Update – Jan 2016

I followed a vegan, no soy, ketogenic diet until October of that year (about 6 months). In July, my younger brother was diagnosed with acute leukemia, and the stress of juggling an intense grad school experience, running my business (since he wasn’t there, and was my business partner), TA’ing for classes, and driving to the hospital every night in the middle of construction (2 hours each way) made it impossible for me to find the time to make food.

I stopped eating and finally broke down after a few months, and called the Relief Society president in my ward – a service leader in my Church congregation – and asked if people would bring us food. People brought food, but it’s pretty hard to cook a no-soy vegan ketogenic meal if you haven’t researched it.

Then I started getting sick, and I decided that for my health, and my brother’s, I’d put my diet on hold until my stress was gone and he was healthy.

He was declared cancer-free in January of the next year, and I graduated from the MBA program at BYU that April. I began the diet anew, this time putting soy back in to make it easier. Eliminating soy hadn’t done much that I could tell in my health, and tofu specifically became a mainstay for me.

I followed a ketogenic diet for almost another year and a half, and during that time had no relapses into bipolar mood swings. I finished the diet, returned to eating a no-sugar vegan diet, and haven’t had a depressive episode since. I consider myself cured of bipolar… And attribute that cure completely to following a strictly ketogenic diet over a significant period of time. 

I’ve had to relearn all the habits that were based on living the highs and the lows. For example: for a really long time, I didn’t do laundry… because I was never on an upswing. That’s when I did laundry in the past.
That’s the update. If you’d like information or ideas or just support, feel free to email me. My contact info for blogs is a gmail account called afriendtotalk2

I know very few people ever read this blog. But I wanted to at least give an update to those that did.


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Day 10: Vegan, No-Soy, Ketogenic Diet

Day 10: Saturday, Mar 31

Ketones: High (beginning of day), High (end of day)
Weight: 155.4 (91.3% lean)

General Conference! Today was General Conference, and it was amazing. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a biannual conference where leaders and prophets speak the will of God to the entire world. Today’s sessions of conference were awesome.

Ate: We hosted a pancake breakfast, and I didn’t want to feel left out… so I made a pancake. Protein powder, ground flax, MCT oil, cinnamon, vanilla, allspice, stevia, baking soda, and water to make a thick batter, then put it on a griddle. It didn’t cook extremely well. I had to turn it quickly because it was sort of strange, and smash it a bit, then just leave it there for a little while to finish cooking. Next time I’ll do a significantly thinner batter.

I ate the pancakes with guacamole, and it tasted pretty good.

For lunch, I had some more guacamole, this time with some sun-dried tomato pieces inside. Walking on the edge. But I love sun-dried tomatoes. I could eat them all day. I have. I went through a 5-lb bag in three days once. Wow.

Then I tried another experiment. Could I make carb-free hummus? Or something similar that I could tweak?

I took the protein powder, added some water, olive oil, salt, a clove of garlic, lemon juice, and sesame seeds, then blended it thoroughly. This is why I’m glad I have a high-end blender. Often useless, but nice for this. It’s close enough that I was thrilled. Not the real thing by a long shot… but close anyway. And I can always alter the recipe in hopes that it will get better.

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Day 9: Vegan, No-Soy, Ketogenic Diet

Day 9: Friday, Mar 30

Ketones: High (beginning of day), High (end of day)
Weight: 153.6 (93.2% lean)

Ate: After yesterday’s miracle, I decided to continue to experiment. Today, no MCT oil. Let’s see how I do.

I had an appt with a psychiatrist at BYU this morning. I told her about the diet and asked for her thoughts. She was the first professional to support me, and I am so grateful for that support. She told me to talk with a guru in the area, and to also look up Dr. Amen, who practices in California and is studying how nutrition affects brain metabolism.

The MBA program did a movie today, and I helped out as talent. After, the program had bought a ton of Chic-fil-A chicken sandwiches & brownies, and I felt a brief (but real) pang of frustration that I was helping to pay for the meal with tithing & tuition money, but couldn’t eat it. It seems to almost always happen, even though I know it’s inevitable as long as there are lots of people who see eating differently than I do.

I got home and had a few avocados turned into guacamole, without the lemon juice, some peanut butter, and a protein smoothie with a whole kiwi fruit, flax, protein powder, xanthan gum, and stevia. Then I ate another kiwi fruit & a few strawberries, all between 12:00 and 1:00 and 3:30 and 5:30. Looking back, that probably wasn’t many calories. I think my stomach may have shrunk, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. My ketone levels were still high that night after my mission reunion in Salt Lake; I couldn’t eat anything there – all they had were cookies – but I’m almost used to that by now.

