Since I’ve discovered (just the other day) that “timed eating” and the Keto diet offers hope for curing PKD, I am looking closely at the Keto diet plan.
Timed Eating is Daily Fasting
Timed eating means eating only during a small section of the 24 hour period. It is fasting each day during hours that make fasting easiest. I began my own schedule on August 24th. I eat only after 11:00AM and then eat all my food before 5, or 6:00PM. I tried to end at five, but found it too difficult so I’ve moved it up an hour.
I’ve found this schedule to work very well for me. I do drink black coffee in the morning. Drinking things that do not contain calories are okay during a fast. Tea and water are other liquids are okay. The benefit of this fast is that I’ve now gone 17 hours without food, if I stop at 6pm the night before and eat at 11am.
The only problem I have is trying to eat enough good food within those 7 hours. And reducing carbs, to help get into ketosis, is a challenge. It means giving up lots of food I normally eat. Bread and pasta are obvious, but also milk and juice are not Keto friendly.
Eating The Keto Way
The Keto diet plan is also something I’m trying to grasp. It’s a high fat (good fat) and low-carb eating plan that is meant to raise ketones. From everything I’ve read, ketones burn fat, not sugar, which benefits us in many ways. To get to that point, carbs (that turn into sugar) and sugar supplies in the body, must be used up first. Hence the low carb diet. We want our bodies to burn fat.
Although there is much to be said about Keto and low-carb diets (good and bad) this article mentions it’s ability to Boost Brain Health. The page mentions Alzheimers, Epilepsy and Parkinson’s Disease. And now I see that ketosis could reverse PKD by reducing cysts on the kidneys. It really sounds like a cure-all.
Guess what? You won’t hear doctors telling you about this. In fact, the PKD website doesn’t even mention it. But they have lots of information on fundraising to “find a cure”. What if food and fasting is the cure?
Can we cure disease by eating the right food? What if we fast, or go without eating for hours at a time, will that help us be healthier? Gosh, it seems crazy to think that we have the ability to heal ourselves, doesn’t it?
I am not a big follower of recipes, but online recipes can give me ideas. Now that I don’t eat pasta, my favorite low-carb, vegetable casserole recipes are Keto and (mostly) kidney friendly.
Before I continue, I am not a medical professional nor am I a dietician. Do not consider this post as a recommendation for any type of diet. Do your own research or ask a medical professional if you have PKD or CKD. I’m still learning how to eat.
Pinterest and Keto diet sites are loaded with food ideas, but many include tons of cheese and too much salt. My advice is to cut down on the cheese and salt that seems to be the basics of many Keto foods, and concentrate on eating more vegetables.
Most Diets Have Nothing Against Vegetables, But…
Usually you are perfectly safe when eating organic, fresh or frozen vegetables. However, some vegetables can be high in carbohydrates (anti-Keto) and high in potassium and phosphorus (anti-kidney).
Balancing a low-carb diet with safe foods for those of us with kidney disease can be tricky, but not impossible. We have to be careful of dairy also, so a little cheese on top of the casserole is better than layering it throughout.
Tomatoes are not kidney friendly due to their high potassium levels, but adding small amounts of sauce with the vegetables, or a few slices of tomato within the layering will add great flavor. Remember, this is a dish that should feed 4-6 people. So, how much tomato (or cheese) would you be eating per serving?
The basics to creating a simple vegetable casserole is to slice, layer and bake. That’s it, and you can choose what vegetables to use.
I enjoy making my own tomato sauce using herbs from my garden, but organic, store bought (low sodium) is fine too. Just don’t go overboard if you have kidney problems.
Favorite Vegetables to Use in One Dish Meals
My favorite casserole uses eggplant, but I can’t always find decent eggplant at the store. My second favorite vegetables are zucchini and summer squash. It’s always best to buy what is in season because it will be the freshest. Spicy and yummy peppers can add great flavor.
I‘ve included some potassium info for those who need to watch it.
Eggplant, peeled or not *I slice it and sprinkle with salt, which is suppose to help with bitterness. The salt is rinsed away! Read here on How to Salt Eggplant.
Summer squash: Zucchini and /or yellow
Peppers add great flavor. Red bell pepper (251 mg.potassium) / Poblano pepper (410 mg. potassium)
Broccoli (288 mg. potassium, 1 cup chopped)
Cauliflower – I prefer a white sauce with this.
Sliced tomatoes (go easy if you have CKD / PKD) *High in Potassium
Mushrooms (cook first)
Spinach *High in Potassium
Herbs, either dried or freshly chopped, add flavor and nutrients
Usually I choose whatever vegetable I have, or use a combination of two. I’m cooking for myself only, so my casseroles need to be smallish. One eggplant will usually fill my baking dish!
Make some tomato sauce or use from a jar.
Shred some of your favorite cheese.
