Strength Blog: Photo by Nicholas Lundgaard; used with  permission . Blog: Photo by Nicholas Lundgaard; used with permission.

I would like to refer you again to my podcast with Daisy Brackenhall because I learned so much about myself during that interview and my hope is that you will learn about yourself as well.

When things are the hardest you can be the strongest

Most of you know that this has been a very difficult year for me, even going back into the past year. Last fall my grandson had emergency surgery for a bowel obstruction, and just as we were all getting over reeling from that, I made an emergency one-month trip to California, and my sister passed away in January, followed three weeks later by the passing of my mother. I figured it would take the month of February just to get my wits about me, and no sooner than February was over, my husband had a ruptured aortic aneurism on March 3rd. His survival (with no damage) was a miracle and I spent 12 weeks at home to care for him. It was during these 12 weeks that I launched Granny Keto because I had a strong feeling that these events would signal retirement for me and I wanted to have something in my life that would be fulfilling and exciting.

During this time before being home with my husband, I ate more hospital meals and meals on the run than I care to think back upon, but I will, so that I can share this with you. Every hospital cafeteria, no matter how awful, has hard-boiled eggs and bacon in the morning and all have Cobb or chef’s salads at lunch — even if they are prepackaged. Even better, actually, because then you can pick up two and tuck one away for dinner in case you don’t get a break later or when you do, the cafeteria is closed. Most floors have patient kitchens and I have never had anything stolen from a community fridge or freezer when I have had my name on the food (the nurses will give you a piece of tape or a post-it to use for this). More than once I had one of those Cobb salads for breakfast! When my husband was in ICU I also stocked the common fridge with heavy cream for my coffee and butter and always carried meat sticks, cheese crisps and macadamia nuts in my bag.

Yes, I am a freak — I like hospital cafeteria food — and all the food that was available would have done no good in changing the situation or making me feel better (emotionally or physically). Somehow, when my world was spinning out of control, it felt good to take care of myself and find grounding in the foods I was choosing and the ways and times I was choosing to eat them. It had nothing to do with being virtuous or good or anything like that. It was grounding, pure and simple. It was something I had control over and that wouldn’t bring harm to already stressful situations. The grounding felt good. The control felt good. Knowing that I was exercising free choice when my loved ones had no choice, felt good.

How can you use this strength in the face of daily adversity?

My husband is not Keto (although extremely supportive of my way of eating). There is a HUGE basket on the kitchen table with at least three types of bread on any given day, crackers, potato chips, tortilla chips and whatever else he has picked up on one of his shopping trips. Next to his side of the bed (and honestly, I am typing this as I am looking at it) are two packages of double-stuffed Oreo cookies, one can of hazelnut wafer sticks, one can of cocoa-filled wafer sticks, three Ritter Sports chocolate bars (two macadamia, one dark chocolate), one box of triple-chocolate macaroons, five bags of “caramels con piñones”, 1/2 bag of plain marshmallows, two bags of chocolate wafers and one bag of Lindt truffles in assorted flavors. This, my friends, is where you need strength in the face of adversity! The harder this is (some days I don’t even notice this stuff, other days I fondle it), the stronger I become in determination and conviction. Other adversity: parties, relatives, travel for work, travel for vacations, babysitting grandchildren, taking care of elderly parents, working, commuting…you get the point, you don’t have to have a sibling or parent die or have a spouse in ICU to experience adversity. Every day there can be something that is a challenge. That is what life is all about.

Just in case you would ask — I have never asked him not to have these things in the house. He has it all and still is at a perfect weight — mostly because he can take one cookie and then nothing else for maybe three weeks. If I asked him to put it all away or not to even bring it into the house, he would do that for me. (That being said, when he was in the hospital I threw every bit of it out; it did not take long to replenish it though.) But, I know I am strong enough in my conviction and determination to stay Keto and I feel that I don’t have to bring the entire world to my way of eating. If you are not at that point yet, then there is nothing wrong with asking your family members to keep their own snacks in a container away from you or designate a shelf in the fridge or freezer for those things. However, you have to do your part and tell yourself that these things are not for you.

However, that aside, just remember that when things are the hardest, you have the strength to be the strongest. Think of it as grounding. Keeping to your food plan keeps your feet under you when the rest of your world is topsy-turvy. Once things settle you will be so happy because: first, you are feeling good and second, you are still on the road and don’t have to find your direction and way again.