the Type 1 Grit community showed that they really didn’t have a lot of Ketoacidosis, hospitalizations, or ED (emergency department) visits or episodes at all, this is a special group – they are very highly motivated, vigilant, incredibly engaged people that are very in tune with their diabetes care.
There might be other people who don’t pay as much attention for whom I think the risk is probably substantially larger than this group that I had the opportunity to work with. I think what I want to say, in my opinion, again, without having a lot of research behind it, it’s probably important to measure your ketones, especially if you’re on a low carb diet to know what your baseline level is, and if you see deviation, if you feel sick or if you feel unwell to check it then and if you see any increase from what you usually run to be careful and to know that you could be at risk for having ketoacidosis.
Yes, I think Cushner mentioned that yesterday. He was showing us the difference, with the constant glucose monitor, the difference in the graphs just in general between people eating the standard diet and a Keto or low carb diet, and that variance was incredible. But he mentioned about a particular time of risk, if something like an insulin pump problem or something happened during the night and you weren’t aware of it and you woke up and maybe the ketones could be going up then. But then he spoke about that relative difference. Just as you said, knowing what your standard baseline is and what its increased to, it’s more important – that difference between the two – than having a specific number that everyone should be concerned when their ketones get to that certain amount. It’s very specific to you and what the differential is for you.
Right? Because I think there is a huge gray zone. For example, if you’re on a high carb diet and your ketones are 1 and 1.5, that’s not normal. So you at that point, you would want to start troubleshooting and looking for problems with your equipment or your insulin or to see if you’re sick. You may want to take extra insulin to cover for that because that’s not normal on a standard diet.
If you’re on a low carb diet, you may habitually be at 1.5 you may even be at 2 or 3, depending on your constitution and what you do on your diet. But then going from maybe 2 to 3, that could be a warning sign, right?. We know that when you’re at 10 you’re in trouble. But when you were at 4 or 5, could that still be diet, could that already be Ketoacidosis? And the truth is you don’t want to go to 10 before you intervene because that’s when you’re really in fairly severe ketoacidosis.
I think the key about ketoacidosis and successfully treating it is to catch it early. And so the early warning signs may be subtle. If your ketone levels are always elevated and knowing your levels will help you recognize a small increase and may help you treat early if you if you have to, because that’s when you can still get a handle on it at home and be fine in a few hours versus having to go to the hospital and putting yourself at risk.
Yes. Again, it’s this empowerment of the self knowledge and the knowledge of the environment in which you’re working in. And again, the slightly sad aspect is if you have this mismatch with your medical team, because again, it’s another example of where it’s so important to be working closely with them.
Right. I know Jack Kushner, and myself certainly as well, we were trying to help inform the medical community about this approach, and also specifically help to provide research that may support a meaningful way to handle this.
And I know you did a presentation last night here at the conference, a special presentation, probably predominantly for Type 1s, but I know there were other people there as well. Was there anything you know of particular interest that came up in the Q&A that you’d like to share?
You know, I think it’s, it’s a lot of the same questions. People are very interested about the ketoacidosis question. I get a lot of questions about hypoglycemia, and specifically asking is is actually safe to be hypoglycemic when you’re on a ketogenic diet? I think there is a notion that if you have high enough ketone levels and your brain can run on ketones, maybe it’s not as dangerous to be in hypoglycemia and maybe you’d be relatively protected.
People say that they don’t feel the lows as much, that they feel fine, they’re fully functional. Why should I worry, right? I think again, that’s a little bit of a dangerous territory because even if you feel fine, you’re incredibly close to a threshold where you may not be fine. And to be truthful, there isn’t any study or there isn’t a lot of data to show you that you’d be fine solely on ketones, there are a few experiments, there are some animal studies.
And we’re not going to be able to study that either because you can’t really deplete someone in an experimental setting to the point where you could show, yes, I’m totally safe and fine without it, right? And who would want to risk their own brain? The brain is very vulnerable, it needs fuel and has no stories, right? If it’s not fueled properly, you could have a seizure, you could go into coma, you could have brain damage. And I do think that ketones are protective to a degree, and I do think that the brain can use them as a fuel, but do you really want to press your limits to test that? I think that maybe not.
I guess that’s where the anecdotal feedback really becomes important. So if people have got the data from their monitors and they can also feedback, well this is where relatively speaking I was quite low and that might be something that would affect somebody differently who was on a standard diet to me. And they can just feedback where you were saying that potentially some people were saying that they felt maybe they didn’t experience hypos in the same way. So I suppose that’s where the only thing that you say because you can’t test it, is to just collect that anecdotal evidence.
And I also think that that’s a double sided sword (is that what you say in English?). Because you’re low and don’t feel it, people think, okay, I can be low, I’m safe. But if you’re low and you don’t feel it, that’s also a genuinely unsafe situation because feeling a low as a warning sign that helps you intervene. So if you’re losing that warning sign, you could potentially go a while without knowing, and you could go severely, really low without having a proper warning.
If someone who eats a standard carb diet and who generally runs high, they’d feel terrible when they have a 70. At 70 you’re miles away from a dangerous zone so you have a lot of time and you get a lot of warning to intervene. If you feel fine at 50 or even 40 even as I’ve heard from some people, you’re really close to a zone where it may be potentially a little more dangerous and that we don’t know enough about. I can’t dismiss a hypoglycemia just because you don’t feel it, because the feeling is also a warning sign.
How much feedback did you have? Was it part of the study with how people were feeling? How much improvement they were seeing from switching to this way of eating in their general wellbeing and lifestyle? I know it’s something that can really impact that day to day living and cause a lot of anxiety. And the potential of a way of eating to diminish that and really improve your overall wellbeing seems like probably the biggest benefit, in a way, to just being able to live a “normal life”.
