Our diet was a bit different than traditional keto diet. It was also a strictly medical diet prescribed by our nutritionist, so please keep it in mind that it was only for us. And this blog is not a recommendation of this particular diet, because it can make more harm than help, if it’s used for someone who doesn’t need it. We were also on supplementation prescribed to our medical needs.
I was introduced to a keto diet when my partner got ill last year. Swollen joints, high CRP, huge pain that wasn’t letting him sleep. But long story short, after few months of ineffective treatment with traditional medicine, watching hours of Dr Berg’s YouTube videos and tons of others I knew that my partner’s problem might be more complex and we need something different than traditional medicine point of view. So when by complete coincidence (or destiny) I discovered a nutritionist who solve these kind of health problems and lives in our hometown, I knew that it’s our last chance. After traditional treatment with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) my partner was feeling even worse, so I was desperate to find someone who will put him back to life. With other coincidence (or destiny) I’ve booked an appointment for myself as well. I was surprised and didn’t know what to expect. But as I said we were desperate to try whatever that might help. So that’s how we both finished on anti inflammatory keto diet and supplementation. It’s very hard to stick with it for so many months for someone who loves cooking, and eating, and for someone who was running a cooking blog for almost five years. But with every week of following keto my partner was feeling better and his strength was coming back. After few months he was not only 15 kg lighter, but pain in joints and swelling went away completely.
We’ve been on strict diet from September 2019, up to March 2020, when we decided to start implementing some dairy products and more variety of veggies. Our plan is to keep our carbs low, but let go of tight restrictions, so this could be more like a lifestyle than a diet. And that’s how I would describe our diet now. We’ve excluded most of carbs: sweets, rice, pasta ect. But it happens that sometimes we will have potatoes for dinner or lentil soup, which we really like. Also when it happens that we go for a birthday party or visit our friends and delicious cake is involved in the situation, we do not hesitate to have a piece or two. This way of eating is much more convenient and flexible for us. It creates a healthy attitude to food, free from guilt and regret after eating something high in carbohydrate.
Below you can read all the keto diet principles and some food related rules (most of them we keep up until now), that you can try to implement in your life, and see if they improve your health.
Like in traditional keto, we keep our healthy fats as high as possible and carbs not higher than 30 grams per day. Important notice: I don’t count the macros for each meal as people on keto usually do. We have so many restrictions anyway, that I would go crazy if we would calculate every carb and every fat eaten in a day. I try to follow all the rules, don’t use any ingredients that are not keto.
So in our kitchen you’ll find:
- Meat: chicken, turkey, pork, beef, lamb – most of the time from our local butcher
- Eggs: always free range, sometimes also organic
- Fish: smoked mackerel, and all the fish we like from our local fishmonger: haddock, sole, cod, herring, salmon
- Butter: only clarified
- Nuts and seeds: pecan, walnuts, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, almonds, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, chia, sunflower seeds
- Other fats: olive oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, goose fat, duck fat
- Vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, every kind of cabbage, celery, courgettes, leeks, brussels sprouts, garlic, cucumber, olives, green beans, spinach, kale, spring onions, brown and red onion, mushrooms, wild mushrooms, avocados, tomatoes (preferably no skin), peppers (no sklin would be the best), salad leaves, rocket. And rarely but happens lately: turnip, carrots, celeriac and swede.
- Fruits: blueberries, raspberries and berries in general, but in very small amounts
- Condiments: mayonnaise, mustard, horseradish, gluten free soy sauce, all the herbs and spices I find in the shop, seasonings – only the ones that has no added chemicals. Good quality apple cider vinegar with mother.
Because of the constant inflammation that my partner was struggling with, our nutritionist excluded all dairy from our diet. According to research some joint problems (arthritis related), might be caused by specific proteins found in dairy products. Instead we use only clarified butter (I clarify myself) and plant milk (almond, coconut, hazelnut, cashew). No dairy, especially no cheese, makes a big difference when you’re on keto, limiting your source of fat and meal ideas. Cheese gives a lot of flavour and variety in preparing food, so we hope it will be first food we would like to start including in our diet in the future.
No processed meat like hot dogs, ready made burgers, no deli meat (from time to time chorizo with short list of ingredients and sausages from a good source). No other processed foods, like ready made food for example gluten free bread, tortillas etc. Nothing processed in general.
That is related to the previous one. No artificial colors, additives, preservatives, sweeteners. Normally you never think of that, but when we started checking each label, all the food contains at least two of the preservatives or food additives. So we decided not to buy them at all. So maybe apart from mayonaisse, mustard and sometimes chorizo, we don’t buy anything that has chemicals on the label. The other thing: we have no control of what is in raw meat, and what is on the vegetables that we buy. Pesticides, herbicides – you won’t find it on the label, but you can be sure it’s there. If you would like to eliminate all te chemicals from your life you would probably need to die (don’t forget the air you breathe), so I think we do a good job anyway. The most popular additives and preservatives are: sodium benzoate, sodium nitrite, sodium sulfite, monosodium glutamate, aspartame. If you would like to read some more about this, check this website.
