Eat Real Food and Low Carb Success this Holiday Season!
You guys….Halloween is almost here, I know this because I spent HOURS selecting a costume for Stella! She is 16 months now…and she will be a white cat, I will be sure to post too many instagram stories of her “Meeeow”!
So yes, Halloween is almost here! I also know this from the increased exposure of refined sugar and processed foods everywhere. With my recent move to Austin and working from home I have significantly reduced my exposure of break room bites, grocery store aisle impulse (I use our co-op or farmers market). And working from home now I have constant access to nourishing food! This helps a lot with setting up for a successful holiday season as does the fact that this season I am going into the fall in ketosis. I have used ketosis clinically for almost 10 years now and I am a big supporter of a high fat low carb diet, but I never went through much trouble locking into a food strategy or monitoring personally. I think mostly because I was “healthy” and a rebel. After Stella (it was quite a traumatic birth and journey of infertility leading up, see prior podcasts and blogs!) beyond having a significant gluten intolerance, I had severe dysbiosis from the emergency c-section.
I started working with intermittent fasting and a high-fat low-carb diet aggressively when I was ready to heal. To be clear, prior to this I was still high-fat, low-carb but more low glycemic ranging from 45-120g carbs/day with irregular use of ketones as fuel. After Stella weaned breastfeeding I started my 6-week Beat the Bloat candida cleanse along with the Candida Cleanse bundle where I had to stay under 60g carbs consistently daily. With the anticipated launch of my Ketosis Virtual Program, I decided to lock tight into ketosis and start monitoring to truly ensure I experienced as many levels and elements of ketosis to share with members. The combination of the cleanse and ketosis clicked and there is something within me that feels amazing! Like…beyond!
Ketones can be used as a fuel source when you starve your body from glucose by significantly restricting the carbs in your diet (less than 30g daily typically). This means your body is feeding off fat (either from body fat storage or fat consumed in diet) and producing ketone bodies as fuel in this process. The production of ketones aids in reduction of oxidative damage in the brain enhancing cognition and supporting memory. There is a favorable influence of the ketones on neurological and brain function, in fact the diet was developed as a therapeutic management of epilepsy. Beyond body composition shifts and brain health, ketones can provide sustained energy which can reduce fatigue and aid in consistency of mood. In fact, this study by Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience ties ketones as a tool to reduce anxiety. I have many resources throughout the site on the benefits of ketones on the body, but for me the combination of having ketones in my blood stream fueling my brain and resetting my microbiome while taking antimicrobials and antifungals in the cleanse bundle reset my mind and body. My digestion is amazing, my bloating is zero, my brain is grounded, mood stable. (Also, I should mention, I started consistently taking Calm and Clear when Stella stopped breastfeeding too!) And I feel like I have my body back, not just physically I had lost the baby weight months prior, it is like I FEEL like I have MY body back!
Now that I am fat adapted, I was struggling with getting in enough calories and fat on days and was missing my nutrient goals due to low appetite. Beyond losing cravings and no longer having to over-muscle sugar cravings with will power, I now was forgetting to eat! When the body first goes into ketosis it goes from leptin resistance to leptin sensitivity but overtime with chronic low carb dieting, the body can become leptin deficient and this can have some unfavorable effects. This timestamp is different for everyone. Some people can stay tight keto for 6 months without having to cycle in a carb or two. Beyond supporting a repletion of leptin and metabolic shift to shake things up, I find that carb cycling can reduce the power of what carbs represent, they become less of a “forbidden fruit”. This helps with a healthy relationship with foods. As I don’t have weight to lose and want to ensure healthy hormone response, I have just started to incorporate carb cycling 2 days twice a month with my sexual hormone cycles. It is absolutely wild how being in ketosis carbs are now seen in a totally new light. I have completed a couple candida or dysbiosis cleanses historically but this one locked something in my mind-body connection.
Could this be the keto high everyone speaks of? I feel no fear of carbs or weakness towards them. I just feel really good and I feel that I am honoring and nourishing my body with every bite!
I have had different relationships with food throughout my life and have had times where due to doctrine, ie a vegan diet, macrobiotic, etc. I have silenced my body’s needs or signs of imbalance for something I thought was right for it. I am very sensitive to this now. Which is why I am proud to incorporate carbs in an active cycling with ketosis and not demonize them completely. It is important to me to eat to nourish and honor my body…period. The intake of biological proteins and local vegetables elevated my diet a decade ago and the increase of fats in my body brought things up a notch and I keep adding layers every year. I founded Naturally Nourished, my clinic, five years ago with this platform of low-glycemic anti-inflammatory high fat diet protocol. I stand by this but for the first time ever do I personally feel empowered 100% by food and 0% controlled by it mentally and emotionally (and maybe even hormonally!). Even in past times of eating 2 cups of greens per day, grassfed meats, avocado, etc. I would long for a gluten-free chocolate cupcake with vanilla buttercream frosting, just saying…Now this is also why I don’t advocate for non-caloric sweeteners (erythritol, monk fruit, stevia, splenda, etc.) as these would only perpetuate sugar cravings and continue that desire for sweet and unrealistic levels of sweet that will never be fulfilled with real nourishing foods.
