I shared a few months ago my journey with PCOS so far and it has been a journey. Like most people who love to self diagnose with WebMD, I also did a lot, lot, lot of Googling after finding out I had PCOS. Googled my medicine, googled every symptom I’ve ever experienced and googled PCOS about five million and one times.
I did happen to see one thing over and over- Keto.
What is Keto? Its a Low Carb, High Fat, High Protein diet. In the past, I’ve heard of the Keto diet and thought it was so stupid. What kind of diet tells you that you can’t heave beans, chickpeas, FRUIT but instead need to snack on things like meat and cheese?! I was convinced that it wasn’t right for me, yet everywhere I turned people with PCOS should eat keto or at least avoid most carbs.
I fell down a Keto hole, about three days before I was leaving town for basically three weeks.
I tried to do the best I could while traveling but it was hard work. Still, limiting my carbs I definitely began to notice a difference in how I felt and looked. Once I returned from traveling, I wanted to buckle down and see how I could actually do.
Well, I’m not keto-expert, in fact most days I wing it. Yet I did learn so much and I’m already down 14 pounds. Not to mention, I feel better. SO much better. I miss carbs but I’m learning to balance, a piece of wedding cake here, a few chips and salsa there.
So, backing up a little bit. You guys know I try to eat healthy 90% of the time as it is. Once I started researching Keto, I realized I was eating healthy for most people. Yet for my body, I was basically feeding it the worse stuff possible. Carbs (even sweet potatoes, butternut squash and BEANS – omg I ate so many beans), Soy (remember the Morning Star products I ate multiple times a week?) and other random eats were like an all you can eat fast food buffet for my body.
Before I was actually diagnosed, I spent months so frustrated. I was trying everything to be my best yet was actually gaining weight, bloating more and becoming increasingly frustrated month after month. It was a vicious cycle- try everything I could, cut back dairy and more, not lose weight. Get more frustrated, start over. I was constantly craving, and I mean craving sugar. I used to think that it was normal but now I see that my blood sugar was so out of whack! I used to have to eat every few hours but now I can go between actual meals without feeling like I was going to die.
When I first started Keto, I went hardcore and being honest it wasn’t for me. I have modified my diet to what I call the ‘Keto, Kinda’ diet. Here’s my ‘rules’ and they work for me. Take this all with a grain of salt! Listen to your body and do what works best for you. I know fad diets never work, but for me this is a lifestyle change. I like to loosely follow Keto guidelines because I know the recipes work well with what my body needs.
– I try to stay between 20-25 Net Carbs a day. (A net carb is total carbs minus fiber.) I often go over but I set my goal low so that I know some days I can go over and not be way overboard.
– Here’s a few foods that are no longer in my diet, except for special occasions: Beans (RIP I’m SO Sad about this!), Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Soy, Bread, Bananas, Apples, Potatoes. When I do eat something like pasta, I try to find the kind with the lowest carb count. I’ve found this is usually a spinach based pasta. If I’m eating bread, I’ll only do an open face sandwich. These are usually special occasions.
– I eat fruit. Keto says you’re only allowed to have berries, but my body does not react badly to fruit so I have continued to eat it. I do however try to avoid apples and bananas. They are the highest in carbs and honestly, I don’t really miss them.
– I do not worry about getting into Ketosis. People with PCOS process carbs and sugars differently, which is my main reason for being ‘Low Carb’, not because I want to enter ketosis. For this reason, I try not to overload on fats like some people do on Keto. If I feel I need fats, I focus on healthy fats like avocado and salmon.
So what do I eat?
I’ve never been a huge breakfast fan but with the medicine I take, I have to eat three times a day. If I’m out and have to eat fast food, I try to go to Starbucks. They have a protein box with hardboiled eggs, peanut butter and cheese.
– Keto Quiche (this is great because it still allows me to have eggs even if I have to take them to work- it’s great reheated!) with Sheet Pan Turkey Bacon. I make both ahead and have them to reheat and eat throughout the week.
– Cottage Cheese
– Oikos Triple Zero Yogurt w. Grain Free Granola & Berries
Lunch seems to be the hardest, especially when I’m not working from home. For some reason since starting my PCOS medicine, salads very often make me nauseous, so I try not to pack them for lunch. If I’m at home though, I don’t have to worry about getting to work and not liking my lunch so I’ll make one sometimes.
– ‘Un-Whiches’. You can make these at home by subbing bread for a lettuce wrap or go to Jimmy Johns. I’ve also realized you can ask about any sandwich shop to make your sub in a bowl and they will.
– Turkey Rueben Casserole. I subbed turkey for the corned beef. I’m not going to lie, this wasn’t the BEST meal ever but it was good and a nice change up for the lunch rut.
