keto

Diet Culture

I’ve been thinking a lot about diets, weight loss, body image, body acceptance and diet culture lately.

I have to admit, I have not been very happy in my skin for a long time now. Pregnancy and post-partum bodies can do a number on your mental health. Struggling to lose the weight after I lost so much weight before, getting close to pre-pregnancy weight and then having that reverse due to medications was a mindfuck.

I tried keto, like many readers know. I lost 10+ pounds, was feeling really good, feeling motivated, then it stopped working. And the next year and a half of keto, low-carb, and some kind of diet cycle like that made me gain and lose the same 10 pounds with no real success.

What did it do? Instead, it made me feel sad, depressed, deprived, frustrated. I felt like I was at CONSTANT WAR with my body, with my weight, with FOOD. Food was the ENEMY.

I didn’t like how I was mentally feeling. Looking at healthy foods like sweet potatoes, carrots, grapes, watermelon and thinking “I CAN’T EAT THAT — it’s BAD FOOD”. Bad food?! What? Since when is fruit and vegetables bad? It really is a hard shift in the brain.

While I do still think high numbers of carbs are not healthy and not what MY body likes…that does not mean I need to be severely restricting my carb intake to 20 carbs a day. That’s extreme. And is it healthy? I just don’t know. I do know that your body needs some carbs for your brain–for serotonin levels. Your body needs carbs for fuel and energy. Carbs feed your kidneys, brain, muscles, and central nervous system. Does that mean eat a donut? Not really. But maybe IT’S OK TO EAT A SWEET POTATO.

What is Diet Culture?

I unfollowed a lot of the “old” bloggers who are perpetuating this lifestyle. You know the ones, I don’t need to say. But they encourage severe restriction, macro counting, cleanses, living on smoothies instead of eating real food.

I unfollowed a bunch of Keto Instagrams I’ve followed for a long time now. They were becoming redundant and I was honestly sick of the constant before and after photos: the morbidly obese picture next to the gauntly skinny picture with a “I lost 200 pounds in a year on keto!” It was not a healthy space for me.

I felt like I was punishing my body, not seeing results, and living in a cycle of unhealthy behavior. Was it an eating disorder? I don’t know. But it wasn’t good. I decided to change it. No more keto. No more “Bad Foods.” I eat carbs in moderation. I eat everything in moderation. Am I still counting calories? Yes. (Some anti-diet culture stuff says not to do that.) Am I still exercising 5 days a week? Yes. It’s not as punishment for eating “bad” foods but because I feel better when I exercise in some way.

I’ve contributed to diet culture. With this blog. With my story. I don’t necessary think that’s bad, but I did contribute. My story was inspiring to a lot of people and I’m glad. I was not healthy at 255 pounds. But that does not mean I need to KEEP DIETING and keep getting skinnier…the whole “I’ll stop when I get to XXX weight” is not a good cycle to be in. Because, XXX weight, is never good enough.

How to Change Diet Culture

Limit Your Social Media Exposure: Do you follow a lot of diet accounts? Whether it’s keto, weight watchers, intermittent fasting, etc. If the entire focus is on weight loss, being SMALLER, severely restricting calories….is it mentally healthy for you? How do you feel seeing those images all the time? Are they triggering? Unfollow.

Think About What Really Matters. Is it sharing that ice cream cone on a hot summer day with your kids? Creating happy memories and traditions? Or do you deny yourself the ice cream because it’s “Bad” and feel miserable, or deny your kids the experience because you are triggered by sugar, or trying to keep your kids from having sugar? (Sure, sugar is not great, but once in awhile, a treat is ok! And I am very serious when I say I do not want to raise my child to have food issues/body image issues like I had my whole life.)

Don’t Try Fad Diets. I still advocate eating in moderation and exercising and weight loss is part of that. But maybe the fad diets, the severity, the demonizing of food is not.

Hide Your Scale. Some websites recommend throwing it out. I am not throwing out my scale. But I am going to limit the usage to once a month. A check in. But I am not going to obsessively weigh myself.

Follow Body Positive People/Social Media. I found a bunch the last few months that have really helped me mentally.

Freeing

Mentally, I feel better. Right now I am 20 pounds over the weight I want to be. I am a size 12, instead of the 10 I was for a decade (pre pregnancy of course). I catch my reflection in a window or mirror and I still feel deflated and wish I was 20 pounds lighter. But, overall I am coming to peace with all of it.

We have family pizza night now, once or twice a month. We get pizza from a local restaurant that has been hit hard by the pandemic and we want to support them. And it’s fun to have a family pizza night. Logan loves it! We are going to get sushi this weekend and see if Logan will try it. πŸ˜‰

I made zucchini bread last week. I used 1/2 the sugar the recipe called for because I still feel like sugar is not a good thing…but the bread turned out great and it was a nice, healthy dessert. And I didn’t feel guilty eating it.

So that is where I am at these days.

Keto, Low Carb & Quarantine

I want to start by saying that Keto is not for everyone. It’s a diet that takes a LOT of planning. It takes a LOT of tracking. You have to be on top of things or you are not doing the keto diet.

I was doing keto and basically maintaining at this point, not losing, which was frustrating in a lot of ways.

Then this covid-19 thing happened and things changed. Suddenly, the grocery store felt like a battle ground. You had to wear a mask, wipe everything down, try to avoid touching things as much as you can, avoid people…we were working from home and I was only going to the grocery store about every 9-12 days instead of weekly (or twice a week).

So my buying habits had to change. We were pretty stocked up on proteins because of Costco (in our freezer we have: frozen chicken thighs, burger patties, pork chops, salmon, shrimp, scallops, bratwursts). I had frozen veggies (cauliflower rice, green beans, cauliflower mash, etc). But fresh produce does not last long so I had to be creative.

For awhile there eggs were hard to find in my grocery store. We were never OUT of them but had to ration (now stores have them fully stocked).

So for breakfasts I rotate: one day I do my plain greek yogurt with blueberries (frozen, from Costco, defrosted) with almonds, chia seeds and keto granola. Another day I will do keto toast with cream cheese or avocado and two fried or scrambled eggs. Sometimes Michael will make a hash (sauteed sweet potatoes topped with smoked salmon, arugula and fried eggs). Logan has frozen waffles, eggs, toast with applesauce or fruit or oatmeal. He’s also on a rotation. πŸ™‚

Dinners are largely the same when we were doing keto but once a week we are doing a pasta or rice dish to help stretch the pantry items and make it so I don’t need to go to the grocery store as often. One night I wanted an easy dinner and made rice, beans, avocado, salsa, with sour cream and jalapenos. Basically a vegetarian bowl. Another night we had pasta with cajun shrimp.

It’s definitely harder to stick to a keto or low carb diet during the quarantine because we can’t have fresh items as often. And we have to be creative with meals sometimes. I do see a lot of keto people sticking to it, and I commend them.

So far in the 6 or so weeks that I’ve been home I’ve been working out 5 days a week still and I gained 2-3 pounds. I guess from eating carbs. There are days here and there where I am a little “snacky” and eat junk (like crackers or chips) but I try not to buy junk food at all to not have the temptation in the house!

I have started up doing sourdough bread again.

Which is fun. It’s something to do as a family, too. Logan helped!

And Michael even tried his hand at doing his very own loaf!

It’s been a struggle with the weight and exercise thing (more mentally than anything). But right now is not the time to focus on that–now is the time to give ourselves grace and be patient with ourselves while the world is a scary place.

QUESTION: How has your diet/exercise mentality changed during the covid-19 pandemic?