By Elizabeth Szlek; Wellness Counselor
I recently reread the book Life Without Bread, which was part of my Nutritional Therapy program curriculum. About five years have passed, and suddenly, I was transfixed by the idea of giving up bread (for the most part). At the same time, I started reading about the ketogenic diet, which is essentially about the same thing.
oustarch? In other words, what did our ancestors of thousands of years ago live on? The practice of agriculture is many thousands of years old, but if we consider the long view, it is a new way of living for human beings.
What was the most sought-after nutrient many thousands of years ago? The answer may surprise you, because it wasn’t whole grains, or even protein – it was fat! Fat, lovely fat. Humans are really made to eat fat, and even, are meant to run on fat! Yes, of course, we need all the macronutrients: Fat, protein and carbohydrates, plus the micronutrients vitamins and minerals, and of course, water, but what really nourishes us and provides the most energy for us is fat! But of course, what kind of fat is also an issue.
There are good fats and bad fats. I have written about this before, but let me repeat myself here. Some fats we find in our environment are manmade, industrial fats, and these can actually kill you if eaten in excess. These are the industrial oils like canola oil, soybean oil, and other Omega-6 oils produced in factories. They are very inflammatory, and when turned into hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated fats like margarine or vegetable shortening, they can produce clogged arteries. You really want to stay away from these as much as possible. They are ubiquitous in processed foods, or in foods fried in restaurants, or in such delights as doughnuts friend in oils. Read your food labels! Stay away!
Good fats, on the other hand, are GOOD for you. These include the Omega-3 fats, and some good oils, like extra-virgin olive oil, plus specialty oils like avocado oil or nut oils. And, then we get to the saturated fats! Now we’re talking! Coconut oil, butter, full-fat dairy, chicken, goose, duck fat, tallow from cattle, lard from pigs. These are the fats that will provide the body with the basics for creating cholesterol, and for energy. The good fats form the basis for the ketogenic diet.
The Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic diet was created during the last century as a way to help those with epilepsy. It was found that a high-fat diet would prevent seizures in many children. The children absolutely thrived on a high-fat, low carb diet. During the past couple of decades, many people have begun to experiment with this diet for themselves. In fact, the Atkins Diet was one of the earliest ketogenic diets to hit mainstream America.
I myself experimented with the Atkins Diet in the early 1980’s, and did fairly well, but I eventually abandoned it. In hindsight, there were problems with it. For one thing, it did not differentiate between good and bad fats. They allowed such novelties as industrial sweeteners (think diet sodas), and in the end, it just wasn’t really healthy.
The main idea, however, was all right. Stop eating lots of sugar and starch! Many of you can think back to your own diet, and realize that a very large portion of your diet consists of these two nutrients. In the ketogenic diet, at least the one I am now following, you are allowed to eat some carbs, but this is controlled. The focus is still on good fats and protein, with vegetables being the main form of carbs. Some carbs are also allowed in the form of bread units, and carbs are ultimately limited to 72 grams per day. That’s six bread units, and it includes sugar and fruits, etc.
One of my favorite new ways of eating includes having a breakfast of bulletproof coffee. It is amazingly satisfying as a breakfast, and when one uses this as part of intermittent fasting (18 hours of not eating, three times a week), one can experience high energy and weight loss.
If this idea intrigues you, please go online for the many ketogenic diet sites. Good luck!
Elizabeth Szlek is the Director of The Door Counseling Center of Yorkville, NY. She is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and a certified GAPS Practitioner. She can be reached at (315) 768-8900.