The story behind Beyond Keto
A long but greatful path
Growing up I never had stomach problems. I was always able to eat what I wanted consequent free. I considered myself to be pretty lucky as I never had problems with weight and I was always able to eat what ever I wanted.
But this carefree life style did not last long. Everything started to slowly change in my twenties.
If you prefer reading "My Story" in parts you will find an overview below. The total reading time is approximately ~20-30min.
Antacids no longer work, give me something more
I started noticing heartburn like symptoms every now and then. That burning sensation in my chest felt like it lasted for hours sometimes. My mom would always tell me to take an antacid like Pepto Bismal or Tums.
I had friends giving me Zantac or my nurse sister giving me Simethicone. There was a time I was so sick with pain, nausea and of course burning sensation, that I drank milk, ate a banana and took a drink of baking soda.
This felt like it made things so much worse. I was in agonizing pain for hours where I could barely move.
Another time, I was in Paris after a wonderful day of exploring, I went back to the hotel only to experience, yet again, excruciating pain. I was on the bathroom floor tossing in pain not knowing what had happened or how to fix it.
On the verge of going to the hospital and paying a hefty late-night doctors bill, my partner ran down to the front desk and was lucky to find that they had some sort of antacid. After taking one, the pain started to subside.
From these small but painful incidences I had no idea what lied ahead for me.
Am I hungry? To eat or not to eat that is the question...
At the end of June in 2014, I started experiencing continuous stomach pain. I was visiting my nurse sister in California when every day I was getting sharp pains in my abdomen, along side nausea and heartburn.
She thought it was just a case of heartburn and gave me Simethicone. But the pain had not gone away from this.
It took a couple of hours of being keeled over in the bed and a nap to finally get the pain to subside.
Until I would eat the next day and the pain was right back again. Baffled as to what it could be, we both just tried to put it behind us, thinking maybe it will just go away.
Weeks later after on-going pain, I went back to my home town Regina, Saskatchewan Canada. That day I explained to my mom, sister and partner the pain that I had been experiencing.
Eager to fix this problem, my sister and partner ran out and got me: oregano oil and kombucha. Having no idea what was going on or how to fix it, I tried it. This did nothing to the pain. My mom then thought that maybe it was hunger?
In a way this pain, nausea, heartburn almost felt a bit like hunger, so I ate something. Honestly eating helped! But immediately after eating, the pain would come back. I then thought maybe if I just keep stuffing food down it would help. But the more I stuffed the worse the pain got.
Pills, pills and more pills, let's run more tests
In the next weeks, I began to monitor my food and only ate what wasn't giving me pain. In my case this meant, bananas, plain yogurt, and clear broth soup with chicken and bok choy.
I ate this way for 2-3 weeks until I had no energy and was completely weak. At this point, I started introducing new foods and when I would get the odd pain, I would take Gaviscon extra strength chewables.
This helped for awhile but not for long. The pain started getting stronger. I then started taking more Gaviscon and going back to eating less.
Eventually the Gaviscon stopped working altogether. I found myself yet again keeled over in a ball on my bed, crying. My mom said enough was enough and drove me to the emergency.
There they took my blood, an x ray and gave me a "pink lady" (which usually consists of an antacid and the anaesthetic lidocaine used to treat gastroesophageal reflux) and what I assumed was a pantoprazole.
I was later sent home with a prescription for two boxes of pantoprazole 40mg 28 capsules in each. In the midst of taking these pills, I was also going to several appointments to make sure it was nothing internal.
I was sent for another x ray, an ultra sound, a gastroscopy and lastly a barium swallow. The only thing that anyone had found, that was uniquely different, was in my barium swallow.
They had told me that my stomach had not digested anything in the last 14 hours and that the normal digestion period was 6-8 hours. This was the only information I was given or that had been found.
There was no further explanation for these circumstances or if they even related to my problems.
After all the testing, coming up with nothing and feeling defeated. I finished taking the pills twice daily until I was out. By the end, I felt good again and was able to go on eating the "normal" North American diet.
Track your food to find a pattern
February 2015, I went back to Germany. The night of the first day I was back I felt like my stomach was not digesting again.
