Many people have written to me, asking questions about my keto (LCHF) diet! I'm so happy word is getting out about this healthy lifestyle (which is good for almost everyone, not just diabetics) and I'm happy to answer questions whenever possible. There are some questions that come up again and again, though, so I think it's best to answer them on the blog.
One series of questions was well asked by long time reader Staci, who actually attempted keto at one point. She wrote:
"I would be curious in hearing what a normal day looks like for you with food - breakfast, lunch, snacks, supper, even a treat. I'd like to see what you eat versus what the kids and husband eat - whether anything is different for them than you or how you incorporate other things for the family that you don't have yourself...
I did [keto] for a full week and a half before flopping...I really felt hungry a lot! I would find myself grabbing some pork rinds...and then just felt like I was still eating junky because of grabbing those.
Also, I felt like I was ALWAYS cooking!!! Sadly, it is faster to grab a package of convenience food than it is to whip up something and leave yourself with dishes to be dealt with afterward. I homeschool four kids, so time can feel tight. It just seemed like I was adding more work load to my day."
I hear this a lot from people who are attempting to convert to a keto diet - or a whole foods diet, for that matter. I do get it. Life is busy, especially when you're a mom. Cooking can seem like a burden. And then there's dishes to do afterward. Ugh. Here's how I handle it.
First and foremost, my mindset matters. Yes, it seems easier to grab processed food. But what is the real cost of that food? For me personally, the cost is raised blood sugar leading to a host of awful and deadly side effects. For you, it might be less energy (because one thing is certain: going keto will make you feel far more energetic!), poorer overall health, and training children to eat in a way that, if they wish to be healthy, will mean having to re-learn food as an adult. So I try to think of the wonderful health benefits of a home cooked meal, rather than thinking of cooking as a burden.
Second, I don't spend hours in the kitchen every day. Breakfast takes maybe 10 minutes to prepare for myself. On the weekends, I cook a larger, family breakfast and it can take 10 - 30 minutes. (There are ways to reduce that time; more on that later.) I rarely eat lunch, but when I do, I whip up something in less than 5 minutes. Dinner takes the longest, but I generally try to choose meals that take about 30 minutes or less to prepare. So in total, I'm cooking - at worst - an hour a day. I don't think that's bad at all!
Third, a little bit of planning can reduce cooking time a lot. For example, if you eat a lot of bacon, you know it can take some time to cook, no matter your favorite cooking method. So I know people who cook a week's worth of bacon on the weekend. They toss the cooked bacon in a Ziplock bag and bam! they've just shaved off a ton of weekday cooking time. I've never gotten around to doing this, but if I know I'll be having bacon later in the day, I do cook extra at breakfast time, so I don't have to cook it again later in the day.
Other ideas include making egg "muffins" and freezing them; cooking eggs in the microwave; boiling a bunch of eggs and keeping them in a bowl in the fridge (for breakfast or snacks or salads); freezing keto pancakes; making 90 second bread (you can toast it, if you like); keeping meat (canned, or leftovers from dinner, made in the Instant Pot or slow cooker during a spare moment) to pop into salads or "sandwiches"...As you get more familiar with keto cooking, you'll also see it's just as easy to make freezer meals, crock pot meals, and Instant Pot meals as it is with "regular" food.
|No one wants this.|
My least favorite part of cooking: doing dishes. But you know what? I've learned it really doesn't take long to get this chore done.
I empty the dishwasher (or have a kid do it) in the morning, and pop in the previous' nights dishes. (Yep, I leave dishes in the sink overnight! My hubby has a long commute, and I like to eat dinner with him. So by the time we eat, I'm way too tired to get the dishes done.) If the dishwasher isn't full, we keep adding dishes as we use them. (Usually my kids put their own dishes in the dishwasher, even though I often have to re-arrange them later.) I run the dishwasher when it's full, and then start all over again.
If there are enough dishes in the sink at any given time, it still only takes about 10 minutes to empty the dishwasher and refill it. And I'm working on training my kids to do dishes, too.
But I'm Hungry!
No one on keto should ever go hungry. The key to feeling full is to get enough fat in your diet. It's not enough to simply cook your foods in butter. You should have a good portion of fat in every meal.
However, if you feel hungry between or after meals, eat something low- or no-carb with plenty of fat in it. A piece of cheese, a handful of walnuts, or some pork rinds should do the trick. The ever-popular keto "fat bombs" work, too. Just watch the carb intake and make sure you don't often eat sugar substitutes. (More on that in the "desserts" section.)
My Basic Meals
This is what works for me. If there are things here you hate to eat, don't feel obliged to eat them. Keto offers tons of food options, so there's no need to choke down food you hate (which is a sure fire way to tempt yourself to cheat).
|Keto pancakes or crepes.|
Breakfast: I usually eat eggs and bacon for breakfast. For me, it's filling enough I rarely need lunch, and I like that. I use backyard fresh eggs cooked runny and I dip the bacon in the runny yolks. Yum! Sometimes I'll cook scrambled eggs, or make an omelet, or so some other egg variation. I always cook the eggs either in bacon drippings or lots of butter, and I salt my eggs liberally (because your body requires more salt when eating keto).
When I want to mix things up a bit, I have keto crepes/pancakes, or I eat non-breakfast food for breakfast.
