Falling off the ketogenic wagon never feels great – I’ve been there, done that many times.
Especially in the early days.
I know that feeling of being disappointed with yourself and frustration at seemingly being back at square one.
In those first few months, what would happen to me is I’d have a couple of splendid weeks, where I wasn’t feeling hungry, I could feel my clothes getting looser, and everything was going well.
And then, totally unexpectedly, the carb cravings would hit. I’d go through a day or two of feeling this kind of tension and ridiculously insane desire for carbs. I ‘d resist and resist until a part of my brain that didn’t seem to be me would take over, and I’d find myself stood in front of the cupboard with a piece of bread in one hand and a packet of crisps in the other.
What then would follow was a 3-day binge on pretty much any carb I could get my hands on. Followed by feeling pissed at myself and fed up at having to start back at the beginning.
After the fourth or fifth time of this happening, I decided I had to really figure out what was going on here. Why was I falling off the wagon and how could I make it so that this didn’t happen.
Here’s what I realised:
First of all, if I was living in a way which meant there was a possibility of ‘cheating’ or ‘falling off the wagon’ – that meant I was essentially on a diet.
And I didn’t want to be on a diet.
I wanted just to be eating in a way that felt good and satisfying and which also led to weight loss and better health.
I didn’t want to be eating in order to get to a destination, I wanted to be living my life now, eating each day in a way that just brought me more and more benefits – physically, mentally and emotionally.
Secondly, I wanted to be in a position where if I did eat fall off the wagon, that was ok, and I could just hop back onto the ketosis train immediately afterward.
Because I need to keep things real.
The truth is, sometimes at the cinema I will eat popcorn. Or on one of my kid’s birthdays, I will have a piece of cake. I didn’t want this normal living and enjoying life to be the end of the world. I wanted a way to get back into my lovely ketosis state quickly, easily and without any negative feeling towards myself.
So what’s the answer?
Don’t spend today trying to make up for yesterday.
Each day is a new day. A day in which you can fill up on all the good foods that you know will bring you closer to your goals. Yesterday was yesterday. Last week was last week.
Forget about them and just focus on today, tomorrow and getting your habits right now.
With that being said, I do have some tips that will help make life easier when you are climbing back onto the wagon:
My tips for getting back into ketosis after ‘cheating’ (aka being human).
- Don’t extend your ‘cheat’ for any length of time just because you might as well now that you’ve fallen off the wagon. The longer you extend this period, the longer it will take to get back into ketosis. For example, the first time I fell off the wagon ended up in a 3 day carb binge, and it took a full week to get back into ketosis after that. The next time I just had some spaghetti at dinner time, and that was it – and I was back into ketosis by the end of the next day.
- When you have ‘cheated,’ make sure you do not eat again until you are genuinely hungry. No snacking or picking at food (even keto approved food). Wait until you have genuine hunger.
- When you do eat, make sure your next couple of meals are very high in fats and low in both carbs and protein. Ideally, your carbs should simply come from greens such as rocket or spinach.
- Don’t try to restrict your calories in the following days, fill up on as much good nutrition as you like. This will help you to get back in balance a lot quicker than fasting. Remember, don’t spend today making up for yesterday. Keep building towards a healthier you.
- Do some exercise. If you are healthy and strong, a HIIT workout or heavy lifting is ideal. But even going for a long stroll will do the trick. Just get your body moving and using up those glycogen reserves.
- Be kind to yourself, take this opportunity to shower yourself in love. No punishments, just love.
- Don’t obsessively measure your blood sugars/ketones, or anything for that matter. Just pick up where you left off and know that your body will get back into ketosis as and when it is ready.
- Write down in your journal how you felt after eating whatever ‘cheat’ foods you did. Remembering this will help you to keep on track if or when the carb cravings hit again. Also write down how good you feel in ketosis and keep this to hand so you can read it again in emergencies!
- Plan ahead. Learn from your mistakes and find a way to deal with the possibility of it happening again, before it actually happens. Following weekly meal plans like these that are laid out for you with recipes and grocery lists can help you to stay on track.
I no longer ‘cheat’ – ever.
And how do I manage this?
I’ve simply wiped the phrase ‘cheat’ out of my vocabulary. Yes I might eat something that isn’t on my list of perfect foods for the perfect human being who does everything perfectly all. of. the. time. And that’s fine; it doesn’t bother me.
Eating keto is a way of life, not a jail sentence.
And my aim was and still is to be free from addictive eating, obsessive mindsets and that state of not loving my body.
So, shoo away any feelings of disappointment with yourself, or feelings of negativity towards yourself, pick up your skirts and keto on!