The Ketogenic diet has long been used as a form of treatment for Epilepsy.
The cravings were overwhelming – it was like there was a little sugar demon sitting on my shoulder, constantly whispering, “Eat me. Eat me.”

Rather recently, I forced myself to quit eating pastries to try improving the health of my brain.

I have Cerebral Palsy and like most who suffer from the disorder, I have the joint pain of a grandparent and the balance of a severely drunk man. On top of those issues, my particular brand causes a variety of seizures. For much of my adult life, I’ve dealt with both Focal and chronic Tonic-Clonic seizures. Fun to say, awful to deal with.

If severe enough, a single seizure could completely exhaust me and wipe out my short-term memory. It terrified my girlfriend. Imagine sitting by your flailing, grunting, suffering partner and being able to do nothing beyond making sure that they don’t smash their head against the floor.

At my worst, I was constantly fatigued, irritated and uncommunicative. It was as though there was a constant storm cloud looming over my mind.

A change was needed.

Throughout college, my disgustingly fitness-conscious friend would preach to me about the benefits of Keto. My usual response was to ignore him and promptly stuff cake into my face. However, I eventually learned that the Ketogenic diet has long been used as a form of treatment for Epilepsy.

For the uninitiated, Keto is a low-carb, high-fat diet. The idea is to force yourself into the “ketogenic” state wherein your body gets most of its energy from fat instead of carbohydrates. This, in essence, means giving up brownies and bread in favor of avocados and bacon.

Bacon and avocados as far as the eye can see and the mouth can taste.

The general math boils down to roughly 70% fat, 25% protein and 5% carbs. 5%. For most people, this means consuming less than 25 grams of net carbs per day. I would wager that most people don’t go a single meal without consuming 25 grams of carbs.

Despite the apparent difficulty of the diet, I had nothing left to lose. Any alternative was better than the reality that I had been caged and trapped into for so many years.

On the First Day of my Ketogenic Diet...

On the first day of my new diet, I eyed my tortillas, ice cream, rice and beans wistfully as they were tossed into the garbage. Part of me felt like I had made a tactical error – I began my new, incredibly low-carb diet just as I moved to an area where I was (and still am) surrounded by amazing dessert shops and Mexican food. Did I mention that I can’t drink beer either and that San Diego is considered a “beer city”?

The cravings were overwhelming – it was like there was a little sugar demon sitting on my shoulder, constantly whispering, “Eat me. Eat me.”

I persevered against my sugary coated “id” and as the weeks went on, I noticed a dramatic shift in my health. The mornings no longer greeted me with waves of grogginess. It became possible for me to simply wake up without it being an event. I was losing my beer gut, too.

By the end of my first Keto month, I realized that both my mental focus and energy levels had greatly improved. I could go about my day without getting fatigued, and there were far less blank spots in my memory. This is largely because fat is a better source of energy for your body than carbs. The Ketogenic diet also tends to reduce your insulin levels, decreasing the likelihood of you morphing into a sugar-zombie.

Keto isn’t perfect, though.

Although greatly reducing my issues, the diet has not completely alleviated them. I’ve suffered a couple seizures within the last months. They were minor and I bounced back far faster than before, but they were still a problem. Nothing is a cure-all in this world.

Additionally, Keto tends to get incredibly boring and incredibly frustrating. Occasionally, it would be nice to be able to go to a restaurant without completely deconstructing the menu. When you’re out with friends and family, get ready to explain exactly why you can’t eat anything that they’re able to. They might wince when you mention just how much fat you consume on a daily basis.

And unless you’re an incredibly creative cook (I’m not), you’re generally going to be eating the same ten things over and over and over and over.

Being healthy isn’t fun.

I’m not going to argue that everybody should be on Keto. If you’re already healthy and loving life, keep eating those burritos to your heart’s content. Enjoy them.

On the other hand, if you’re suffering through mental focus issues (or, like me, worse), and you can handle giving up everything that’s fun to eat ever, consider Keto. The positive effects, at least in my experience, are profound and vastly outweigh the negative elements. Being able to live without feeling imprisoned by my body is incredible. A blessing that many take for granted.

If you do attempt the diet, though, consider moving to an area where you aren’t surrounded by pastry shops, Mexican food and breweries

Resources: (Ketogenic Diet in Neuromuscular and Neurodegenerative Diseases) (The Therapeutic Uses of Ketogenic Diets) (The Effects of Keto on Exercise Metabolisms and Physical Performance)


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