So we had asked questions and had provided some scales to see how do you feel, how is your general health? And we’d also ask some open ended question, what would you like to tell us about this approach, and we got very positive responses. People reported that they’re feeling great, that they had been able to put aside a lot of their concerns about diabetes and about highs and lows, that they feel that they’re able to focus better and that they are just healthier because they don’t have to go through those ups and downs, that it takes a lot of anxiety, especially off the parents’ backs.
A piece of caution though is that obviously these are people who’ve adapted this approach successfully and who are enthusiastically behind it. So you will get the positive answers, right? If a person had tried it and had hated it or had been miserable or had maybe even been noncommittal, they would probably have not continued on this approach and they would not have ended up in this study.
So there is that bias inherent, right?
So there is inherent bias to this, but you know, those people who are successfully doing it love it.
Fantastic. And how have you found this influences your practice?
I’ve been supportive of patients who’ve chosen to be low carb. I’ve tried to learn as much as possible as I can. Even before I did this study, I did read the book that Dr Bernstein had written and I actually went to visit with him for a week to learn from his practice. While I’ve been supportive, I don’t feel like I’m in a position where I can teach people that approach yet.
I was going to ask you if it’s something you’re actually at the level where you recommend or whether you’re just supportive of people who’ve decided to do it.
Again, I’m still being supportive and I’m still trying to explore structures. I haven’t at this point met a dietician who can actively support it, I don’t have a diabetes nurse educator that can actively support it. We’re in the process of trying to build those structures because I’m intrigued, but I do think to offer actual teaching and education as a medical team, it’s a high responsibility and I want to do it right. I don’t want to do half finished things and then end up with patients who are not optimally cared for.
Absolutely. Yeah. Good. Good approach.
So we support it. If someone comes to me and says this is what I’m doing, I’m eager to help them and learn with them. But I haven’t, I’m not yet offering it.
So people aren’t finding that mismatch that we mentioned before,.
That’s paramount, right? To keep the lines of communication open.
It kind of seems obvious to me but whatever approach your patient is taking, it’s always going to be paramount to work closely with them to give them the best care you can. Yes. And you, you already mentioned there were some more studies that are going to follow on the back of this.
Yeah, I’m right now in the process of planning a randomized controlled trial, which is as you’ve heard a million times at this meeting, is considered the gold standard. It’s really what we need to show ff this could be successfully brought to a wider audience, right? There is always going to be motivated people that can do certain things and that need to be supported. But my question as a physician, is there something that I can do to bring this to other people? And I feel like once I do that trial, I’ll have learned a lot from my own practice and hopefully can provide information for other providers who might be interested in promoting this. So this is going to be a smaller trial, about 40 people, and if it’s successful, the next step might be larger and maybe multicenter studies and hopefully informing diabetes care.
I usually ask my guests at this point, and I appreciate that I’m springing it on you, for a general top tip for our listeners.
I think “Keep an open mind and be supportive and try to work together as a team”.
Perfect. And that certainly fits in with what you’ve been talking about. It’s been a great pleasure talking to you today. Thank you so much and I wish you all the best for your future trials and studies and your practice.
Daisy’s latest extraordinary woman, Belinda, chats about the study she did with the TypeOneGrit Facebook group: Management of Type 1 Diabetes With a Very Low–Carbohydrate Diet.
Dr. Lennerz completed medical school at Friedrich Alexander University in Germany in 2005. She did her pediatric residency at St. Louis Children’s Hospital from 2006-2009, followed by a fellowship in pediatric endocrinology at Boston Children’s Hospital from 2009-2011 and 2014-2015. Dr. Lennerz spent 3 years from 2011-2014 at Ulm University to obtain credentialing in pediatrics and pediatric endocrinology in Germany and acquire focused training in obesity. She joined the endocrine division at Boston Children’s Hospital after finishing her fellowship in 2015.
Dr. Lennerz’ research focus is on understanding cerebral mechanisms that regulate food intake and energy homeostasis in obesity and type one diabetes. Past and recent projects focus on how these brain circuits can be modified by metabolic signaling in relation to food intake.
Daisy’s latest extraordinary woman, Mikhaila, talks about how she solved multiple health issues by eating only ruminant animals, salt and drinking only water.
Mikhaila was really sick from the age of 2 and was prone to getting infections, colds, etc. She was diagnosed with severe rheumatoid arthritis when she was 7 and ended up with multiple joints replaced at age 17. She took antidepressants for severe depression/anxiety and suffered from “idiopathic hypersomnia”. She had itchy skin starting at age 14 that she just ignored but these developed into cystic acne, by 19.
Then Mikhaila started experimenting with diet and now she is in remission from everything. She no longer takes any medications or vitamins. The hardest thing to get rid of was the depression, but that’s gone too! Now she only eats beef, salt, and drinks water. She has been eating like this since December 2017 and says she will never go back because she feels amazing.
This transcript is brought to you thanks to the hard work of Cheryl Meyers.
Welcome Mikhaila to the Keto Woman podcast. How are you doing today?
I’m doing very well. Thanks for having me.
I really enjoyed watching your presentation. Perhaps you could share with the viewers a bit about yourself.
Well, we’re at the carnivore conference and I was put up first, which was a little bit nerve-wracking.
Yeah. You handled yourself well.
Thank you. There were a couple of technical difficulties, but we got through it. Yeah, it was fun. I can’t believe I almost started crying. That never happens. But, so yeah, I think I was nervous, but it was good.
I think it adds to it though–adds authenticity.
