The Educated Patient

Taking a Risk with a Chronic Condition

First things First

How can I prime for success?

A first things first approach may well be your best chance at success. I know it worked for me. I researched and planned everything out step by step at the Keto intervention phase. Then I monitored my progress and revised my plan as needed through subsequent interventions. I now know this is how machines learn. It’s called Bayesian Inference, or updating the probability of a hypothesis as additional information becomes available. After I reduced my weight on the Ketogenic diet, I applied that knowledge and refined my next interventions. If the Keto diet didn’t kill me, and in fact, made me feel better, what could I do next? I then tried exercise and Intermittent fasting, all on the same principle of refining my goals as new information became available. Tracking my data was critically important to my success and I highly recommend it for troubleshooting purposes.

Maybe in your situation, your doctor is suggesting that you change up your diet or activity levels because of some worrying test results. Maybe you already have a chronic condition and want to reduce it’s impact on your quality of life. If there is a family history of a disease, you might want to act proactively to avoid it. Maybe you’re just trying to lose some weight and not develop diabetes or heart disease? How can you know what your best health strategy is? You need to do your research and get educated about your condition. Your motivation will be your own and your solution will be your own too. There are no cookie cutter solutions but with applying a first things first approach, you’re good to go.

What’s the best approach for Me?

The best approach starts from identifying your goals. What do want from the program? Do you have a medical condition you want to improve? Maybe it’s weight loss or the mental health improvement that a Keto diet can bring. What are your individual values that provide the context for the program?

If your food choices are based in religion, you can continue to eat within that framework while still adopting a low carb lifestyle. Some people eat only meat or vegetables and do very well with these lifestyle interventions. Some follow a time restricted feeding protocol or intermittent fasting and can also be very successful. The point is, the program is endlessly modifiable for whatever purpose you identify. The only rule is limit your carbohydrates. Some limit to less than 20 net carbs a day and some can benefit at less than 50 net carbs a day. It’s up to you. Any step in this direction will bring positive health results in my experience.

I chose to start my program with the ketogenic diet. My goal was to lose weight and to reverse my pre-diabetes diagnosis. I thought I might be able to reduce the size of the lipomas on my back and shoulders as well so took my time here. I wanted to make sure I was completely fat adapted and health stable before moving ahead. My diet and bloodwork was monitored by the AMDC clinic I attended and I had several MRI’s done to assess the impact on my lipomas. At the end of three months, things were looking really good for me. I lost over 50 pounds, reversed my diagnosis of pre-diabetes, my bloodwork was stellar and my lipomas were slowly shrinking. I felt confident enough to move into the next phase of my health recovery.

The tools you’ll need

The only rule of thumb is that you should always check with your medical team. You do not need their consent to change your lifestyle or diet, but for your own safety, it’s good to keep them informed. They are your back-up team if something goes wrong. If you are on ANY MEDICATION, you absolutely, without fail should inform your medical team about your decision as you may need to adjust dosage levels quickly. Documenting your progress is really, really important. You can take before and after pictures, log your weight, journal any unusual things, and take this information to your physician to share. They can help you troubleshoot your program but only if they know what you are doing.

Once you have decided on the kind of dietary intervention you want to attempt, find an app on line to track your progress. Many are available for low to moderate cost. The most popular one is My Fitness Pal but Chronometer and several others do a decent job. Most will let you enter in your daily macro goals and track them on a daily basis. MFP also comes with a UPC scanning feature using the camera function on your phone which can help with improving the accuracy of your food data. You also want to invest in a kitchen scale and get familiar with measuring cups and spoons. A tablespoon is actually not very big at all.

The first month – Adaptation

The first three weeks are the toughest in my experience. Be ready for it. Keto Flu is real and happens if you are not managing your electrolytes well. It can be avoided. If you are following a first things first approach, you’ll be ready to go. Clear out your pantry and refrigerator of all carb heavy foods. This includes all flours, pastas, rice, lentils, and starchy vegetables like potatoes and yes, even sweet potatoes. Check out the link for 7 days of keto recipes and a shopping list.

Do your research before you begin and be prepared to troubleshoot. Have your ketoaid recipe ready to avoid Keto flu. Be ready for ketobreath and keto-pee. There is no need to invest in expensive blood monitor devices or urine testing strips. These devices are designed to help people with diabetes. If you don’t have diabetes, you don’t need them. Make sure you’ve talked to your family about your choices so they can support you.

1 reply

  1. Hello Elizabeth,
    Your website is wonderful and truly inspirational!
    I and my son were both diagnosed with MERRF this year. I am doing my best to research this rare disease as far as I am able and would love to know more about your findings specific to MERRF. You have clearly done a lot of research in this area!
    If you are at all interested in an exchange of ideas/knowledge/experience that would be amazing. My son started a ketogenic diet in August and you are the only other MERRF sufferer I have come across who is also doing keto. Your experience gives me hope!
    I would love to hear from you!
    The best of luck,

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