In my mind, filling your freezer, fridge and pantry full of keto-friendly ingredients and foods is simply part of following a low-inflammatory lifestyle. So even if you never get into ketosis, the simple act of embracing a low-inflammatory diet will promote cellular health and longevity.
Before I unpack how to prep the kitchen for a Keto diet, it’s necessary to quash a few myths about keto. Like any food trend the ‘purist’ or ‘best version’ of it often gets revised to fit with convention and keto hasn’t escaped this.
Eating copious amounts of fat in the absence of veggies is opening up a can of worms and isn’t advised. To me, it’s very possible to eat a high fat/low carb protocol, but still consume an abundance of nutritious (above ground) veggies, in addition to fibre and prebiotics for gut health. There’s more to the keto diet than bulletproof coffees and ghee. I guess there are a number of ways to approach keto, but one that embraces low-inflammatory foods and promotes cellular health is key to me.
First thing first, there might be a need to look at the types of oils you have in the pantry. To cut a long story short the oils that have been demonised over the last 60 odd years are actually the fats we should be embracing and cooking with or dressing our salads with. The likes of coconut oil, tallow, butter, ghee, lard. In contrast, the industrialised oils that took their place in our pantries need to responsibly discarded – the likes of canola oil, soybean, safflower oil, peanut and vegetable oil.
The latter are highly refined and industrialised – in order to extract oil from seeds requires a process that renders it devoid or low in the any health benefits it might have contained as a whole food.
These fats are high in linoleic acid which is fragile, unstable and highly oxidative – promoting inflammation on a cellular level which is exactly what we are trying to avoid.
Instead, consider cooking with more stable (less oxidative) fats such as coconut oil, ghee, tallow and dressing your salads/veggies with olive oil, avocado oil or macadamia oil. One caveat to all this is that some producer of processed oils are ‘breeding’ new variant of seed oil - ones which have a higher oleic acid value making them more healthful. That being said, increasingly the consumption of saturated fats is a better way to go.
Sometimes relying solely on will-power isn’t enough – we all have weaknesses after all. So with that in mind, removing all known treats and processed foods from the freezer, fridge and pantry might be the way to go…at least for the moment. Adhering to a high fat diet will do a number of things to your physiology, stabilising your blood/sugar levels is one and normalising your hunger/appetite hormones is another. Naturally over time you’ll be less inclined to eat treats, so it’s not to say they are on the banned substance list forever, just while you’re setting yourself up for success.
Make a deal with yourself that you’re only going to buy, prep and cook with real food for a minimum of seven days. This approach is in parallel to removing any processed foods and treats from the kitchen. This two-pronged attack will trigger a series of health-promoting processes and get the ball rolling in the best possible way. Your cells will love you for it.
Us Aussies LOVE a juicy slab of protein, and crank-up a BBQ at the drop of an Akubra! This attitude to meat and protein has arguably led to an overconsumption of protein. This left unchecked can contribute to our inability to achieve ketosis (if this is the desired outcome). I like to think about protein as simply the condiment to the dish with the salad/veg being the hero of the plate. Typically, most Aussies have that approach flipped on its head, with the veg or salad hardly getting a look-in. A reevaluation of the quantity and the quality of our protein might serve to promote ketosis and overall health. Aim for 1-2 palm sized portions of good quality protein per meal.
10 things to stock your pantry/fridge for keto
1. MCT oil – Pure medium chained triglycerides, readily available for energy and converted to ketones
2. Butter/Ghee – Cooking with or adding to a dish at the end will enhance the flavour. Adding to veggies will help to ensure you’re eating your nine cups per day.
3. Coffee – Coffee will support your path to ketosis – stick to long blacks, espressos or bulletproofs.
4. Leafy greens – Ensure you’re getting the resistant starch needed for a healthy diet as will as your micronutrients. The keto diet is more than just your macros, it’s essential to pay attention to micros too.
5. Coconut milk/cream - A keto-friendly alternative to dairy milk – great for smoothies.
6. Water – removing carbs from your diet will mean you’ll need to increase your hydration.
7. Herbs/Spices – following a keto diet certainly doesn’t mean food should lack flavor and depth.
8. Sea salt - seasoning food is an essential part of the whole process – food has to taste great!
9. Eggs – A staple ingredient for eating wholefoods.
10. Olive oil/macadamia oil/walnut oil – use butter, ghee, tallow, lard, coconut oil for cooking and olive/macadamia/walnut for dressing dishes.