It does, I know. I’ve watched my dad and he does that on stage and I’m like, Ah, dad, come on. It’s real. But like, anyway, that’s never happened before. So it was good though. And there are a lot of people here.
Yeah. It’s fabulous, isn’t it though? The first carnivore conference.
It’s fun though. It’ll be bigger next year, I think.
Absolutely. It’s going to go from strength to strength. Yeah. So tell us about you. You’ve got a fascinating story.
I’m 27 and I was super ill since I was two. I had symptoms since I was two, but I was formally diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis when I was seven. I was on immune suppressants–Enbrel, methotrexate, naproxin and then, it was just like one thing after another worsening health up to 22 when I started looking at diet. So I was put on SSRIs for really severe depression when I was in grade five. I ended up with chronic fatigue when I was 14 and that wasn’t diagnosed formally until I was 22. When I was 17, even on all the medications I was on, I needed a hip and ankle replacement. So I spent a year on oxycontin getting the hip and ankle replacements done because there’s a waiting list in Canada. So I had to wait for it.
And then I had to take an extra year of high school because of all the school I missed. And I eventually went to university and then I started just eating like a university student does, which was just terrible looking back on it. But I was like, I was finally free of my parents and there was like, well, do I want to eat like eggs for breakfast or do I want to survive off of Cinnamon Toast Crunch? I was like, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Ginger Ale and noodles. And I got, like, my mental health deteriorated really quickly. It was already really bad to begin with, but it got so much worse–just like, the first month of changing my diet that dramatically.
And I didn’t know that that’s what it was. So I had just moved out. I was living with a roommate who was a crazy person, probably not as crazy as I was at that time, but he was, I thought, hey, he was my issue because he was just making me so angry. And then I was like in relationships that were upsetting. School was stressful, so I thought it was just from the change. But now looking back on it, I know it was because I was just eating terribly. So for the next two years I kind of continued to eat like that. And I started gaining weight, which had never happened before. And then it started hitting my skin. I started getting rashes and my skin was breaking out and it was kind of like acne, but it wasn’t. And I went to doctors and they tried to figure out if it was bacterial and it wasn’t. And then they suggested it was me just doing it to myself from anxiety.
That’s often the fallback, isn’t it? Especially this sort of area of issues, because they’re so hard to pin down. It quite often just gets put on you.
Yeah. Well, anything they don’t know. Yeah, for sure. I mean, I was called at one point, I was called a hypochondriac because I got, this was like in my early, early twenties and I started getting really tiny, itchy blisters on my fingers and I was like, this is bad. Hey, this shouldn’t happen to a person. Itchy blisters are a bad sign of something. They’re like, oh no, you’re being a hypochondriac. I was like, what? I physically have blisters on my fingers. This is a bad sign. Um, but yeah, there was a lot of, especially with the chronic fatigue, um, I got a lot of hell and my parents feel bad about it now, especially once I was diagnosed, but for a solid six, seven, I’d say eight years, it was, you know, pull yourself together and get out of bed.
And I was like, well maybe everyone just experiences this level of fatigue and they’re just stronger people than me. But then I was diagnosed with idiopathic hypersomnia and put on Adderall. But when I was 22, I decided–this was after going through every doctor I could find to deal with this skin problem. Cause that was the one that was really–like, now that I look back, I know my anxiety was worsening, too, but the skin is what I was obsessing over because it was affecting how people saw me on the outside and everything else before that was kind of invisible. So I had gone through every medical route I could go through and it was getting worse and worse and worse. And so I figured I had to figure out what was going on myself. So, at that point I had moved in back with my parents. I switched schools, I switched programs and went into biomedical science. And it was like, if this takes me 10 years, I’m just going to study and figure out what’s wrong.
Seems to be quite a common thread with people who have issues that they’re struggling either to get diagnoses for or to get fixed. They start trying to figure it out themselves. Study when necessary and do whatever they can to just figure it out themselves and find their own solutions.
Yeah. Well at a certain point, like if you go, you know, you’re told go to the doctor if something’s wrong and if you go to the doctor and they don’t help you and then you go to like 20 other doctors and none of them help you at some point, you’re like, okay, if I’ve done this the right way 20 times and it hasn’t worked, then I have to do something different. So yeah, I figured that out when I was about 20 and had lost, I had already kind of lost faith in the medical community a number of times. When I was 17, I really, really needed painkillers for the hip and ankle replacement. I couldn’t sleep. The pain was so bad and I couldn’t put my hip in a position that didn’t hurt.
That was a pretty young age to have such a big operation.
It sounds like your whole childhood was plagued with all sorts of medical interventions. It must have been difficult to deal with.
Well, looking back. Yeah it was. But when you’re a kid and you’re sick, it’s not as hard as when you’re an adult and you’re sick. Like it’s just, and looking back, I know I was sick. Like I went to see the rheumatologist. I guess I wanted to see her every six months. I got blood tests monthly, I gave myself injections weekly, multiple injections weekly. And I saw my family doctor probably once a week, I was in the medical system, but it was normal. I had never experienced anything different. And then when I got older it was like, oh, this is annoying. In a lot of ways it was easier as a kid, which is something–like I wrote a blog post about it and it was about, you know if you have a sick kid and how hard is that for a parent and like when we used to go to the rheumatologist, my mum needs to cry every time we went and I’d bring my stuffed animal and she’d hold it and cry and I’d be sitting on the table and be like, yeah, she’s just like poking around in my joints. Yep. That one hurts. That one hurts. That one hurts. But mom would be like crying.
I know what you mean–kids are actually pretty resilient and just go with what’s happening without overthinking it, as we do when we get older.
Understanding the ramifications.
