What initiated the idea behind this post came when my cousin (a pharmacy student at UMKC) would text me about people eating things that she was surprised about. Which made me giggle. The first one was that she couldn’t believe the dietitian she was working with during one of her rotations always ate pre-packaged frozen processed meals for lunch, and that “all dietitians don’t eat the same way I do” (also, totally not judging anyone for that, convenience is nice sometimes).
The second one, which is the actual reason behind this post was a screenshot from an Instagram account about a person’s journey with weight loss. This person was following a ketogenic diet, and the meal that was pictured was coffee with heavy cream, 3 pieces of bacon, and 2 string cheeses. And while I completely understand the premise behind why they chose this meal (again, not trying to be the “food police” here), when my cousin (who LOVES cheese) said, it just doesn’t seem like that would be a healthy meal, made me take a step back and think about it.
To back up a little and provide an explanation of a ketogenic diet: a ketogenic diet is a very low carb, high fat, moderate protein diet that is designed to get your body into ketosis (NOT ketoacidosis which would occur in Type 1 diabetes and is NOT a good thing) in order to allow your body to burn primarily fat for energy – instead of sugar, like it does most of the time. Many people have great success following this style diet from a metabolic standpoint, especially those with conditions such as PCOS or Type 2 diabetes, that have trouble managing their blood sugar levels. It has also been historically used for treatment of seizure disorders and studies show that it may actually have a protective effect on the brain!
So yeah, ketogenic diets can be really beneficial for some people, but I’m also a firm believer that there can still be balance, such as including vegetables and making sure the fat and protein are good quality. There’s no way we could get enough vitamins, minerals, or nutrients in general; not to mention phytonutrients and antioxidants from eating only bacon and cheese (as tasty as that sounds!) everyday. But, bacon and veggies do make a nice snack 😉
This also makes me think about my bariatric surgery patients and how the focus tends to be on protein, protein, protein, that it seems to minimize the importance of vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats. There is room for all of those things in a healthy, real-food focused diet.
The foods one personally chooses is entirely up to them. BUT, eating only high fat foods, might not be very sustainable. Now, in any case, we can’t judge what someone’s diet looks like based on one isolated meal. If you asked me what I ate last night and judged me based on that you would probably assume I don’t stand up to my own recommendations. Which just simply isn’t true. So this post is not meant to bash anyone by ANY means, it’s just meant to bring some light to the conversation and remind folks about quality and overall diet.
Personally, I would suggest to anyone following a ketogenic diet to choose good quality fats first and foremost because damaged fats like those found in canola oil, vegetable oils, and crisco, simply do more harm than good. So choosing a variety of fats from different sources including nuts and seeds, avocado (both of which will also contain some natural carbs too), coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, fish oil, etc. is important. IN ADDITION, also choosing low-glycemic index vegetables including ALL THE GREENS, such as lettuce, spinach, kale, etc., broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, summer squash (like zucchini), cucumber, celery, bell peppers, and herbs is an excellent way to provide our bodies with more nutrients that may not be found in other foods.
[pictured above is a favorite of mine – tuna salad made with Primal Kitchen Mayo , and about a tsp. of turmeric, salt & pepper, then some onion, bell peppers and green onion (just whatever’s available in my fridge at the time), on top of a bed of lettuce and a few pepitas on top!]
I imagine there will also be a question of “But couldn’t I just take a supplement for those other nutrients while I’m on a keto diet?” and my answer would be a resounding “no”. Because study after study looks at the effects of isolated nutrients on health, and time and time again, they always come back and say that the whole foods will always provide more protection and nutrients. Plus, imagine all of the protective and good things found in food that we probably have no idea about yet! Foods over supplements all day.
So, in a “nutchelle”, I’m not criticizing anyone’s diet/food choices here, but it’s important to get a wide variety of foods, in different colors, to provide your body with the nutrients it needs to function it’s best on a daily basis. But hey, if one or two of those meals consist of only bacon and cheese, you do you 🙂