There are a lot of challenges you can encounter when starting a new dietary regime. Being on keto has its own, from pricey supplements, learning what you can and cannot eat, fitting this new lifestyle into your old one, and of course all the bad side-effects you can experience at the beginning (the keto flu is real people). However, one of the most difficult things for me was explaining my diet to other people. While this can pose a problem with any diet, I found that keto can be particularly troublesome. I guess focusing your diet around fat is still taboo in some circles.
When I started keto, I talked to my husband about it and explained that I would stop eating carbs. He was a bit sceptical but supported my decision, provided I made some pasta or other carby side dishes for him when I cooked. As far as this is concerned, it has been really easy to cook keto meals and stick to the diet in our home. We both enjoy meat and veggies, and our diet mostly consists of this anyway, so going keto was not such a drastic change for us. I also get a lot of support from him, and he tries to make keto dishes for me every now and then. Explaining my diet to my friends was next. There were some concerns at the beginning and comments along the lines of “don’t you miss carbs?”, “how is this sustainable?”, “how are you supposed to lose weight if you eat fat?”. However, as I stuck to my diet this changed. I don’t make a big fuss out of it when eating out as I learned what to order and where to go. Edinburgh has been amazing for keto, as there are various veggie options in any place you go, so even if it’s an all-pasta place, there will almost definitely be a Cesar salad you can get (sans croutons).
As I wrote in one of my previous blog posts, most of my friends know I’m on keto, and they support my lifestyle, something I am super grateful for. The people who need a bit more convincing are mostly family members. While visiting family in Zagreb, my parents try to cook low carb for me, and my dad has even started reading on the lchf (low carb high fat) diet, so now he tells me all the benefits of it and sometimes gives me a mini lecture on what I can eat. My in-laws also try to cook food that I can eat, even though I still get offered cakes now and again, despite my explaining that sugar and flour is a no-no. Other family members vary. Some try to understand and support the diet (I even got a keto cake for my birthday), while others dismiss it as a phase. I was recently asked how long I plan to stay on keto, as if it was some sort of short-term quick fix diet. I politely explained that it was the way we eat now, and that I will maintain it forever if possible. This is usually followed by “oh, but you don’t need to go on a diet, you look really good”. While I am happy to get such comments, the benefits of keto surpass my physical appearance, and I think this is what is difficult to grasp. What you eat does not only impact your weight and appearance, it plays a big part in other aspects of your life, such as your mood, overall health and energy levels.
The worst part of all this explaining is definitely the guilt I feel for not eating certain foods. The look on peoples’ faces when I say no to cakes or some other dishes they offer makes me feel as if I’ve hurt their feelings, especially if I have to say no more than once. You wouldn’t push a vegetarian to eat meat, so why is keto different? I guess some people see it as a fad diet and not as a way of life, such as being vegetarian, vegan, or even gluten-intolerant, and that makes it less valid. The choices we make for our own bodies are valid, and it’s important to remember that. It’s your body, not theirs, and you know what works best for you. However, the guilt doesn’t stop there. Sometimes I want to have a French-fry or a bit of ice-cream, and unless I’m eating this in the privacy of my own home, I get “I thought this isn’t keto” comments. Who made you the keto police? As with everything else in life, if it isn’t causing harm, I think we should live and let live (or in this case eat and let eat).
While there may be difficulties with maintaining keto and dealing with endless explanations and guilt trips, I wouldn’t change it for anything. The good sides outweigh the bad ones and talking about my diet taught me to be patient with others, to appreciate their opinions (even if they are annoying), and to stand up for myself and my body. It made me more aware of how people perceive change, and also how my own body works and what’s good for it. I’m also slowly learning to fight the guilt, which I think will be the hardest thing to do, but hey, slow and steady wins the race. Tell me about some difficulties you encountered. What annoys you? Do you feel your life choices are being criticised by others and how do you deal with this? Let’s stand up for ourselves together.
Thanks for reading!