Apparently when I was first diagnosed, I was diagnosed and my parents were told rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, this means multiple joint replacements at a young age. And I had no idea what that meant at all. And like 30 because they, they suggested the joint replacements would happen when I was around 30–30 when you’re in grade two is like a really old person. So it didn’t bother me. But when you’re an adult and you understand what that means and like how much suffering that actually is, it’s harder. So I didn’t have–I had a hard time as a teenager because my mental health, even with the antidepressants, it was pretty hard–it deteriorated. But it wasn’t really until I grew up more in my twenties that I understood how bad this was and that it was like really starting to kill me.
You were saying you were having a lot of pain with it and you needed to get painkillers.
With the hip and ankle replacement? Yeah. The first time I really lost faith in the medical community was, I stopped being able to sleep because of the hip pain. And I was on the waiting list for a hip replacement. And I went to my rheumatologist who I’d been seeing since I was in grade two and I said, I need some painkillers, my parents were like, she needs painkillers. And my, grandpa had come and he had been taking Tylenol 3, like daily for back pain and he was like, Oh man, she can’t sleep. So he’d given me Tylenol 3 and I could actually sleep.
So we went to the rheumatologists and said, you know, she needs pain medication. And my rheumatologists said, have you tried Ibuprofen? And it was like, I have no cartilage in my hip and I need a hip replacement like yesterday and I can’t sleep. And you’re asking me if I popped an Ibuprofen??
It’s not going to cut it.
I tried the Ibuprofen. It just doesn’t do anything. She said she had had a bad experience putting somebody on pain medication, and he hadn’t been able to get off of it very well, so she just didn’t prescribe it anymore. And I was like, that year before that pretty much, well for like at least a six month period I was suicidal with pain. It was so awful. So we ended up going to a walk in clinic and they don’t normally prescribe pain medication and that walk in doctor thank God took me in as a patient and he gave me pain medication.
And you have to be a pretty brave doctor to prescribe like the amount of pain medication I needed that year to a 17 year old. And he did it and that probably saved my life. And it was horrible getting off of it because I’d taken it for a whole year, but I did it. So it was fine. But that was the first time I think where I went to a doctor and they were like, you know, we can’t help you. She had referred me to the pain clinic at the Sick Kids hospital [sickkids.ca] and it was an eight week period, waiting time period, to get to the pain clinic. It’s like, what am I supposed to do for eight weeks, not sleep? So that was like the first step. So by the time I was 22, I had been told this was all in my head and enough times, which is shocking considering I had like joints replaced. I had lost a lot of faith in the medical community. So yeah, I decided to start researching myself.
So you were at college and you got all these other things that start going on. I know from watching interviews that you’ve done online–I’ve watched on YouTube and things–you started trying to experiment with your diet and how that was going to help.
Yeah, first I was looking up skin disorders to try and see what was going on with my skin and I came across a, it’s called dermatitis herpetiformis and it’s Itchy, blistering rash you can get when you have celiac disease. So I did genetic testing, it was like I came up with the gene and in order to be tested in the medical community for Celiac disease, they do biopsies. And I was like, well I’ll just
That is because the blood test isn’t very reliable is it?
Well, no, the blood tests test for the gene so you can rule it out, but you can’t really say somebody has it. Uh, and I thought, well, I don’t want the, the biopsies have a very high false negative rate because you have to actually biopsy a sample that is diseased. And I was like, I don’t want to do a bunch of biopsies. I’ll just out the gluten and maybe all my problems will go away. That was 2015 and maybe it helped a little bit, but not really.
And then yeah, I went on an elimination diet. So it wasn’t actually a Keto diet really. It was like root vegetables without potatoes because I cut out nightshades. I basically just cut out. I came up with this diet and cut out everything that I thought people would be allergic to. So I was eating rice, because I thought everyone can eat rice, everyone can eat meat and fish and everyone can eat root vegetables and apples. That seems pretty safe.
Seems pretty logical, yeah.
That was me not knowing anything about Paleo or Keto or anything. And it, I did it for a week and nothing really obvious happened, and I don’t know why I thought a week was a good cutoff point. But, I tried to reintroduce something and I had gluten free, dairy free, sugar free banana, almond muffins, and two days later my knees were in so much pain I couldn’t walk. So I was in bed for a couple of days after that. And I thought, oh my God, that never happens. I never had flare-ups like that. Oh. And at this point too, when I cut out gluten, I stopped taking my arthritis medication because I was in pain on the medication. Like I was taking Tylenol 3 to sleep because of my shoulder pain and I never really felt it was working.
And I had had my joints replaced on the medications. I was like, you know what, in order to give this gluten free thing a real shot, I’m just going to stop the medication. I didn’t tell my rheumatologist, I just quit everything. I was still taking Adderall and an SSRI and birth control and Tylenol 3, but I stopped the arthritis medication. So when I had that flare up, where I couldn’t walk for a couple days, it was pretty abnormal. That hadn’t happened before. So I really dove into diet off for that. And that month, I went down three pants sizes and I lost five pounds, which confused me. And my skin started to heal and my joints were pretty good. But mostly it was like my skin started to heal and I lost, like, mass. I was like, that was bloating? Like what? And then for the next while, and then a couple of months later, my depression lifted, which I hadn’t even thought was possible. I thought, okay, arthritis, skin issues, okay. But no, the depression is like a, that’s a chemical thing and I’m stuck with that forever. My Dad has it, my grandpa has it. That’s not diet related.
Yeah, just the way your brain’s wired.
