After a certain conversation in the not-so-distant past, I’m triggered by the word Keto now! I don’t know if I will ever use the word again. I’ll just say K instead. The exchange was unsettling at first, which later became interesting to me. Get a drink, and take a seat. Let’s talk.
The Wahls Protocol
A little background here. If you follow me on social media, chances are that you know my autoimmune nutrition plan is The Wahls Paleo Plus. Dr. Terry Wahls is an MD living with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS). She wrote the book, The Wahls Protocol. She was able to recover by making modifications to the Paleo diet. Dr. Wahls infused her version of Paleo, with nutrient-dense good quality meat products. These contain the correct ratio of fats that is necessary to heal from progressive MS. These nutrients are not present in plants.
I need to make a distinction here. Progressive MS means that you have developed a somewhat irreversible disability. It is different from intermittent or even daily MS symptoms.
All MS types can improve on a vegan plant-based diet regarding day-to-day symptoms. A vegan plant-based diet will likely not touch your disability, with progressive MS. I first heard Dr. Terry Wahls speak on this distinction, and I have also made these observations.
To further support this, Dr. Swank’s stated that his low fat Swank Diet was not effective for those with MS who had developed a disability.
My Specific Nutrition Plan
There are 3 levels of The Wahls Protocol. Wahls Diet, Wahls Paleo, and Wahls Paleo Plus. The Wahls Paleo Plus is a modified Paleo & K with intermittent fasting. It is the most restrictive, hence it took me years to get here, because it is NOT for the faint at heart. Several times in this journey, I did give up a little and fall off the wagon.
Little did I know that saying the word K is like smearing poop all over myself, to some people. The way I understand nutrition, there are healthy vegetarians and unhealthy vegetarians. There are healthy vegans and unhealthy vegans. There is healthy K and unhealthy K. I thought everyone else understood it that way as well.
I am of course practicing a healthy Paleo K mashup. I eat a lot of good fats from:
Nuts (almonds and walnuts),
Healthy oils (coconut, olive, avocado oil),
100% grass-fed and grass-finished meats,
Protein is moderate, and carbs are from vegetables and berries. Then comes the magic of phytonutrients from vegetables and fruits, 6-9 cups daily. No grains, no legumes, no soy, no corn, no dairy, no sugar or alcohol. These are in line with my food sensitivity patterns, and insights from symptom tracking. It has taken 6+ years to master it.
The Meat Of The Matter
Now to the actual story that spurred this write-up. I was going about my business on this fine afternoon, in one of our MS support rooms.
This plant-based vegan lady came by, on invitation by the person running this room. She gave her spiel about healing from 15 chronic conditions, but could not shake 1 last painful condition until she stopped eating corn and oils.
I commented on the impressive healing journey, and asked a follow-up question about what kind of oils. I didn’t need to be a rocket scientist to know the dangers of corn (which is largely GMO corn in the US and riddled with mold). Her answer was all oils.
She explained that oils clog your arteries and reduce the absorption of nutrients, and are very inflammatory. I was a little familiar with this line of thinking from Anthony Williams (The Medical Medium) about ALL oils and fats being bad for us. I take what works for me (like his celery juice), and leave the rest. There is no one size fits all. Everything works for someone, but everything does not work for everyone.
I proceeded to explain that I was on the Wahls Paleo plus which is a form of K… I believe that was all she heard. It didn’t matter what else I said about what I eat, and how my primary progressive MS course benefits from the good fats, and ketosis. Or that when I was unable to eat my nuts after oral surgery, my previously controlled MS symptoms made a resurgence. She went in on me.
While vegetable oils and other unhealthy refined oils act in this manner, it is different with healthy oils. This is as long as you avoid high heat cooking. Combined with limited carbs, you burn fat as fuel instead of the usual carbs.
This is how I control high cholesterol. My levels are better controlled while eating a diet rich in healthy fats. I explained to her that the fat is not floating around in my arteries and wreaking havoc, because I burn it for fuel. She did not digest that information either.
Her Way Or The Highway
Bowl of Salad
This young lady went off on a tangent. She first instructed me to check out PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine). I educated her that I was a member of PCRM, and I went to a PCRM conference in DC in person before the pandemic. While they are vegan and I am not, I was open to all things plants.
I realized that they vilified dairy. But, refused to acknowledge that gluten is also a problem for many people with autoimmunity. Often a bigger problem. They said it was all glyphosate, and served a lot of gluten-laden foods to attendees. It was challenging for me to eat their breakfast.
I left the organization after that. Gluten is absolutely an issue, as well as glyphosate in autoimmunity. It is challenging to be vegan and gluten-free, so that’s the trade they chose to make. That is the messaging from the organization.
She told me to use my common sense and eat an avocado. That, I do that daily. She also said it wasn’t natural to hunt animals. I challenged her about why. Her tone was very condescending, with repeated use of phrases such as, “Use your common sense.” She made the most outrageous conclusions. These were completely contrary to who I am, how I eat, or what I had explained in the same conversation.
I challenged her about how she was coming to these false conclusions and beliefs about me. It all landed on deaf ears. I could imagine her thinking that I’m resistant because I lack discipline. Or I don’t want to change, so she pushed even more. None of these is even close to who I am on my health journey.
Me, Me, Me!!!
She kept asking me if I heard her say she healed from 15 chronic conditions? Mind you, she has no idea what I have also healed from, or whose healing journey I’ve been privy to. It seemed to me like she doesn’t get challenged frequently. I surmised that most people probably defer to her and her inflated view of herself.
