PALEO vs. KETO - a lesson in boundaries
I have learned a hard, but important, lesson in my life... nothing worth having comes without sacrifice! I also learned that sacrifice and boundaries provide more happiness in life. This pattern is seen in all of nature and definitely in human nature. Boundaries are HEALTHY and we all need them. So, guess what my friends... our diets (the daily nutrition kind NOT the fad kind) need boundaries! To have a daily free for all may feel good short term, but long term the effects are devastating.
I have battled with this concept all of my life. I have had periods of time in my life when I was "on the wagon" and fully embraced the boundaries and didn't feel deprived. Instead, I enjoyed more energy, better focus, better sleep, and an improved ability to love and appreciate my body. I've fallen off the wagon when one cheat meal led to a cheat week and before I knew it, I was lost and miserable. In the beginning, it seemed that the "consequences" for not keeping my nutritional boundaries in check were the usual weight gain and the depression that accompanied my poor body image. However, over time I started to notice things like joint pain and swelling, anxiety, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, eczema and other skin issues, in addition to headaches and digestive issues. Over time, the bad we put in builds up and without a good reset the problems compound.
Now my husband had a different start. He was a healthy weight, an active athlete, and had a positive body image. However, he was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis as a teenager. He loved food as any teenage boy would and had an intensity about him that made coping with stress a challenge from time to time. The origins of his autoimmune disease can be hard to pinpoint and we have many hypothesis about what may have contributed. However, the bottom line was his really great specialists could not offer him more than pharmaceuticals with their myriad of side effects as options to control his disease. By the time we were engaged, he had been hospitalized multiple times (almost didn't make it to our wedding) and one short year into our marriage after following the poor nutritional advice offered him there he was in a full blown crisis and lost his colon at age 22! Losing a colon is a HUGE deal. With the small intestine fashioned into a "replacement colon" referred to as a "J-pouch", the body adapts, but life is NEVER the same. The few months spent between two sets of surgeries with a temporary colostomy bag, while internal sutures healed, were some of the most challenging months of our marriage. It was a heavy trial for a pair of young newlyweds.
Fast forward 18 years and we have learned SO much regarding nutrition. Our journey with his health and our journey with infertility (read HERE) caused us to read, research, and seek the help of multiple medical and holistic health practitioners. In a nutshell, it led my husband to his career as a Doctor of Chiropractic, because ultimately, it was a Chiropractor and his nutritionist wife that provided the most sound dietary advice and helped get our health back above the wellness line. We found two different lifestyle changes that made the most sense in helping us achieve our goals. Having now lived life eating both ways, I wanted to offer our perspective on the debate in clean eating circles that argue for either the Paleo diet or the Ketogenic diet.
Both diets call for an elimination of processed foods and refined sugar. Both diets offer improvement in blood sugar, cholesterol levels, triglycerides and clearer skin... mostly due to the increase in healthy fats and reduction in processed foods salts and refined carbohydrates (the bad kind). However, there are some key differences in the two and even a way to blend them!
Why might you want to try one of them?
- Got a skin issue? Eczema, Psoriasis, Acne, Rosacea, Dermatitis? THEN YOU HAVE A GUT ISSUE! Your skin is an outward expression of your gut health. And no amazing skin regimen is going to solve the root of your problem until you address your gut health.
- Have anxiety, depression, difficulty coping with stress? THEN YOU PROBABLY HAVE A GUT ISSUE! Google the Brain - Gut connection
- Have headaches? Migraines? THEN YOU PROBABLY HAVE A GUT ISSUE
- Have hormonal imbalance? THEN YOU PROBABLY HAVE A GUT ISSUE
- Have brain fog? Memory loss? THEN YOU PROBABLY HAVE A GUT ISSUE
HIGH FAT - MODERATE PROTEIN - LOW CARB
The focus of the Ketogenic diet is to avoid processed foods, grains, sugars and refined carbs thus lowering your carbohydrate intake to a point that you can achieve the metabolic state of Ketosis (aka burning fat instead of sugar for energy). While die hard Keto lovers keep their carb intake below 30 grams a day, there are those successfully achieving a "mild state of ketosis" with 80 - 100g of carbs or less. Many of those on the keto diet indulge in dairy and treats made with naturally derived but low glycemic sweeteners like Xylitol, Erythritol, and Stevia. Some use ketone strips to test daily for ketones in the urine, which will tell if their body is burning fat.
Because Ketones are a great fuel source for the brain and increased fatty acids are good for brain function, this diet has been known to clear brain fog and help improve cognitive function. It has also been used to treat epilepsy since the early 1900's!
What makes this diet tricky? Getting enough healthy fats and limiting even starchy vegetables and fruit. For some of us, consuming dairy and sweeteners like Xylitol and Erythritol can cause digestive upset as they can be inflammatory.
