Judgement and criticism

I’m sure I’m not alone in experiencing judgement, criticism, negative comments, and odd looks when some find out about my ketogenic lifestyle. Some people think it’s okay to care and comment on others’ diets. It likely stems from the same place judgement grows for other alternative lifestyles. Add to the situation that keto has been a hot topic in the media lately and is growing traction. More and more people out there know a little bit about keto and unfortunately that little bit can be negative or just wrong.

You could start by not explaining yourself at all. You don’t owe anyone an explanation of how you live or what you eat. If you’re in a situation where you feel the need to divulge some reason or info you could simply say you’re cutting out sugar, or cutting back carbs in your diet. Give limited information without adding any of your own commentary. I bet if you follow a ketogenic lifestyle for a while you will stop caring what others think. Thankfully, this is where I am for the most part and have my good results to rely on when others judge.

For those I’m closer with and feel would be open to some respectful discussion, I have gone into more details about my diet, why I decided to try it, and why I’m sticking with it. I talk about my unhealthy relationship with food including binging and hiding food, which was essentially an eating disorder. I had an addition with food and even found benefit in attending Overeaters Anonymous meetings. I’ve used the comparison that you wouldn’t say to someone with an addition to alcohol, “oh, just have a sip” or “one drink won’t kill you.” Same should go for someone in my situation but yet I have heard “just have a taste” or “treats like a cupcake or cookie are what [insert holiday or celebration] are all about!” Sometimes people honestly don’t realize how hurtful or triggering their comments can be to someone dealing with such issues.

Finally, if you get the nerve to just be brutally honest, you can give as good as you get. I don’t suggest being snarky but hold your ground. If someone says, “oh, I could never give up bread because it’s so good” tell them that no doubt, traditional bread, pasta, beer, etc. are delicious but your health is more important than a sub-set of delicious foods. There are plenty other delicious foods which you’ve found to not aggravate your inflammation, obesity, diabetes, depression, hormones, etc. If someone says flat out that keto is unhealthy then you could argue with them but I doubt it will be useful. Engaging with someone who who already has their mind made up or isn’t open to learning something is a waste of time. I’ve found it best to say something like, “we’ll have to agree to disagree,” and know they are as entitled to their opinion and behavior as you are to yours.

Now, I totally understand this judgement goes both ways. Search about keto online and there are countless articles, blogs, videos, etc. telling everyone that this is the the way to go. Do I personally think a low carb, high fat diet would help many, many people? Yes. But I’m not going to pew pew anyone for how they chose to live their life. I’m here if anyone wants resources, to chat, to learn about my experience, etc. But I’m not badgering anyone to adopt keto. It’s not ‘my way or the highway’!

We need more acceptance in this world. I don’t comment much in online forums, but I recently felt compelled to make a comment when I disagreed with something – from the great Dr. Berg no less. On a recent Instagram story, Dr. Berg recounted seeing a family in a restaurant when a mother gave a young child juice in a bottle. He urged people to not do this, and (this is what made me concerned) to step in and say something to any mother who gives their child high-sugar food so they could be educated about sugar’s negative effects. I commented and said something along the lines of: please do not encourage shaming mothers because everyone has bad days and moments. That juice might have been the only thing holding everything together that day. I’m a mom and know that sometimes the day, my kid’s behavior, or my sanity can be hanging by one small thread. And it’s not just mothers who have responsibility for nutrition and education in a family so don’t pick on us.

I hope Dr. Berg keeps his up with his teachings and more people do jump on the low sugar train. But please don’t publicly shame someone or get on your high horse to criticize if you see something you don’t agree with. Kids are given sugar everywhere including in schools. I argue that we’re all trying to do what’s best for ourselves and our families. It would be amazing to see advocates like Dr. Berg lobby government and industry to change their ways instead of shaming or attacking individuals just trying to live their lives. I’m hugely supportive of not giving kids sugar. But there are times I let my own children have a juicebox or even candy depending on the context because parents need to pick their battles carefully. Or they have rice or such if we’re dining with friends from a different cultural background and higher carb offerings are on the table. I hope public figures in the keto world understand this and use their publicity and knowledge to help us navigate our sugar-laden society better and advocate for bigger changes. Let’s not sink to the level of those who criticize us for following a ketogenic lifestyle. We can act better and smarter. Everyone: please be tolerant of others, lead by example, and petition for change in systems and regulations instead of wasting energy in comments sections or gossiping.

Good read: Sugar’s Sick Secrets

I want to share articles and other good reads I find which highlight or discuss topics related to my own site’s main themes.

This good read article is called Sugar’s Sick Secrets and details work by researchers at UC San Francisco. It talks about trends in diseases and health troubles linked to overconsumption of sugar.

