Keto and Body Positivity


There’s been a real uptick of Keto-shaming in the anti-diet culture world lately. As an anti-diet culture, fat positive, body positive, trauma-informed healthcare provider who works with a ton of folks with histories of disordered eating, this trend seriously concerns me. 

Here’s the thing: Keto isn’t the problem. Diet culture is. And Keto-shaming harms people with chronic illness.

Keto as we know it was devised as a way to control seizure disorders. It is also effective for many people in controlling migraine disorders. It helps control diabetes. This protocol had been used for decades before the term “Keto” even existed to control Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, and has even been shown to restore fertility in people dealing with PCOS. There aren’t simple medications to help control these things. Keto can bring folks a sense of control over their bodies and their wellbeing that they haven’t been able to access before. 

Before Keto was coopted by diet culture, it was a protocol that folks implemented for a specific issue, and by working with a practitioner. These folks were guided through the process of how to come out of the protocol into a more flexible way of eating as soon as their body was able to do that while maintaining symptom control. This is how a protocol like this should be done. 

But diet culture caught wind that Keto can result in weight loss, and they immediately started making it less safe for chronically ill folks whose bodies would genuinely benefit from the protocol to follow it. Because now it’s primarily associated with weight loss, which was never the goal in the first place. Its purpose should be to ease the experience of living in a body with the disorders I mentioned above. I hate that it’s a fad. And if you aren’t dealing with a chronic illness that has been proven to be helped by following the Keto diet, I don’t think you should do it. 

But here’s the other thing. When anti-diet culture folks Keto-shame, they ALSO make it less safe for folks who can benefit from the protocol. Imagine being an anti-diet culture, fat positive person who is successfully controlling your PCOS with Keto and then being confronted daily with Keto-shaming posts on social media. Would you feel like a traitor? Probably. If you have a history of disordered eating that you had worked with a practitioner to carefully not trigger while also honoring your body’s needs, would these posts cause you to be triggered? It’s pretty likely. 

Who benefits from that? 

So if you post anti Keto content, ask yourself what you really mean when you say “say no to Keto.” Do you maybe mean “say no to weight loss fads?” Or, “say no to the idea that you have to lose weight to be healthy?” Those are totally legitimate ways to be anti-diet culture without harming chronically ill people. 

I beseech you to find ways to fight toxic diet culture that do not involve shaming people with chronic illness who are working incredibly hard to live a life free of the pain and discomfort of their illness.