I assumed it was too much gluten that I was eating as I ate buns that morning, pasta that afternoon and more buns that evening.
My stomach felt so rock hard and sick like I could not eat or drink anything else. This feeling stayed for hours and into the morning of the next day.
Three days later my partner and I went to Sri Lanka for 3 weeks. The entire time we were there I ate what I wanted without any pain.
Arriving back in Germany, I noticed the pain slowly coming back at the beginning of March. I started monitoring my food again, this time, I wrote everything down to try to find a pattern.
I cut out gluten, and avocado, as avocado gave me severe pain when ever I would have even the slightest taste, and ate as clean as I thought I could. No sugars just natural sugar like honey.
I incorporated fruits, vegetables and tried to monitor my meat intake. I read several different diets and studies on the internet trying to find something that would help me.
Iberogast to the rescue!
Finally, I came across the "Paleo" diet. I then started to put a lot of time and effort into my meals.
Every meal had rice, quinoa, or potatoes with plenty of veggies and a small portion of meat.
I made everything from; coconut and rice flour breads to superfood smoothies and bars.
Every morning, I would start my day off with a green tea, eat all sorts of fruit and continuously drink plenty of water and tea through out the day.
Despite my attempts of eating “clean”, my pain started slowly creeping back. Mid July, I was forced to go back to the doctor where I was prescribed, yet again, more pantoprazole.
Even after taking pantoprazole, every now and then, I would still have pain. When I did though, I would make a note of what it was and make sure to steer clear of it. In these cases of pain, I also found an amazing helper called "Iberogast".
Although, I had to take quite a bit and it was fairly expensive, this was my saviour.
Crazy allergy flare up, coincidence? I think not...
In August, I went back to my home town in Canada. When I got there, I noticed my allergies were so bad I had to start taking Reactine and Claritin. I never had allergies before, other than to cats.
Granted that year was extremely bad with wild fires to the point you could barely see down the street. But now, I was noticing an allergy to grass, pollen, hay, dust and my dogs, in which I had grew up with all my life.
There was never a time in my life that I didn't have a dog and now I was allergic to them? Something was up. Later, my family and I took a vacation to B.C for a family reunion.
Still not knowing exactly what was going on with my stomach, I took my trusty Iberogast. My allergies had some what subsided after leaving the dogs, although they never fully went away.
Mid September, my partner and I stopped over in California to see my sister, brother in law and nephew before heading back home to Germany. In the first few days of being there I noticed my allergies flaring up again.
I must mention that we were in Fresno which is in a high allergen valley. On the other hand, I had been there numerous times before free of allergies. So, was this just a coincidence? I had no idea but I felt there had to be some kind of correlation.
We arrived back in Germany on October 1st. Within hours of being there I had noticed a major change in my 2 months on going allergies. They were not completely gone but had significantly improved.
Always question the fine print
As time went on, I went back to work to try and live a normal life. The pain just continued to get worse, never backing down, day in and day out, ending in taking more Iberogast and resulting in eating less and less.
From October to December my stomach took a major turn for the worse. I started having severe pain everyday from what seemed like everything I ate. I ended up going back to the doctor which then led to another prescription of pantoprazole.
I started taking it for the first couple days and it wasn't helping so I stopped. My boyfriend dug up some dirt on this drug researching the fine print. He found that it was a horrible drug that can leave you with terrible side effects such as liver damage, acute kidney disease and decreased granulocytes (white blood cells that fight off pathogens, fungi and bacteria).
Not only does it have these awful side effect but in addition you could get stuck on it for life.
Giving up was not an option, there must be something more
I felt so defeated and scared unknowing what to do. I started losing weight, energy, and feeling light headed. I was unable to do anything normal.
Every night, I was crying in a ball on the bed rocking back and forth. My partner rubbing my back feeling completely helpless.
He ended up taking me to the hospital where I got my blood and urine checked, as well as an ultra sound. Everything came back normal and I was sent home. At this point, I was unable to eat anything without getting pain.
