As far back as I remember, I’ve been an unpicky eater. I’d eat pretty much anything presented as food (except for that incident with the overdone deep-fried grasshoppers). And I never really understood people who made being picky a core part of their identity.
Working on making a ketogeneic diet my everyday, long-term eating pattern is giving me a mild case of identity crisis!
I’m figuring out what I can eat, and how much of it, which can be challenging. It’s often hard to tell what’s in a prepared food, and, away from home, I can’t whip out my handy-dandy scale and calculate the carb content.
The hardest part is that it makes me feel like a picky eater – and I’ve never been over-fond of picky eaters!
Intellectually, I realize that my carb-conscious “pickiness” is an inevitable part of maintaining a keto diet, and that, for me, staying keto is important. However, it doesn’t change the fact that I’ve turned into something I feel kinda judgy about.
And coming out as keto has its difficulties. At home, since I cook for only myself, it’s not an issue. And during the nine and a half months it took me to lose most of the excess weight, it was relatively easy.
Ignoring the breadbasket, choosing low-carb items from restaurant menus, and the occasional “no thank you” worked reasonably well. On the rare occasions when someone pressed me to take something that was too carby, telling them I was working on my weight was usually enough. Pretty much everyone has had the experience of trying to lose unwanted avoirdupois!
Now that I’m almost at my goal weight, there’s another challenge: living keto without being a pain at social and family occasions when I’m not the cook.
As I figure out how much carbohydrate I can tolerate and still stay in ketosis, and get more confident in choosing food that works for me, it may get easier. Though, there are some situations that I suspect will always be at least a little uncomfortable, even with lots of time.
It ain’t easy
For example, last month I visited my sister and stayed with her a couple of weeks. One of the things we’ve always done together is cook, and she was looking forward to making Czech fruit dumplings with me. Sadly, while Czech fruit dumplings are nice and fatty – they’re served with a small lake of melted butter – they’re also over-the-top carbs, what with the yeast-raised wheat flour dough, plum or apricot filling, and lots and lots of sugar. And at that point, I just couldn’t cope with that much carbohydrate.
Luckily, the Osaka supermarket across the road from my sister’s place has an amazing meat department, and an even more amazing fresh seafood counter, so we still did a lot of adventurous cooking and eating, But still, the disappointment was there…
Another, less emotionally difficult, occasion was a medieval-style feast at a Society for Creative Anachronism event a couple of weeks ago. I was able to eat a lot of what was served, and it was delicious. I didn’t take the root vegetables or sweets, and ate around the carby parts of the meat dishes. Which, after multiple courses, left me with an ugly mess of demolished food on my plate. Next time, I’ll bring a covered slop basin to hide the evidence. Should make it a little easier!
Though I can explain, and/or find a workaround, the core issue is that, unlike a friend who is genuinely celiac, I don’t have a widely-understood physiological reason for my pickiness. It’s a choice I’ve made, and, though my reasons are very, very good, being keto is still regarded as one of those fringe-y lifestyles. And leaving half my dinner on the plate, or worse, eviscerating what I’m served, feels, at best, awkward, and at worst, just plain rude.
Bluntly, I’d rather be a skinny, picky, little old lady than a bigger and bigger and bigger one!