On the brink of what looked like death
When I was a freshman in high school, my mom was so so sick with stomach issues. For five years leading up to this time she had kept her stomach pain mostly to herself until she could take it no more. Then one day she was headed to the hospital to have part of her colon removed. Say what?? This was almost too much for my 14 year old brain. It was just me and my mom at home those days. My sister was off at school and my dad and mom had divorced. So, ya…just me and my mom.
A Crazy Time
It was kind of a crazy time because she was always “the healthy mom”. She was always so active and full of energy. Always fun loving and up for pretty much anything. She was the rock that took care of everything. Now she was relying on me to do stuff that mostly adults do….and I just wanted to be a kid and eat my Honey Nut Cherrios.
All the Fads…
As a small child I remember her always trying out the newest fad diets and signing up for these intense half marathons or sprint triathlons. Then there was that time she did Bikram Yoga in a 105* room 90 minutes a day for a whole month straight. She was always whipping up new foods on us-organic this, gluten free that. Fat free, vegan, meatless Mondays, protein shakes, etc. You name and she tried it. I can tell you that more stuff went in the garbage than in our kid mouths for most of our childhood.
She got worse before she got better
As she left the hospital in the fall of 2016 she was ready to start her recovery from colon resection surgery…and then she went downhill fast. She was supposed to be getting better, but she only got worse. We knew something was really really wrong when she couldn’t even get off the couch for weeks. My mom had an infection from the hospital called C Diff and it was a long road back to her just being able to stand up without being in pain. It was a nasty infection that had her in and out of the hospital 4 times over a 3 month span of time. When she wasn’t in the hospital, she was on the couch writhing in pain, but still able to watch The Real Housewives on BravoTV…haha
A long road to recovery
In the weeks following her recovery, together we tried numerous ways to eat, but everything just felt like a path to weight loss. And even though as a child I remember my mom kinda going up and down in weight what she really needed now was to just get healthy. The doctors did not really even know what she should eat. The traditional doctors advice was in total conflict and she didn’t know whose advice to follow. Eat this, don’t eat that. Exercise this much, no…she should rest.
Head first into Keto and Fasting
Then she found the Ketogenic diet and Intermittent Fasting. This way of eating prescribed unheard of tips like fat was okay and fruit wasn’t….wait what? And fasting? Isn’t that starving yourself? But she was desperate to get well so she gave it a try. Thus began Life with a Keto-Mom. My mom dove in head first into this fat filled lifestyle and after months of being so sick she slowly came back to life.
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Living with an avid ketogenic follower and low carb recipe creator will always have its ups and downs. You can never going a day without hearing the “sugar is the devil” lecture when all you asked was to go out for frozen yogurt after dinner. We were raised with the notion that if you have a “balanced diet” inspired by the food pyramid with the massive amount of grains and greens then you’re good to go. When your mom is chanting “Keto ON!” like mine, the metaphorical rug of health is pulled out from under you. You’re now told that your carbohydrate intake should be close to none, including NO fruit, and the fatter the food the better-hello avocados and butter on EVERYTHING.
Fasting is not starving
Told to skip breakfast? Is my mom kidding? No….she is not. There are tons of studies that show we don’t need to be snacking all day or that breakfast is NOT the most important meal of the day. Some days I’m on board with this thought process, but mostly because I can’t be eating breakfast when I’m still half asleep as I get on the bus at the crack of dawn.
Girls eat, TOO!
What is interesting to me as a teenage girl, is that we are taught to constantly watch our diet already, but when you have a crazy nutrition lady whispering in your ear, it’s infinitely worse. Having a keto-mom can be overwhelming sometimes. Eating an apple for an after school snack now warrants guilt and I can feel a potential cleanse-just kidding. As teenagers, our bodies are constantly changing and growing and with that comes an insatiable hunger. We’re often taught that boys are the ones with the hollow legs while girls enter a prime time of cautious eating. FALSE: teen girls are just as insatiable as boys are, we just don’t talk about it.
