Week 2 on a ketotarian diet: who am I, why am I doing this and why should you care?

I used to write a lot of irreverent blogs about being ‘a bit too fat’. As a topic, I suppose it became my speciality.

This is partly because, being British, I’m naturally compelled to make disparaging comments about my own appearance for everyone else’s amusement…but it’s also because that’s how I genuinely spent my entire twenties feeling: a bit too fat.

Society has told us for decades that if we’re not thin, we don’t deserve to feel good about ourselves. I wish I hadn’t believed it.

I stopped blogging about being a bit too fat at the end of 2019 because quite frankly I was boring myself. Suddenly there were bigger fish to fry (or steam) in life, like deciding to leave my partner of 13 years, and all of the messy, horrific, prolonged emotional gore that entailed. I decided that in 2020 I didn’t want to be that jittery, uncertain 20-something-year-old anymore. No more whingey blogs about how my torso looks like a beached blob fish; no more whining about how I haven’t had a digestive biscuit for a whole 42 hours but still can’t find an ab.

I pulled an ‘eat pray love’

In February 2020 (blissfully ignorant of the deadly virus sweeping the globe towards us), I flew to Central America to train as a yoga teacher. I always suspected I had a nurturing, caring element to my personality, underneath all of the introverted awkwardness, and over the following few weeks I unearthed it. I realised how good it feels to guide people into that lovely ‘yoga state’ where they can forget about the outside world for a while and actually notice how their body moves and feels and responds to different asanas.

And then of course Covid-19 yanked me out of my jungle paradise. I had to leave early. When I got home I discovered I’d lost a stone. My waist measured smaller than it did when I was 18. After years of crazy diets, militant exercise regimes and self-loathing, all it took was 3 weeks in a tropical jungle doing gentle yoga and eating 3 healthy vegan meals a day to achieve the weight loss I’d so badly longed for, for whatever insidious Capitalist-embedded reason.

To be honest I felt great. I was proud of my body! I kept up the yoga and healthy eating, spent so much time wandering the beautiful countryside around my home and just generally enjoyed the unexpected perks of lockdown.

Fast-forward 10 months and I’ve regained the stone. The reality is, life isn’t always a tropical paradise, my day job is sedentary, I don’t have a personal chef, I happen to love wine and pasta, and no amount of yoga, running or martial arts-inspired video classes could keep the lbs from gathering.

The fact is, I’m happy

We all know things went tits up in 2020 for most of us, but I’m lucky enough to say this: despite everything, I’ve been happy. I fell in love, I had time (tonnes of it) for myself, I applied all of the nice philosophical things I learned about yoga to my life. I stayed grateful, I lit candles, I even wrote messages of praise and hope to the moon and then set fire to them on my balcony each month (the neighbours probably think I’m a witch).

I eventually caught Covid-19 and spent a week in bed unable to eat, using an inhaler and reaching dangerously high fevers that made my brain feel like it was pushing its way out of my skull. It was nasty, but fortunately I recovered quickly and fully.

And now I have started the ketotarian diet

I feel like a hypocrite. After how far I’ve come with accepting my body, here I am again, dieting! But let me explain.

The truth is, I felt so good in Costa Rica because food wasn’t my focus. It was fuel. It was regular, it was tasty but it was simple: just salads, beans and rice – sometimes fried plantain (delicious). I was preoccupied with studying and learning. I was surrounded by incredible creatures, trees and plants. I felt like I was actually there, noticing everything, existing in the moment.

I want to replicate the healthy simplicity of the yogic diet, so I’m making things easier for myself by following an already-established plan called the ketotarian diet.

What is a ketotarian diet?

It’s the ketogenic diet (high fat, moderate protein, low carb) except you don’t have to eat meat. The idea is that after a few days of hardly any carbs, your body switches to burning your fat stores instead of glucose.

Here’s an example of a day in the life of my ketotarian diet:

  • Fast until noon (intermittent fasting has loads of added benefits)
  • Eat salad consisting of:
    • Lettuce, red cabbage, cucumber, olives, grapes
    • Walnuts, plant-based sausage, cheese, egg
    • Olive oil, salt and garlic
  • Afternoon snack: spoon of almond butter
  • Dinner: Cauliflower rice and red pepper stuffed with plant-based mince and mozzarella.

I also drink lots of tea with coconut milk, and have made a few keto treats like almond flour and xylitol (natural sweetener) brownies, and chocolate tofu pudding.

My keto wee sticks told me that I reached ketosis (burning fat instead of carbs) on the 5th day of the diet. So far I have lost 2lbs. I miss pasta, but that’s a given, and we still have lots of Christmas chocolate hanging about the flat so that’s been a challenge.

I’m going to tie this blog up now because it’s become rather lengthy. To conclude: I’m trying the ketotarian diet but not because society says I need to be thin to be loved, but because I want to show my body that I love it and that I need it to be in a good condition for the next 50 years, please.

And finally, to answer the last question in the title of this blog: you shouldn’t.

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