This Keto Life: It’s nice to be validated

When you tell people you’re eating keto, you get some weird responses. Sometimes those responses are perfectly normal, like “what the hell is keto?” and sometimes there’s a lot of “hmmm, and you say you eat a lot of fat…?” and a lot of reserved judgement (which is fine; at least it’s being reserved) and people privately considering that they’re going to have to visit you in hospital when you have a heart attack and how on earth are they going to resist saying “I told you so, you pseudo-scientific noob.”

That’s okay. I have some of those thoughts about other people’s decisions, and most people handle this in a pretty mature way with the understanding that what goes in my stomach is my business, and what goes in their stomach is their business.

However, at the moment, I am wallowing in a giant pile of smug. The disclaimer is that this is not “smug” meaning “I am doing a sensible thing and you are all idiots who are not doing that thing” – different things work for different people (and there’s hopefully a good explanation for why carbs make me feel sick, and I’m pretty damn aware that most people don’t have have that experience). This smug is more “I am doing a sensible thing for me and it is working stupendously well.”

I just had a checkup with my doctor, and we had a gander at my most recent lipid panel. My total cholesterol is, unsurprisingly, what would be considered “high” by most standards. Not dangerously high, but high. This would be a concern if the scientific thinking on cholesterol hadn’t undergone a massive shift over the last decade or so, where even LDL vs HDL is a vast oversimplification (not even all LDL is actually problematic; just small pieces of LDL).

My ratios, however, are amazing. My LDL/HDL ratio is very low. My triglyceride/HDL ratio is staggeringly low. And my GP said that my HDL was some of the best she had ever seen. And my raw triglyceride measurement is also very low.

I said that was a relief, because even though I’d done enough research and trawling of the primary literature, when you go against popular medical advice, there is always a kernel of doubt (you sometimes feel like you’re being treated as an anti-vaxxer when you feed yourself eggs and hollandaise as a perfectly sensible lunch).

“Well, if you really want to double check, we’ll do a cardiovascular risk assessment.” So she took my blood pressure (96/66 – BAM!), and ran the numbers, and it all came back in a big fat green zero. Some of that is because I’m a pre-menopausal, 34 year old woman – my risk is pretty damn low as it is – but a lot of it is these improved ratios. One day I might sum up my discoveries about cholesterol and how it seems that how it actually works is significantly different to what was thought thirty years ago (and salt), and that will involve a lot of reading and referencing and an actual kind of science journalism that I haven’t really attempted on this blog before.

In summary: my GP, who is marvellous, but not particularly radical, is quite happy with me eating keto. She’s happy with my numbers; and since I have a great deal of trust in her, I’m happy with my numbers.

Now, if this had panned out another way – if it looked like my situation was getting worse while on keto, and if this doctor that I trust was concerned – I would have felt extremely conflicted. I don’t want to go back on a standard diet, or try a low fat/high carb diet. Not only does it make me feel sick (and break out in acne, and get more abscesses, etc.), but my palate has gotten quite used to regular doses of flavoursome fats, and I think it would be difficult to manage. I also still have my fun sensory processing issues which make it impossible for me to eat a lot of raw veggies (ie, vegetables that haven’t been prepared in fats, which these days is how I consume them).

I suppose I would have tried to find a way to make it work, but it would have done a number on me.

It turns out that keto really is my path to health. And honestly, although I mostly trust my research, I’m also aware that I’m not a biomed-head, I don’t have that background in human health, and it’s a load off my mind to have it all confirmed by a medical practitioner who knows what my numbers mean.

Now, if I could just stop eating muffins when I’m on holiday, I’d be set.

 

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