After four years of experimenting with diets and searching for solutions for my hormonal imbalance, my prayers were answered when I met my Primal Health Coach, Issa Aviles, who gently guided me into the Ketogenic Lifestyle.
I was in for an adventure that would change the course of my life… forever.
Here are some of the wonderful things I learned.
Sugar is sugar is sugar.
I am a fairly low sugar consumer, or so I thought. Growing up in the 80’s, love was equated to receiving Nerds, Violet Crumble and M&Ms from well meaning relatives. As a child, I was a sugar fiend, stuffing my face with chocolates and candy every chance I’d get. It was crazy now that I think about it. This was probably why my teeth were so weak too (I had 3 or 4 root canals done by the time I was thirty.) And this is also why I am extra careful with the amount of sugar my kids have. After being vegetarian for over five years, I noticed that some simple wounds weren’t healing as fast as they should. A dermatologist suggested I check my blood sugar level since I have a family history of diabetes. And low and behold, I was borderline diabetic despite ‘eating healthy’, cutting out white sugar, white rice and most processed food – except chocolate bars, Cheetos, cookies, cakes, ketchup, Skittles.. you get the picture. Because I know that food is medicine and that diabetes can be reversed simply with diet, I became vegan (shortlived!), because I was a very unhealthy vegetarian- choosing ensaymadas over a proper meal for example because ‘it has eggs, dairy or meat.’
Then I met Issa. We sat and talked about my daily food intake and I was so proud to tell her that I only had coconut sugar at home because it is low glycemic so it’s the best option available. But she reminded me of the saying that ‘sugar is sugar is sugar.’ No matter what we are told, our bodies still recognize it as sugar. And the goal was to completely remove sugar from my diet. Issa also suggested trying a slice of deli cheese drizzled with balsamic vinegar and some almond slivers – yum! I also stopped having ketchup and other condiments or packed ingredients—most of which have hidden sugar (evil!)
Zero Sugar + Zero Carbs = Flat Tummy (yes, it is that easy!)
In the whole month that I did the ketogenic diet down to a tee, with daily photos of everything I consumed (or planned to consume until she said, “No Denise! Eat this instead!”) sent via Viber, weekly calls to update each other, measuring my vital stats and weighing myself (stuff I never really do), I went down from 118lbs to 115lbs without even trying. After all, my goal wasn’t to lose weight. My goal was to balance my hormones, feel alive and be the sunshine that I am again. The flat tummy was a bonus! So yes, now I know it’s that simple to get rid of bloating and my muffin top.
Good Fat vs. Bad Fat/ Good Oil vs. Bad Oil
If the word Fat were a person, she’d be one sad being because of what a bad rap she’s received all these years. I grew up knowing that anything fat was bad. Despite growing up in a home that celebrated individuality, there was this ingrained consciousness from TV ads, Barbie dolls and media to stay away from anything fat – drink nonfat milk, fat-free salad dressing, fat-free this and that. There was even a time when we had margarine instead of butter because butter was fat and fat is bad.
When I met Issa, she taught me about the difference between good and bad fat. The ketogenic diet encourages full fat consumption. Yes full fat! I was scared! How can fat make me fit, sunny and sexy? But since I wasn’t consuming sugar and carbs, my body would go into ketosis and run on fat as fuel. So virgin coconut oil is good, and so is full fat milk, good deli cheeses, chicken skin, bacon fat, and even chicharon (I haven’t been able to take myself to eat these yet!)
I have bulletproof coffee or raw cacao with my breakfast that consisted of good roasted beans (never instant), coconut milk, a slab of butter (Anchor would be the next best from grass-fed butter), a shot of Laurin MCT oil or virgin coconut oil. Yum!
I also changed my cooking oil at home. I’ve tossed away my stash of canola, palm, vegetable oil, and substituted those with virgin coocnut oil or Minola Lauric oil.
Keep it Real
Going on this healthy keto craze is the culmination of 10-15 years of me learning and growing in the wellness world with my companies, IndigoBaby and Flow Retreats. Finally, everything makes sense. And the reason I love it is because it is the best of all the diets I’ve experimented with rolled into one thing that fits for me at this time in my life (I may still become vegan one day, but today, this is what my body is happy with.)
I recall standing in the grocery with tons of fresh milk boxes in front of me. So many options can get very confusing. Issa reminded me this nifty rule of thumb- fresh is always best, meaning if it spoils faster, then that’s the better option. So that means choosing full fat carabao milk from the organic local farmers instead of boxed milk in the grocery. But if that’s not available, go for the one with the least ingredients and least grams of sugar. I never knew it took anywhere from one to eight ingredients to make a box of milk. And that most of them have more than 10grams of sugar!
Eating organic can be pricey, but getting sick can be insane, emotionally and financially. We are blessed to be in time where more and more organic local options are available like Holy Carabao, Mrs. P Organic, The Good Food Company. If you can’t afford to purchase everything organic, the bare minimum is to go for organic vegetables, especially those you eat raw or with skin, and buy local fruits and vegetables in the wet market vs. grocery bought imported ones. It’s all about going back to basics and eating whole real food! Add superfoods from The Healthy Grocery to your diet, and you are set! Hello #FierceLadiesOfWellness!
Read the label
I was trained to look at labels of every single thing I’d buy. I remember my first trip grocery when I was revamping my pantry. I stood there with my phone sending Issa photos of boxes and bottles, asking her desperately if these were okay for me to eat. I ended up not buying more than half of what I would normally get. Now, I actually understand why. Listing ingredients is a must because I was cutting out flour, sugar, grain, corn, bad oil, preservatives, chemicals. Today, nothing enters my home without me checking the nutritional facts box in the back. My eyes zero in on the sugar content- 4 grams is equivalent to 1 teaspoon. So prepare to be shocked to see how much sugar we are unknowingly consuming on a daily basis and we often wonder why we all have ADHD, are overweight, cranky and unhappy.
If you’d like to reset your life and become #FierceLadiesAndGentsOfWellness, get in touch with Issa Aviles at www.primalhealthmanila.com or through firstname.lastname@example.org. She will also be doing an intro talk on Primal Health on September 30, Saturday at Hillside Cafe and Juice Bar. Email email@example.com to join.
Denise is a free spirit dancer and also the brainchild of Indigobaby, an online store that advocates natural living, breastfeeding and babywearing. She is the mother of two boys, Benicio and Pascal and loves going with the flow.