Keto Diet Fail

Well, as I’m sure you can deduce from the title, I am no longer on the ketogenic diet and I didn’t keep going for the full 3 week test period I was planning on.  As much as I wanted to give it the full three weeks and be able to report back that my body had fully adjusted, I was absolutely miserable by about day 3.  Even after day 3 though, I continued to try to stick to the keto diet lifestyle because I had posted on here and on social media that I was sticking it out for three weeks.  It made me feel like I was somehow obligated to follow through on my “experiment”, even though I was hating every second of it.

Thinking about it more made me realize that in the grand scheme of things, no one that follows my blog or social media accounts probably cares at all if I go back to my regular dieting plan, so there wasn’t really a point guilting myself into sticking to it for three weeks.  First of all, I know that I can lose weight without following the ketogenic diet.  The main reason that I was trying it out was to see if I could start magically shredding fat like crazy, but that part doesn’t come until your body adjusts and the adjustment period is ROUGH.  I also wanted to see if I could cut back on sugar and kick my cravings, but my cravings only seemed to get worse.  Maybe it’s not so bad for others but I am prone to hypoglycemia and I pass out/get lightheaded when I don’t have enough sugar in my blood.  That was something I didn’t really think about in advance of this little experiment and I certainly felt it by the end.

Needless to say, by day 6 of the keto diet I was working a double as a waitress at my part-time job and making it through the day with little to no sugar was terrible.  I had no energy and was feeling really weird, so I gave a little warning on social media that I wanted to stop keto (think “speak now or forever hold your peace” type warning) and then on Sunday I adjusted my macros back to normal, still keeping calories the same.  When I say “normal,” I basically just kept my protein intake the same and then made carbs and fats both equal as far as percentage of calories goes.  I’m much less worried now about where my carbs and fats end up, as long as I am staying in range of my calorie goal and hitting my protein intake.  Macro counting, also known as IIFYM (if it fits your macros) or flexible dieting is what I usually follow to keep my nutrition on track.  It’s easy to stick with because it doesn’t restrict any certain food group to make it “off limits,” as long as a food item fits within your allotted macros for the day you can eat it.  When something is “off limits” in my mind, it just makes me want it more and then I end up binging on said item, which is counter-productive.  This brings me back to why keto didn’t really work for me.

Knowing I couldn’t have chocolate made it really hard to think about anything else but chocolate.  Just sticking to keto for a week was like torture because of all the things I wanted but couldn’t have, and thinking about sticking to it for the full three weeks or long-term made me want to scream.  I knew before the end of the 6 days that it wouldn’t be sustainable long-term for me to stick to keto and stay in ketosis.  As far as experiments go, I guess you could say it was a failed experiment because I didn’t hold out for the three weeks to allow my body to adjust like I had originally planned, but my main question was whether or not the keto diet would work well for me.  Obviously I still got my answer there, which is a big fat NO!

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Remission and Keto 3 Week Experiment

Once again it has been a crazy long time since I’ve posted a blog entry.  I started a new little experiment yesterday and thought it might be helpful to return to blogging to document my experience.

Update on my autoimmune progress:  I haven’t had a hive attack since back in July when I did those two competitions back to back, so it’s been a bit over 6 months and I am feeling good about it.  I also have competed twice since then and neither time did I really end up with hives leading up to the competitions.  Basically I do feel like I am really in remission now and I have been able to stop worrying about hive outbreaks altogether.

I started modifying my eating habits again a bit yesterday and I plan on trying out this new diet for a strict 3 weeks and seeing how it goes.  The ketogenic diet is a very low carb, moderate protein, very high fat diet and is designed to help your body burn fat for energy.  A consequence of keeping your diet very low in carbs is that you will also have a very low sugar intake, which is one of the things about this diet that appealed to me (I mean, besides the idea of having bacon every day because really, who doesn’t like bacon?).  I have a pretty serious sugar addiction which I am very aware of and chocolate is the main craving that comes up for me time and time again.  Whether it be peanut m&ms or a brownie batter crumble donut from Dunkin’ Donuts (seriously those are just too freaking good), chocolate is my ultimate weakness and unfortunately, I am already very aware of how bad sugar is for me and yet I continue to give in to the cravings.  I am hoping that my little 3 week test run of the ketogenic diet will get me to a place where the cravings aren’t quite so bad.

