What foods can I eat?
Sometimes when you change your diet and lifestyle, it can be really easy to focus on the things you can no longer have, like bread. This is because removing the carbs is such a big change from the standard Australian and American diet. A great tip here is to focus on all the wonderful low carb foods you CAN eat!
We have made it really easy for you, by providing you with an easy to follow green food list. We recommend printing this food list off and sticking it on your fridge and also saving it in your phone for easy access when you are at the supermarket.
In order to help you focus on the foods you can eat, use a highlighter on the printed food list to highlight all your favourite foods. By focusing on the foods you can have, it will help you with your mindset from the beginning.
What to avoid?
In order for your body to produce ketones, there are foods that you will need to avoid. The goal is to reduce your carbohydrates low enough for your body to start producing ketones and use ketones and fat as it’s fuel. You will need to avoid these foods.
- Grains – wheat, rice, corn, oats , bread, pasta etc
- Legumes – chickpeas, beans, lentils etc
- Sugar – all sugars including honey, maple syrup, agave syrup, raw sugar
- Starchy vegetables – potatoes, sweet potatoes
- Most fruits – apples, orange, pineapple, mangoes, melons etc
- Vegetable/seed oils – soybean oil, canola oil, vegetable oil etc
The easiest way to look at it is to only eat the foods on the green list above. We understand that this can be a big shift in the way you are used to eating because some form of carbohydrate has been a staple in all meals for a long time. It will get easier over time, trust us.
Can I eat anything sweet?
The best advice we can give you (although you may not want to hear it) is to try and avoid anything sweet for the first month or so. This will be really hard for the first week or so, but it will honestly make your life easier over time. This will give you time to settle in to the ketogenic lifestyle and also time for your taste buds to adjust. We can say from experience, the less sweet foods you consume (even with keto-friendly sweeteners) the less sweet food you will want.
That is not to say that we don’t enjoy using keto-friendly sweeteners from time to time and we believe they can have a really important place in a low carb lifestyle. There will be times that you want to enjoy something sweet and we love to enjoy keto-friendly desserts at family celebrations and special events so we never feel like we are missing out.
The best keto-friendly sweetener options that are naturally derived are;
- Monk fruit
Check out some of our favourite keto-friendly sweetener brands in this video –
What about alcohol?
You have probably heard on social media that you have to give up alcohol on a ketogenic diet. This is simply not true. There are some drinks that you will want to avoid due to the high sugar content, but there are also some really good keto options if you choose to have a drink or two.
While you can easily incorporate some alcoholic drinks into your ketogenic diet, if you are trying to lose weight you may not want to. When you consume alcohol it is another form of energy that the body needs to use up. Your body will prioritise burning the alcohol you drink over using the food you have eaten or your own body fat. So if weight loss is your goal we really recommend minimising your alcohol intake.
Also a word of warning, your tolerance to alcohol will probably change on a ketogenic diet. We have heard reports from people that they only need 1 drink now to get the same buzz they used to get from 3 or 4 drinks. I have always only needed 1 drink for that buzz, so I can only go from reports of others on this one!
Here are some of the best keto-friendly alcoholic drink options;
- Low carb beers, our favourite is Burleigh Brewing Co, Big Head No Carb Lager
- Dry red or white wine
- Spirits mixed with soda water or diet soft drinks
For more in depth information on specific brands and drinks, check out our keto alcoholic drinks guide here.
How to set yourself up for success
Being prepared is the key to success when starting out on a ketogenic lifestyle and we have a couple of things we recommend you do to help set yourself up for long term success.
Being able to read a nutritional label and understand it will make your life so much easier when you are at the supermarket trying to choose the best options.
How to read nutritional labels
There are two main parts that we want to focus on when reading a nutrition label and trying to determine if the food fits into to your ketogenic diet. The list of ingredients and the carbohydrate amount.
Ingredient list – Read through all the ingredients and check for any grains, sugars, vegetable oils and other inflammatory foods we are trying to avoid. Remember the ingredients are listed in order of volume, so the first ingredient has the highest amount and the last ingredient has the least amount.
