*Update: I no longer follow a strictly ketogenic/LCHF diet. I now consider myself Paleo-based and focus on eating whole foods including carbs from all fruits & veggies. However, this is where my health journey began and I still consider it a very valuable part of my healing-with-food journey as well as a valid & effective way of eating for many people. Check out this post for a more updated version of my thoughts: My OCD + Anxiety Story: Healing with Health*
For about four years straight, since the early part of my sophomore year in high school, I suffered chronic migraines. It started as frequent headaches, from no noticeable source, and developed into constant, everyday all-day migraines (of varying degrees). I sought out the help of many neurologists, headache specialists, chiropractors, massage therapists, you name it, and no one could give me a viable solution.
Though I was given lots of treatment ideas–medication with nasty side effects (tried many, no luck), botox injections in my neck and scalp, self-injecting shots–not one person recommended me a change in diet.
That is, until, my boyfriend’s mom mentioned to me a book she read called Grain Brain by David Perlmutter and Kristin Loberg. She told me all about how sugar and carbohydrate consumption caused significant inflammation in the body, and was a big cause of migraines for certain people. I was fascinated, but not fully convinced–after all, I’ve yet to meet someone who has a bigger sweet tooth than this gal right here had. Weirdly enough, the next week, my own mother mentions to me she read all about how sugar can be a major cause of daily headaches in, you guessed it, Grain Brain. And, on top of that, she decided to cold-turkey cut out all sugar and began eating strictly low carb!
This was all after my freshman year of college, and being home for a month that summer, I went for it. Once my mom explained how jazzed she was about this ketogenic lifestyle, I was hooked–what had I got to lose? A million migraines? Sounded like a fabulous trade-off to me. I decided in one moment to jump in to see if I could do it for one day. And here I am, a year and some change later, and I haven’t gone back since.
My migraines have improved by at least 80%. After one week of eating sugar-free, low carb, I experienced my first day without a headache–I was brought to tears. I hadn’t known what it felt like to not have a headache in over four years, and suddenly, I felt an amazing freedom. My life was changed for the better one million times over. I’ve also experienced clearer focus, much better energy, and a body that has adjusted to its natural size & shape.
So what do I eat? Meat, full-fat dairy, vegetables (no starchy root veggies like potatoes, but I’ll eat the occasional carrot), and berries. This falls under the dietary categories of primal (on a paleo diet dairy is a no-go, so primal is basically paleo+dairy), ketogenic, or LCHF (low carb, high fat).
What this means is, my body gets its energy from fat rather than glucose (from carbohydrates). When no glucose can be produced, the body turns fat into ketones and uses that as its energy source, meaning stored fat (and the fat I consume–which needs to be a lot in order to keep the body running!) is unlocked for energy use!
I’ll go more into detail on this in a later post (a Keto Cheat Sheet if you will) and set you guys up with some super helpful links.
*Something I’d like to add–as my diet has progressed, I’ve learned more about what works for my body and what foods my body loves and maybe doesn’t love so much. I’ve recently turned my focus on very whole foods, eating lots of veggies (along with good fats like olive oil and grass-fed butter). I’ve been experimenting with limiting my meat products (especially when I can’t afford eating organic or grass-fed meats), and when I do eat meat, focusing more on chicken, fatty fish, and eating red meat less frequently. I also try and limit my sweetener consumption (which usually consists of Stevia & xylitol, both of which do not affect blood sugar), as I’m moving towards a completely whole foods-based diet.*
While this is pretty wordy, I wanted to give you all my full story as to how I got to this point in my food journey. Please let me know your thoughts down below, and if you have any questions about my particular choices and how I’ve made them!!
Keep pursuing a pretty miraculous world, and a pretty miraculous you.
Disclaimer: As always, I am not a doctor, nutritionist, or medical professional of any kind. This is simply my experience, and how these choices have affected me personally.
Another important disclaimer: Just because this diet has been right for me up until this point, does not mean it will be perfect for you. It may not always be perfect for me, either! Your own sense of your body is your number one resource, and trumps any personal dietary advice anyone else can give you.