DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, dietician or nutritionist so please do not take my opinions as medical advice. Everything I write is based on my own experience and my own opinions. What may work for me may not work for you and vice versa.
The Ketogenic Diet: A Brief Overview
First things first: what is the ketogenic diet? According to my research, the ketogenic diet is basically a high fat, moderate protein and very low carb diet (approx. under 20g a day). By eating less than approximately 20g of carbohydrates a day the body enters a state of ketosis – which is described as being in a state where the body produces “small fuel molecules called ‘ketones’”. Ketones act as an alternative fuel source to glucose – in result, the body then turns to body fat as a source of fuel. To learn more about ketosis, check out the links I have provided at the end of this blog – these resources were very helpful to me when I started the diet.
Previous Experience with the Keto Diet
I first heard about the ketogenic diet through word-of-mouth from family and friends about a year or two ago. The diet came up in conversation again while I was living in Victoria, B.C. earlier this year. My roommate had started the diet and I was given opportunity to see firsthand what types of meals and food could be eaten on the diet; so I decided to try it out as well. In result, our apartment had acquired a permanent bacon scent that would waft and greet us every time we entered.
I don’t think I ever reached ketosis the first time. Part of this was due to:
· Not enough research: I had assumed that I could lazily follow the keto diet by just swapping out carb-heavy foods such as breads, grains and sugar and continue eating meats, dairy products and vegetables as I had always done. Little did I know, there are a lot of hidden carbs and sugars in many of these foods.
· Inconsistency: I would eat keto for five days and would cave whenever I went out to restaurants or other social gatherings with food. Thus, I would end up eating carbs or drinking alcohol – totally sabotaging my efforts to enter ketosis.
· Not enough fat: I was not keeping track of the amount of fat I was eating. Although I ate a lot of bacon and sausages (be careful with sausages as some have carbs), I had mistaken “high fat” as being “lots of meat” – which isn’t always the case.
· Hidden carbs: As described above, I did not do enough research and in result had eaten foods with hidden carbs – meaning I had eaten above the 20g carb limit, preventing any chance of my body entering ketosis.
The Keto Diet & Indigenous Intelligence
After having conducted more research, I decided to try the keto diet once again. The Australian documentary “The Magic Pill” on Netflix, in particular, was one of my main motivators in trying the keto diet again. The documentary has been dubbed as being “controversial” in that it “spreads harmful ideas”. Such comments were made by organizations such as the Australian Medical Association. Despite this, I can understand how diets such as keto and paleo could be beneficial to Indigenous peoples. What stood out for me the most in this documentary, was that the documentary focused on Indigenous peoples within Australia. The documentary recognized that traditional Indigenous diets were quite similar to the keto and paleo diets.
One of my biggest motivators to eat keto was that I believed it could give me opportunity, and encourage me, to decolonize my diet and eat more natural foods indigenous to the land of my people. As Anishinaabe Ojibwe peoples our traditional diets consist mainly of wild game such as moose, deer, rabbit, muskrat, beaver, duck, prairie chickens, partridges, geese etc., berries such as blueberries, strawberries and raspberries, maple syrup and wild nuts. From what I understand, carb-heavy foods such as flour and bread (that includes bannock and fry-bread) etc., have been introduced recently to our nations. We think 500 years of colonization is a long time but it is merely a blip of our existence of being on Turtle Island as Indigenous peoples. Thus, I do not think it is far-fetched to assume that the introduction of these carb-heavy foods has contributed to the food-related diseases that many of our people are battling with today. The processes of colonization, whether that be through the altering of our lands through corporations such as Manitoba Hydro or through the introduction of processed foods in our grocery stores and rez stores, has influenced our diets negatively. Although many people still hunt, trap and pick berries, the majority of our people have limited access to fresh, whole foods and depend primarily on getting foods from the grocery store or rez store.
How does this relate to keto? Well one of the main connections I’ve made between keto and traditional diets is that both diets omit carb-heavy foods and include intermittent fasting. If I were to eat a traditional diet, it would be very close to what is considered a keto or paleo diet. This type of eating is not new, and our people have lived it for thousands of years. Westerners and settlers are catching up with Indigenous intelligence! In addition, many people state that by eating keto and intermittently fasting they are more clear-headed. As indigenous peoples, we already know how fasting can clear our minds, elevate our consciousness and be in a spiritual place. This might be a bit conspicuous, but I wonder what influence the standard Western diet has on suppressing our consciousness and spiritual selves. We are not as conscious and as spiritually in tune as our ancestors were, but I wonder if our diets can aid in reclaiming these abilities.
I could go on and on about diet and indigenous intelligence, but for the purpose of this blog I will try keep it short.
I started the keto diet on May 5, 2018 – so it’s been just under a week since I’ve started eating keto. I'm awaiting my ketone testing strips to come in the mail (these are the ones I ordered). So to be honest, I don’t know if I’ve entered ketosis but I have noticed a difference in my weight and how I feel. Here are some notable observations I have had one week into keto:
· Weight loss: As of today, I’ve lost 3 pounds while on keto. Earlier this week I had lost 5 pounds but had gained back two. I’m pretty sure this weight loss has been water weight – but I do feel a lot lighter and my clothes fit better. My starting weight was 168.8lbs and I am now 165lbs.
· Keto flu? – for a few days, I experienced slight nausea and felt very fatigued. I read that when you first start the keto diet there is a chance you might experience the “keto flu”. I’m thinking that these symptoms might be just that. In response, I’ve been drinking more water with electrolytes. I recommend the Arto Life Watr as it is infused with added electrolytes (plus it tastes good).
· Comfort: I feel more comfortable in my skin! Before eating keto I was eating a lot of carb-heavy processed foods such as microwavable foods and fried foods such as burgers, fries, poutines (I was kind of in an “Ahhhh f*ck it” mindset) and would often feel really bloated afterwards and just really uncomfortable, like as if I was going to bust out of my skin (lol). With keto, however, I feel lighter and my clothes are fitting better – which means an increase in confidence (which is always good).
· Skin:I’ve had eczema as a kid and it had gone away for a long time. Recently I’ve been having flare-ups again (over ten years later) and I believe it was connected to my diet. I’ve noticed that since starting keto my skin has been less dry and less itchy.
In conclusion, I’ve had a pretty good experience with keto so far and can’t wait to see and share my results next week. Please stay tuned for a post focused on my favourite keto and low-carb recipes (and the ones I don’t like)sometime soon. In the meantime, I’ve provided some resources that are helpful to me as I continue on with keto.
If you are on keto I would love to hear from you! What has been your experience? Do you have any tips and tricks? Please comment below.