My Top 5 Tips to Make it Easy to Start a Keto Diet

So you’re thinking about starting a ketogenic diet, but feeling a little overwhelmed?

Or perhaps you’ve tried a keto diet, but have struggled to stay on track or lose weight?

Or maybe you just can’t seem to figure out all the math?

And maybe you keep tweaking your approach because all the info out there has you confused?!?

I have been following a ketogenic diet since May 2015 and have had tremendous success. Healing chronic pain, reversing metabolic syndrome, normalizing blood glucose, normalizing blood pressure, healing adrenal fatigue, massive weight loss, and more. (You can read all about it here.)

How did I do it? What are the secrets to my success? Well, I’ve discovered that there are actually 5 secrets to making a keto diet as easy as possible. And this works for starting, rebooting, and maintaining.

My goals when starting:

  • Make it easy to follow a keto diet
  • Get into ketosis as fast as possible
  • Minimize cravings short- and long-term

So without further ado…


My Top 5 Tips for Starting a Keto Diet:

  1. Keep it Simple
  2. Follow My Meal Formula
  3. Minimize Craving Triggers
  4. Fully Stock Fridge and Pantry
  5. Have the Right Mindset

Those are my top 5 tips put very simply. Let me tell you a little more about each one.

Tip #1: Keep it Simple

My first tip and key to success is to keep your keto diet simple. This tip covers all 3 goals: makes it easy, gets you into ketosis as fast as possible, and minimizes cravings. Keeping it simple means several things: no recipes, eat real food, and keep meal prep short and sweet (well, not sweet; that’s just a phrase!). You may be freaking out, thinking, “No recipes!?! But I need those fancy keto buns and keto desserts!” My no recipe rule is really, really, REALLY important for at least the first 30 days (and go longer if you can). There will be plenty of time to play with recipes down the road, but in the beginning, this really helps people learn keto basics and keeps them from eating off plan when they are too tired and hungry to spend 45 minutes cooking. When you are starting out, being able to pull together a meal in 5 minutes or less can really make or break your keto diet. Plus a lot of recipes online don’t have the macros calculated correctly. There are a lot of recipes labeled low-carb or even “Zero Carb” that actually contain lots of carbs, and they will keep you out of ketosis, which increases cravings. See also Tip #4 which goes hand in hand with keeping it simple.

As far as eating real food, this means avoiding processed shakes, protein bars, and other low-carb packaged grain products, like bread and tortillas. Most of these products will spike blood sugar and insulin, which are the opposite of ketosis. These product perpetuate cravings (see Tip #3) as well as delay or prevent you getting to ketosis. For success on your keto diet, eat real food.

And keeping meal prep short and easy means following Tip #2, My Meal Formula.

Tip #2: Follow My Meal Formula 

My foolproof Meal Formula makes keto easy and gets you into ketosis as fast as possible. This formula seems like common sense to me, but then again I really like math, so I understand it’s not intuitive for many. I see so many people in keto support groups struggling with “hitting their macros” each day and wondering what can they eat for dinner when they only have 2 grams carbs, 50 grams fat, and 5 g protein. My Meal Formula guarantees that all my clients easily hit their macros every day because they are simply dividing their daily macros by the number of meals they eat in a day. If you eat 3 meals per day, you eat 1/3 of your carbs, 1/3 of your protein, and 1/3 of your fat at each meal. To make it even simpler, instead of “1/3 of your fat” I have my clients focus on adding 1 to 3 tablespoons of fat per meal (like mayo, olive oil, butter, coconut oil, etc.). This is much easier for them than trying to look up and calculate grams of fat.

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Tip #3: Minimize Craving Triggers

You want to do keto long-term, right? You don’t want this to be another diet you go on, lose weight, then go off and gain it all back, right? Then this may be the most important tip I have for you: be aware of, and minimize any craving triggers. You can’t be successful on keto long-term if you are fighting cravings on a daily basis. Learning what causes them and how to inoculate yourself against them is a key to long-term success.

Craving triggers are going to be different for everyone and have biological and psychological bases. To address the biological bases, getting your blood sugar stable is key, which is what you’ll be doing by going keto anyway (following Tips #1, 2, 4, and 5). The other part, the psychology, is a little trickier, but with a little awareness and patience, you can master this, too. Some of the common things that trigger cravings, especially in the beginning, is looking at recipes online (sorry, Pinterest!), walking through the bakery at your grocery store, seeing other people eating non-keto foods, etc. Make a list and avoid these situations until you have some keto experience under your belt, and have developed a tolerance to craving triggers.