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Day 8: Vegan, No-Soy, Ketogenic Diet

Day 7: Thursday, Mar 29

Ketones: Very high (beginning of day), Very high (end of day)
Weight: 154.3 (90.5% lean)

Ate: Today I had a miracle.

The stuff I made for yesterday tasted fine yesterday. This morning I made a salad, with lettuce, olive oil, and a bunch of spices, then took with me the rest of the mush I had made.

I got to school and felt sick. Way sick. Not a sick like being sick really, but just not feeling well at all. I couldn’t figure out why. It wasn’t thirst, or hunger, or whatever else… just strange. When lunch rolled around, I couldn’t stomach even a bite of the stuff I had brought. It smelled and tasted vile, when the day before it had been fine.

I went home between classes and ate another small salad because I was concerned about calories. Then I realized I had an appointment at BYU’s tasting lab that I had made a month earlier… and the food was hummus. Tons of carbs. Tons of stress.

I can’t break commitments, so I went. I expected to try just a bit, but they asked us to taste 5 different hummus mixtures and rate them 8 different times, trying each one individually and with a pita cracker for each rating. I ate way too many carbs.

As I left, my mind was reeling. Was there any way to fix this problem? Waiting get me nowhere. And then I had a thought – what if I exercise? Hummus has complex carbs, so I waited about 35 minutes, then ran half a mile, lifted intensely, ran a quarter mile, lifted again, and sprinted a quarter mile. Then I went to class for a few more hours.

I came home and anxiously checked my ketone levels. Very high. It was a miracle – I had eaten carbs and yet, as far as I could tell, they hadn’t thrown me out of ketosis. I don’t know what happened in my brain, though.

That night, I ate an avocado (found a recipe on a keto site, then looked up nutrition facts and was thrilled to see I could eat them sparingly) and tried making my Konjac noodles, as the Konjac flour had arrived.

I didn’t have pickling lime, so I subbed sodium hydroxide. Here’s the recipe.

2 Tbsp Konjac flour
1/8 tsp sodium hydroxide
2 c water

Blend everything in the blender until smooth. It hardened – I obviously used too much Konjac flour. Pour out and boil for 3 minutes. Then dunk in cold water for a few minutes, drain, and put in blender until shredded. Season with some salt and pepper.

1 avocado
15ml MCT oil
1 tsp xanthan gum
2 drops lemon oil
Cayenne pepper, garlic powder, salt, pepper to taste

Blend everything in the blender. Add enough water to make a creamy sauce. Then stir in some olive oil & smoked paprika (I just did it for color – not necessary) and serve over the noodles. I pinned a (mediocre) picture to my Pinterest account – romanmissionary.

Best part? Only 2.7 carbs, and that’s from the avocado. Way filling – I was full after eating half of it.

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Day 7: Vegan, No-Soy, Ketogenic Diet

Day 7: Wednesday, Mar 28

Ketones: Medium-high (beginning of day), Very high! (end of day)
Weight: 155.2 (93% lean)

Ate: The flax-protein-xanthan gum-MCT stuff I made last night. Didn’t finish it.

This stuff was amazing. The xanthan gum must have slowed the digestive process by a ton, or expanded in my stomach, or something. I ate only about half of the stuff I made, and wasn’t hungry all day. Thirsty, yeah, but hungry no. Not at all.

I got home, looked at the amount that I had eaten, and decided to celebrate by eating a bit of “normal” food. I ate a spoonful of nutritional yeast. The dietitian got back to me. Naturally, she was most concerned about my mineral & vitamin intake – especially about my B12 intake. So that was for her. My thousands (literally) of multivitamins have plenty of B12 and every other mineral and vitamin known to mankind. My hematocrit when I donated blood Monday was even 52 – on the high end for iron content.

After looking up carb information on nutritiondata.com, I grabbed an avocado to make homemade guacamole for the next stage of the celebration. I mixed in some garlic powder, olive oil, salt, lemon oil (juice would have carbs), pepper, and a ton of cayenne pepper. Literally – a ton. My mouth was burning. It felt so good, and was amazing.

Then I ate a salad. 5 pieces of romaine lettuce, broken into small pieces, drizzled with olive oil, a small scoop of stevia, some apple cider vinegar, some garlic, salt, a healthy dose of oregano, pepper, and again some cayenne. I got a few bites in, and decided to add some more flavors. A dash of smoked paprika, some turmeric, mustard powder, and a lot more cayenne, so that my mouth was burning again. It’s great to have extra carbs at the end of the day.

I think I rode about 10 miles today. To school, back, then to Institute and back. It was a good day.

Tonight I didn’t make any more food. I still have the banana-bread-like stuff that I made yesterday. I guess I’ll just eat that tomorrow. Or something like that.