My partner went out to get me baby food and I couldn't even eat a teaspoon with out immense pain. I lost 7 kg from 49kg to 42kg (108lb to 93lb). I literally felt like I was dying.
With no one helping me or finding anything, I started to research. Curled over in pain, I searched the web for anything that might help.
Praise the FODMAP diet
Finally, I found it, the "FODMAP" diet. It is known as one of the best diets out there for IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome) patients. I decided to try it immediately and it worked.
The more I would look back to all the things I was eating that had caused me pain, the more correlation I would find,according to the this diet. I praise this diet so much because I honestly don't know where I would be without it.
This diet enabled me to eat again. It was very strict though, I had to watch every little thing I ate to make sure it was in compliance with the diet. If not, I would suffer with the symptoms of before. Even the smallest bit hidden in a cookie or sauce would give me severe pain.
To me this did not matter as the most important part was that I could eat without pain. It was frustrating at times to watch people around me eating what they wanted. Not to mention, trying to always explain why I could not eat this or that and having the person understand.
It was a major struggle at the beginning with everything but most of all trying to figure out what I could eat. But this was something I knew I had to do for me. Knowing the pain, I was in before, I was determined to never go back. It helped me stay on track and be strong in the struggles I had to face with this new diet.
Once I had adapted to the new diet, understood what I could and could not eat and people around me started to notice I was no longer in pain, things got much easier.
Of course, there was still the odd person that would come along and still not understand or think I was a loonie but for me it was working and that was all I cared about.
Keto, the baby producer?
Following this diet for one whole year, it did keep me away from my pain, heartburn, nausea and other symptoms I was experiencing. The only problem I had was that I still could not have some of my favourite healthy foods like eggs, avocado, onions, and garlic.
These foods would stimulate some of the worst pains upon first bite. In December 2016, I went back to California to visit my sister. In the first days of arriving, she explained to me that she had been back on this diet called "Keto" for about a year.
The first time she had tried keto was because her nutritionist husband claimed it would help her conceive. After 7 years of trying to have a baby, visiting multiple doctors, getting shots and taking several vitamins to become more fertile, she was willing to give anything a try.
Being 33, time was slowly running out and they were desperate. Incredibly, she was pregnant within 3 months. The whole family was amazed and thrilled to hear the great news. It was as if a miracle had happened as no one could understand why out of the blue she was able to conceive.
Even after she had explained it was keto, everyone was still a bit doubtful to believe in this unknown diet. And where was the proof to say it was this diet for sure?
Bye, bye food allergies
Years later, when her first born was 2, she continued to tell me about this diet and how it was known to fix many things in the body, including food allergies.
At first, I was a bit apprehensive, as I am not the type to just jump head first into things unless I completely research the ins and
I was also really nervous because I was doing well on my diet and did not want to bring back my pain. On the other hand, I was very curious as to whether it could help me with my food allergies.
Keeping an open mind and a firm grip on my diet, I decided to slowly try her diet. Within the first two days, I kid you not, I was able to eat eggs again. In the first week, I reintroduced onions and garlic and by the end of the first week I tried -- the ever painful -- avocado. Low and behold, I was "cured". Okay, okay, it took me about a week and a half to eat a full avocado but after 2 years of not being able to have even a teaspoon, that was pretty incredible.
Don't cheat yourself from your potential health gains
With these amazing results, I continued on eating this way when I returned to Canada. Days after my return, the phone rang. It was my sister with the amazing news that she was pregnant, yet again, with her second child.
Coincidence? I began to believe that there was a lot more to this dietary lifestyle then I knew. I say lifestyle because that is what it is. With these amazing health occurrences happening before my very own eyes, I was intrigued beyond intrigued.
I wanted to know all the healing benefits of keto. And so, I started to listen to every “keto talk” podcast with Jimmy Moore and The Doc. I read the book of Maria Emmerich and watched all the YouTube videos of Stephanie Person.
Gaining knowledge everyday, I will never go back to "the standard American diet" and that's a choice that I have made. Although it was hard for me at the beginning, to watch people eat foods that I couldn't or not knowing what I could eat, I no longer have cravings, I now know what I can eat and there are plenty of sweet substitutions for almost every dessert.
