I have, in general, thought of myself as creating a pretty well balanced diet. When I decided to go keto, I tried to resist the egg/bacon/cheese/ranch overdrive and made sure to include loads of dark leafy greens and bell peppers and berries and fatty fish and all those super-foods that I honestly kind of adore. And yet, a couple weeks ago, I woke up to bleeding gums. My initial thought was some sort of dental trauma overnight that would heal. And then two days later, again, bleeding gums.

Bleeding gums are pretty much a never occurrence for me. So I figured I probably had some horrible vitamin deficiency. Michael came home and examined my gums and mouth and confirmed I had scurvy. We went to the store to pick up super dose vitamin C for me to take daily while we waited for the uber-fancy multi-vitamins he ordered to arrive. He ground up Vitamin C pills, mixed them with natural calm and boiling water and I drank a glass every day. Within a couple days, my gums weren’t swollen and bleeding anymore. And I’m now taking a multi-vitamin, which I most likely should have been taking from the beginning (in addition to my fish oil pills and vitamin D). In order to get the Vitamin C I need in a day, I’d have to eat a whole red bell pepper; the juice from 3 limes or a cup of strawberries. That just isn’t going to happen, for a variety of reasons (carb counts; food costs and availability; etc).  I’d say that I regularly (a couple times a week) consume all of those foods in some quantity, but it just wasn’t enough. Just a word of caution.

Since starting keto, I’ve also found that I get dry scaly skin spots. This isn’t the keto acne a lot of people get, instead it looks like little psoriasis spots: I get them intermittently on my shoulders, my lower back, my sides, my calves. They tend to go away on their own after a few days (and went away entirely when I was not eating keto on vacation), but it has raised some concerns for me about possible inflammation. Michael made the point that whatever processes keto is resetting in my body could result in inflammation, anyway, but I’ve decided to cut dairy out and see if that helps with my skin.

Why dairy? Because it is the single biggest dietary change I’ve made from vegan to keto. Truthfully, I eat probably 2-3 servings of dairy a day now and I never ate that much (certainly not when I was vegan, but also not when I was just eating what I like to eat). Dairy (especially cheese) has become my easy go-to snack whenever I’m hungry. As a result, cutting dairy will likely be really freaking difficult at this point, but I’m pretty prepared.

I’ve found that I can do a very satisfactory bulletproof coffee using coconut oil and unsweetened almond milk in lieu of cream. I’ve also rediscovered my vegan protein shakes: Sunwarrior Classic,  Amazing Grass Green Superfood, Unsweetened Almond Milk (1 cup) and Cinnamon. It’s a bit chunky and mildly unpleasant but it’s also filling, dairy and soy-free, 5 grams net carbohydrate and about 20 grams protein in a serving. This shake was a fixture in my work lunch for months (accompanied by a serving of fresh fruit and half a bell pepper with hummus). We’ll see how the dairy cut goes, if it does clear up my skin, keto will get a lot more difficult in the long term.