Once I realized she was presumably lumping me in with the mayo-eating K folks, I made it very clear that I wasn’t one of those. I eat actual whole foods.
This has got to be the most bizarre conversation I have had in my entire life. A space that is normally positive, and certainly on Clubhouse. It was like I wasn’t speaking English, because she could not hear me. At all.
She kept offering to help me with my food sensitivities because I said I didn’t tolerate vegan protein like legumes. In the same conversation, she admitted that like me she could not eat gluten, and had to soak and rehydrate her nuts. This is in addition to avoiding corn and oils, and being plant-based vegan, thus avoiding all meat products. So, she has a lot of food restrictions herself. But she couldn’t understand why I would have any other food intolerance, other than the ones she has. I explained that I didn’t need her help because I had my gut and health on track. And I am healing just fine from food intolerances already.
The Art of Bullying
Nobody else stood up to her, even though they sent me messages later. I learned that she gets in trouble even in vegan rooms, because of her approach. This is how bullying goes unchecked. People watch things happen and stand back, because it’s not happening to them.
The important thing is, I told her off, which was a first on Clubhouse for me. But it felt good that I stood up for myself. I told her to not be so condescending and rude, and to watch her tone. And to not make assertions about things she doesn’t know. Then I bid the room farewell, dropped my mic, and exited stage left. 🎤
Is Keto a Trigger Word?
I was pinged into another vegan plant-based room right after and as soon as I got there, the first thing I heard was harsh instructions for someone to “…stop that Keto rubbish…” I’d probably been on Clubhouse too long that day, I thought, so I left. This is why I normally don’t go into plant-based vegan rooms. Many (not all! 😆) are extreme and self-righteous. No other way can be right for someone else. It has to be their way. A colleague of mine referred to them as the “Vegan Mafia!”
The next morning, I came upon an IG Live in which Dr. Terry Wahls was a guest of a nutritionist in the UK, Rosemary Ferguson. This IG Live gave me an insight into how triggering the word K is for some people. Rosemary mentioned that she does not use the word K to describe the Wahls Paleo Plus. This is because of reactions she’s gotten in the past. Dr. Wahls also agreed. You can watch this insightful IG Live here.
That’s when it clicked for me. The word K is the devil of nutrition plans to plant-based vegans. They had no room to understand how it could ever make sense. Or the fact that it is actual medical therapy for seizure disorder.
It certainly is therapy for me, as my brain heals from primary progressive multiple sclerosis PPMS. When they heard the word K, the picture in their head was someone chugging down mayo and spoonfuls of oil or fat! 😂
So, is Keto a trigger word? I believe it is, for plant-based vegans. I learned something new from this interaction. And certainly, I’m triggered by the word Keto now.
The Fear About Keto, And What I Do Differently
I cycle in and out of ketosis, by eating more fruit (other than berries) on the weekend. Or on a day when I’m home in a controlled environment (in case it causes more inflammation). I do try to vary my fasting times daily as well.
These modalities help maintain metabolic flexibility. Will I always be on this plan? Probably not year round, as Dr. Wahls does not do it year round either. But in my healing journey right now, my body has spoken. When my body speaks, I listen.
If care is not taken, staying on K indefinitely can put the body under undue stress. This can cause the thyroid to slow down, and adrenals to kick into high gear.
The Morale Of The Story
- Listen more than you speak. 2 ears. 1 mouth.
- Be open to other opinions.
- Don’t be so confident of you and your methods, that nobody can have a different opinion for their life and body. You end up being a complete jerk. Something else can work for someone else, and also be right.
- Do not be quick to judge folks you are meeting for the first time.
Everything that lady is doing is probably right for her. But I would love for her to get to a place where she sees that it isn’t necessarily what is right for everyone. Because, we are all different. This lady does not have MS, by the way.
It was important for me to speak up as a trauma survivor. I need to consciously stop being the “bigger person.” Or “the person that walks away without stating her side of the story,” the majority of the time. A lot of things we learned about humility are often the same things that diminish us. It does this a little bit more each time we let someone walk all over us.
Trauma come in different forms. This kind of bullying and verbal onslaught is a form of micro-trauma. It builds up, and can erode yor self-esteem over time. That is, if you let it.
Please leave me a comment below if this spoke to you, or if you’ve had a similar experience, and share how you handled it.
🧡 🧡 🧡
PS: March is MS Awareness Month!!! And it’s about to be LIT.
PPS: If you haven’t already done so, do check out my Gifts to you and the free Resources page.
I am Dr. Folake Taylor, and I live with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis PPMS. After 15 years in internal medicine primary care, while battling disability/ PPMS for the last 7 of the 15, I found myself diving deeper into holistic health for answers. Now I’m turning my lemons to lemonade. I refuse to allow physical and cognitive disability stop me, from fulfilling my destiny of using my voice to benefit the world with my knowledge, which I did prior to my illness. Sharing what I have learned and am still learning about the body’s ability to heal itself, which is quite different from what I learned in medical school, is now my mission. And as I create an online self-paced course for MS recovery, I will take you along with me as the daily journey continues.
Thank you for sharing. It’s so important that we understand everyone is different and give each other the support and space for our own unique healing journeys
Yes, Heidi. We are ALL different and need to hold space for said differences. I really do believe that there would be a lot less strife in the world, if we all understood this. In politics. In religion, In everything. 🙂
Appreciate your engagement. Always.