It is possible for some people to do this diet and "cheat" now and again. But it is not something that will fix you and shield you thereafter from the many "civilian" diseases out there, why cheat yourself from that?
It's what's on the inside that counts
In correlation to my statement above, even though I believe strongly in the keto way, and the many indisputable health facts, this does not mean it is for everyone.
I am not a doctor or nutritionist of any kind but I have read and listened to enough books and podcasts to know that keto is not just meant to be another diet with the soul purpose being weight loss.
Yes, people do try the "diet" just for weight loss and yes, they do get great weight loss results but keto is so much more than that. An image shouldn't mean everything, it should be a bonus.
To have daily health benefits on the inside such as gaining energy, having a clearer mind and a healthy digesting stomach that gives you no pain.
If you knew someone or we're someone here because of pain or stomach problems and thus had been desperately searching the internet, going to medical offices and hospitals running tests in hopes of finding anything that may help, once you found that help why would you go back to the diet that put you in the pain?
Know the basics before you start
Truly, keto can be dangerous if you go into it without basic knowledge. For example, at the beginning I had headaches and dry mouth because of my low electrolytes.
I didn't know that once you switch to keto you take out almost all the salt in your prepackaged, premade foods and therefore must up your intake. Or how about sleeping? Sleeping is a major part of keto, I did not know that carbs help you sleep and keto, being a low carb diet, was not helping me sleep.
I would also like to mention that I have always been able to sleep the moment my head hits the pillow, literally. I later found out that if you eat a teaspoon of coconut oil it will help you sleep as it acts like carbs in your stomach but takes less to digest.
Now, I know none of this is "dangerous" but it goes to show how much there is to know. One of the biggest dangers I faced due to my lack of knowledge, at the time, was an episode of vomiting one night after ingesting way too much coconut oil.
It started with a crazy day full of energy and extremely lucid thoughts. This feeling was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. I was able to run on the treadmill for one hour while dancing. On top of the endless energy I also had bouts of laughter that just wanted to burst out of me and talked a mile a minute.
Everyone around me noticed something was clearly up. With such a great day, I thought to myself, yes, I finally broke through into ketosis but boy was I wrong.
Knowledge is key, don't overdo the coconut oil
At about 9:30pm, I could barely keep my eyes open and ended up passing out in my bed. Later, at 11:00pm, I woke up feeling super sick, I ran to the washroom with extreme diarrhea. Once done, I then felt nauseated so I curled up on the washroom floor and tried to wait for the feeling to pass.
When I felt a bit better, I went to get up and my body started to shake. On my hands and knees, I found my body shaking and it felt as though I was stuck for a minute and could not see. Even though this only happened for a short moment, it terrified me.
Going back on the toilette for round two, my body started to sweat profusely to the point where the sweat was dripping down my arms. Scared, I called my nurse sister to make sure this was not a hospital emergency.
Upon her reassurance that this episode sounded like nothing but postural hypotension, I felt a bit more at ease. After the phone call I went to lay down, only for about 10 minutes and then I was back to the washroom to throw up the rest of what was in my stomach.
When I had finished throwing up, I felt much better and I was finally able to go to sleep. With this knowledge, I don't intend on scaring people from the keto diet. I want to make sure that no one makes the same mistake as I did.
And if they do, that they are prepared for the outcome. I made the mistake of not informing myself more on the different fats I could eat and the consequences of eating too much of one fat, mainly being coconut oil. I “overdosed” on coconut oil and I paid the price but I also learned a lot from my mistake and I hope that others can too.
The medical world and the natural world are close yet still so very far
Now I'm not here to explain keto, nor do I want to scare you away from it. I am simply here to share my stomach journey in hopes of helping someone in need like I once had been. I also want to be honest because stomach pain is real and can be debilitating.
People, nowadays, rely heavily on the word of doctors and practitioners. So, when they say take this, being the uneducated, vulnerable (do to sickness) patient, you just take what they prescribe, no questions asked. Again, I don't want to portray the wrong image here.
