By Maya Howard, Contributing Health Blogger (@MayasHealthyDay)
I’ve been wanting to try a ketogenic style of eating for a few years, specifically ever since the diet gained momentum in the wellness world. A few weeks ago, I decided that I was going to commit to making the diet change. As a wellness and nutrition coach, it’s important for me to be able to speak about diet trends from a science-based research perspective as well as from personal experience. The purpose of this article is not to convince anyone to try a ketogenic diet, it’s to acknowledge that the process of changing health behaviors is hard! Changing your diet requires a commitment to controlling what foods you put into your body and may even require you to turn down weekend brunches until you get control over this new lifestyle. Since changing your diet is hard, I want to share the following strategies that you can implement to make it easier:
Research the Diet
Let’s be real here, we live in an era where bikini body crash diets and “bro-science” tips are all over the internet. The first step to making your diet change easier is to make sure that it’s a good one that will actually benefit your body and not sap you of all your amazing energy. Out of all of the diets (or styles of eating) that exist, the ketogenic diet grabbed my attention because there is so much scientific research that supports its benefits. In a nutshell, a ketogenic diet is a style of eating that involved me eating a diet high in healthy fats, moderate in protein, and extremely low in carbohydrates so that my body would switch its energy source from glucose to ketones. It was because of my intense research that I learned this diet would not leave me tired and lethargic, but instead fueled and thriving if I did it correctly. After learning the science side, I hopped on YouTube and watched a lot of videos where people shared their personal experiences with keto dieting and took note of their recommendations for success.
Document Your Why
This year I overcame my inconsistency with journaling and started documenting my thoughts using a digital diary through a website called Penzu. The day that I started my new diet, I opened up a new page and typed out the reasons why I was making this change. Mentally, I knew why I wanted to try keto before I even started researching it. I wanted to speak honestly from personal experience when asked for my viewpoint, I wanted to find out if keto could be successfully achieved without eating animal products, I wanted to gain better control over my emotional eating, and I wanted to decrease my total body fat. I knew that to succeed I would need to write down my ‘Why’ in a place that I could refer back to when I lost motivation.
Foresee Your Obstacles to Success
“3 Common Mistakes that People Make When Setting Health Goals are:
Here are my plans to combat these mistakes in achieving my own health goals...”
Those words above were pasted directly from my Day 1 Keto journal entry, because they perfectly address the next 3 action steps on what you can do to make a diet change easier! In my personal and professional experience, diet changes fail more often than succeed. If you want to be successful, foresee what ‘life stuff’ is going to come up that may throw you off your diet change. These obstacles could be an upcoming event, celebration, or a bad work day where you just want to go home and eat your feelings.
Brainstorm a Specific Plan
With this strategy to make your diet change easier, write down exactly what you will need to do and exactly how you will address obstacles. With changing my diet, I had to follow specific macronutrient ranges to achieve ketosis, so I identified what those were and wrote them down. Once you’ve identified your potential obstacles to success, create a strategic plan to overcome them. Here’s a glimpse at mine...
Food Temptation: I will overcome this by sharing my diet restrictions with others, planning keto meals that are delicious and satisfying, and having food prepared ahead of time so I don't give into cravings out of hangriness. If I go out to eat, I will look at the menu ahead of time and plan options that I can have. I will make modifications if need be.
Falling off the wagon 3 days in: I will overcome my usual 3 day sprint by focusing on it being a marathon instead. I will start by going 3 days straight, then 5 days straight, then 7 days straight, then by 9 days in I should have the momentum that I need to no longer worry about falling off the wagon.
Make The Process Fun
Hands down, this is the MOST important thing you can do to make your diet change easier! No matter how many benefits you’ve researched and motivational factors you’ve written down, if you’re not having fun with your diet change you are setting yourself up to fail. Many people find keto dieting fun because they can have bacon and cheese and fatty junk foods while still achieving a lean body. Since I follow a plant based diet and strongly value a disease free body, none of that was an option for me. I had to get very creative and ultimately had a ton of fun creating recipes like chocolate almond butter cups, sesame chick’n nori wraps, and coconut curry soup. Having fun with my diet change was ultimately the key to me getting to day 3, then day 5, then day 7, then day 9, and now day 14!
Replace Emotional Eating With Self Care Breaks
Not everyone self-medicates with food when they are feeling emotionally drained or anxious. I am definitely not one of those people. I love chocolate at the end of a crazy day, a glass of red wine at the end of the week, and easily turn to mindless snacking & netflix when I am bored. With my keto diet change, I had an allowance of 30 grams of carbohydrates per day. If you’ve ever measured your carbs you know this is not a lot! I needed to save my precious carbs for fiber rich vegetables, and that meant finding ways to cope with stress other than food. So what did I do in times of high (and low) emotional states? I took mini-breaks throughout the day that included: laying in a restorative yoga pose for 15 minutes, taking my dog and boyfriend on 30 minute family walks, and spending extra time before bed appreciating my changing body. If emotional eating is a potential obstacle to success in your diet change, definitely brainstorm some non-food alternatives to cope with stress.
Measure Your Progress
Seeing results throughout the process of your diet change journey is so motivating to keep going. Make sure to document your progress weekly through different methods. Weight change documented by checking your weight on the scale is a common method, but the scale rarely gives a full picture of the shifts your body is going through. Here are some amazing alternatives to measuring your progress:
- Checking body fat (ask your gym’s personal trainer)
- Taking progress pictures from different angles
- Measuring changes in your blood health (see your doctor for this)
- Observing changes in your mindset and mood through journaling
- Noticing how your clothes fit
I hope by reading this you can now see that, although changing your diet is hard, there are steps you can apply to make it easier. You may even be able to apply some of these strategies to other health behavior changes in your life such as sticking to an exercise plan or overcoming mental health struggles.
Leave us a comment if you plan to implement any of these strategies or if you have any of your own to share with the RBX community!