The ketogenic diet has been around for decades but has recently taken on the role as the latest diet trend.
You’ve probably heard about it from your co-workers, your neighbors, your aunt’s cousin’s husband twice removed… and it still seems to be working its way through everyone’s attempt-at-another-weight-loss-diet lineup.
What is the Keto Diet exactly?
Beginning in the 1920s, the Ketogenic diet was originally used as a tool to effectively treat epilepsy. Starting in the 1960s, however, it has been used by many as a weight loss regime to treat obesity and, even later, as a commercial weight loss program (e.g. the Atkins Diet).¹
The Keto Diet consists of very low carbohydrate intake with a relatively high fat intake and moderate protein intake. By restricting carbohydrate intake, the mission is to force the body to utilize another source of energy other than glucose (its preferred energy source) and, by eating high amounts of fat, its able to produce and utilize ketone bodies for energy instead, also referred to as “ketosis.” (This is an incredibly simple explanation so if you’d like to know more about the specific metabolic pathways then you can refer to my reference on the bottom.)
Before we get to the memes, I just want to clarify that I am specifically referencing the Keto Diet in this post as a WEIGHT LOSS diet chosen by otherwise healthy individuals because of its trendy nature, not as a medical treatment prescribed by a medical professional.
Now on to the memes:
1. The Keto Community Uses Shame to Motivate its Members
Okay, hear me out – I am not so oblivious to think that fat-shaming doesn’t exist in every diet community in the world, but it is just one example of why the Keto Diet is not as perfect as its community makes it out to be.
Take this photo for example. From the surface, it just looks like a funny, light-hearted joke about Barbie. And, yes, that IS what it is. But the real message behind this photo is that if you eat carbs you will be larger and you will be made fun of just like this depiction of Barbie is being made fun of in this photo.
Say it with me folks… CARBS DO NOT MAKE ME FAT! (More about carbohydrate benefits later.)
That’s not even to mention the fact that Barbie’s larger body is being seen as wrong or undesirable in this photo. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a size 4 or a size 14. Everyone comes in a different shape and size and that is beautiful and should be celebrated always – not shamed. Not shamed ever.
2. Restrictive dieting leads to binge eating and other eating disorders.
Have you ever been on a diet and the beginning starts off really great and you lose some water weight and feel less bloated and subsequently feel more confident? How long did that last, a month? a few weeks? a few days? And then how did the diet end? Did you crave off-limit foods so much that you gobbled up every bit of it you had in sight? Did you eat until your stomach was imploding?
Restrictive dieting causes us to crave our “off-limits” foods even more than we would if we didn’t restrict them. Our brain sees them as being forbidden – and, thus, more appealing. It’s also possible that our body is just simply telling us that we are not eating an adequate amount of that type of food and we need to stock up (in this case – carbohydrates).
I know it sounds crazy for you to just give in to every craving your body has but that’s only because you’ve been conditioned to believe that your body is wrong. But that is entirely backwards! By honoring your body’s actual cravings, you can satisfy yourself both physically and emotionally while reducing the need to over-eat and over-indulge, resulting in less unnecessary weight changes.
3. Food does NOT have moral value (No, Carbs are not bad!)
When I first saw this photo I was floored. I could not believe that someone took it upon themselves to make BREAD the ruthless villain causing someone’s (assumed) weight gain – and, on top of that, calling BUTTER the super hero.
By labeling some foods as “bad” and others as “good,” we consequently create a state of moral responsibility to uphold within ourselves, making meal time that much more complicated. But in reality…
No food is bad. No food is good. It is just food and it can’t hurt you. Only YOU can hurt you.
Well you might say to me, “I think ramen noodles and chocolate chip cookies are bad because when I ate those in college I gained 20 pounds.”
And to that I would say: Were you eating with your hunger and fullness levels in mind? Were you eating with complete lack of distractions and mindfulness on your meal? Were you fulfilling your emotional needs with things other than food? Or were you turning to food when you were lonely, bored, upset, etc? Were you exercising everyday in a way that you enjoyed?
Because those things matter. How you treat yourself and your relationship with food matters, it’s not the food alone. Saying that bread is the enemy is not going to help you reach your goals and instead it’s going to create an even bigger issue (as mentioned in #2).