Yeah. Right. And, and it had like run in my family, so we’re like, oh, some genetic, like something’s genetically wrong. And that’s just how I’m stuck on this medication forever. And a couple of months into this lower carb than what I’d been doing before, I was still eating rice. But I mean I was eating a lot of meat and a lot of vegetables and a little bit of rice. My depression started to lift and I went off of my antidepressants and when I went of my antidepressants, I went off of all my medication. At the same time as my depression started to lift, my fatigue went away and my itching stopped. So all my symptoms and symptoms I hadn’t even considered were symptoms didn’t take very long.
But six months into this diet, well, first I went off of the antidepressants and I stopped eating rice because I noticed rice was upsetting my digestion. I didn’t notice anything other than that just, I was just making me feel overly full. So I stopped the rice and then I started to try to reintroduce foods. And at first I went to what I was craving and missing and what I had been eating before a lot. And I went to soy and I ate so much soy–it was like tofu, miso soup, as much soy as I could eat. And I had like a terrible, it was like 15 minutes and I got bloated and my body was just like, I’m not having any of this. And I was like, okay, no more soy I guess. And then about five hours later, my entire body got itchy and the next morning the depression was back and it was worse than I had ever experienced.
And it got worse for about four days and it stuck around for three weeks. And it was so bad that I woke up the next morning and I got into the shower and I just like bawled. How could I be so stupid to think that something as serious as depression was caused by food? How could I be so naive? And then I was like, no, no, it was gone yesterday. Then I had a whole bunch of this and then I like, I had a stomach ache and then I got itchy and now I’m upset. I don’t like upset is putting, putting it very lightly. I was distraught. I was like, it’s definitely, it’s definitely a reaction, but it’s hard when you’re depressed because you just get all those negative thoughts spiraling.
It’s like you’ve got two sides isn’t it? You’ve got the emotional stuff is overtaking, but then you had that little logic voice was still strong enough to tell you.
It was kind of like–I kept really extensive notes on my phone, so I was just rereading the notes. Like, no, this is the pattern that happened. But for three weeks after that, it got so bad like a couple of days later, so the depression had me crying and it’s just getting worse. I’m like, well maybe it’ll go away in a couple of days. The day after that, so two days after I had soy, I momentarily hallucinated.
Ah, I was trying to remember which was the food, it was the soy that did that.
That was really scary. That was probably, like the scariest thing that’s ever happened to me. It was like nighttime and I couldn’t, I was doing really badly and I said, Julian, can you drive me back to my –Julian’s my brother–can you drive me back to my apartment? I don’t think I can drive. I’m like, I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m too–I couldn’t see very well, things were very weird.
And he dropped me off and I walked to my door and I turned around to wave goodbye. And he looked at me and his face turned into like a demon face and it was long enough that he looked at me and then he looked back and started driving away. And then it was my brother again and I was standing at my door and I was like, okay. So I’m looking in my purse hoping, like, I hope my keys are in here. Um, and I went upstairs into my bedroom and I turned on all the lights and I hid under my blankets and I smoked a bunch of weed because I was having like, panicking and it was–I don’t know, I stayed under my blankets all night and then I, I don’t even know what I thought about. The next week my skin broke out. I was itchy for about two weeks.
This is a real snowball effect it seems. And you know, you had these symptoms but within a few hours and you must’ve thought, okay, well that’s the extent of it. Then how you to know that all these other things, we’re going to stop knocking out. What did you think at that time? See, I assume you, she’s still got that no logical voice. What was that voice telling you when you got these couple of seconds, when you saw a demon, was there something that was enough to tell you?
For sure. Oh, for sure.
What did you think? I mean it must’ve been terrible.
I thought, okay, I just saw a demon face. It’s like, I hope my keys are in here because I want to go to my bedroom now. And I was walking up the stairs. I was like, that just happened. That just like that wasn’t real and that just happened. And that was it. Like I knew I, I knew it was a hallucination, but it’s like something is wrong was like, now I’m crazy. Whatever I’ve done with Diet has now made me insane. Like, great, now I’m having hallucinations. Um, but I refuse to take my medication again. And it was, it was an SSRI–an SSRI at a high dose. It was like, no, I managed to get rid of it once, which has never happened. I’m going to get back there. I just have to wait. So I just waited. And then over the next week, the depression didn’t lift, but I didn’t hallucinate again. But it was, other things started happening. Like I said, a week later my skin broke out and then my arthritis came back. So that was really delayed–skin breaking out in the arthritis coming back didn’t happen right away.
The itching happened right away, my mood happened right away. And then I wrote down my symptoms every day, and just waited and it was like three and a half weeks and it finally started lifting. It started lifting around 18 days after and then at about day 24 was gone again. I was like, oh my God. And then for the next year I just repeated that. So as soon as the depression would go away, I reintroduce something else. And then it would just be just like this. It was a couple of times that were almost as bad as the soy time, but I learned pretty quickly not to introduce like a pile of the bad food. It took me about six months, and at six months after that I was only having a teaspoon of it and about eight months I was having less than a teaspoon when I reintroduced things. But it took a long time to realize how much really small quantities of things bothered me.
So what was your core safe diet at this point?
It was sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots. So like those root vegetables, meats, fish, lettuce, spinach, arugula, apples and pears seemed fine. Turmeric, salt, pepper, and then some other spices. I wasn’t using like curry powders because they had legumes in them. And I had such a bad experience with soy that I wasn’t going to do that again. So it was basically that. It was like–honey as well. It was a very, very limited autoimmune Paleo type diet, which I came across after I found my list of safe foods and I was like, oh, there’s definitely something to this because there’s so much overlap. There were things on the autoimmune Paleo that I couldn’t tolerate, but, ginger was fine too. Yeah, it was a list of 27 foods, but I couldn’t seem to introduce anything over that. And I tried hard for like a year.