As time evolved over the past 10 years and I continued to connect with my body, each year “redefining my relationship with food” I actually wanted sugar less. The belly ache after a high carb intake was becoming less worth it. I always say, “As you start feeling optimal, you notice when you feel shi**ty. There is a long dip from optimal to shi**ty but from mediocre or crapy to shi**ty isn’t a big change!”
What has changed now? Could it be that with more restriction in my diet came more freedom? Could it be the ketones?
This holiday season I feel resilient and strong. I feel that I am listening to and honoring my body even within structure. 11 weeks into tight ketosis, I made the pumpkin keto fat bombs from my blog and the Paleo pumpkin muffins from the Naturally Nourished cookbook. I decided Brady and Stella could eat the pumpkin muffins and I would have the fat bombs as I was in my keto strong window of hormones. When I made the recipe I omitted the sucanat and reduced the maple syrup to 1/8 cup. When they came out of the oven I let them cool and cut one open and slathered 3 Tbsp of kerrygold grassfed butter on it and was in bliss mode. This was a huge win as I didn’t over-restrict or follow doctrine, I followed what my body desired. After eating it I had no guilt, shame, or feeling of failure. Also I had no dynamic blood sugar shift! I realized with the reduced sugar it was even more high-fat low-carb and keto friendly, and regardless was happy to honor and nourish my body with a seasonal food if I still felt grounded and balanced. I ended up staying in ketosis and found out that the muffin was only 10g carbs with my modifications. I ended up having 3 muffins over 4 days. This is huge as in past times I would typically have 2 or 3 on the first day I made them allowing myself “permission” and then hurting! After the batch is done I may not make them again or I may make them in 2 weeks. Either way will be fine and I will incorporate as it feels balanced in my body and I’m not obsessing on it!
For the first time in a holiday season I feel that food is there as tool to empower and fuel my body and make me feel awesome! That is it. I felt this more and more each year in some way but I also felt the chocolate bar stress consumption or organic chip binge hit that followed with bloat or guilt. This season I feel tight. I am drinking my bone broth daily, I am consistent with stress supplement support (yes this is key), and I am running on ketones. I am sleeping better, I am more resilient than ever, I am grounded.
When choosing foods this holiday season do a little inventory on how your consumption honors you and how you feel following consumption of that food. If gluten is constipating or bloating for you, or you get swelling in your hands from corn, it is probably a good idea to keep it out. Or at this stage you may focus on taking a digestaid enzyme prior to lessen the blow this mindfulness may enough progress for you at this time!
Regardless of your choices, focus on acknowledgement and release, don’t allow your food choices to have power over how you feel about yourself. At the same time, don’t allow yourself to be a victim of your diet. If you have imbalance in your body, your diet can make an impact and committing to clean eating and structure can be the best way to invest in yourself.
Don’t let your diet distract you from showing your body love. You can’t out exercise diet, you can’t hide from it in your bedroom. You become it. So at the same time don’t hold such rigidity that you don’t allow breath and your tightness silences your connection to what your body needs. Realize and allow that some days it needs more or less food, more or less fat, more or less carbs, more or less bacon!
Cheers to breathing this holiday season, honoring our bodies, and doing what Feels good! And below are some tips to help you curb your cravings as well.
Tips to curb sugar cravings this holiday season:
Channel SAVORY! Focus on savory flavor profiles where possible. Crave rustic herbs, caramelized veggies, pungent flavors. Focus on the most savory item offered and put your energy into it. You will likely feel super satisfied during consumption and won’t miss out on more processed or higher sugar foods.
Meet your protein needs! Fatigue, muscle aches, and lower metabolism can all be signs of protein malnourishment. Be sure to prioritize meeting your body’s protein needs this holiday season especially during times of chaos. Protein is a rich source of amino acids which aid in producing neurotransmitters to support healthy brain chemistry, mood stability, reduced anxiety, and healthy stress response. Aim for 80g protein/day on average or 11-12 oz.
Take GabaCalm Chew! 1-2 at times of anxiety or stress can work as an inhibitory compound aiding in relaxation with a pretty rapid onset. You can take this prior to parent-teacher conferences, a work meeting, cooking at your in-laws, etc. This takes the “white knuckle” effect off stress response and let’s face it…often we eat
Try eating more Keto-Friendly! Yes you could go full-blown keto this holiday season, but you may want to start here with my ebook bundle and then consider joining my January Virtual Ketosis Program to hit the ground running in 2018.
Incorporate Mantras and Release! Use mantra as a way of connecting with self. Food is a ceremonial and celebratory thing, it is also a way to honor your body and slow down. Try incorporating mantra with intake to stay connected and mindful about your influence of intake and physical reactivity. “I choose to honor my body with my intake” “Even in this time of stress I choose to take the time to breathe and honor by body” “I am nourishing my body with real foods”.
Be Kind to yourself! Honor your body by supporting stress response, release rumination and overthinking, focus on gratitude and connection. If you are feeling like you are struggling, jump into structure. Allow your system to adapt to a low-glycemic of keto-diet before you reconnect or deviate so you can experience balance first. Remember it is with the experience of balance or optimal in your body that you maintain motivation and devaluing food as powerful…seeing it just as food.