In the last few posts I’ve been focused on the challenges (read: chaos) of getting adapted to living in a tiny home (trailer). That process is far from complete and while we are waiting I thought I would touch on a question I’ve been getting from a few people regarding the keto diet that I am using to control my type 1 diabetes and improve my climbing. Having to manage blood sugar can complicate even the simplest tasks and I can honestly say that dealing with the stress of this move would be impossible for me to tolerate if I had to devote more of my focus to erratic blood sugar swings. I’ve written a lot about how the keto diet has worked for me (including failures and challenges) but in this post I want to focus on how living on the road has impacted my ability to eat a low-carb high-fat diet.

In short, I have found it pretty easy to keep to the keto diet–at least the challenges to my adherence have not come out of necessity but rather out of my preference. It’s easy to eat low carb high fat foods while on the road–I don’t always follow through with those choices of course but that’s a separate discussion of will-power and priorities. The stress of my situation has made it worth the expenditure of will-power to stay with the keto diet because I simply can’t deal with inordinate blood sugar fluctuation. You could think of it as the opposite of stress-eating. I am stress-dieting because I don’t need another complicating factor driving me insane.

I should clarify that my blood sugar levels are not perfect and the keto diet isn’t a cure for anything. It’s a tool that works incredibly well for me and many others. I have the occasional excursions into the 180 range a couple times a week and I have “slow-lows” usually in the morning. These lows don’t bother me because they aren’t debilitating and they give me a “ramp” into my breakfast with some low carb snacks that raise my blood sugar gradually. For example, I will eat my breakfast with my blood sugar between 60-70 and let it gradually climb and take a unit or two of insulin to cover my meal after a couple of hours. When my blood sugar is low, it’s not falling, it’s just hovering there and I’m totally comfortable with it.

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It’s also worth noting that being out on the road has allowed me more time and opportunity to be active and exercise. I feel more engaged with my surroundings and I’m using less insulin. I have no medical explanation for this next statement I’m about to make but my blood sugar behaves radically differently when I am in a place that I love or feel is my home. I’ve noticed this when I return to my dads home (where I grew up) or returning to Utah which is my “adult home”, even though I don’t actually own property here. Living in Massachusetts felt pretty foreign to me and I think that underlying tension impacted my blood sugar.

I’m not saying that people need to live the way I live to keep themselves healthy–I am suggesting that being in an environment that nurtures who you are and that inspires you–has a measurable health benefit. It’s not just touchy-feely new-age crap. Even under stress here in rural Utah, I am finding a better glycemic response than living at ease in the suburbs of Boston.

horseback riding in zion national park in Utah

My diet on the road has been stripped down to low-carb, high-fat foods that travel well. I am not overly concerned with variety or aesthetics. I am looking for vehicles for fats–with preference given to unsaturated fats due to my elevated cholesterol. I have eased up a little bit on my complete avoidance of saturated fats in light of the fact that I am much more active now and it’s simpler to include a little cheese in my diet because it does travel well.

Here are the items anchoring my diet:

  • Olive oil (usually added to any of the items below)
  • Sardines
  • Spinach
  • Eggs
  • Bacon
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Almond butter
  • peanut butter
  • sunflower seeds
  • string cheese
  • broth/soups

All of these are easy to transport and are readily available at most food sources. I get the nuts off Amazon and the rest is normal grocery shopping. I haven’t been as vigilant at maximizing fat over protein so I haven’t been wired with keto-energy, but in my return to climbing this first week back, I have had good numbers while climbing (see above) and outstanding insulin sensitivity. I set an audacious goal of 100,000 feet of climbing for 2016 (of which I have completed only 500 feet so far!) and I am making sure that I am getting out three times a week (to start) and keeping my intensity to a low-moderate level. It will take me a couple of weeks to get back in the routine again but I hope to start climbing harder and pushing for bigger days out once we head into the month of March.

I would love to hear what YOU eat when you’re on the go and need to keep your blood glucose from stealing the show. Feel free to drop a comment or question below and I will be happy to give more details about the keto diet and my use of it!

Our first meetup will be March 4-6 in Joshua Tree National Park CA. No cost, no frills. Just action…maybe just a few tasteful hashtags though. RSVP via email: steve@livingvertical.org