That’s kind of an obvious question. Why did you bother trying, if you’ve got this group of safe foods, what led you to keep experimenting, to try different foods to see if you could add to that? Just purely because you wanted to increase the variety? You’re a natural experimenter? What made you put yourself through that?
Again, it was horrible. A couple of things, one, it was really, really hard to believe that I had somehow just come across a list of 27 foods and those were the only 27 foods I could eat. I was like, that’s weird. That can’t be right. So there was that. I put my dad on the diet pretty quickly after my depression lifted because he has the same depression and he was really desperate to get food back and he was really bad at testing things out. He didn’t know when, he wasn’t able to like listen to his body as well as I could …
Because you were doing it for him as well?
Yeah, like there was one point in the summer and he’d probably was still having carb, like a lot of carb cravings so he was like, I’ll eat quinoa, because quinoa’s a health food, and I was like, don’t eat anything that I don’t tell you to eat.
And he was eating quinoa and he was eating quinoa all the time and he was doing really badly, really badly. He wasn’t like there when you were talking to him very well and I was like, okay, got to test out the quinoa. So I had like a teaspoon of quinoa and I had a horrible reaction to quinoa. And I was like, you got to get rid of the quinoa. And he can see me when I’m like, when he got sick from these foods, you couldn’t see it as much. Like he does get really pale, but that’s it. Everything else you can’t see. Whereas for me, my skin breaks out and my face got puffy. You could see it happening to me. So yeah, a lot of it was for dad. But by September, so a year, I thought no, no more.
And could you limit those reactions? You saying you just tried a tiny little bit.
Yeah, like a teaspoon.
By doing that you could just have a small reaction?
Not really. No. I mean, nothing was like–that’s not true. I had a couple that were bad, like soy, but the quinoa was still horrible. Like I got down to, you know, where, like, if I’m stuck like this, I want to die, but I know it will pass. So no, even a small amount seemed really, really problematic. Now I know if it’s a really tiny amount, depending on what it is, then it’ll be okay. The reactions are smaller, but it has to be a really small amount. Even a teaspoon of quinoa was too much. I year after, I thought, I’m not introducing anything for a while because this is exhausting and I can’t keep having arthritis. I don’t want to destroy my joints and I had a great September. Everything was totally fine.
Then I tried to reintroduce sauerkraut because I was like, I was still going along the replenish gut microbiome, trying to heal things. So I tried to reintroduce sauerkraut and I had horrible reaction to sauerkraut. And then I got pregnant and I immediately went back to my safe foods and they didn’t work anymore. It was like as soon as I was pregnant they didn’t work anymore. And I was like, oh no.
Do you think that was why?
It messed around with the balance of it.
Yeah. I’ve read a little bit about microbiome changes during pregnancy and it does happen. You get, apparently you get a depletion in the biodiversity and the diversity of your microbiome, so I think that must’ve been what happened. But it happened really fast. It was like as soon as I was pregnant I couldn’t get better. I got itchy again and I was itchy. And then you Google these things and it’s like, oh those are all normal signs of pregnancy. So like okay well maybe pregnancy’s just miserable. I was arthritic again. My face was puffy. Maybe that’s just what being pregnant is like. So I waited, I cut out carbier things. I cut out the apples, I cut out the sweet potatoes, cut out the parsnips because I noticed that would make me feel a little bit worse. So halfway through the pregnancy I was just eating salad and meat and my dad switched to salad and meat too, because he noticed that if he ate a whole bunch of sweet potatoes it would be worse. So then it’s salad and meat. And I was doing vitamin infusions just to make sure I was getting everything I needed, but I was still having symptoms.
So I gave birth to my daughter and then my symptoms didn’t go away. I was like, okay. So it wasn’t the pregnancy. So I’m still itchy and still arthritic. And being arthritic with baby is the worst. You’re waking up all the time at night. I couldn’t push myself up on the bed with my wrist because my wrist hurt and picking up the baby was like, my wrist hurts, especially in the early morning. And it was so frustrating to get rid of all the symptoms and then to have them come back. And they didn’t come back as bad. I was still not on any medication so it wasn’t like before when I was in my early twenties but it was there and I was
There is always that fear though, isn’t there, that it is going to go back to being as bad. And you’re just going to be stuck with it again.
Going to be stuck with it. And I wasn’t happy. I was depressed but not depressed enough to take medication. But I wasn’t happy and I was like, I used to be happy. I got to a point where I was happy. So how do I get back to that? And I came across Shawn Baker [Instagram], who’s like popularized the Carnivore Diet and decided that day just to go to meat. And I had been putting off going just to meat because I was breastfeeding and because I was getting a lot of hell from my in-laws, mostly. So I’d been putting it off, but I saw his Joe Rogan [YouTube] and thought, okay, I’ll just do that. And a week later, it really didn’t take very long. But um, the itching and the arthritis went away. It’s like a week. And my digestion was just distraught with this new diet. I was having diarrhea, I was getting bloated when I ate and I’d never been bloated doing meat and salad.
But now with just meat, I was getting bloated, which didn’t make any sense because I didn’t have a beef sensitivity. I was like, what is happening? So I quit after a week and it was like, this is obviously stupid. And I reintroduced, I had a big salad. And the next morning I woke up and I was weepy and I was itchy and my wrists hurt. And I was like, really?
Well, what can you eat then?
Yeah, exactly. And like I have to deal with arthritis or diarrhea, can I have nothing? So I just stuck with it and things improved after about six weeks. It took about six weeks and then my digestion improved.
A lot of people seem to have those transition issues.