It makes a comparison between food policies, behavior, and marketing. Smoking was once the norm just as eating sugar-laden foods is currently our norm.

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The article also discusses evidence of the sugar industry funding research which set the course for our society’s obsession with everything low fat (but increasing sugars and carbs in food options).

This is a good read for anyone, but especially so if you’re interested in a low carb diet or ketogenic lifestyle.

Previewing Canada’s new food guide

The other day I saw a news article about the ‘new’ Canada’s Food Guide and it definitely piqued my interest. I’m a public policy nerd and a nutrition nerd so this topic is right up my ally. The Guide is currently in draft form and is expected to be finalized later this year. The document is produced by the Federal Government’s Health Canada organization, was first adopted in the 1940s, and was last updated in 2007. It has long come under fire for being unbalanced and promoting unhealthy food and dubious links to various industries. The guide has actually been criticized for enabling obesity by a federal government senate report because it encouraged consumption of high-sugar foods such as fruit juices. The updates to the Guide are supposed to reflect a more “evidence-based approach” rooted in nutritional and medical science. Additionally, the government consulted with over 26,000 Canadians including small focus groups and larger briefing sessions with health and industry organizations. Until we see the full guide, and its companion site and documents, it will be tough to fully understand its recommendations and whether they align with my personal ‘keto’ lifestyle.

What to expect
But what do we know so far? What can we expect from the new Canada’s Food Guide with respect to government guidance for healthy eating?

First, it seems there has been more input and consideration of more groups of citizens than ever before. Health Canada is trying to address past criticism and include a diverse range of Canadians in their consultations and recommendations. This includes many different ethnic backgrounds, geographic and market availability, and socioeconomic groups.
It’s also of interest to note that Health Canada agreed not to meet in private with food industry or business reps when consulting with this guide re-vamp. This is a huge step in the right direction in my opinion. Public policy has shifted to engagement or consultation models in recent years, as well as needing to be transparent in development and operation. The government has not made an exception to these new principles when preparing the new food guide.

Second, there’s more to the food guide than just making recommendations for what foods to consume and what to avoid. The guide and it’s accompanying website and literature provide resources for meal planning, shopping for food, reading food labels, tips for eating at restaurants, etc. These are all valuable tools and good skills for everyone to develop regardless of whether or not you agree with the guide’s food nutritional recommendations. The guide will also touch on making good food choices for non-nutritional benefits such as reducing food waste, accessibility, and how food choices impact the environment. These are also important things to consider.

Finally, there’s the ‘meat’ (so to speak) of the guide which outlines nutritional guidelines, and speaks to which foods you should and should not consume. The guide starts with three guiding principles, of which the top two are about guiding what to eat: 1) Foods and beverages to encourage; 2) Foods and beverages to limit or avoid; 3) Knowledge and skills (such as planning, cooking, and preparation).

Nutritional recommendations
So far, the buzz about the new guide seems to circle around changes in recommendations for meat and dairy products. Specifically, shade is thrown on red meat which has the beef industry worried. Plant-based protein, and fruits and vegetables in general, are the shining stars of the guide. Non-saturated fats will be championed, including promoting consumption of avocados, nuts, and seeds, instead of saturated fats as found in butter, cheese, whole milk dairy products, meat, and coconut oil. An opinion piece by a group of physicians and dietitians was published by the Calgary Herald which essentially summed up conventional widespread health and nutrition expectations that eating less animal products and more plant products will be good for everyone’s health. An piece via CBC News presented the counter argument continuing with the old guide’s failings of promoting a low-fat, high carbohydrate foods will not help anyone.

My preliminary opinions
All I can say at this point in time is that I’m inclined to think the new guide doesn’t go far enough to provide recommendations to help Canadians stay healthy, and prevent or deal with metabolic diseases. I’m all for recommendations to eat less processed foods and cook at home with responsibly-sourced and sustainable food. And the consultations, and choice to try to avoid industry and political influence, are noble efforts in the right direction. As an individual, you can chose whether you wish to eat according to the food guide but it’s important to consider the guide’s impact as a piece of policy throughout the country. Schools, hospitals, and other institutions will take their cue from the guide and only offer what it recommends to the most vulnerable in our society. Government recommendations impact industry, products we can buy, and our society itself. These guidelines will be part of the foundation information taught to future generations of children, and those training in medicine and nutrition. And as we’ve seen, science and evidence is developing rapidly regarding nutrition but the wheels of government tend to move slowly. Nutrition is like a moving target but since we’re unlikely to get a new food and nutrition guide anytime soon I hope they hit closer to the that target this time around.