I did love, however, indulging in cheese as a quick and easy snack, making delicious fat bombs, and enjoying full fat RANCH dressing instead of oil and vinegar on a salad. However, the dairy was my very downfall. Also, for me personally (as a sufferer of Hashimoto's Thyroiditis) eating too low carb crashed my milk supply as a nursing mother. Some women only see a temporary dip, but until I upped my carbs to the 80 to 100g level, my milk supply did not recover. Dr. Barnett loved the energy, improved sleep, and cognitive clarity, but he too suffered from inflammation from dairy and the keto sweeteners. (stay tuned for the compromise)
HIGH FAT - MODERATE PROTEIN - MODERATE - LOW CARB
The focus of the Paleo diet is to remove all of the primary food sources that cause gut inflammation. These include dairy, grains (wheat/gluten, corn, rice, etc), legumes, soy, sugar and processed foods. There is a focus on the sourcing of the food, recommending pastured eggs, grass-fed beef, organic fruits and veggies, and non-GMO everything in order to cut down on potential contributors to not only gut inflammation but hormone interference. This approach was a key to helping correct our hormonal imbalance. Paleo treats can be made with grain free flours like Almond and Coconut flour, as long as they are sweetened with natural sources like dates, honey, or maple syrup.
The Whole 30, is a program that often transitions one into the Paleo lifestyle. Allowing one to use their body as the testing lab for sensitivities. It is a slightly stricter version of the Paleo diet, even cutting out natural sweeteners, for a full 30 days... followed by slow reintroductions of certain foods one at a time. I quickly learned that sugar was a huge catalyst for anxiety, wheat was the source of my joint swelling and headaches, and dairy was responsible for my chronic sinus congestion and digestive upset... it was an amazing revelation. It may have been incovenient to admit, but knowledge is power, right!?
The 15 months that I lived the Paleo life, I was able to control blood sugars, lower my cholesterol and triglycerides, increased my energy, improved my sleep and lost weight that stayed off long after I fell off the wagon. My pregnancy during that 15 months was my healthiest, I even avoided the Gestational diabetes that had hit me in my prior pregnancy. Why on earth I ever fell off the Paleo wagon, I don't know... but, I'm hopping on enthusiastically again!
What makes it tricky? again getting enough healthy fat can be a challenge, it is just so hard to reprogram our brain. the Paleo diet takes a lot of prep and lots of grocery trips to keep fresh produce on hand at all times. to recreate favorite recipes Paleo style, usually requires a good bit of time in the kitchen, but the rewards can be oh so sweet!
I LOVE how colorful my plate always is when I'm eating a variety of veggies at every meal. You learn to eat salads at breakfast and sweet potato pancakes at dinner. Also, my milk supply when nursing was fabulous on this diet! So, Paleo won the debate in our home to suit our family's needs..... but........
BEST OF BOTH WORLDS DIET?
HIGH FAT - MODERATE PROTEIN - MODERATE - LOW CARB
Leanne Vogel, author of the Keto Diet book and creator of the Healthful Pursuit pod casts and program has bridged the gap between these 2 diets with her recommendations. Her Keto program is higher in carbs than the typical keto-er usually deems responsible, and embraces intuitive eating instead of counting macros. One would argue she promotes a "milder" state of nutritional ketosis, but yet the results are there. Weight loss, controlled blood sugars, improved energy and sleep, controlled autoimmune diseases (due to this version of keto avoiding those inflammatory foods)... it provides the benefits of BOTH diets!
I love the idea of not being restricted, as that is what makes the Paleo lifestyle sustainable, in my opnion. Being hangry is NOT fun! I like being satiated without the normal plague of the traditional binge. But, I love the idea of still being fat adapted in a way that might be more supportive as a lactating mother, too!
HERE WE GO!
You made it.... now are you ready? Are you ready to join us in transforming your health by addressing your diet? Are you ready to own that these problems you are dealing with... your eczema, your headaches, your anxiety, your digestive inflammation etc. CAN BE CORRECTED! While I highly recommend the use of natural means to support our skin, our emotions, and to help overcome unwanted symptoms and illnesses... Essential oils are life! Toxin free make-up and skin care do wonders... but NOTHING WILL CORRECT THE ROOT OF THE ISSUE UNTIL YOU ADDRESS YOUR GUT HEALTH. Period. I am thankful for the support my oils and other Young Living products give me on this clean eating journey. They get it. They know what foods your body really needs and wants. That Slique bar in the picture below - its Paleo friendly and FREAKING DELICIOUS! That grapefruit oil... just one drop in my water each day provides gentle detox support and staves sugar cravings. Their paleo friendly vegan Slique shakes make an awesome protein base for a quick and easy paleo smoothie! Add some greens, unsweetened Coconut milk, berries and/or a half a frozen banana - holy YUM with a healthy dose of fiber! Y'all! (i live in GA.. it's a thing) WE CAN DO THIS! DO IT WITH ME! Stay tuned for more updates, including how we are transitioning our little kiddos to this life, as well. We owe it to them to get the start they need. They share our genetics, and therefore, we owe it to them to protect them from Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, Ulcerative Colitis, Hormone imbalances, infertility, etc.
Just remember that boundaries bring happiness! Nothing makes me more happy than raising a vibrant, healthy, and faithful family! Let's do this!
for the boys...
stay tuned for paleo and keto recipes that are even kid friendly!