Keto Diet Side Effects + How To Really Eat Healthy
It’s interesting to see how food and diet trends change over the years. Not that long ago, foods and snacks labeled as fat-free or low-fat were in high demand.
Now, I see more of gluten-free, sugar-free, and dairy-free labels in the grocery store. (Fat is back in, by the way.)
I don’t usually go in for extreme diets, but a few years ago I was dealing with some health problems. I started to hear more and more about how our diet can have a major impact on how healthy we are. (Something I agree with, by the way).
As I looked more into what kind of diet I “should” be eating, I read about how awful gluten, dairy, and sugar were for us. It sounded to me like those three were the cause of every health problem imaginable.
So I decided to try a version of the keto/Paleo diet because I really wanted to feel better and healthy again.
Here’s what happened, why I gave it up, and what it could mean for you, especially if you want to feel healthier by changing what you eat.
Side Effects of the Keto Diet
Like I said, I ended up following a version of the keto diet, but my main goal at the beginning was just to eliminate sugar, dairy, and gluten from my diet in the hope that I would feel better. To make a long story short, I didn’t.
I took out processed sugar first (though I still used honey and maple syrup). That was probably the only good part of my experiment because I really do think that overloading our bodies with sugar is not a good thing.
After a few weeks, I eliminated dairy. This was a little harder to adjust to because it took out quite a few things I was used to eating. And at this point, I started to lose energy. I assumed that my body needed time to adjust to my new way of eating, so I waited a few weeks for it to catch up before making the next change.
And then I took out gluten. I had a plan for what to eat once I took out wheat, but it was still difficult to have lost two major parts of my diet (dairy & gluten).
I persevered, but instead of feeling better, I started to lose more and more energy. I waited for my body to adjust and catch up, but it never happened.
Stubbornness Doesn’t Always Pay Off
I would love to say that at this point I came to my senses and stopped my diet. But unfortunately, I’m somewhat (very) stubborn. This diet was supposed to make me feel better, so I was going to stick with it. If it wasn’t working, I must be doing something wrong.
Since taking out gluten had went so well, I decided to go one step further and take out all grains because I had been reading about how grains other than wheat can also cause health problems. (Not one of my more brilliant ideas).
It was at this point that I was mostly following a keto diet. Lots of meat and fat “for energy”, no grains or gluten, lots of vegetables, and not too many fruits.
To the surprise of probably no one except myself, I kept getting sicker. I lost all my energy, lost weight I couldn’t afford to lose, and started to feel sick every time I ate. All of my health problems got worse instead of better.
I did (eventually) come to my senses and stop the diet altogether but not before it caused a lot of damage. True story- I’m still trying to recover from it two and a half years later.
Extreme Might Not Be The Answer
So what’s my point in telling this story? It’s not actually to persuade you one way or the other about whether you should try a ketogenic diet. (Though if someone mentions the word ‘keto’ now, I run in the other direction).
One thing I learned from this massive diet failure is that while what we eat plays a big role in how healthy we are, extreme diets are not often the answer. Our bodies need a variety of nutrients to function well. Taking out large food groups- like carbohydrates or grains- takes away a lot of that variety.
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I don’t think any one food group is the root cause of every single health problem. And that’s why I now eat gluten, dairy, and even sugar again. (I fully expect that gluten will be back in favor in a few years when the danger of something else we eat everyday is discovered.)
Many of us want to change how we eat to feel better, fix health problems, or lose weight. So it sounds wonderful when someone tells us that a certain diet could take care of all those things for us. But the more extreme the diet is, the more cautious I would be (speaking from experience).
If you want to feel better by eating differently, you don’t have to start eating an extreme diet that’s really hard to keep up with. After my keto disaster, I discovered some of the best diet advice (courtesy of Michael Pollan) for eating healthy: eat real food, eat a lot of plants, and don’t overeat. Nothing extreme.
Listen To Your Body
If you take anything away from my story, I hope it’s this second point: listen to your body. That’s what I wish I had done when I was in the middle of my diet. My body was telling me that what I was doing wasn’t good for it, but I didn’t listen.
For example, despite all the side effects it had for me, the keto diet actually seems to work for some people. They feel better and healthier on it. And though I’m highly suspicious, I have no reason to believe they aren’t telling the truth.
But it doesn’t work for others, and it makes some of us really sick. That’s why we need to respect what our bodies are telling us. No one diet will work for everyone, and if it’s not working, it’s time to try something else.
If you want to try a diet change for health reasons, I’m all for it. I’m still experimenting with my diet by making little changes. Just, please, pay attention to what your body is telling you. It will let you know if your diet is a good idea or not.
And if a popular diet that promises to fix everything is making you sick, you aren’t doing anything wrong. It’s just not the diet your body needs to be healthy, and you can stop at anytime.
Find Your Unique Path To Health
Once again, my purpose for telling you my own dieting story is not to convince you that any diet is good or bad. It’s to help you realize that your path to a healthier you is unique.
There’s no one-diet-fits-all solution. And you don’t have to kill yourself following the latest diet trend to be healthy. In case you missed any of it, here’s what I hope you take away from this post:
- The keto diet is not helpful for everyone and can have bad side effects.
- No one diet is good for everyone- our bodies all function differently.
- Extreme ways of eating may not be the answer for better health.
- Always listen to your body and trust your intuition.
- Don’t stick with a diet that’s making you sick– even if it promises miracle results.
You can get healthier and feel better by making changes to your diet. Just don’t do what I did. Make small changes and trust yourself to know what’s helping and what’s hurting.
For more on eating and being healthier, check out these posts: How To Get Unstuck In Your Health Journey and Easy Ways To Start Eating Healthier (Without The Stress).
P.S. Do you want to have a natural lifestyle that’s simple and not overwhelming? I can help with that! Join my email list below to keep learning about simplifying the simple life.
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