Guest Blog by Dr Mike Banna

This morning I found myself reminiscing about an incredible time in my life. It was the time that I first learned how to copy and paste on a computer.

Perhaps you remember the first time you learned this incredibly simple task? Maybe it revolutionised your life in the same way that it revolutionised mine, saving you time and allowing you to feel cool and superior because you had figured out a new and exciting way of doing this? Or maybe you lead a more exciting life than I do, and reminisce about actual cool things that don’t make you sound like a bit of a loser and a weirdo in blogs?

We will never know, because this is a one way conversation, and I like to keep it that way for this very reason. Anyway, this got me thinking about learning new things, what it means to us, how we do it, and how our attitudes change once we have done it. In my experience, when we first find a way of doing things we get very excited about it. We feel like we have achieved something new, and it makes us feel superior. We’ve moved into the fast lane, and there we sit laughing at how silly we used to be- “IMAGINE NOT KNOWING HOW TO COPY AND PASTE LOLZ”, for example. And then something even stranger happens.

We learn a new, even better way of doing things and suddenly the circle is complete. Now we know how to cut and paste! We cannot BELIEVE that we used to copy, paste, and then go back and delete the original bit! How foolish we were… But maybe it’s not all linear, and maybe the changes aren’t all progressive thinking.

Maybe we are just slowly figuring out what works best for us? The first time I heard about the ketogenic diet was when I turned up to an exercise class and the instructor was away, leaving someone else to take the class for him. Unfortunately nobody else turned up, and said instructor took the opportunity of a captive audience to present this great diet he was on. He had tried everything- calorie counting, exercise, etc etc, and had finally found this incredible, magical diet, that just worked.

He said that if I spread the word about this diet to my patients and the community, that I could CHANGE THE WORLD. He had the purest of intentions, and I was of course intrigued, but then he told me about it and all I could think about was whether I could find a way to escape from this solo exercise class without him realising.

Everything I’ve heard about the keto diet sounds absolutely horrendous to me, except for the bacon. There at least 8 overwhelming reasons why I don’t want to go anywhere near it, and these reasons are pizza, burgers, bread, pasta, biscuits, potatoes, ice cream and most of all, cake.

To this end, I am something I don’t like to admit to being: biased. Biased against a life without cake- arguably the cut and paste function of the food world; often imitated, never duplicated. I have never tried keto (though I came fairly close in the paleo days; see also “how foolish we were!”), so I cannot tell you whether it is actually awful, just that I imagine it would be.

But that doesn’t stop me from having an opinion on it, reasonable or otherwise. I know people who have tried it and swear by it, and I know people who have been made miserable by it. It arguably has some benefits, particularly in certain medical conditions such as diabetes, and I could be critical of myself for dismissing it entirely because it sounds like hell. But then, I’ve found what works for me at the moment so I don’t feel like I need to change right now.

And like that Aristotle once said, “It is the mark of an educated mind to entertain a thought without accepting it.” The hallmark of any successful diet is being able to stick to it- pretty much all of them work if you do; the willingness to try a new approach when something isn’t working, again and again and again until it does, is the key; don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. For some people it’s flexible dieting, for some it’s clean eating, and yes, for some it will be keto. You just need to find your cut and paste.