Earlier this year, a good friend of mine went all in on a keto lifestyle.
What I couldn't figure out was, why?
Suddenly my friend peppers our conversation with terms like “net carbs,” “ketosis flu,” and “induction.” She loves talking about sailing through the candy aisle without temptation. And how freeing it felt to be rid of that awful compulsion to indulge in the sugary and carby treats that come out at the least excuse for celebration at her workplace. “We're still in business! Treats in the breakroom!” she says, mockingly.
Her freezer now is stocked with entrees rich in veggies, meat, and healthy fats — ready-made meals to suit her busy life. And she cooked them herself. Using high-quality, whole foods ingredients. Low-carb, high-fat, moderate-protein, maximum deliciousness ketogenic goodness.
We met up recently, and she's going stronger than ever. She's cleaned up her husband's diet, brought her mother along for the full keto ride, and has practically become a low-carb, high-fat evangelist down at the office.
And still, I wondered. Why?
Every time my friend would go on a diet, I'd support her. For a few weeks, maybe more, she'd share about the challenges of the approach. She'd tell me what she longed for on this diet. She's tell me about how this diet's benefits were well worth it. Then, she'd review exactly how many pounds she'd lost each week she'd been on the diet. And project how much longer it would take to get to her ideal weight.
And always, it was not a diet, but a lifestyle. A new way of eating. A healthy, lifelong approach. But gradually I'd hear less about it. And then it would be gone.
With keto, it's different. She's not chafing at any restrictions. She's not jumping out of her skin with cravings that just won't quit.
Instead, my friend is still gathering steam. She's so enthusiastic, she's reinvigorated my own connection to keto. Thanks to her inspiration, I started making plenty of healthy choices that I'd been neglecting. These days, I feel better. And I owe my looser jeans to this new influence, unexpectedly coming from an old friend.
So it was driving me crazy. Why? I mean, seriously.
So I asked her, finally.
“Oh! A friend of mine on Facebook was doing it. She told me all about how it isn't calories that make you fat. It's carbohydrate. Your body can't burn all the sugars we eat these days. Even if they're in the form of complex carbohydrates. So we have to store them as fat. It's the only way to get it out of the bloodstream, for many people. Especially women. And if you want to burn the fat, you have to stop supplying all those extra carbs. You have to cut them way, way down, so that your body has a chance to quit storing more and more energy in your fat cells, and start burning it. instead. It's all known to science.” And she cited some studies.
My friend is a scientist by training, by the way.
“So this friend of mine — oh, you know what's funny? We hadn't even been in contact for three years. Well, anyway, she's really into it. She told me all about how she doesn't have brain fog anymore. And how her cravings for sugar and bread and everything just went away. Mine too!”
“But this is exactly what I've been telling you for years!” I burst out. “All of it! The carbs, the cells, the sugar, the cravings, the brain fog, everything!”
“Yes…but I thought I had to give up sweets. She told me that I didn't have to,” my friend answered.
I fell back in my chair. Sweets? Was that it?
She continued, “She sent me a recipe for a Strawberry Cheesecake Fat Bomb. I got noncaloric sweeteners at the grocery store to make that and other great desserts.”
“Those things! They're full of fillers and flavorings and off tastes,” I complained.
“No, they're not,” she countered. “I looked at the label. The erythritol is just erythritol. Nothing else. There are plenty of things I can make. So I can eat keto, and have all the sweets I want. And not need any cheats. Remember two years ago, how I went without sugar for three months?”
“Yes,” I said, remembering how my friend had pledged to keep that up for life.
“But I never stopped craving sweets. First of all, because I didn't stop eating carbs overall.”
I nodded. Wisely, I thought.
I was about to remind her that she needed to quit both complex and simple sugars, and also refrain from eating anything that even tasted sweet taste, to ever break free of those cravings.
“But it turns out,” she said, “with keto, I don't have to give up sweets. And I don't want to. I never wanted to. It's…it's like part of my personality. It's part of me. Somehow. I like candy. I like sweets.”
“Still,” I said, “you knew all the main stuff already. Why saturated fat is not a problem. Why cholesterol doesn't matter the way we're all brainwashed to think it does. How 'eat less and exercise' doesn't really help us lose fat.”
I continued, fishing. “That did help you, right? That I told you all that info? Over the years? Eventually it all added up so that now you could start doing keto?”
She was quiet. A few moments passed.
She said, “But I couldn't do it. It didn't sound like something I could do.”
And then I understood.
All those years, I didn't listen to my friend. Not really. I didn't hear what she wanted. What she needed. And she told me plenty of times.
Instead, I had been trying to get her to want the same things that I wanted.
That was why I couldn't help her.
To really help my friend, I could have told her that you can make yummy sweet goodies that are virtually carb-free. That there are all sorts of options for making things sweet without suguar. I could have found and created recipes for the kinds of treats she likes best. I could have sought out healthiest whole-foods ways to make them.
I could have helped her on her journey to the permanent lifestyle change she's been working so hard towards. But I thought it was better to not want sweet treats, and so it didn't occur to me to help her with the thing that was actually standing in the way of her finding her own style of healthy lifestyle.
I learned that to really help people, I need to listen to what they're telling me they need. When they're asking for help to become their best selves, it's not up to me to evaluate what that best self should look like. What that best self likes and doesn't like.
That's why I'm here now. I'm here to help anyone who wants to cook better. To eat better. To live better and feel better.
If you're looking to get started, if you want tips to get you going faster, if you want it to be easy, I'm here to serve you.
To celebrate my friend's newfound keto confidence, here's the recipe that convinced her that low-carb, high-fat, whole food life can be sweet indeed.
Strawberry Cheesecake Fat Bombs
This is my friend's recipe for the strawberry cheesecake treats that changed her life. She says they're “like ice cream!”
- 1/2 cup strawberries
- 3/4 cup cream cheese
- 1/4 cup butter or coconut oil
- 2 Tbs. erythritol
- 1 Tbs. vanilla extract
Throw everything in a food processor, then pour into silicone molds (use cooking spray) and freeze. Eat!