The Life of a Teen
With our busy schedules, we’re lucky if we can find time for a cup of yogurt or a granola bar mid-afternoon. Juggling club activities, teacher meetings and finding a lunch that will keep you going throughout the rest of the school day is really difficult. Then add on the after school sports or other extracurriculars and by the time I get home I’m super hangry. On top of all this stress now you’ve you have to find something that doesn’t include bread or sugar?
No Bread and No Sugar…Is This Hell?
No bread and no sugar options are practically impossible in my school provided lunch. Of course there’s a salad bar, but the grilled cheese and fries drenched in ketchup just call to me every darn day. Plus, I also don’t want to be the weird girl eating only green things. On the weekends when I do have time to enjoy my meals I want to just be able to have a pizza with my friends. On a friday nights I just want to enjoy a bag of peanut M&Ms and a bowl of popcorn at the movies without having my mother’s mantra of “sugar is poison” playing on a loop. Ok…I’m exaggerating, but you know what I’m talking about, right?
Connecting with Friends
What I’ve found most challenging with my mom pushing the Keto and intermittent way of life is the loss of the friend bonding experience of food. Food has always been a connective experience that pulls people among cultures, religions, and families together; however, when your food choices become a chore, it’s no longer something to enjoy. When no one else is eating this way it does become a huge hassle or make me feel like the weird kid.
Find your Tribe
That is unless you find your respective food community. My mom views Keto and intermittent fasting as both a life changer and a savior…..and I get that because it totally changed her life. So, I guess the key to success and satisfaction lies in how you treat the ketogenic diet. I treat it like a diet, something restrictive that feels like an endless path to a body goal you won’t ever achieve, whereas my mom treats it as a lifestyle.
Julia “Keto” Childs
My mom is constantly whipping up the most amazing meals and there is always fresh food in the fridge and dinner on the table. Tacos, roast meats, bountiful vegetables and the most colorful and flavorful salads filled with cheese and nuts and tons of flavor. She really embraces it and it’s easy for her. If you view it as a diet, then there are cheat days and guilt and taking five steps back for every step forward. As I’ve said before, food is a connective experience, so find others who encourage your keto lifestyle and support you in your endeavor for better health.
I Really Like her Cooking & I Don’t Tell her That Enough
As for my own personal ups from living with a keto-mom, I can always rely on having a home cooked meal when I get home after play rehearsal or a tough day at school. Dinner is never uneventful as she experiments with new dishes and combinations all the time. She is teaching me the joys of cooking all along the way. I know that her cooking will be the object of my homesickness when I leave for college, but I know that I’ll always be able to come back to it.
It’s a marvel to see my mom dance around the kitchen making carb-free “Fathead dough” and an endless amount of soups even after a full day of harrowing work at her corporate job. Her passion just goes to show how influential a few food restrictions and substitutes can be to your attitude towards life and its trials and tribulations. She’s taught me how being healthy shouldn’t be treated like a chore or obligation, but a privilege. For a true healthy lifestyle, the real prize is the journey of self-reflection and recovery not a goal weight or feeling.
My Healthy MOM
My mom found an untapped world of health potential in the Ketogenic Diet and Intermittent Fasting lifestyle. Although any food restrictions for me may come with a feeling of being deprived, seeing my mom go from a pale and lifeless couch potato in anguish to a ball of energy and light is worth the sacrifice of pizza and ice cream with my friends. My mom is not only back on her feet again, but she had rekindled her passion for life and cooking and love and friends.
Keto and IF were OUR Life Lesson
My mom has always been a textbook “healthy mom” making fat free salads for lunch and getting all her exercising in, but it had always been a chore for her. Now my mom isn’t motivated by the barbie doll physique ( although she looks pretty darn great). She wants to be healthy again and her secret to surviving any diet or food lifestyle is understanding that your own health should not be dictated by a weight or jean size. She took her revelation and not only changed her own life for the better, but decided to inspire others to take better care of themselves.