– Burgers without buns
– Egg Salad
– Tuna Salad (I do a can of tuna in water, a few spoonfuls of cottage cheese and relish- I know this sounds strange but it’s so good!)
I eat buckets of cauliflower rice. It’s my BFF! Rj is so picky so I often try to cook a main dish we both like, then make cauliflower rice or another vegetable for me and then a bag of brown rice for him.
–Hawaiian Chicken Bowls with Coconut Cauliflower Lime Rice. This is one of our FAVORITES. I use Annie’s BBQ Sauce because it’s the lowest in carbs/sugars.
–Mexican Crack Chicken (I’ve been adding cream cheese and it’s so good! Just dice it up and add in before cooking, follow the rest of the recipe like normal)
–Buffalo Cobb Salads. We do lettuce, grilled corn, avocado, turkey bacon, goat cheese or blue cheese and grilled chicken that is tossed in a mixture of buffalo sauce and 2 tbsp melted butter (bake in the oven for about 10 min. at 350 so the sauce sets in). SO good.
–Keto Pizza. I made this for dinner and it was great! It’s not as crunchy as traditional pizza, but it is good and satisfies your pizza cravings without the carbs. Hubby liked this one too!
–Zucchini Enchiladas. We took our favorite enchilada recipe but used very thinly sliced zucchini instead of tortillas. I used a mandoline to slice them length wise and used three per enchilada. RJ also approved of this dish.
–Broccoli Cheese Casserole. If you are a fan of this casserole at Thanksgiving, you’re going to love this easy version. Prepare one bag of cauliflower rice, one bag of steamed broccoli and mix with a cup of shredded cheese and 2 tbsp butter. Place in microwave or bake at 350 until cheese is melted.
I have a major sweet tooth, so I cannot give up desserts. I used to crave something sweet after every single meal but now that my blood sugar is under control, I only treat myself after dinner.
– Chocolate covered almonds or blueberries. You can buy these in individual packs at the grocery store that help control your portions. I could eat an entire box of almonds if I had them in front of me!
– Yasso Greek Yogurt Bars.
– Halo Top Ice Cream. Put it in the microwave for 30 seconds!
– Grain Free Avocado Cookies. These sound awful but are actually some of the best chocolate cookies I’ve EVER had.
Let’s be honest, sometimes you just can’t prepare your lunch, are stuck on the road or just need to grab something quick. Here’s what I do if I’m forced to eat out somewhere.
– Sandwich Shops. Get a sandwich and remove the bread or ask for it in a bowl. You can also do this with burgers. I’ve heard Sonic or Five Guys has the best ‘Burger Bowls’
– Panera. They have many options that fall within my guidelines, if I’m ever unsure I’ll search for their Keto Menu online.
– Mexican Food (Moe’s, Chipotle, Etc.). It’s hard when you don’t have a rice substitute and you can’t have beans but I usually do- Lettuce as my base, grilled chicken, fajita veggies, salsa, gaucamole, a little sour cream, cheese and fresh squeezed lime.
– Starbucks. As I mentioned above their protein boxes are great! They also have egg bites that would fit inline with my rules and they carry a snack called ‘Moon Cheese’ that are basically keto cheese its!
It’s not realistic to say I’m never going to have a drink again. I enjoy grabbing cocktails with friends or enjoying a glass of wine with RJ on our porch. While I have cut back a lot, I still like to have some low carb options.
-Wine. Red wine and white wines that aren’t sweet are roughly 2 carbs per glass.
– Truly Sparkling Seltzer or Any Sparkling Selzter. These are basically LaCroix but with alcohol. They’re low sugar, low carb and only 2 carbs each. Often I’ll muddle some blackberries or fresh fruit and pour it over, it’s a great and refreshing drink.
– Vodka Water with Limes. If I’m out and want a cocktail I’ll usually order Vodka with water and limes. You could also ask for some fresh berries in it or do soda water!
– Mojito without Simple Syrup. If I really am feeling fancy, I’ll order a mojito and either do light simple syrup or no simple syrup.
I definitely have my cheat days and I don’t beat myself up over it! I want to enjoy life and I’m not going to be a psycho about following my rules. If I’m on vacation and want a treat, I treat myself. If it’s been a bad day, I may treat myself to my favorite pasta dish. I just always try to get back on track the next day. I’ve learned it’s all about balance.
I will continure to share more low carb recipes here and on my Instagram (@RileySitton). I’m happy to answer any questions you have about this Kinda, Keto Lifestyle. Drop them below or on IG! I’m going to add a whole Keto tab to my main menu on my site, so that you can easily access recipes on the future. XO