Admittedly, my children are not huge fans of eggs, so they often have something different. Currently, they tend to have a carb-laden food, like bagels with cream cheese - but I want to change their carb-loving ways, so we're working on this. Sometimes, I give them leftover dinner food. (Low carb pizza is their favorite breakfast!) Whatever the case, I keep their breakfast quick and easy to prepare. My husband grabs hard boiled eggs from the fridge on his way out the door each morning.
On weekends, we typically all eat the same breakfast foods. I do sometimes make toast or English muffins with homemade jam (or store bought peanut butter) for the kids.
|Cherry tomatoes make carb counting easier.|
Lunch: When I first started keto, I ate lunch every day. Usually I had no-bread BLTs: A piece of large leaf lettuce with mayo on it, two slices of bacon, and three cherry tomatoes, sliced in half. (I like cherry tomatoes because they are much easier to carb-count than large tomatoes.) I had two of these "sandwiches" at a time. Other times, I had chicken or tuna salad: meat, lettuce, maybe some hard boiled eggs chopped up, a little mayo, and sometimes up to 5 cherry tomatoes.
Once I got into my keto groove, I found I wasn't often hungry at lunch - so I usually skip it! Because there are benefits to intermittent fasting. But please, if you're hungry, eat.
My children do eat lunch, but again, I keep it simple: Dinner leftovers, sandwiches, and meat roll ups (basically a sandwich using thin-sliced meat in place of bread) are common.
My husband eats at work these days, so I prepare his lunch the night before. He always has some tinned fish (What can I say? He loves it!) and a salad. I try to vary his salad, but it's typical for it to have chopped hard boiled eggs or meat leftover from dinner, in order to get more protein in the meal.
Snacks: My husband has a long commute and doesn't get home until hours after the regular dinner hour, so I often snack in the afternoon. My most common snack is a handful of walnuts. Sometimes I also eat what I call "pleasure food:" 4 strawberries, raspberries, or cherry tomatoes (if I haven't had them already that day and won't be having them with dinner), or maybe up to 4 squares of Lilly's dark chocolate. Sometimes I also eat flavored pork rinds. (I'm working on ways to flavor my own so I can feel better about consuming them. Remember, thinking of pork rinds as junk food goes with your old ideas of healthy eating. Good, clean pork rinds are a great source of fat, and have zero carbs.) Other times, I might eat some salted hard boiled eggs or a small serving of fermented sauerkraut.
My kids mostly snack on nuts, fruit (home dehydrated and fresh), trail mix, and cheese. (Again, I'm working on trying to get them more low carb.)
|Meatballs can be low carb! Photo courtesy of Mack Male
Dinner: Typically, we all eat the same dinner. I have a Pinterest board of keto recipes, as well as a Facebook group of shared keto recipes, that I draw inspiration from. Sometimes the meal is simple, like meat and one veggie. I up the fat content of the meal by making a sauce from heavy cream, or by adding cheese, or by adding tons of butter to my plate.
Desserts: I try to keep sweets to a minimum...for several reasons. First, our bodies sometimes get a spike in blood sugar after eating any type of sweet - even if it's Stevia or an artificial sweetener that's not supposed to spike blood sugar. This hasn't happened to me yet, but those who eat such sweeteners a lot are more apt to have it happen over time. Second, I think it's healthier to train ourselves away from sweets. Third, it's easy for the carbs to creep up accidentally when we eat sweets. That said, I do make my chocolate icy, and I do eat Lilly's dark chocolate bar squares. (Health food stores usually sell them cheaper than Amazon.) It's really all about chocolate for me, folks! I have also twice eaten some Stevia-sweetened cheesecake my mom-in-law made, and I plan on experimenting with some of the very low carb baked goods in the Cooking Keto with Kristie cookbook.
|Chocolate icy dessert.|
Simple Meal Plan
Breakfast - 2 slices bacon and 2 eggs cooked in bacon drippings.
Lunch - 2 breadless BLTs (Two slices bacon, three cherry tomatoes sliced in half, mayo, all on a large leaf lettuce)
Dinner - Pork chops with spicy green beans
Snack - Handful of walnuts
Breakfast - Cream Cheese Pancakes with butter
Lunch - Tuna salad (Canned tuna, mayo, celery, hard boiled eggs, lettuce)
Dinner - Cauliflower Chowder
Snack - Chunk of cheddar cheese
Breakfast - Omelette with cheese, mushrooms, olives, and spinach
Lunch - Bunless burger (wrap it in large leaf lettuce or eat with fork)
Dinner - Creamy Chicken Garlic
Snack - 5 strawberries with cream
Breakfast - Sauteed greens with 2 scrambled eggs and 2 slices bacon
Lunch - Chicken salad (canned or roasted chicken, mayo, lettuce, celery)
Dinner - Steak with pan fried eggplant
Snack - Jalapeno poppers
Breakfast - 2 egg "muffins" (basically, scrambled eggs baked in muffin cups; add chopped green bell pepper, some chopped bacon, and some cheese.)
Lunch - Leftovers from dinner
Dinner - Nachos made with pork rinds instead of chips
Snack - 2 hardboiled eggs
Breakfast - 2 scrambled eggs, a slice of ham, and 90 second "bread," toasted with butter
Lunch - Turkey roll ups (thin sliced turkey with mayo or cream cheese, shredded cheese, sliced olives)
Dinner - Keto meatballs and roasted broccoli
Snack - Pepperoni slices microwaved until crisp
Breakfast - Bunless burger topped with an egg
Lunch - Chicken wings
Dinner - Country Vegetable Lasagna
Snack - Flavored pork rinds
Dessert - Chocolate Icy
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