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The Subconscious of Ketogenics

Posted 01.15.2016, by kristin
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My neurologist recently suggested that I try the ketogenic diet for treatment of my epilepsy.  Since I continue to have small seizures every 2 - 4 weeks despite taking two medications, the dietary therapy seemed like a good idea.  

I should be honest, though, when I say "recently."  Recently as in last October.  At that visit, I listened almost attentively while the neurologist talked of limiting my total daily carbohydrate intake to twenty grams a day.  Twenty grams, as in 1/2 of an apple, 4 - 5 crackers, or 1/2 slice of bread. As she continued to talk, images of Christmas cookies, Thanksgiving stuffing, and carbohdrate-loaded candy danced in my head.  I would try the ketogenic diet, I concluded, but definitely not until after the holidays!  I resolved to start the restrictive diet at the start of the New Year.  For the following six weeks, I told my friends and family that I was "carb loading" as I shoved cookie after cookie into my fearful mouth and said a prolonged goodbye to the primary food source I knew.

January 1st arrived with the typical anticipation and promise of a New Year.  I sauntered out of bed late in the morning and tousled my kid's sleepy heads as they sat mesmerized by the television.  I went to the cupboard to grab my favorite cereal until reality came crashing with the force of an unwanted Wisconsin blizzard.  I looked longingly at the now-forbidden cereal box and tucked it away lovingly in the cabinet.  Reluctantly, I grilled my first of what will become a flock of chicken's eggs and tried to ignore my grumbling stomach.  I drank my highly caffienated coffee (still allowed, thank goodness!) as if it were an elixir to help me dutifully ignore the remaining dregs of holiday treats peppered throughout the house.  

The next several days were consumed by nausea, headaches, and endless volumes of water. I drank so much water I wished for an indwelling catheter to free-up my time in the bathroom. I wasn't having seizures, but was it really worth all this?  

Fortunately, week two arrived and I started to feel better.  A lot better.  I taught myself to like broccoli.  I remembered that Brie is on the "no carb" list.  I learned that whipped heavy cream with a few raspberries almost tasted like a true dessert.  My energy returned, too.  And I still wasn't having seizures. 

I began to congratulate myself on my early success with the diet.  I didn't even like carbohydrates, did I?  My true allegiances were revealed, however, when I fell into bed each night.

Several nights into the diet, I woke abruptly in a panic.  I had been dreaming with vivid emotions and images more dramatic than I could remember.  In my dream, I was alone in a field, fighting a rising panic.  Suddenly, I saw a giant piece of BREAD swaying slowly in the wind across the deserted field.  My subconcious self began to run and chase the bread as if it were the last food on earth.  When I awoke in a panic, I had almost reached the monster piece of bread in my dream.  I nearly wept for the lost tauntress. 

The following night, I dreamt I was attending a work function with my husband.  There were tables upon tables filled with chocolate cake, iced lemon bars, and decadent pastries.  I was just about to place a large piece of chocolate cake on my plate when. . . I awoke.  

And then last night, again the buffet table adorned with desserts.  Again the temptation of the mountains of sugar just beyond my reach.  It's no wonder I woke with a rumbling stomach.

Now officially two weeks into the diet (and seizure-free!) I've concluded that grit and determination can control my conscious choices but my subconscious will remain a carbohydrate junkie.  And who can really blame me?  After all, it's really hard to convince yourself that a chicken breast tastes the very same as chocolate cake.  

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