by Sara B.

Listening to my body was never my strong suit. I could listen to the news, and I could listen to social media, but I could never listen to myself. Since the age of 15, my relationship with food has been a rocky one. I started on the normal diet route by cutting out white bread and processed foods, and the little weight I needed to lose started to come off.

As the scale stopped moving, I moved to an even more restrictive diet consisting of only low-fat diet foods, of which I would then immediately throw up. I eventually got down to my “goal” weight and thought I was finally going to be happy. No one tells you that along with your goal weight you will lose your period, your hair will be thin, you will be freezing, your brain won’t function the same, and your heart rate will be so low that you can’t get your wisdom teeth removed because you may not come out of general anesthesia. Goals at 18…

Fast-forward to age 25. I had gained the weight back and lost it once more, and yet I still wasn’t happy. Sure, I looked good, and I could function. I had a job, a great boyfriend, and was doing pretty well, but I still wasn’t happy. I had been “paleo” for about three years, hired a nutritional coach, and even tried a popular diet template to lose more weight. I got to my new goal weight, but what was missing? My happiness. I was miserable and anxious, always hungry, felt restricted on what I could eat, continued to have binge–purge episodes, and felt like I was forever tied to a semi-flavorless diet. I switched jobs and found that the less I moved the more I couldn’t tolerate carbohydrates (gas much?). I spoke to a friend about this and she recommended the ketogenic diet. I had seen the books and heard some podcasts on the topic, so I decided to give it a try. I decided to not wait until the New Year in January but to start on my “new year,” my 27th birthday. New Year, New You, right?

After one week I had my Oprah “Aha!” moment. I no longer spent my days in pain with embarrassing gas. My thoughts were sharper, and I noticed that I was recovering from workouts faster. For the first time, I would spend time thinking about food not because I was starving for the next meal, but because I was excited to eat. I got excited about eating handfuls of almonds—once a forbidden food—now a staple in my diet.

I now strive to have enough fats in my diet because I know the benefits they have for my brain and my body. I no longer feel restricted and pigeonholed into a high-carb, low-fat, gas-inducing diet. Keto and the keto community have taught me how food, mainly fats, fuel my body, how I can protect myself, and how I can take this now third chance at life by storm.

Since I have started living a ketogenic lifestyle, I have learned to listen to my body when it tells my mind that it is hungry and when it tells my mind that it no longer needs more food. I have been able to learn what to eat when I have a craving. Though keto is normally used to simply describe a diet, it is so much more than a diet—it is a balanced lifestyle that promotes optimal mental and physical health.

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