Multicultural Keto: Making Low Carb Work for Dietary Diversity
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Multicultural Keto: Making Low Carb Work for Dietary Diversity

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Multicultural Keto: Making Low Carb Work for Dietary Diversity

Posted a year ago

SaVanna Shoemaker, MS, RDN, LD

SaVanna Shoemaker, MS, RDN, LD

Bunless burgers. Mashed cauliflower. Everything Bagel-flavored everything.

It’s all Keto food, and it can all be delicious, but it’s not exactly the kind of stuff you’d normally eat (and it will definitely warrant some strange looks from your family).

For many people outside of a strictly Western culture and upbringing, this is par for the course when they make the switch to Keto. 

Keto has grown a lot in popularity, but most of the information and recipes available online are made for a Western audience.

Still, we know that Keto can benefit people from all cultures, religions, and corners of the globe — and we want to help make it easier for anyone to get started.

In this article, we’ll discuss how you can fit Keto into your food culture — not the other way around.

What Is Keto?

Keto is a very low-carb diet designed to put your body into a state called nutritional ketosis, where it burns fat for fuel instead of carbs. The diet is typically moderate in protein, and high in fat.

Nutritional ketosis offers several potential benefits:

  • Weight loss: Nutritional ketosis may help you lose weight because it reduces your appetite and makes it easier for your body to burn stored body fat. It’s also “protein-sparing,” meaning it may help to preserve your muscle mass and metabolic rate — so your metabolism won’t slow down as you lose weight.[*]
  • Blood sugar and insulin control: Ketosis may help to lower high insulin levels and improve your body’s insulin sensitivity, which can help improve blood sugar levels. Many people with type 2 diabetes have found great success following a Keto diet.[*]
  • Brain function: A ketogenic diet has been shown to be helpful for epilepsy, and emerging research suggests it may be useful for preventing cognitive decline as well.[*]

On Keto, your diet mainly consists of animal protein, non-starchy vegetables, low-carb fruits, nuts and seeds, and healthy fats and oils. Sugary foods, most fruits, bread, pasta, beans, rice, potatoes, and sweetened drinks are eliminated on Keto because they are too high in carbs.

Who May Benefit from Keto?

According to the World Health Organization, more than 1.9 million people on earth are overweight; of those, 650 million are obese. It’s important to note that this data is from 2016, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic — which appeared to contribute to weight gain in many people and populations.[*][*][*]

Additionally, approximately 422 million people around the world had diabetes as of 2014 according to the World Health Organization.[*]

Obesity and obesity-related chronic diseases are a global issue, so many millions of people worldwide may benefit from a Keto diet. 

Is Keto Culturally Inclusive?

Keto can seem distinctly “Western” or Americanized since much of the information available online and the communities surrounding Keto are typically based in English-speaking, Western countries.

However, Keto is for everyone. The conditions that Keto may help with — like obesity, diabetes, and epilepsy — occur everywhere. Likewise, Keto has grown in popularity and people are practicing the diet worldwide.

Unfortunately, there are still relatively few resources available for people trying to adapt Keto to their own cultural or religious dietary needs.

10 Tips for Adapting Keto for Your Cultural and Religious Needs

Here are 10 tips to help you make Keto work for your cultural and religious food needs and traditions.

Find online resources

The web can be a huge help if you’re looking for guidance on eating Keto for your culture. Here are a few resources that we’ve found.

Search our recipe database

The Carb Manager app features many Keto-friendly recipe adaptations of different regional and cultural foods. You can keyword search by cuisine type, country of origin, or religious designation.

Focus on what you can eat

Remember that, on Keto, you can still eat many foods — you just need to creatively substitute things like rice, bread, potatoes, beans, pasta, and sweets. 

You can still enjoy meats, vegetables, oils, herbs, spices, and certain sauces.

Take an inventory of the ingredients you can still enjoy on Keto that are an important part of your culture or religion. Focusing on the things you can enjoy on your diet makes fitting Keto into your culture much easier. 

Try making Keto-friendly versions

If you enjoy cooking, why not try to make some Keto-friendly versions of your favorite foods or foods that are part of your traditions? 

You can look online for recipes and inspiration or get creative and develop a new recipe with your culinary know-how.

Don’t sweat going off plan

Eating non-Keto foods may be unavoidable sometimes, and that’s OK. For instance, if you’re Catholic, you may wish to partake in communion even though communion wafers and wine are high in carbs. 

Your culture may also have traditions around high-carbohydrate foods that you don’t want to miss, which is perfectly fine, especially in terms of holidays that only happen once per year. A day or even a week of not being perfectly on plan is unlikely to affect your overall success significantly.

Get support from your community

If your family, friends, and larger community share your religious or cultural diet, let them know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. 

The people who care about you are likely to support your health goals, and they may offer some unique perspectives that you hadn’t thought of to help you be more successful.

Seek professional advice

Doing some quick Google searches, we found a few health professionals who specialize in Keto for certain cultures — like Indian and Mexican.

If you need help adapting Keto to your cultural needs, see if you can locate a professional to help you strike a balance between Keto and your typical diet. 

Use social media to your advantage

Social media can connect us with people from around the world easier than ever. It may be worthwhile doing a quick search to see if you can find others on Keto who share your culture. Instagram is a great place to start!

Speak up for your needs

In Keto groups — be they online or in-person — let people know how Keto could be more accessible to people of your culture, if you feel comfortable doing so. 

Especially in Western countries where that point-of-view tends to dominate the conversation, drawing attention to other cultures and how Keto could work for them is an essential first step.

Let us know how we can help

Carb Manager is available around the world, and we have users from many different cultures — all with their own unique regional, cultural, and religious dietary needs.

However, we are always looking to expand our selection of recipes, and our recipe developers are ready to take on your requests. 

Please let us know what foods from your culture you’d like to see in the Carb Manager app, and — if you already have a great idea for how to make it Keto-friendly — let us know! We want to make Carb Manager and the Keto diet more accessible to everyone.