4. Less variety equals less nutrients
There’s no question that restricting entire food groups is going to limit your nutrient intake, which is a major problem with the Keto Diet. Carbohydrate-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes, and whole grains offer an abundance of vitamins and minerals that the body requires to thrive. Those of which include:
- Fiber. The reason why Keto dieters often experience constipation is simple: they are not getting enough fiber. Fiber is a vital nutrient because it helps keep things flowing in our digestive systems. Without fiber, we have an increased risk of things like constipation, kidney stones, hemorrhoids, heart disease, colon cancer, high blood pressure, diverticulitis, and MORE. The fix? Eat fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes, and whole grains which provide ample fiber as well as other important nutrients.
- Vitamin C. An obvious choice because we all know that Vitamin C is a very important vitamin found in foods like citrus fruits and orange/red vegetables, all of which are omitted from the Keto “lifestyle.” Vitamin C is necessary for aiding immunity, fighting free radicals, preventing scurvy, assisting with the absorption of iron, preventing cataracts, repairing wounds, and so much more.² The fix? Eating fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, peppers, and mango as well as vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, leafy greens, and potatoes.
- Folate/Folic Acid, Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5), Vitamin B6, Vitamin E, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Chloride, Chromium, Copper, and Iodine can all be missing from a Keto Diet. I won’t go into detail into all of these but, like I’m sure you know, having a balanced diet is the best way to promote adequate nutrient intake.
Another very important note to make: Any time a diet recommends taking additional supplementation (such as for vitamins and minerals) it should be a HUGE red flag to you. For obvious reasons: the diet is not providing a wide enough variety for you to consume vitamins and minerals that are of high quality or of great importance. And from what I’ve seen, every Keto Diet website that I came across does include a recommendation for supplementation to reduce the (obviously likely) risk of deficiency. I’m just saying. *shrugs*
5. The Keto Community Idolizes Weight Loss, Not Health
This is not a Keto-exclusive issue and I do acknowledge that – however, because the Keto community DOES idolize and promote weight loss as the end goal as well as the way to “happiness,” then it is a major problem.
Weight loss does NOT equal happiness.
Weight loss does NOT equal fulfillment.
Weight loss does NOT equal greater value or morale.
Read that 5 times over, write it down, memorize it, read it everyday, do anything to help you understand those statements because I am incredibly saddened to see women who only when they lose 15+ pounds do they finally value themselves and show respect to themselves as if losing weight made them a better person.
You are valuable no matter what your size, no matter where you are in your journey, and you should respect your body enough to show it love at all stages – which includes eating a balanced diet to naturally fuel your body with whatever food you want. (Yes, whatever food you want, bread and cookies included.)
To Sum it all Up
- Don’t follow a diet or “lifestyle” only because you want those weight loss promises to work for you like it did to your sister’s uncle’s best friend’s son-in-law’s golden retriever. We are all unique individuals with unique lifestyle needs, figure out yours and you will be a hell of a lot more happy AND satisfied.
- There are 3 questions you should always ask yourself before starting any diet. Those are: Does it exclude entire food groups? (Because if so, run far away.) Does it recommend using supplementation? (Again, lack of nutrients because of food group exclusion.) Does it promise weight loss and/or promote weight loss products? (Weight loss should never be your #1 goal because obsessing over the scale means higher risk of eating disorders, long-term weight gain, overall disappointment, less connection with others, and missing out on life’s more important and precious moments.)
- Know that you are enough. If you haven’t noticed, we’re anti-diet and entirely against diet culture here at TheAlmostFoodie. Diet culture is a multi-billion-dollar industry that degrades you and your appearance to make money off of you by telling you that you AREN’T pretty enough, thin enough, fit enough, or good enough at all. They are feeding you lies to simply make money off of you. But you ARE enough – just as you are, just as your creator made you, just as you were always meant to be. You can find ways to love yourself more that don’t include following a restrictive and empty-promise-filled diet. If you want more information – message me, DM me, or email me and we can figure out what can work best for you!
Thank you for taking time out of your day to read this blog post. It’s an important topic because diet trends like the Keto Diet can cause even worse issues for people than just weight gain can alone, especially for mental health.
But it doesn’t stop here, let’s continue the conversation by letting me know YOUR thoughts or experiences on the Keto Diet because, of course, everyone is different and some people may completely disagree with me (Which is totally cool and the reason for me putting my thoughts on the internet in the first place).
Looking forward to hearing from you!
¹Paoli, A., Rubini, A., Volek, J. S., & Grimaldi, K. A. (2013). Beyond weight loss: a review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 67(8), 789–796. http://doi.org/10.1038/ejcn.2013.116
Disclaimer: I am not a licensed medical professional and you should always consult with your physician before making any dietary changes or major lifestyle changes. If you suspect you have a vitamin deficiency, please consult your doctor.