Some of the angriest comments I get on instagram are from people who swear that the keto diet is helping them and that I’m soooo incredibly ignorant and/or deceitful for saying that the body prefers carbs.
However, for every comment where someone is swearing by keto, there are twenty more comments with people saying that they too tried keto, with hope bursting in their hearts, only to find that after a few months it had fucked up their metabolism, hormones, energy levels, sanity, and has been really hard to recover from, mentally and physically.
I’ve spent a long time trying to decide how to be diplomatic and to not claim to know what’s best for everyone’s body. Because– everyone is different. Some people are allergic to fucking tomatoes. We are all different.
I’m also not a doctor or nutritionist or dietitian so I have no authority or desire to weigh in on diets that people claim are medically necessary and helpful to them. TFID is concerned with the mental and spiritual ramifications of chronic dieting, it just so happens that there are very physical consequences to dieting, too.
So in my attempts to be diplomatic, I say things like: I’m so glad you feel good on keto, but this is an account for people trying to heal from chronic dieting or disordered eating, and your comments about keto do not belong here. And many many people have had opposite experiences on keto.
I’ve also compared keto to wheelchairs or mobility devices. Meaning, just because a select number of people are benefitted (read: children with seizures, maybe), that doesn’t mean that it cures any underlying condition, and also doesn’t mean that people who don’t need keto/mobility devices should be using them, in fact if they do, it will probably make things worse in the long run. (I also asked Anna Sweeney, MS, RD, LDN, CEDRD-S, who uses a wheelchair, if this was a cool comparison and she gave me the green light.)
But the most honest thing I can say about the keto diet is: what the fuck do you think I’m going to say?
Keto is a very, very restrictive diet, and therefore it has no place in or on or around The Fuck It Diet. It has no place in the lives of people recovering from disordered eating or eating disorders.
And if you are someone who is on the keto diet and you feel great, then you don’t need the Fuck It Diet either. Why are we fighting? If your diet is truly supporting your mental and physical health: that’s great. Round of applause. Most people don’t have that experience, and I’d love for you to check in with me in two or three years and tell me how you’re doing, too.
More frankly: I don’t care how you eat, Pamela. Eat a no-carb-diet to your heart’s content. I have no desire to evangelize you. If it is ‘working’ for you – I’m not going to try and tell you it’s not working.
If you want to know what I think, the short term “benefits” of the keto diet, and any diet for that matter, are just that: short term. The long term effects can be physically and mentally devastating, and have yet to be truly studied.
So, where does this leave us?
Do you need to do keto?
If you want to recover from chronic dieting: NO. HELL NO.
But could keto cure your chronic health problems?
Probably not. It was shown to help children with epilepsy in the 1920s, but it still comes with side effects (kidney strain, hypoglycemia, dehydration, GI issues, etc). Are those side effects worth it for kids with epilepsy? Yes! Potentially! Is it the cure-all that people claim it is? I don’t think so.
Will keto help you lose weight?
Temporarily, yes. Like all diets. But now we are getting into our usual TFID rigemroll. Diets backfire longterm. It’s how we are wired. And, diets and weight loss can actually negatively impact health, against all our cultural common knowledge. We are all confused about weight loss and health. We are assuming weight loss is always good for us – often it’s not .
But more importantly, the psychology of extreme dieting, even for ‘health’, is almost identical to eating disorders. So if your lifestyle is negatively impacting your mental health… it’s not a good idea. It’s not sustainable. What’s health if it doesn’t take into account mental health and stress levels?
The psychology of extreme dieting is all consuming – you have to buy in. You have to believe that what you are doing could really help you. You have to believe that maybe it already really is helping you, but you just haven’t experienced the benefits yet. I have personally done this over and over and over. I’ve gone from extreme to extreme diet (Keto, Paleo, Raw Vegan, etc etc etc) and I always had to buy in. I had to believe. I understand. I empathize. I really do.
If you feel that keto truly is helping you, that’s great. But no, it doesn’t belong on or near the f**k it diet. And yes, the body prefers carbs to keep you alive. You need stress hormones to run on little or no carbs.
Stress is not what we want.