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Day 6: Vegan, No-Soy, Ketogenic Diet

Day 6: Tuesday, Mar 27

Ketones: Medium (beginning of day), Medium-high (end of day)
Weight: 154.7 (92.2% lean)

Ate: The Flaxseed-Protein balls I made last night, one per hour.

I was SO HUNGRY! I’m not a huge fan of my classes this semester, but I was constantly looking at the clock, willing it to tick faster so that I could eat more. Even with cups of water along with each one, I felt hungry all day long. Not good. I need to find something else to eat.

I ordered some Konjac powder today in the hopes that I can try to make the famous “miracle noodles” with them. I got it from Konjac Foods and paid $43 for 1kg of the powder, shipped. It’s supposed to be really powerful, but $43 is a lot to pay for two pounds of anything. I found a recipe that calls for:

2 tablespoons of powder
1/8 teaspoon of pickling lime
2 cups of water

Mix the powder and lime in a small amount of water, then whisk both into a pan with the rest of the water. Boil for 3 minutes, then run through a pasta extruder into cold water… and you’re done.

But I’ve had trouble finding pickling lime. I ended up finding it today, after I got home and was still starving and trying to keep myself from “snacking” on mush from soaked, blended flax.

I grabbed a sugar-free Jello (even though it has maltodextrin – I assumed that I’d still be good since I was under my carb level anyway, right?) and boiled it in the microwave in a cup of water. Then I blended 3 cups of ice until they were turned to snow-like stuff, poured in the boiling hot flavored gelatin, and blended again. It turned into a thick, pink, frothy, smoothie-type thing. It tasted like strawberry kiwi jello, but was far more filling simply because it had a lot of air inside.

I ate it and, for the first time today, felt satiated. Ironic, since it had far fewer calories than any of the protein balls I had downed. But it makes sense.

I had a soccer game, and downed 15ml of MCT oil before the game to see if it would give me an energy boost. I don’t know if it did; we still lost.

I got home and tried making food for tomorrow. I remembered the foam-stuff from xanthan gum and thought maybe I could use it like egg whites to fluff up the batter for the protein balls – to make them lighter and bigger. I blended some xanthan gum with water, added the MCT oil, and then folded it into the protein/flax mix. Then I added plenty of stevia, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. The end result looked, felt, and tasted like banana bread batter. Really strange.

It definitely didn’t cook that way, thought. Blobs on a baking stone were always gooey inside – even when the outsides were burnt to a crisp. An ultra-thin (see-through) layer on a silicone mat cooked on the top, but not the bottom, a third of a millimeter away. I didn’t even try frying this time. I knew it wasn’t going to work. I did try freezing it, and it froze rock hard. Not very useful.

I sampled it enough times that I feel a bit sick. I don’t know if it’s the food itself or the thought of eating lots of banana bread batter. But you know what? That’s probably actually a good thing. I’m less likely to be hungry tomorrow if my stomach is full of strange food. We’ll see.

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Day 5: Vegan, No-Soy, Ketogenic Diet

Day 5: Monday, Mar 26

Ketones: Small (start of day), Large (end of day)
Weight: 156.2 (91.8% lean)

Ate: Flaxseed-Protein crackers for most of the day.

Got up in the morning and was crazy frustrated because I had lost major gains in ketosis. I don’t know what it was – whether the guacamole, almonds, or whatever, but I went from high to low on ketones overnight. So I went to the gym, ran two miles in half-mile chunks, and lifted for about an hour.

I also rode my bike to school, then home, and then to a blood drive that night (drinking tons of water). I was able to give blood without passing out (though the nurse next to me thought I was going to die because I turned white), and ended up eating the peanuts, almonds, and walnuts from two bags of mixed nuts. I kept the raisins out, but in total the nuts were probably about 12 g of carbs, with maybe a little more than half as fiber.

That night, I realized that I hadn’t eaten enough MCT. And I didn’t want to drink it, even though mixing it with cinnamon and peppermint oil makes it taste good and avoids the nausea that usually comes. So for the next day I mixed in the full caloric load of everything – 1 cup of protein, 1/2 cup of ground, soaked, sprouted flax, and 1/3 cup of MCT oil. I liked the sweetened version, so I added some more stevia, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. This time I made them into small balls, and cooked them until the outside was crispy, with the intent to eat one each hour the next day, and nothing else.

I also tried to make noodles using xanthan gum. I have a ton of it because my brother found a crazy sale. I mixed up two tablespoons of xanthan gum, some sodium hydroxide, some calcium, boiled it, then cooled it… and it was still foamy mush. Terrible. I tried frying it, and it did some crazy stuff like breaking into strands, but it tasted vile and wasn’t worth it. Don’t try making xanthan gum noodles without other ingredients.

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