Following the nutritionist advice, we have stopped buying bottled water and other beverages packed in plastic. The chemical bisphenol A (BPA) is commonly used in the production of plastic. When liquid goes in reaction with the bottle, it absorbes BPA and starts acting like estrogen affecting the body’s hormones. That’s a wide subject, if you would like to read more about that, chceck this study made by WECF International “Plastics, Gender and the Environment. Life cycle of plastics and its impacts on women and men from production to (marine) litter” (you can find it online in pdf version).
What do we use instead? We have bought water ozonator, and we use it to clean the tap water from bacteria, viruses, spores, parasites, and chemicals. You can also use ozonator to ozone vegetables, fruits, meat and even your house or car (but we haven’t tried yet). We use this water to drink, for teas and coffees and all the cooking. Also, and that’s my struggle, because I hate the taste – we should drink lots of water with salt (just a pinch, but makes a difference). But not with supermarket salt (that contains anti-caking agent). The best is rock salt (like himalayan salt) that contains plenty of minerals and it’s like natural isotonic.
Every two weeks I make beef bones broth that I get from the butcher. I simmer bones in a giant pot for 24 hours, with two tablespoons of apple vinegar. Than I make a few portions of broth, freeze it, and use it for keto soups. Longer you cook the bones, you’ll get more powerful broth (you can boil it up to 36 hours). This broth warms the spleen and gives you plenty of nutrients and natural collagen.
- Meals. According to the plan we should start every day with the soup, to warm up the stomach and body, and prepare it for proper digestion. As a main meal we have our keto dinner, that contains meat or fish and vegetables and our third meal should be a salad, again soup, or eggs, nuts or fruits. I’m not gonna lie, if you work full time it’s not always manageable. I try my best to have my soup for breakfast, everyday during the week. But most of the time soup is not enough for me, so I add some eggs, salad and bacon or avocado. I skip the lunch at work, and my second meal I have usually after 6-7 hours, so around 5 pm or 6 pm. But many times I’m so full after my second meal that I skip the last one. I have only something very small like two handfuls of nuts or chia pudding with some fruits. During the weekends I have eggs and salad for my breakfast, sometimes the soup. My partner has his own regime, because his day looks different than mine. But most of the time we eat the same food.
- Intermittent fasting. We try to keep 6 hours gaps between meals. Should be not less than 4 hours and not more than 8, but sometimes when we skip the last meal we have 15 hours gap, especially my partner – he’s having very late breakfast. And of course no snacking between meals. Only water. It was working good at the beginning, but longer we are on diet harder it gets. So it happens to have some nuts (mainly nuts) or coffee/tea in between meals.
- Water with apple cider vinegar 15 minutes before every meal. We do it most of the time before our dinner. Sometimes after, if we forget. Apple cider vinegar increases the acidity of your stomach acid and helps with proper digestion.
- Glass of sauerkraut juice everyday. Sauerkraut and its juices are made from naturally fermented cabbage. It’s very popular from the country I come from, and also very underrated from it’s health benefits. Sauerkraut juice is rich in natural lactic acid, which stops the growth of undesired intestinal bacteria and encourages the growth of good bacteria. Drinking this juice not only benefits your body’s digestive process, but it also acts as a laxative, helping to prevent constipation. Which often is a common problem on keto diet (just make sure you won’t start with a full glass, start with a spoon or a few, because other way you can spend some time in the toilet). We make our own sauerkraut juice using ozonated water and rock salt. Only this way we can be sure, that it was fermented naturally with no added chemicals.
- No microwave. We never use it anyway, so it wasn’t a problem.
- No alcohol. Occasionally on keto you can have small amounts of alcohol, the best would be the one with no or very little carbs. When it comes to drinks, it’s pretty straightforward. Pure spirits like whiskey, brandy, cognac, vodka, gin, and tequila contain zero carbs and they are all fine on keto. Beer and wine (apart from dry wine) are definitely no go. Unfortunately for us, because we are the beer fans. Especially my partner, I tolerate alcohol only in very small amounts (like one bottle of beer once every few weeks), because with bigger intake of alcohol my all body is sick for at least two days.
- No drinking during the meal. That’s something we all are used to. Having a glass of juice, water, coke during the meal. But if you do drink a lot during meal, your stomach acid gets diluted and slows down the process of digestion. So we don’t drink anything during the meal and after. Of course if we are very thirsty we drink some water.
- Eat slowly, small bites, plenty of chewing. Sounds funny but what’s happening in your mouth it’s a first step of digestive process. It’s like burning a fire. If you put a giant log into a bonfire, it will burn very slowly or fire won’t be able to burn the wood. But if you chop the wood in small pieces, fire will easily “digest” it.
I think that’s all the rules we’ve been following. And that’s quite a lot for average person. At the beginning it was very hard, we had to organize everything around food, change our shopping routine, eating habits. It was also very difficult for me, to make a switch in my mind to follow the macros and look at our meals from the nutritional perspective, rather than bunch of ingredients that goes good together. Especially that I’m a great fan of cooking and experimenting, cooking from the same ingredients all the time it’s a giant limitation. You can try to implement some of them, if you decide to try, I would be happy if you let me know if and how it works for you.