1. Nourishing Herbal/Long Infusions
5% carbohydrate, what we’re aiming for with the therapeutic ketogenic diet, is such a low percentage, some people find it hard to wrap their minds around. Compared to standard diets since the birth of agriculture, it’s a drastic intervention to say the least. But if minimizing carbs promotes brain calm, what’s the tradeoff? Some people raise the concern that carbohydrates, particularly fruits and vegetables, are prime sources of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and as-yet unidentified cofactors crucial to nutrient absorption, and that we may not get enough of those..
In this post, I’m going to mention two big reasons why this concern is less serious than it might first appear (and these deserve a whole post of their own, coming up next). Nearer and dearer to my heart as an herbalist, I also share how you can utilize herbs in the form of infusions and teas to get those same antioxidants and micronutrients without adding carbohydrate calories.
Indeed, infusions prepared by long steeping of nutritive herbs are the antithesis of empty calories--they contain no calories, and they are full of highly absorbable nutrition.
but yes, constant awareness and vigilance
I need to address the good-natured objections of people who say “it’s a restrictive diet.” “It makes social eating all-but impossible.” “You used to be crazy-obsessive about tracking everything you ate and now you’re doing it again.” “It’s even a calorie-restricted diet.” “If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…”
Believe me, I understand the concern. I’ve been around myself-and-eating-disorders long enough. I hope it’s reassuring to hear that I’m monitoring my own obsessiveness, am keeping tabs on tendencies to restrict too stringently, and have set the intention to be able to keep myself in balance without always having to weigh/measure/track.
Here’s some more on how to distinguish between a therapeutic dietary strategy and an eating disorder.
first of many posts on this
A strict ketogenic diet has taken me:
From a near-constant state of brain pain and agitation (ranging from irritability/anxiety to outright psychosis, from suicidal depression to suicidal mania) to ambient calm and peacefulness.
From a near-constant state of severe gut pain to occasional lower levels of pain, and still improving.
From a near-constant obsessive preoccupation with food, calories, diet, body image to conviction that I know what I need to do and can focus on more important things.
How, how, HOW?! (lots to say about this in posts to come)
And--how ironic that food obsession has been cured by what really is a strict diet, given that most eating-disorder treatment focuses on getting patients to give up strict rules. When I explain why/how the ketogenic diet is working, you’ll see the beauty of this: it’s likely that even the anorexia, as destructive as it has undoubtedly been, was a subconscious effort at self-regulation and healing. Nothing has been wasted…
I talk to myself--would I have listened?
Dear Former Self,
At this point, you would rather die than have a weight in triple digits, and you say so sincerely. You can’t hear how melodramatic that sounds; in fact, from your standpoint at this time death is close enough to lose its melodrama. But at some level, admit it: you must realize that weight gain is on the cards. You’ve gained a couple pounds already because of this ghastly new thing binging and purging, even despite all the brutal fasting you’re doing the rest of the time, your other tricks aren’t working anymore, you know you’re out of control and need help, and, at bottom, you know that your chances of finding a practitioner who would help you lose weight from below 90lbs are approximately zero.
a litany from the open heart
I want to pause a moment on this insight I mentioned last time, that nothing has been wasted. Even when it felt like my life was unadulterated pain and misery, there were elements that got me to where I am now.
On Saturday evening, I went to Dances of Universal Peace, a Sufi event where all comers sing and dance together, songs and dances from traditions all over the world. I had a moment of self-consciousness about this bigger body I now find myself in, and I looked around the room at the 12 or 15 of us ranging in age from 20s to 70s, ranging from tall to tiny, from broad to spindly, dark skin to white skin, myself included in the circle, and my heart opened wide.
OFF all meds, OUT of pain, GRATEFUL to be alive
For those of you who might be thinking of working with me, and for anyone who’s known me for a while, it’s time I went into detail about all this wonderful self healing I’ve been bragging about for the past month.
In short, I’m off all meds, I’m not in pain, I’m appreciating my body, and I believe I’m alive for a great purpose.
because being a chef is expressing a gift, and feeding a self is sacred duty
My first blog, which ran for several years from 2010, was very much a food blog, primarily a low-glycemic raw-vegan blog with additional focus on herbs/weeds and locally grown foods. I posted all kinds of recipes and wildcrafting/gardening stories. I overcame my resistance to taking photographs in order to portray the food.
When I started this blog, my intention was to keep food out of it almost completely.
Now, it’s back on the table.