When I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes over 20 years ago, I was told to follow a low fat diet consisting of “healthy” fats, lean meats, fish, veggies, whole grains and fruits, and to keep my carb count to 3 carb choices per meal. I’m not sure if “carb choice” is still a phrase used nowadays, but for those who unfamiliar with this term, 1 carb choice is about 15 grams of carbs, so eating 3 carb choices meant I was eating about 45 grams of carbs per meal. Even at that time, it was counter-intuitive to me to not limit my carbohydrates but I dismissed my misgivings. I mean, after all, this diet was recommended by my doctor and the American Diabetes Association (ADA), so who am I to question the experts?
Over the next 17 years, I went through a cycle of going on and off various diets and with varying degrees of success. I tried the ADA diet, mediterranean diet and South Beach diet, went vegetarian for a year, ate high protein, restricted calories, etc., but one thing remained consistent with all of them: they were all low-fat. Looking back on it now, I know why they weren’t sustainable for me; it was because I was eliminating the very thing that make food satiating and satisfying: FAT.
Let’s face it: eating low-fat is MIS-SER-RUH-BULLLLLL! I remember eating dry, tasteless chicken breasts, measuring out each drop of cooking oil, avoiding eggs, red meat, butter, cheese, chicken skin and nuts because of their fat content, eating oatmeal with skim milk and overall feeling completely miserable because my life has become completely flavorless, literally. I’ve tried it so many times and I probably lasted a week or so before I gave up on whatever diet I was on and went back to eating whatever the hell it was I wanted. And as I’m downing my family-size bag of chips, I’d be feeling hopeless and depressed that I failed yet again, and be dreading the next check-up with my endocrinologist.
As far as I could remember, even during those days when I was a chubby kid picking up a bag of fat-free snackwells cookies (remember those?), I knew fat was bad. I mean, it was drummed into the nucleus of each of our brain cells in the most profound way: everything at the supermarket had “low-fat” on its packaging (and still does). Seeing this, without anyone even telling you explicitly, you’re all of a sudden thinking, “fat must be bad.” That’s the inevitable conclusion I came to as a teenager when I saw in the supermarket fat-free margarine, snackwells, baked potato chips, candy being advertised as fat-free, and those potato chips fried in olestra (poopy pants, anyone?). So as you can see, it NEVER crossed my mind as I went through each diet to INCREASE my fat intake. Until, that is, I discovered the ketogenic diet.