What does the 2nd month of someone with chronic pain thriving on the ketogenic diet look like? Here’s the update!
If you’ve missed it, you can still read about the reasons why I’ve started the ketogenic diet on January 11, 2016. You can also read about my first month on keto. This post has been written in real time so that you get the full effect of the fresh experience! *Edited to add updates: Part 4 (my 3rd month)
Experience: I have had more mental clarity this week. When I am at work, I sound like I know what I’m talking about. I’m starting to feel like I’m getting into a routine with the foods. I’ve gotten used to eating “slimy salad”, which basically means that I am now adding extra virgin olive oil to my salads. I couldn’t get used to drinking bone broth daily, and have yet to work up the courage to make it on my own. I still have yet to feel like my body is using the ketones for fuel all of the time. I’m getting to the gym 3x a week. My energy has improved since the first few weeks of being on keto, but I would say I’m just back to pre-keto energy levels.
Encouragement: Stick with the supportive keto groups online. If you’ve been reading keto related research non-stop, take a break, and read something with a higher enjoyment factor! Start thinking about simplifying your keto routine.
Experience: Feeling defeated this week because my pain levels have been higher over the past several days. That has been paired with lower energy. My brain fog briefly visited for a morning, but overall, my brain seems to be clear. I skipped acupuncture last week, so that may be a contributing factor to the significant increase in overall pain levels. Despite feeling frustrated (again) with the keto diet, I have lost a total of 11 lbs. I plan to take photos again at Week 8, and hoping there will be some visual difference in the photo. It seems that there is fat where I wanted it to leave, and now there’s fat missing from where I wanted it to stay! I have heard that the belly is usually the last area to completely go away. Still going to the gym. Can only manage about 20 minutes light cardio, and leg exercises on the machine that have been approved by my physical therapist.
Encouragement: Add safe exercises back into your routine. Get some basic walking in if that is possible. If not, do something that has been approved as “safe” by your MD or physical therapist. Keep trying new foods, and continue to stay away from the “ketofied” foods, especially if you’re a sugar addict. There is help for people with an addiction to food (compulsive overeating and/or sugar addiction). Try an Overeaters Anonymous meeting if you need extra support. Enjoy some of your favorite foods that are still considered keto. We had BBQ steak this week! YUM!
Experience: I saw a keto-friendly doctor. My main reason for seeing this doctor was to make sure that I was not harming myself with going keto, especially since my pain symptoms are significantly worse overall, my extremities feel like they weigh 10,000 lbs, I’m moving through mud. I’m also having heart palpitations, nausea, and dizziness. I can hardly stay awake past 7pm. The doctor said if my pain has gotten that much worse, then I can safely say keto may not be for me. I told him that I’ve committed to trying 90 days, and as most doctor’s respond to me, he politely said “you do what you feel like you need to do.” Then he prescribed me Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) for my fibromyalgia and pain (a whole other story I will save for later). If he would’ve told me that keto was definitely harming my internal organs and whatnot, I would’ve stopped. Alas, all of my bloodwork came back great, except my Vitamin D is way too high (so high, it didn’t register on the test). So, it is my opinion that the excess of Vitamin D in my body is what is causing the increase in pain, and the other weird symptoms. I was ordered off of the Vitamin D Supplement, and will abide by that recommendation. Super positive note: my fasting blood sugar was 80! That was taken at 12p (and I hadn’t eaten since 5p the night before). I was not hungry and didn’t have any symptoms of reactive hypoglycemia! Another bonus: I have lost a total of 14 lbs on the doctor’s scale! Plus, measuring at home showed a total loss of 9 inches! I. AM. SHRINKING!
Encouragement: Seek out a keto-friendly doctor, or a doctor that knows about low carb-high fat (LCHF) diets so that you can get some bloodwork done, and have the numbers looked at through that lense. I’ve continued to seek out support in the online keto communities for questions that arise. If you feel like giving up, but are still determined to reach your goals, assess and re-assess your goals and progress. Then make a decision if you want to keep moving forward!
Experience: I’ve been off of the Vitamin D for almost a week. I’m feeling better each day. Almost back to my “pre-keto pain/fibro self”. I have apprehension about weighing and measuring at the end of this week. My fat intake (and thus caloric intake) has been a bit higher these past couple of weeks, so I’m not sure if there will be any additional weight loss. I realized again that I do not have a specific weight/inches loss goal in mind. I think that I have avoided setting one, because I do not want to have this experiment result in failure and disappointment, like so many of my other attempts at dieting. But, I found out that my best friend is getting married in the fall, so that is more motivation to keep losing weight and inches! I also restarted physical therapy this week with my FAVORITE physical therapist ever (us Pain Campers get to say stuff like that!). She’s been seeing me since I was in the Chronic Pain Program (aka Pain Camp). Now that I’m starting to feel better with the Vitamin D issue, I’m focused on getting my muscles stronger. We’re going to work on my Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (as I’ve got the grip strength of a 70 year old), and a few other tweaks to routines I’m already doing. Unfortunately, my gym is being renovated, and I am not able to work out at that location for quite a while. The last time I was in there, the adhesive and paint smells were too much for my Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. I need to make a plan to drive an extra 30 minutes to one of the other locations. Thank God I’m stubborn. I also have made two new things this week: keto pancakes, and some lemon avocado oil dressing. It had way too much lemon juice in it (technically not keto but whatever), so I will tweak the recipe and get it up in my Just Taste It recipes.
Encouragement: Two months down, and one to go! It feels good to know that I’ve got one month left of this self-imposed “experiment”. I still have no idea which way I am leaning, but I can tell you keto will not be for everyone. I have learned a lot so far, about myself, and my body. I’ve challenged some beliefs about my body, and have really started to come to the conclusion that we, as people with chronic pain and illness, must call a truce with our bodies. We must be at peace with ourselves, and that includes our pain.
Pain Camp is a safe place to share your thoughts, experience, strength and hope. Have you heard of the ketogenic diet before? What types of changes have you made to your diet to help with your pain symptoms?