I'm not saying that doctors and practitioners don't know what they are doing but that they are always coming from a medical stand point. And why wouldn't they? That's what they were trained for wasn't it? I just believe medical advice should be used as a last resort.
Once more, this is my opinion based on life events, podcasts, and reading material.
Amazing benefits that give new meaning to life
I can honestly say that I have been strictly dedicated to my keto lifestyle since 2016. Within my first year of being keto, I had noticeably improved with my sleep habits. Meaning, I no longer have to take naps in the afternoon and I have continuously sustainable energy through out my days.
This is a major deal for me as the whole time I was in high school it was a constant fight to stay awake in every class. I would wake up with a ruler smacked on my desk as drool rolled off my face and the minute the teacher would turn around, I was passed out again.
Not that I didn't try, I did, I swear! My body was just not allowing me almost as if I had Narcolepsy. Brain clarity and mood have also greatly improved. Although, not on for long, I used to be on antidepressants.
Growing up I had major problems controlling my hormones. Finding myself easily upset, getting extremely mad and frustrated or depressed beyond words. Not wanting to stay on antidepressants, I tried to work through my emotions by myself.
When you suffer from such problems all your life you start to believe nothing will ever change and that is just the way you are. It seems almost impossible to believe that something as simple as food could be so powerful as to change your whole view of yourself.
As a result of hormone balance, I also noticed a significant change in my period. For some, this may be too much information, for others this is life changing. I'll start off by saying that I stopped taking birth control about 2014.
Birth control slightly helped my cramps but they still came on strong for the first few days. I remember days where I would be keeled over, in tears for hours. The only relief I would get was when I would take 2 Ibuprofen 200 and 2 Advil 200 every 6 hours coupled with a heating pad.
I always knew when it would start because I would get very angry or very sad the days before. And who could forget the dreadful hormonal acne... Being on keto, my period is always on time with the first day giving me minimal pain.
Sometimes, I am completely pain free!! I have heard of keto women having absolutely no pain and one day I hope to have no pain too! I no longer get hormonal in the days before and my face has been super clear!
Inflammation can be a silent killer
In light of the no cramps comment, this is due to no inflammation. While on keto, the body has very minimal to no inflammation. I would also like to add that I used to have many problems with soreness in my upper back, lower back, head, neck, hip and knee areas.
Yea, I know what you're thinking, that sounds like pretty much everywhere and you're right, it pretty much was. In 2006, I started working as a server. I worked hard for 5 years because, well quite honestly, I had fun and I made money while attending school.
So, I put in several hours and to be more efficient I usually carried more than I should have. This resulted in messing up my upper back which in turn gave me severe headaches. To manage the pain, I was icing, warming, and occasionally taking Robax but usually taking tylenol back pain.
On top of all that, my mother would lather and massage my back with Voltaren. I know this sounds a bit over the top but trust me there were days I couldn't bare. Lasting for 2 years, on and off, eventually the pain got so bad, some days, I felt like I couldn't see strait and I would slightly hallucinate.
At this point, I went to the hospital to make sure everything was okay. In the end, they just suggested that I keep taking the drugs I was and to go see a physiotherapist. I spent one whole year with my physiotherapist which helped significantly.
In 2012, I started working at another restaurant. After about half a year, I started having hip and knee problems on the left side. Slowly, the pain became more and more unbearable. As a result, I had to stop working.
At first it started with a limp, which made it difficult to walk. Then I struggled to drive my standard car, as I couldn't push in the clutch very well. To later, only finding relief in laying down, taking my usual pain meds, icing, heating and using a stronger anti-inflammatory cream called, Kita-Salbe. I then thought to myself, there is no way I am going to be debilitated in my twenties.
This was my push to go, yet again, back to my physiotherapist. Unfortunately, this time, my pain was not so easy to fix. I went to a chiropractor and several different physiotherapists in Canada and Germany only to give up in defeat, as no one seemed to be able to fix my problem.
After living with the pain for one and a half years, my sister suggested I go to her physiotherapist in Clovis, California. Since her problems sounded very close to mine, I decided to give him a try. After about 7-8 appointments, I felt next to new. My pain had almost fully went away allowing me to go back to work.
