Wellness Wednesday: Vata on Keto

Confession: I'm a "diet" fanatic, but not in the way you're probably thinking. I like to try all kinds of diets to see how my body functions (or doesn't), all in the name of research, and to understand diets from an Ayurvedic perspective.

Most recently a friend looped me in on the ketogenic diet, in which your daily food intake consists of 70% fats, 25% proteins, and only 5% carbohydrates. This is a lot of fat, and not a lot of carbs - basically the opposite of my long-term eating habits. So I jumped right in! The point was to get my body into ketosis, in which it burns fat for energy instead of sugar. I expected my sugar and bread cravings to decline as a result.

The things I could eat were: meats, leafy greens, high fat dairy, nuts, seeds, berries, avocados, and ghee/oils. The things I couldn't eat were more varied (coincidentally comprised of a lot of the Ayurvedic diet): beans, legumes, grains, most fruit, sugar (honey, maple syrup, etc...), and ROOT VEGGIES(!!) I'll be honest, when I saw that last one, my heart sank.

A typical day of meals was:

  • Breakfast: 3 slices of thick-cut bacon with a handful of asparagus

  • Lunch: fat smoothie (coconut milk, sunflower seed butter, coconut butter, handful berries, chia seeds, cacao nibs)

  • Dinner: lots of steamed kale with garlic, lemon zest, and lots of ghee

Save for breakfast, my meals were small. This was because I simply wasn't hungry. All of the calories in my breakfast could carry me well into the afternoon - without loopy brain #vatavibes! 

Now for the Ayurvedic perspective! The keto diet has remedied so many of my #vataproblems. But of course! The ancient Ayurvedic texts stated that fat is the ultimate remedy for vata dosha imbalances. While vata dosha creates dryness and brittleness in the body and mind, eating a high fat diet would only serve to balance out those qualities. The symptoms that the keto diet has remedied for me were: gas, mood swings, dry skin, racing thoughts and lack of focus. I think this is one of the ultimate remedies for balancing vata dosha, even better than the ghee roasted root veggies.

Other notes: 

At first, the biggest struggle was being able to stomach so much fat in one sitting. The second biggest struggle was my lingering but strong craving for sugar. I started adding some spices and a couple handfuls of greens to aid in the digestion of said fats, which took care of the nausea. The sugar craving; however, was a tougher challenge.

Basically, I realized that I crave sugar for two reasons:

  1. My body was still physiologically hooked on it, and:

  2. The craving was largely mentally- and emotionally-driven.

I knew these for a fact because I was consuming SO MANY calories from fat that I knew my body wasn't actually calorie deprived, and therefore didn't actually need the sugar. Understanding the origins of my "cravings" helped provide empowerment in staying true to ketosis rather than add a dollop of honey into my fat smoothie.

The keto diet isn't for everyone. Do your research before deciding to start any diet change. I highly recommend the keto diet for anyone with a history of vata imbalance!