This summer has been quite frustrating in a lot of ways, one of them being the frequency and severity of my migraines. I’ve tried no less than 6 different preventive medications for them. I’ve tried cutting out gluten, soy, alcohol, nuts, legumes, and dairy. I’ve tried the Whole30. I’ve tried intuitive eating. I’ve tried acupuncture, cupping, you name it.
I’ve heard quite a bit lately about the benefits of a ketogenic diet for people who suffer from seizures, and since most of the migraine meds I’ve been prescribed are anti-seizure meds being used off-label, I started to wonder if keto could help my head. I did find a couple of studies (here plus an article here) that showed that a ketogenic diet has helped migraine sufferers. I’m going to try aimovig next (a new migraine-specific preventive) but I have to wait 4-6 weeks to do so, so I figured that gives me a good amount of time to try keto.
Let’s get specific.
First things first. I am not doing the super strict keto that some studies have used (with 5-10 net carbs a day). Keeping it under 25 net carbs each day is my goal right now. Second, there are many ways to go keto…you can have plates of bacon, or you can have a beautiful salad with some avocado, cucumbers, radish, cabbage, maybe some cheese and a fun dressing, plus maybe some shrimp to top it all off. My goal is to nourish my body rather than just “get it done” so I will be choosing the latter.
So what does a day in the life look like for me right now?
Breakfast: Fab 4 smoothie from Kelly LeVeque‘s book Body Love. She sings the praises of a ketogenic style of eating, one that I will probably shift to once my 4 weeks is up, because she focuses on getting protein, fat, fiber, and greens at every meal.
Lunch: Kale salad with radish, cucumber, sprouts, and cabbage, plus avocado, and some chicken. With a side of berries.
Dinner: Another smoothie, or a salad with eggs on top, or eggs with some veggies. Eventually branching out to zoodles once my spiralizer arrives!
My favorite snacks so far have been salted nuts, 1/2 an avocado, meat jerky, and cheese.
Breaking it down: Week 1
I’m not gonna lie, this week was rough. I started on Monday and felt totally fine. On Tuesday and Wednesday I was STRUGGLING. The keto flu is real, y’all. I did find some awesome electrolyte powder at Whole Foods (which you can also get at Thrive Market) and it is the best – plus it’s bright pink! But back to days two through four. I was headachy, tired, peeing all the time (part of the keto flu – seriously look it up), and just generally focused on food and food alone. On Friday I woke up with a bit of a headache but once I took some medicine I felt great, and same with Saturday. Yesterday I was exhausted when I got home from yoga so I took a fantastic nap. Today, I was great all day until an hour before I taught barre, when I thought my head was going to implode and I was so nauseated – so I “cracked” and ate a Grab the Gold bar at the studio. The good thing? Plenty of fat and fiber and protein!
Overall, I feel pretty good. I can already tell that I’m slimming down a bit, and while I’m not a slave to my scale, I think I’ve lost 3 or 4 pounds as a result of cleaning things up.
Today is actually the perfect example of my thought process when it comes to keto. There were cinnamon rolls (!!!!) at an office-wide meeting this afternoon, but I passed those up, and I listened to my body when I could tell I needed a little something extra and picked a wise choice. Just because I ate something that isn’t strictly keto doesn’t mean I cheated, or fell off the wagon, or failed…it means I made the choice I needed to make and I am moving forward, trying to make the best choices I can. I know from experience that I can’t restrict and stress over food – my eating habits need to relieve stress, not add to it.
What I miss the most: COOKIES. Definitely cookies. Also donuts and ice cream. I also really miss the chickpeas I love to snack on, and some other more starchy veggies.
What I love the most: eating cheese, and starting the day with a green smoothie. My favorite smoothie recipe is Mint Chocolate Chip: mint leaves, almond milk, chocolate protein powder, spinach, Brain Octane oil, and chia seeds. YUM. I top it with some cacao nibs and man is that the best way to start the day!
I’ll keep you posted on how week 2 goes!