Once the vegetables are sliced (which I do by hand) I begin to layer.
Make the Casserole
Think as if you were making lasagna.
Grease a baking dish – I use Ghee (Ghee is just clarified butter.)
Begin layering with one layer of veggies, a little tomato sauce, meat (if you are using it) and some cheese – or cut down and sprinkle cheese on top only.
Keep going until the dish is nearly full – it will bubble over if too full!
Pour the rest of tomato sauce over, if any is left, and sprinkle with cheese.
Bake, uncovered, at 350 until the vegetables are soft – around 30-40 minutes.
This type of casserole can contain pre-cooked meat if you want. I’ve made meatballs and sliced them up for one of the layers. Usually I avoid adding meat because too much red meat / protein is not good for kidneys. I prefer an all-vegetable casserole.
Simple and Healthy Eating
My goal was to help my readers see that recipes are not needed when it comes to baking healthy casseroles loaded with vegetables. And who needs pasta?
Honestly…. I have to eat! It does feel overwhelming while I try to do Keto and keep my kidneys going. I cannot cut every food out of my diet…!
Variety is best, and being aware of personal body needs and limitations should be the guide to creating awesome, guilt-free, vegetable casseroles.
I have now surpassed my six month Keto diet anniversary (I began in August 2020). Overall, I am pleased with how I feel. Since I don’t go to a doctor, I don’t have medical results to share, only my own personal observations.
The breakfast I used to eat was something like the one pictured below. Black coffee with lots of coconut oil, and yogurt with nuts, coconut and bananas (or other fruit). I thought it was a great meal, and it’s not bad, except for the carbs in bananas.
The little bananas came from my neighbors backyard here in Florida. They are the perfect size since bananas are a no-no on Keto. (Hint hint, I don’t give up everything because I believe that variety is good.)
Since I began Keto, I also do intermittent fasting so I don’t eat until noon. Sometimes I eat a “breakfast” and other times I eat a regular meal – low carb of course.
Balancing Good Foods and Keto
Which brings me to one of the things that bothers me about Keto. I don’t want to give up fruit. So I have been eating a little, like the tiny bananas. Or I add a few blueberries or a couple strawberries to my yogurt – (Cabot Creek, full fat, plain Greek Yogurt is my favorite.) I’ve stopped drinking juice, but still eat a little fruit. If I eat more carbs than usual for breakfast I am careful the rest of the day.
I don’t count my carbs. For a few days I used a carb counter app but I just can’t spend time entering all the foods I eat to see how many carbs I’m getting. I feel like I know the basic foods to avoid, and I read labels if I’m not sure.
I Was Eating Too Much Cheese, Bacon and Replacement Bread
After a few weeks on Keto, I stopped losing weight. In fact, I gained a few pounds! This was depressing after having a good beginning and dropping a few pounds every week. Something was wrong.
Lots of online Keto recipes are loaded with cheese and I was eating too much of it. I’ve gone back to eating more normally and using less cheese in my dishes. I also quit eating so many Keto biscuits. Once I did these things, I stopped gaining weight. Keto replacement food can be yummy but loaded with calories!
***Eat healthy, using lots of organic vegetables, grass-fed proteins, and good oils while greatly reducing carbs is the goal. Stay away from processed foods.
I bought Maria Emmerich’s Keto recipes book (Amazon affiliate link), but she also has a website with recipes. In fact, many popular food sites also list Keto dishes. Just eat sensibly and watch the sodium as many Keto foods don’t worry about sodium content.
My original reason for trying Keto is to help with my PKD, so I had to remind myself of this constantly. Since I don’t go to a doctor, all I have to go on is the way I feel, how I sleep, and my own blood pressure readings. I do Keto and think about what is best for my kidneys at the same time.
My mother, and now my younger sister, have had dementia. Before my mother, no one in my family had impaired mental abilities at all, especially at a fairly young age – my sister is only 63! So this is scary. I tell myself it is lifestyle and food that contributes, and I especially believe in eating correctly.
A big plus from eating this way is that my mind feels good. I do not get tired in the middle of the day, and I am sleeping very well most nights. Because I don’t bother with food for the first five to six hours of my day, I get more work done (I own an online business). I am very focused and do not miss breakfast, nor do I believe it is necessary to eat first thing in the morning.
I’ve actually come to like the fasting part of this diet. It might sound odd, but not eating all morning has been a good thing for me. I stop eating by at least 6:00 pm and that gives me 18 hours total without eating. When I get up in the morning, I make a regular cup or two of coffee then I drink watered down versions of coffee – or Dandy Blend (this is an Amazon affiliate link to a Dandelion coffee replacement drink) – until I can eat. I do get hungry, so when you hear people say “you won’t be hungry on Keto”, if you fast, you will probably get hungry.
Use that non-eating time to think about a healthy meal you will cook for your first meal of the day.
