5 Steps to Start Healing From a Keto Diet

September 22, 2021 ✨ Cattail Life

5 Steps to Start Healing From a Keto Diet

How I transitioned OUT of, and healed from, a keto lifestyle.

Quick recap - the keto diet is similar to the very low-carb diet most of us know as the Atkins diet in the 1990s.

Atkins diet promised quick weight-loss through a high-fat, no carbohydrate approach.

What I remember about it - people gleefully loading up on bacon and all the fatty things... and bragged about it.

As humans, we're wired to enjoy and seek after dopamine releases in our brain.

Dopamine is the feel-good chemical produced by our brains that gets released when we eat food we really enjoy, when we have sex, after we exercise, when we have successful social interactions, etc.

When we experience a quick win, we get a dopamine hit - which reinforces whatever it was we were doing.

(Side note: sugar and dopamine are heavily linked. When one eats sugar, the brain produces huge surges of dopamine. This is similar to the way the brain reacts to the ingestion of substances like heroin and cocaine. In case you were wondering if sugar is addictive!)

The keto diet can be a form of dopamine release for many because it often does provide the 'quick win' of dropping weight fairly quickly.

How? It acts as a diuretic in your body.

It sucks the water from your muscles, so you drop several pounds - mostly due to water weight.

I previously expressed that those of us who are healing from trauma, have high levels of stress, imbalanced hormones, or may be experiencing burnout,

we fair MUCH better on a steady release of glucose into our system via complex carbohydrates to shut off the fight-or-flight nervous system response so our bodies can settle and learn the rest, digest and heal space.

​If you missed it, you can read more about it here.

Let's look a little more at why.

The body prefers to use carbs as fuel.

Forcing it to burn fat (or protein) gives it no choice but to go into high stress, survival mode which then forces the overproduction of stress hormones in the process.

Heard of cortisol?!

You know, the stress hormone that leads to stubborn belly fat, sleep issues, and anxiety.

Yeah, that stress hormone.

Over time, because you have forced your body to not have reserves of energy — energy that provides you with both physiological and emotional stability under times of stress,

you'll find yourself in a place of having nothing. It’s like burning out the generator so you have nothing to rely on when the power goes out.

Another example is loss of sleep.

I know you've had a conversation or experience following a night of not-enough sleep that seemed to elicit a bigger response than it normally would with adequate sleep.

When you have sleep, you have greater capacity. This is a similar concept, but on a much deeper level.

Having that backup supply of energy gives your nervous system a sense of stability and resilience.

It gives you greater capacity and ability to handle stress because it keeps the body from overproducing or inappropriately producing those stress hormones that, in excess, wreak to your adrenals, thyroid, gut, and immune system.

If you are experiencing mood swings, unbalanced or absent menstrual cycles, fertility issues, hair loss, low energy, and vitamin deficiencies, and you've been on a keto diet...

thinking you're eating healthy and doing the right things, you're not alone. (Survival genes turned on causes the body to attempt to conserve energy. For some women, this can cause irregular cycles and infertility.)

How I transitioned OUT of a keto lifestyle.

Let me just tell you the beginning wasn't pretty.

To be fair, I was stuck at home recovering from a newly-acquired TBI. The pain in my head (among other symptoms) were like nothing I could have ever imagined.

I was desperate, and frantic, to heal.

So first, my urge to you - don't approach healing frantically. When we're anxious and frantic it kicks on stress hormones, our body goes into survival mode and locks down because you're telling it there's something to be anxious and afraid of.

Instead, take it slow. Embody peace and empathy as much as you can, and reassure yourself and your body that what you are doing is choosing to heal.

This approach tells your brain that this is as an invitation vs. another attempt at force and manipulation. Trust me, your body responds so. much. better. when we come to it with kindness.

Second, reintroducing carbs needs to be a slow process. Your body will look at carbs as a foreign item, unsure what to do with them at first. If you load too much in too quickly, you may experience rapid weight gain. In my case, I also experienced a lot of nausea with too many carbs, too early.

Next soothe your digestion. Mine wasn't exactly happy with me and needed some sweet TLC. I was forcing a ton of raw foods - because it's what I knew and thought to be the best and healthiest for me.

(The more we learn, the better we do.)

To help heal my digestion I gave my body foods that were easy to digest and foods that do not cause inflammation. This meant cooking, well, everything.

I transitioned from a salad loaded with tons of raw veggies every day to zero salads, all veggies cooked, and even peeling and cooking apples!

Oh, and bone broth! Bone broth is your new BFF as it's nourishing, comforting, and suuuuper healing for your gut.

(Drinking bone broth with your meals also helps make meats easier to digest and less inflammatory!)

Yes, it was a big transition tangibly; It was also a big transition mentally.

It was a lot of mindset work as I going against everything that I had been doing for so many years, and I was scared.

The more I learned about how much my nervous system was hurting,

how long my body was stuck and weary from being in the fight, flight, freeze mode,

the more compassion I had for myself, and the more gratitude I had for all that my body had endured while still seeking to run as optimally as it could with what I was requiring of it.

So yes, my forth piece for you - embrace the journey, and your body, with a mindset of healing and compassion.

Lastly, have a balance of carbs, protein, and fat with each meal and snack. More carbs than protein, and more protein than fat.

I know, a total switcheroo from the keto diet!

By mindfully investing in my nervous system - with food and supplements, healing emotions, breath work exercises, healing my gut, and by golly, eating those (healthy) carbs,

I released weight, have more awareness of what foods are healing for my body and which are not (looking at you raw leafy greens), have greater capacity in stressful times, have more balanced hormones and cycles, and am continuing to reassure my nervous system that it can rest out of the fight-flight-freeze space it was in for so long.

If you're looking to heal yourself out of a keto diet, remember to start slow, give your body grace as it transitions, and support yourself holistically... mindset, emotions, relationships, what kind and how much you're exercising, etc.

You are a multifaceted, wondrous, and amazing being.

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