Another big tip to minimizing cravings is avoiding any sweeteners (even keto-friendly ones) and keto-desserts, at least in the beginning. This addresses the brain chemistry part of carbohydrate cravings. You need to train your taste buds and brain chemicals to not crave carbs and this takes abstinence for a period of time. Aim for at least 30 days, but if you can go a full 90 days (or longer!), you’ll be even better off. I know this sounds really hard, and you were likely looking forward to all those low carb desserts you’ve seen online, but I promise you, it will be worth it! Think about this: which would be easier, not having any cravings, or feeding your cravings on a daily basis? Abstinence really does make the cravings go away, or at least come up so infrequently, that you can easily flick them away like a small ant. And if you’re not ready to give up sweets, it may mean that you’re not quite ready to for a ketogenic diet. In that case, you might want to start with Tip #5.

Tip#4: Fully Stock Your Fridge and Pantry

Does this tip seem too obvious? You can’t build a house without the proper supplies. And you can’t run out to the store and pick up supplies every time you’re hungry. You need a well-stocked fridge and pantry to succeed on a keto diet. This tip is essential because it makes Tips #1, 2, and 3 possible to follow. You need to have multiple options available that you can grab and go, or grab and prep in 5 minutes or less. You need to think and feel like you have plenty of foods around that you really like and look forward to eating.

Along with having your kitchen stocked, you need to consider what your kitchen is NOT stocked with. If at all possible, get rid of all non-keto foods in your home before you start your keto diet. You will have cravings in the beginning, you will have times of stress, you will have times of heightened emotions, and all of these will increase the likelihood of you giving in to temptation if these foods are in your house. Additionally, simply seeing these foods are craving triggers (see Tip #3) and will make your life much harder and jeopardize your chances of success on keto.

“But there are other people in my house that aren’t following keto,” you may be thinking. How willing are they to help you succeed? If you were an alcoholic, would they insist on drinking in front of you? How dedicated to your success are you? If you were trying to get off heroin, would you support people using it in front of you?

Of course your household and family dynamics are unique and you have to figure out what works for you. My tip here is about minimizing mental anguish (seeing carby foods) as best you can to ensure your short- and long-term success. Do the best you can! Perhaps Tip #5 below will be helpful for your family or housemates. Would they be willing to do keto along with you for only 90 days?

Tip #5: Have the Right Mindset

Many people report that the psychology part of “going keto” is the hardest part. I have a lot to offer in support of this. There are psychological tricks you can play on your own mind. A place to start is realizing the difference in your mind between “doing something forever” and “doing something for now”. You can live without carbs for 90 days, right? But if you think about never EVER eating them again?? That feels impossible. So I recommend simply committing to 90 days of keto. That is about how long it really takes for your body to adapt to running on fat for fuel. After 90 days, you can decide if you want to go back to your former carby lifestyle. Now, I know that after 90 days, you’ll be feeling so great you likely won’t want to go back to the way you were eating before. And if you’ve followed my other tips here, you’ll be in ketosis, your cravings will be minimal, and you’ll be feeling happy and satisfied with what you are eating.

Adapt Your Life

Another psychological trick is in overcoming cravings. Notice if you begin ruminating over a certain food and “turn the channel” to a new topic in your mind. Tell yourself that you’ll “feel better tomorrow” if you resist the craving now. That if you give in to a craving now, it will only come back stronger and harder the next day. Then engage in some self-care like calling a friend, going for a walk, listening to your favorite music, or watching funny cat videos on YouTube. Giving in to and feeding a craving, only reinforces it, making them stronger and more frequent in the future.

I wish you the best of keto success!

Let me know in the comments: which of these tips was the most useful to you?

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Depression and Food Cravings in Winter

I received word yesterday that a friend from long ago had committed suicide. The news hit me hard.


This time of year (February) in the Pacific Northwest can be particularly hard for anyone who experiences depression. We’ve just spent the last 3 months going through the darkest, wettest, and coldest part of the year, and for many it can bring out or intensify depression. So much so, that some people feel like their feelings of despair are beyond their ability to handle them.

I feel sorrowful to know that my friend was one of those people. I feel despondent knowing that another human felt that level of emotional pain.

I can actually identify with what my friend was feeling though, since depression runs in my family. Most winters, my family and I notice a marked increase in depressive feelings around this time of year. In the past, I managed my depression by ensuring I ate adequate protein for blood sugar balance, adding in some targeted amino acids, plus B vitamins, which worked well, but this time of year was still always a struggle.

This year is my first winter since going on a ketogenic diet and I can tell a HUGE difference in my mood. In the past, I often used food to comfort, numb, and dissociate from my winter depressive feelings. While I still feel that familiar depression nipping at my heels right now, it is nothing like I’ve felt in the past. I feel hopeful, happy, calm and peaceful most of the time, whereas in the past I always felt quite despondent this time of year. The change in my mood since going keto also makes it much easier to follow through with the things I know are healthy ways to experience and regulate emotions.

At first I did everything “right” last night as far as healthy ways of handling my dismal mood. I noticed and named my feelings (sad, unhappy, sorrowful, despondent, and so on) and I sought out consolation in friends and family (love you guys), I attempted a mood state change and emotional regulation (watched a comedy movie), and even had a visceral release of my emotions (yay for crying!). And even though all of that felt healthy and appropriate, I still fell into an old habit of seeking out comfort and numbness in food.