Never settle for less!
At this point in my life, I felt good but not optimal. By this I mean, yeah, I was able to work again but every now and then I would experience slight pain. To me this was not optimal.
So after 3 months of working, I flew back to Germany and sought out a new profession. I began to stretch every day and I worked on gaining muscles.
I wont lie, this did help very much but I always had to watch that I didn't overdo things because if I had I would be regretting it for days to come.
It wasn't until the Paleo diet that I really started to notice a change in how much I could push my body until the pain came back. Of course, it still did, but very rarely. After switching to Keto, I haven't had any pain come back nor have I had upper back pain or headaches like I use to.
This is all because of the significant reduction in inflammation. These scenarios, to me, were major eye openers of the devastating consequences that could have been. I am so happy and lucky to have pushed myself in finding a solution, as so many people out there are less fortunate ending up in a wheelchair for the rest of their lives.
A change to the senses
Less body fat, more muscle! Like I said before, I never really had problems being over weight but I may have been slightly under. When I was having problems with my stomach, I dropped down to 43kg (93lb).
On average the healthy body weight recorded for a woman my age at 5'6 inches should be between 118 – 154lbs. This put me in a dangerously low category. I had little to no energy, I was exhausted to walk to the bathroom, always cold and very lightheaded.
In extreme cases, if I would have continued to not be able to eat, I could have been susceptible to the possibility of organ failure. I knew these signs were bad and that's why I pushed myself to find an answer. While on the FODMAP diet, I of course gained my weight back but only as high as 108lbs.
I worked out every second day for 8 months pushing myself to gain muscle. Although my endurance became stronger, I was unable to gain any more muscle weight. Upon starting keto, I stopped going to the gym and only continued to run.
I ran more and more 4-5 days a week up to 1 hour. Slowly, I started to add in some no weight strength training. I maintained this regimen for 6 months, with no breaks. For the next 6 months, I walked everyday and did strength training here and there.
Since then, I have been able to maintain a healthy stable weight of 110lbs. My muscles are becoming more defined then they ever were and I have noticeably more strength. I never have bloating gas anymore and therefore my stomach is continuously flat.
No cravings, no Hanger and a change to the senses. For those of you that don't know about hanger, let me tell you it's real! When your blood sugar drops because you have no food in your stomach, your hunger and anger will collide viciously.
I no longer have this problem because my blood sugar levels are regulated thus maintaining a stable level through out the day. Regulated blood sugar also helps control craving. So say goodbye to that sweet tooth! I also noticed a change in my tastes buds.
I slowly started to like new foods I never liked before such as wild game, fish and other things. Likewise, my sense of smell is different. For example, I started to like certain smells I hadn't before and some smells I liked before, such as candies or desserts, smelt toxic. Lastly, some food textures became more tolerable like clams, muscles or runny eggs.
Don't make excuses make improvements!
All of these different dietary lifestyle changes can be less than easy, I will admit. You, as a responsible adult, must perform your due diligence in researching any underlying health problems you may have and adjust your food choices accordingly.
Not everyone is the same, which means whatever diet you decide to follow make sure the food restrictions are right for you. For example, on a Keto diet a staple food is avocado. Unfortunately, for me, I can only have a bit as my body developed a food allergy to them.
In time, Keto can help me fix this food allergy but I know that it will not happen over night. Also, it can be very difficult if you happen to travel a lot. In the last 3 years of undergoing several different dietary ways, I have learned to find or make snacks that I can bring with on long flights or drives as well as menu choices for when I choose to go out.
You may be thinking to yourself that this all sounds too hard but I can assure you that practise does make perfect. Let the internet help you mix things up with quick, fun and simple recipes!
The improvements, with a keto diet, can be endless the deeper you look into things. Although keto is not for everyone, if you follow the dietary rules, test yourself for underlying sicknesses and food allergens, don’t cheat and stick with it for a minimum one year, you should be able to find out whether or not it is a beneficial lifestyle for you.
If it isn't, then maybe, your eating lifestyle is still out there waiting for you to uncover it. Discover your best you!