Yeah, it’s very normal. Now I know it’s super normal for about two to three weeks. If you’re really sick it can last longer. I think my mom switched over and hers was about four weeks. My Dad switched over eventually he had no transition symptoms. He just dropped salad and then everything improved. So it depends. But it looks like maybe like 60-ish percent of people, um, get diarrhea when they switch over–get bloating cravings. I didn’t really get cravings because I had only dropped salad, so it was a pretty easy transition. But yeah, so I’ve been eating only meat for like 15 months now and I don’t seem to have any symptoms.
Yeah, so it fixed it.
The whole list of everything and your arthritic pain and everything–all good?
All good. All good. I tried to reintroduce about three months into the diet, I tried to reintroduce organic olives–I thought olive oil is pretty safe. And I had quite a few of those over a period of two days. And I had a reaction to them. I was like, if I can’t eat olives–I don’t know why I thought that was the safe one, because of olive oil. If I can’t eat that I’d give up. And then in the last year, there’ve been a couple times I’ve been hit at restaurants just with minute quantities of foods and I do get very minor reactions when that happens. So quantity does matter.
You said that in your presentation that it can just be simply from being cooked on a grill that has something on it. It’s going to impact you.
Yeah, I had an experience a couple of months ago and I went to a really high end steak house and told them, you know, just the steak, nothing on it, scrubbed the grill and everything. But, at one point I could taste garlic, but I was like, is it in my head or is that garlic? It was very minor amount. I was like, whatever, that’ll probably be, you know, I can barely taste it, it’ll probably be fine. And the next day I couldn’t think at all. Like my head was full of cotton balls, but the depression wasn’t back. It was just severe brain fog and I was bloated like four or five months pregnant, bloated for like a week. My wrists were kind of sore, my skin was a little irritated, but that was the extent of the reaction, which was really scary at the beginning because like I couldn’t think and I was like, oh my God, is the depression going to come back? But it didn’t. But yeah, that was just from whatever was on the grill. So I asked them, what do you usually put on your steak? Because I was like, if there’s, I was worried right about what it could be. And they said, well, usually, it’s olive oil, salt and garlic. And I was like, you know, that’s hardly anything. Right? And they did clean the grill. So yeah, I’m still ridiculously sensitive and trying to figure out how to reduce that.
And so what is your diet composed of now? All meat, meat fats. Do you eat fish? You don’t have dairy, do you?
No. So it’s not the popularized carnivore diet. That’s eggs, dairy and all meat. I’m just eating ruminant meat. Beef, lamb sometimes, although I don’t really like lamb. High fat beef. I don’t eat lean cuts. I mostly eat ribs. Ribeye, about a pound and a half, I’m like 5’6 [168 cm]. It seems to depend on how tall you are. I eat about a pound and a half, maybe two a day. I eat twice a day and that just kind of naturally happened. Sometimes I eat once a day and I’ll eat more if I eat once a day.
But I’m not as good at that. I still get hungry. Yeah. That’s what I’ve been doing for a year. And salt. So beef and lamb and salt and I can do bison and elk. But I started–this is another strange thing that I’ve had a really hard time believing–about a month into the carnivore diet, sometimes I was feeling pretty bad after I ate and I was still eating beef and chicken. And throughout my pregnancy, I’d eaten chicken wings like every day. And for some reason when I switched over to this carnivore diet, I couldn’t tolerate chicken anymore. So I was getting brain fog really quickly, like this weird drunken feeling after I had chicken. Chicken! And I was like chicken’s my favorite, chicken wings. That’s all I want to eat. I like steak but I really like chicken wings and I tested out five times because I was like I can’t be–no one has this from chicken.
It’s got to be a coincidence, I’m going to keep trying.
Yeah. And I tried turkey and the same thing happened. And the other thing is this weird brain fog drunk feeling? I also got it from sweet potatoes and apples and I was associating it with glucose. Well, why is it happening with chicken? There’s nothing in chicken. So yeah, just beef, bison, ruminant meat.
Obviously, you enjoy your food. Do you find it restrictive or is it now just so associated with feeling well, all good?
Mostly it’s all good. Like all my cravings went away when I was doing low carb. The problem like, you know, autoimmune Paleo type, low carb, I still had cravings, so I’d still be like, Oh hey, angel food cake. That was like my main craving, Angel food cake. When I went to meat, my cravings went away completely, which is really nice and I don’t overeat ever. I’m just like full and I’ll stop. And I think I was probably still overeating a little bit when I was eating plants and apples and things. It’s definitely, if I could incorporate in other foods, I probably wouldn’t really bother. Maybe like an apple now and then. But I actually like eating this way. It is very simple. Grocery shopping is very easy. Cooking’s really easy. I don’t spend any time cooking. I really like steak. You don’t really get tired of steak. So, no, I like it a lot. The only problem is I’m so sensitive I can’t eat out. So if I could go out to a steak house with everyone and have a steak, then life would be great. But whatever the underlying problem here that’s making me so sensitive–if that could go away and then I could still do this diet, that would be good. That’s the goal is to stick with the diet, but to reduce the sensitivities for when I accidentally get hit.
Yeah. And maybe it will, you do it for long enough. Your sensitivities increased, the reactions, increased to certain things, but also with the healing that goes on, that might be that little flexibility that is the goal that you’re after.
Yeah. And then the other thing I should mention, which was, has been really interesting, is I was diagnosed with C. difficile. You’ve heard of C. difficile? Yeah. I was diagnosed with that in the fall. And I don’t know how long. I never, so normally you get that if you’re immunosuppressed–it’s like really common in nursing homes, it is common in hospitals, especially for like older immunosuppressed people who’ve been on a lengthy antibiotics. I hadn’t taken antibiotics in years. I’m not immunosuppressed anymore, so I have no idea how it happened. I didn’t have a hospital stay and I’ve treated it now.