This is my story and I am not advocating any type of diet or advice, just sharing what I’ve found and read on this subject.
I didn’t want it, had never heard of it, and discovered I had it out of the blue at the age of 55. Cysts on my kidneys – lots of them. I can still remember the awe on the doctor’s face when he told me of all those cysts.
No wonder I had so much trouble trying to lose weight. It was not necessarily fat, but cysts that were crowding my insides.
I liken it to little (and big) water balloons bouncing along inside my gut day and night. They don’t pop or ever go away, they grow. And more of them show up as they please to add to the weight and expansion of my belly. They hurt too. My lower back aches most of the time. I wake up in the morning feeling full and heavy. It’s miserable. But for those who have PKD, you know this, because you feel the same. We have consistently been told that there is no cure – yet, and therefore no hope for relief.
My New Eating and Fasting Plan
Now there is hope folks! I was so excited to begin my new diet and fasting plan. I wish I could have found more information, but I think I get the gist of it. Eat for a short period of the day. All the food and drinks (other than water) will be taken between 11:00am and 5:00- 6:00PM – for me, my plan. That is the timeline I have decided upon. After my time limit, I will be fasting and drinking only water, black coffee, or tea for the next 18 hours.
If it’s good enough for mice, rats and cats, then I can try it. Coincidentally, I watched a show called “Fat Fiction” on HBO the other day. After that I watched a show about fasting. Then, I read that research shows that a combination of a variation of the Keto diet (eating to cause ketosis) combined with fasting, has shown a reversal of kidney cysts in test subjects (animals). That’s a big coincidence! I am amazed and excited to discover this hope!
The documentary, called “Fat Fiction” tells how good fats are necessary for health. I knew this. My Homeopathic doctor had mentioned this years ago. Do not buy low fat, or fat-free foods because sugar is added when fat is removed. Sugar is the culprit. Carbs turn into sugar and then our bodies burn that sugar, instead of burning the fat from our cells. This is how I understand it, and you can read about it for yourself. One explanation can be found at What is Ketosis.
PKD and Keto
The problem with eating a Keto diet when dealing with PKD, is that not all the food suggested is okay. Also, large amounts of sodium are not accounted for when cheese makes up the bulk of many foods – and Keto diet followers tend to eat bacon, which I avoid like the plague.
Also with kidney disease, potassium can be a problem, so food like avocados, which are big with Keto, might not be good for PKD sufferers. Then again, maybe I was getting the wrong info all along. When I look at the PKD website, there is no mention of this possible “cure”.
Fortunately, I’ve been changing my eating habits for the better over the past nine years and I think I can generally follow a low carb diet while eating enough to keep my kidneys from getting worse. I’m very used to checking labels for sodium, but checking carbs is new.
I’m going to try to stick closely to the Keto Diet guidelines for at least a little while. I’ll be careful not to load my kidneys with salt and lots of meat protein. Mainly I will eat the way I have been, with a check on the carbs as I go.
Carb Wake-up Call
Strikethroughs shows the food I ate that were not low-carb, but I had no idea. My morning fast (which began the night before): Coffee black, drank until 11AM. Then: Blender drink of carrot juice, unsweetened cranberry juice, kale, and strawberries. Baked a quiche containing eggs, Swiss cheese, spinach, broccoli and onion, in a pie crust. Ate a big piece of quiche, also toast (using up my homemade bread) with butter, almond butter and ground flax seeds. Drank a cup of goat’s milk.
Supper will be leftover zucchini boats which contain: ground beef, parmesan cheese, onions and of course zucchini, smothered in organic tomato sauce.
Noticed: I got tired after I ate my big quiche meal. Guess it could be due to the fact that spinach, eggs and cheese all contain tryptophan! Pie crust, toast and goat’s milk all contain carbs, so does that “healthy” juice I drank. I definitely did not go low-carb with this meal. In fact, when I looked, I was surprised to see that pie crust is FULL of carbs, with no benefit to me.
Goat’s milk – 11 grams in 1 cup milk
Pie crust – 12 grams carbs in one piece…!!!!! Yikes. Eat the middle but throw the crust away ;(
Carrot juice – 20 grams carbs in 8oz., and unsweetened cranberry juice has 18 grams of carbs in 8 oz. Keto says juice is bad for it’s carbs – yes, it’s true.
Total carbs listed above that I ate comes to 61 and that is without counting that little piece of toast. I can assume that gave me at least 10 grams of carbs. Now my total carbs for today come to over 71 grams, because I’m sure other foods had some carbs as well.
If I have a glass of wine later, and of course I will, that will also add a few carbs. Normal carb intake suggested on a regular diet is over 200, but the Keto diet suggests that number stay below 50 grams. I failed, but I will learn from my mistakes, and do better . Staying below 50 carbs is going to be tough.