If you are unsure of what a name or number on an ingredients list means just do a quick search on your phone and you will come up with an answer pretty quickly. Food producers can be pretty sneaky sometimes using different names for things like sugar, so if you are unsure it is best to check. For example, they may not want sugar to show as the first ingredient on the list, so they break it down into 3 different names to catch you out.
Carbohydrate amount – First of all, it is good to know that all Australian nutrition labels will already show the net carbohydrate amount. This means the fibre has already been deducted (net carbohydrate) and to work out the total carbohydrate amount (if you wanted to) you would need to add the fibre back on to the carbohydrate amount. On an Australia label you do not need to remove the fibre amount, as you may have seen people in the US doing. Remember – a food can never has negative carbohydrates!
The nutrition panel will usually show a carbohydrate amount per serve as well as per 100g/100ml. The serving size is determined by the manufacturer and is a good guide as to the carbs you will consume for one serving of the product. However the 100g/100ml panel is a great tool for you to be able to compare like products and determine which one has the lowest carbs. As a general rule, it is best to choose products that have 5g of carbohydrates or less per 100g/ml.
As we said earlier, there is also a difference in how Australian nutrition labels are calculated compared to nutrition labels in the US. For more details on this check out our guide on reading nutrition labels here.
Cleaning out your cupboards
Cleaning out your cupboards is another great way to set yourself up for success. We did this the day before we started way back in July 2016 and it definitely helped us not having those products in the house any more.
Using your green food list and your knowledge on reading nutritional labels, you will want to go through everything in your fridge and pantry and remove anything that no longer fits your keto lifestyle.
Once you have removed it, what should you do with it? Good question! This will depend on your living situation. For us, we are the only ones in the house and we could remove all these products completely. If you will still have carb eaters in the house you may want to discuss with them the change you are implementing and come up with a solution that works for everyone. We suggest:
- Make the top or bottom shelf in the pantry and fridge the carb shelves and these become no go zones for you. Try and negotiate the shelves that are at your eye level as the carb free keto shelves as this will make it easier for you to not see them as soon as you open the fridge or pantry.
- Make a tub or basket of the non keto foods in the house and put them somewhere where they are not always seen. Out of sight, out of mind in this situation.
- If you are the person that does the shopping for the household, only buy the foods that you will be eating and explain if they want to eat other foods not in the house, they will need to buy for themselves. This might work well for young adults and partners.
There is value in having an open discussion with all household members prior to this, so that everyone can have their input and a solution is found that will work for your individual living situation. When having the conversation, don’t try and force the eating change on them as well, they need to come to this by themselves.
The next step, is what to do with all this food! Anything that was unopened we offered to family members, friends and even work colleagues. We gave a bunch of it to people that Dan worked with. That way it didn’t go to waste. We discarded the opened stuff, as it didn’t feel right giving opened food to others, but you may decide to give that away as well.
The unopened shelf stable food may also be able to be donated to food banks or other charities near you.
How to find keto recipes that the whole family will love
We get it, you don’t have the time to be cooking yourself a separate meal from the rest of the family so you can stick to your ketogenic lifestyle. Not only does it take longer, but you can also feel like you are missing out and that can be really tough. But guess what? There are loads of family-friendly ketogenic recipes available and we know your family are going to love them just as much as you do.
Being able to enjoy delicious meals that everyone will love is going to be a big factor in your success. To help you with this, we have just the thing you need. In this all book bundle you will get:
- Over 90 simple, delicious low carb recipes
- All recipes have the macros calculated for you
- 3 keto cookbooks – Everyday Keto Dinners, Dairy Free Keto and our most popular Blog Dinner Recipes.
You will quickly find that you can find a keto version of almost all your favourite meals. You can use google and just search keto and whatever meal you are after and you will find a keto version of that meal.
We would also recommend finding a few staples that everyone loves and serving those most weeks. It will make your life easier, as you know that they will love it. One of our most popular family favourite recipes is our keto tuna casserole, so you should definitely start with this one.
If you just can not get the other family members to enjoy the low carb options, we highly recommend serving the protein and the vegetables that you would eat and then adding their favourite carb side. For example, make a bolognese sauce, serve yours with some zoodles or wilted spinach and serve theirs with pasta.
Now that you have your head around getting started and are set up for success, let’s check out how to avoid some of the stumbling blocks that might come your way.