I went and did microbiome transplants in The Bahamas– that was really recent. So that should be gone but the interesting thing about having a bacterial infection in your gut is it creates gut permeability issues. So I had that tested and I had my gut permeability tested and they looked at something called zonulin, which is the protein that modulates tight junctions in the gut. So it keeps your cells together in the gut. And my zonulin levels are 12 times as high as they should be. So even though I’ve been on this high fat meat diet, which has been shown to basically eliminate leaky gut, my gut is ridiculously leaky. And, I got this tested through my naturopath and he said the clinic had never seen anyone with zonulin levels this high.
So I figure maybe I contracted the C diff at some point–I’m not sure when–and maybe the reason I’m so sensitive, like even the garlic on the grill. That’s insane. That’s insane. Right? I could barely taste it. I think maybe part of the reason I’m so sensitive was this infection was increasing my gut permeability to a ridiculous amount to anything I eat. For some reason beef is just that like the safe one and anything else is just like getting into my body. So I’m hoping like what my goals are or what my plan is, is to wait because I just did this microbiome transplant treatment. I’m going to wait a couple of weeks, I’m going to retest my zonulin levels and when my zonulin levels get back to zero, which is where they should be on this diet, I’m going to introduce really small quantities of some sort of plant to see if I can reduce my sensitivity levels. So I’m talking like a pill sized amount of sweet potato, like nothing. I’m hoping that if I do that and give my body a little bit of the plant toxins, it will have some sort of buffer. So if I do get hit with something, I’ll have some sort of–I think it’ll be better. But I have to wait for the zonulin level to go down.
You need to have that gut flora to digest things. And that’s part of one of the reasons you get reactions, isn’t it? Because if you, if you’ve been on elimination diet, you just don’t have the flora to deal with things as well.
Yeah. Yeah, supposedly. I mean it changes. Like right now I’ll have a carnivorous microbiome, right? So I went and did this microbiome transplant and they’re giving me microbiome from people who can theoretically tolerate a whole bunch of foods. And then I’m on this really limited diet. So they’ll stay, apparently they stay alive for a couple months, but then it’ll go back to being a carnivorous diet. So what I’m doing is I have a number of samples that I took home with me. So I’m waiting. I still need to wait for the zonulin levels to go down before I’m willing to introduce anything. But I’m going to keep giving myself these transplants weekly until my zonulin levels go back down to like zero. And then I’m going to reintroduce. So that’s my plan over the next month and I’m updating people because people are curious to see if you can change. A lot of people go on this all beef diet and then they’re stuck on it. So I’m seeing if there’s a way to become less sensitive, but I have no idea. And if I can’t become less sensitive, I’d still be happy with where I’m at.
Yeah. But you’d just like that bit more flexibility if possible.
Yeah. Right. And especially my dad, he eats out a lot more than I do and so he kind of gets hit all the time. So he’s never, you know, I’m probably like nine out of 10 feeling and he’s probably seven out of 10, maybe seven and a half because restaurants just can’t cater to something this insanely restrictive, which is understandable. So I’m hoping we can do something to figure out how to make ourselves less sensitive.
So again, it’s coming back to that theme of you’re not only doing it for yourself, you are doing it for your dad, and by the sounds of it you’re doing it for other people out there who are in similar situations. So where can people follow you? Find out about what you’re doing?
I have a blog, it’s called Don’t Eat That at mikhailapeterson.com. I have a YouTube channel, so same thing–Mikhaila Peterson. Instagram and Mikhaila Peterson.
Perfect. Well it’s been wonderful talking to you.
Thanks for having me on.
Especially face to face. This is a new thing for me, right? With somebody there right in front of me. It’s really good.
I’m used to it on a screen too, which is different.
Which is good and it’s way past not being able to do it without seeing somebody at all. But it’s a whole different level having you right here in front of me, it’s great. I’m enjoying it. Perhaps you could leave us with a top tip?
A top tip? I would say, trust your body–that’s my top tip. And that was really hard for me to learn. And I mentioned that in my talk today, and it was, if you think something’s wrong, you’re probably right. That’s what I realized because I’d reintroduce foods and be like, oh my stomach’s like a bit bloated. Like it’s probably fine. No, listen to your body and if you really listen to your body and practice that and don’t doubt yourself, you can listen to it enough to figure things out as long as you clean up your diet enough to let you get there.
Great. Well thank you so much. It’s been a great pleasure.
Daisy’s latest extraordinary man, Peter, dispels some of the myths that seem so dominant at the moment about eating meat and arms us with the facts we need to stand up for ourselves in a debate!
Peter uses his expertise in Agronomy to offer an interesting counter argument to the claim that ruminant agriculture is destroying the environment.
Peter earned his undergraduate and masters degrees from the University of Georgia, and his doctorate from the University of Kentucky. He has an extensive background in forage production, utilization and forage-based livestock production systems and was the forage extension specialist at Oregon State University from 1986 to 1992.
Peter’s personal experience has led him to re-examine human diet and health. What he has learned doesn’t agree with the advice given for the past few decades. This new understanding, combined with his forage background, has given him an increased passion for the key to true social, economic and ecological sustainability – ruminant animal production systems – the source of butter, red meat, and cheese!
He is affectionately known as The Sodfather – leader of the Ruminati and the Ruminant Revolution.
We Need a Ruminant Revolution!
Presentation at the American Forage and Grassland Council Annual Conference, January 8, 2019.
Ruminant Reality: Diet, Human Health and the Environment