Now, I did not “cheat” and go off keto and overeat carbohydrates. But I did overeat some keto-friendly foods when I wasn’t biologically hungry. I knew in the moment that I wasn’t hungry and I was eating because I wanted some comfort, to feel better, to numb the emotional pain.

Turning to food for comfort is not right nor wrong. I mindfully accept what I did without judgment. The issue for me comes down to reducing long-term suffering and being authentic in my keto life. When I turn to food for comfort, in the long run, it increases my suffering because it increases cravings and the likelihood that I will do the same again. It reinforces the habit that I want to let go of. Plus it jeopardizes my ability to remain in ketosis, which is key to maintaining my health right now.

Habits are hard to unlearn. It takes awareness, commitment, and determination. I’ve made a lot of progress in my emotional regulation skills, but I’m not perfect. I’m human.

And Northwest winters are a bitch. And Depression is an asshole.

Please ask for help if you need it.


If you or someone you know is feeling depressed, suicidal, anxious, lonely, having issues with drugs or alcohol, or just needs someone to talk to, call the Crisis Line 24 hours a day:

Call 866-4-CRISIS (1-866-427-4747)

Overcoming Cravings

Many people starting a new dietary approach that is radically different from how they’ve eaten in the past struggle with staying on track with their eating plan due to cravings. They could be following a ketogenic diet to treat epilepsy or diabetes, an elimination diet for food allergies, a gluten-free diet for Celiac, a Specific Carbohydreate Diet for SIBO, or any number of other restrictive eating plans. For some, cravings are merely minor annoyances, but for many, cravings cause considerable distress and lead to overeating and perhaps even binge eating.


My goal with this blog series is to help you understand where cravings come from and then learn some healthy and effective strategies for minimizing cravings, all the while reducing suffering in your life and instilling a sense of calm and peace around food.

What is a Craving?

People have many ways of describing or naming cravings. Some people identify strongly with the word “craving” and describe it as a very strong desire to eat some food, typically “off plan”. Cravings can build over time, or seemingly come out of no where.

Other people may describe themselves as “stress eaters” or “emotional eaters”, being aware of specific triggers for cravings.

And even some deny that they have cravings, despite “needing” desserts or other sweet or pseudo-carby foods. They may use the terms: desire, want, need, like, or think about.

However you describe your cravings, they typically have little to do with true biological hunger (need for energy and nutrients) and have more to do with psychological and biochemical reasons. They have multiple origins and usually require a bit of work on your part to unravel and learn new skills.

Cravings Expertise

Having studied psychology for many years as part of attaining my master of science degree from Bastyr University in both Clinical Health Psychology and Nutrition, I understand both the biological basis for hunger and the psychological basis for “hunger”, AKA, cravings.

Additionally, following a ketogenic diet myself since May 2015, I have experienced what you are going through, including intense cravings! I have learned a lot and will share all my tips and tricks for overcoming cravings and not just the “book learning” side of cravings.

Overcoming Cravings Series

Here are topics that I will cover as part of this series:

  • Where do cravings come from? (5 senses, habit, situation association, addiction, thoughts, to numb/avoid/dissociate from feelings)
  • What are “highly palatable foods” and why do they make it nearly impossible to resist overeating them?
  • How does the addiction/reward center of our brain work and how can we use this knowledge to WIN over cravings?
  • Don’t feed the raccoon! How fat bombs and keto-friendly desserts only reinforce cravings and make them come back with a vengeance.
  • Finding a WHY that is bigger than your cravings.
  • Mindfulness Skills: how labels and judgments cause cravings, how tuning into our physical and emotional feelings can minimize cravings, and how being in this moment (rather than worried about what we’re going to eat next, or guilt about what we just ate) reduces hunger and cravings.
  • Emotional Regulation Skills: learning how to identify and feel emotions and feelings without turning to food.
  • Effective Communication Skills: learning to talk to others in ways that we are more likely to be heard and understood. Often people who are ineffective communicators turn to food to “stuff their feelings” as a way of not having to confront others.
  • Distress Tolerance Skills: how not giving in to every craving whim makes you happier in the long run. (This skill makes me think of Pink’s song “Try” with the lyrics “But just because is burns, Doesn’t mean you’re gonna die”)
  • Transitioning to using food as fuel instead of entertainment or excitement. Here is where we explore feelings of being “bored” with food choices and what that means in our lives and begin to redefine our identity around our eating habits.
  • A cool flowchart about Mood Dependent vs. Goal Directed Behavior that helps us understand why we keep using food to soothe, comfort, numb, or dissociate from our feeling and how we can learn to do something different.

And a lot more!

Where and when do you struggle with cravings? Which of these topics are you most looking forward to?


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