SCIENCE BEHIND THE KETOGENIC DIET

  • keto” in a ketogenic diet comes from the fact that it makes the body produce small fuel molecules called “ketones”
  • ketones are produced if you eat very few carbs (that are quickly broken down into blood sugar) and only moderate amounts of protein (excess protein can also be converted to blood sugar)
  • ketones are an alternative fuel for the body, used when blood sugar (glucose) is in short supply
  • a ketogenic diet causes your entire body to switch its fuel supply to run almost entirely on fat
  • on a ketogenic diet insulin levels become very low and fat burning increases dramatically
  • benefits include rapid weight/fat loss, less hunger and reduced sugar cravings, increased mental focus, and a steady supply of increased energy
  • when the body produces ketones it is said to be in ketosis
  • your body typically takes about two weeks to adapt to ketosis while following a ketogenic diet

The two week adaptation period is a large factor in me deciding to give it a full 3 weeks and see how it goes.  It is also the type of diet that you really can’t screw up/cheat on, or it will start you back at square one.  The biggest problem I seem to be having is keeping my protein to a moderate level.  I tend to have about the same amount of grams of protein as I do fat, because most of my sources of fat have the same or more protein.  I ordered some emulsified MCT oil in vanilla and coconut from Onnit though, which is a good source of just healthy fat, so hopefully when that shows up it’ll make it easier to keep my fats higher than my protein.  I plan to try it in my coffee or add it to a smoothie.  My ideal macro percentages are 10% carbs, 20% protein and 70% fat, which for me equals out to about 42 g carbs, 85 g protein, and 131 g fat (I eat close to 1700 calories each day).  My protein usually ends up closer to 30% and my fat is usually closer to 60 or 65% at the end of the day, but I haven’t seemed to have an issue yet keeping my carbs super low.  They usually fall below the 10% mark and I am counting total carbs, not net carbs like some people on the keto diet do.  Counting net carbs allows you to get in more green veggies by subtracting grams of fiber from total grams of carbs.  I do keep net carbs in mind throughout the day, but I feel the lower my total carb intake is the faster I might be able to adapt to ketosis.

You can also measure whether or not your body is producing ketones by getting some urinalysis strips, which I bought for this little experiment.  See below or click on the link for the kind that I bought.

ketone-test-strips
Ketone Urinalysis Strips

I used one of the test strips already to get a baseline, which obviously showed that I was not producing any ketones.  I am going to test myself again at the end of the first week and then at the end of the second week to see where I am and if I have adjusted to ketosis.  Just as a side note, I also already was practicing intermittent fasting, so I am combining that with my keto diet.  I will do another post on intermittent fasting and its benefits in the future.

So Much For Remission

It has been months since I have posted a blog entry.  Ooops.  A lot of that has to do with the severity and frequency of my symptoms.  For a while I felt like my autoimmune diseases controlled my life, and as my hive flare ups got fewer and further between I was excited to be getting my life back and putting this whole experience behind me.

Spoiler Alert: NOT SO MUCH

I have still been consistently working with my functional medicine doctor, Dr. Rosinski, although not really following everything he says.  It was really rough for me sticking to an autoimmune paleo/low histamine diet because it felt like EVERYTHING was restricted.  I also wasn’t that great with sticking to taking my supplements because my thyroid is always swollen so I have to choke them down and 8 – 10 pills per meal is not really a fun thing to have to do consistently.  Regardless, my symptoms were improving and slowly I got to where I was taking my antihistamines only once every 24 hours.  Then it progressed even further to where I would go a few days and only use the antihistamines as needed.  Even then, my flare ups were super mild and I stopped being itchy almost immediately after taking my antihistamines.  All signs pointed in the direction of me going into “remission” where my diseases and symptoms are mostly under control.  I don’t really know what to contribute that to, because like I said I wasn’t really doing the things I was supposed to as far as diet and taking my supplements goes.  I guess I’m going to give Dr. Rosinski the credit because he is who I have been working with on this and I did do SOME things he told me to at least.

On July 17th I had a jiu jitsu competition in New York and I noticed that the week beforehand my hives started to get a little more frequent and severe.  I didn’t think much of it because I figured that after the competition they would calm down again.  For whatever reason (I’m thinking because I’m crazy), I decided the Monday after my jiu jitsu competition in New York that I would sign up for yet another competition July 30th.  I figured it was only two weeks away so not too much time to stress over it and then it would be over with.  I am now starting to think it was a bad idea because my hives have increased to where I am slowly getting back to having to take antihistamines twice in a 24 hour period, plus my flare ups take much longer to subside even after taking the pills.  Essentially it is starting to get back to where I was before I made all this progress it feels, and I am scared that it will get to a point where I have to go back on steroids.  I am still clinging to the chance that the hives will slowly calm down again after the competition in a couple of days.  After all, it is only 2 days away at this point.

Besides hoping for the best post-competition, I have been doing what I can by getting back on top of taking my functional medicine supplements like Dr. Rosinski suggests.  I am still not following an autoimmune paleo diet like I probably should be (and like Dr. Rosinski would like me to be), but I am starting to make a stronger effort to be gluten free at the very least, since that is one of the more harmful things that can get into your bloodstream through leaky gut syndrome.  Dr. Rosinski told me something along the lines of whatever makes up gluten looks very similar to your thyroid, which is one of the reasons your body attacks the thyroid and also why Hashimoto’s patients should make an extra effort to avoid gluten (oops again).

Another thing to note is I keep getting abscesses behind my ears for whatever reason and they seem to be becoming more frequent.  I got one a few months ago and got it drained but didn’t take any antibiotics for it because they said they didn’t think I would need it.  A couple months later I got another one on the same side, so again got it drained and this time I took half of the antibiotic prescription, but then they told me that the culture came back with no infection.  I stopped taking the antibiotics because I didn’t want it to ruin my leaky gut progress, but there is definitely a chance that the half course of antibiotics had an effect on my progress anyway.  Still, I think the most noticeable changes in symptoms have been when I am really high stress, even if it is subconscious stress.

So that’s my update on my medical condition(s).  They have come back to haunt me and it is just a reminder that autoimmune disease is treatable but not curable, and it is something I am going to have to learn to deal with and manage for the rest of my life.  Regardless of whether other people understand it, I need to get back to focusing on taking care of myself first instead of giving in to the pressure to always do more, more, more.  Still a work in progress.

Nutreval Test and Adding Supplements

It has definitely been a bit since I have posted an update.  Time has just been flying by lately.  I feel like I just saw Dr. Rosinski yesterday and I already have a phone conference with him this coming Monday again.  Anyway, last time I saw Dr. Rosinski he helped set me up for a new test – the Nutreval test.  It involves me taking my own urine sample first thing in the morning and then going to a testing center to give them the sample and have them take my blood sample.  The test provides an analysis of a few different things, including antioxidants, B Vitamins, digestive support, essential fatty acids, and minerals.  This will further help to see where my deficiencies are in order to help us figure out how to correct my imbalances.  Another interesting part about the Nutreval test is that I was supposed to stop taking my supplements for four days prior to the test.

I met with Dr. Rosinski last Tuesday and planned on taking the test this Monday, so I stopped taking my supplements last Thursday.  I also may have cheated a bit on my food choices because I felt like since I was off supplements it wouldn’t matter.  I’m sure Dr. Rosinski would not have approved, but I have really been struggling with not being able to eat any of my favorite things.  On Monday I woke up and went to the bathroom without even thinking about it, so I wasn’t able to collect my urine like I was supposed to.  I ended up being off supplements for 5 days then because I did my test on Tuesday after screwing it up Monday.  Right after I got my blood drawn and got that taken care of I went to Dr. Rosinski’s office and he gave me three more supplements – sulfur tablets for my skin/hives, a Vitamin D supplement, and a greens powder called paleo greens.  I had actually requested a greens powder from him, because I feel like I am having a hard time getting in all of the greens I should be.  I have been making kale smoothies with approved fruit and also made some mason jar salads to bring to work, so I am doing the best I can but I can always use some help.

Anyway, that night I took the paleo greens and not too long after had the ABSOLUTE WORST flare up I have had in a long time.  I didn’t realize at the time that it might have been the paleo greens, because I thought it might have just been stress from my test that morning and knowing I needed to not screw up the urine sample again.  The hives were terrible on my face and I got some swelling around my eyes even.  I took my antihistamines but things just seemed to be getting worse, so I texted Dr. Rosinski and he told me to try the sulfur tablets.  You put 5 of them under your tongue and let them dissolve.  The sulfur helped pretty quickly but I wasn’t back to my “normal” (which isn’t really normal cause it’s still pretty hivey but much better than it was that night) until the next morning.  I will have to pay attention to when I try the paleo greens again and see if that is really what made me flare so badly or if it was something else.  I really hope it was something else because I was excited about the greens powder and I paid a decent bit for it.

Since then I have been back on track with my supplements and with eating right, as much as I hate it.  I guess this is Day 3 of being “good” again and being back on all my supplements, including the new ones.  I am excited to see what the results of the Nutreval test are, but they won’t be available for a couple of weeks I believe.  I have been good enough that I have been able to go back to jiu jitsu a bit, which definitely makes me happy.

Last Friday I had off from the office because of it being Good Friday so my mom and I were able to have a little AIP cooking party.  We made zucchini lasagna (which is delicious and has been my lunch almost every day), coconut macaroons and AIP crackers made out of plantain flour and water with some AIP guacamole to go with them.  Since then I have made more crackers a couple of times now and I am making more macaroons tonight.  They are such a delicious sweet treat for me when I am missing my sweets so much.  This week I plan to make some cauliflower into rice, make carob avocado mousse (as a substitute for chocolate gelato because mmmmmm), and a couple of other interesting recipes.  I will have to do another post soon that is more food focused than health focused, so stay tuned for that.

Getting Worse to Get Better

It is officially the ninth day of me being on my supplement plan.  Things have definitely not been easy.  On Saturday morning I woke up with crazy hives and my bottom lip was swollen.  That is the first time anything has been swollen in awhile, so it made me pretty concerned.  I emailed Dr. Rosinski right away and asked him if it was possible that I could get worse before I get better.  He assured me that it is very common for people to get worse before they get better.  He also mentioned that the increase in B vitamins could be assisting my methylation pathway (yeah I have no idea what that really means either) and thereby see an increase in histamine until it clears correctly.  I popped some more antihistamines and tried to relax, because that’s all I could really do.  Basically ever since Saturday though I have been super hivey and itchy and my nighttime flare ups have been ridiculous.  I haven’t had any more swollen parts since Saturday though, so I guess that is progress.  It definitely freaked me out when it first happened though, because I wasn’t expecting things to get worse.

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Seriously Struggling

Yesterday I was pretty optimistic.  Then again, yesterday was only my first day taking supplements and doing my new eating routine, including the 3 “C”s of eating.  The idea of having this be my life for the next 30 days (at least) is highly depressing.  I would say the absolute worst part are the changes I am having to make surrounding my eating.  I hate gargling before meals and I really hate not having something to do while I am eating.  I have always just ate while doing whatever else without really focusing on my eating and making sure I chew everything thoroughly.  It takes FOREVER for me to chew everything thoroughly.  So long, in fact, that I get bored with it really quick and want to stop eating.

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Adding Supplements

Yesterday I met with Dr. Rosinski again to go over my blood test results and really start to dig in to what I need to do to fix this besides just being on the elimination diet.  I feel like there is so much to remember and I actually was awake super early this morning because I couldn’t fall back asleep due to stress.  All I could think about was all of these new routines I need to add into my day.  It is a bit daunting I have to say, but I do have a lot of faith in Dr. Rosinski and I am willing to do what I need to do in order to get better.  I am tired of being hivey all day every day and having it interfere with my life.

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AIP/Low Histamine Diet

So it seems like it has been forever since I have posted on here.  I have been having a hard time dealing with things emotionally and really just haven’t had much of an update to give, but I guess it is time I get back to writing.

This week I went in to Quest Diagnostics and got what seemed like a ridiculous amount of blood taken for testing for my functional medicine doctor.  I also have started restricting my diet again.  Dr. Rosinski, my functional medicine doctor, wants me to limit my foods to low histamine foods only while also trying to follow an autoimmune paleo diet (AIP).  Essentially, this makes the super strict AIP diet even more strict by eliminating things like bananas and spinach (just two examples that I was particularly disappointed about), which are both high in histamines.  The idea is to limit the amount of histamine I am adding in to my body, since histamine is what causes the hives.  This is also why I have basically been living off of anti-histamines to get by.  I am happy to report that I haven’t taken a steroid in quite some time now though.  I think a couple of weeks.

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February Meal Plan #2

When it started getting toward the end of the second week of February I began to think about planning for the last two weeks of February.  I started to realize that there were some things that I hadn’t gotten a chance to make.  I also had some extra ingredients from my last grocery trip, as well as some things that have been sitting in my freezer or pantry for some time just not being used.  With that in mind, I figured the best way to plan for the last two weeks of February is to look at what I already had in my kitchen and try to plan meals based off of those items.  For instance, I never got a chance to make the 7 pepper salmon, so I just carried that over into the meal plan for the next two weeks.  I also have a LOT of chicken breasts that I thought I would need for the bbq shredded chicken, so I planned to make another batch of bbq shredded chicken and a chicken marsala recipe to use up the chicken breasts.  By using ingredients I already had to plan my meals, I would only have to pick up a few extras to complete the recipes.  This means that my grocery list would be pretty short and I should hopefully save a lot of money.

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Allergy Test Results

The day has finally come!  I feel like I have been waiting to find out if I had allergies that were causing my hives forever now.  I had my appointment with the ENT today to go over the results of my blood allergy test and he walked into the room with a sheet of paper and said, “Well… you were right” as he handed me the paper.  I have no allergies.  NO FREAKING ALLERGIES.  Which means that the hives are being caused by some deeper issue (such as autoimmunity) and also means that both my primary care physician and my thyroid specialist were 100% WRONG in their assumption that allergies were the cause of my hives.  I wish I could see the look on my primary care physician’s face when she gets the results from my ENT and realizes just how wrong she was.

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