Keto While Sick

Sticking to keto while also dealing with illness can be miserable: your old comfort foods are off the table and resisting cravings requires mental and emotional strength that you may not have right now. While it’s possible to stay on keto through your illness, there’s nothing wrong with going off-plan — as long as you take the time to put your decision in perspective and make sure it’s what you really want.

First, think about your goals and the progress you’ve made so far. Going off-plan can bring you temporary relief while you’re feeling lousy, but it means you’ll have to spend extra time getting back into ketosis after you recover.

Find a quiet space. Close your eyes and take 5 long, deep breaths. Exhale longer than you inhale. Breathe in and out of your nose if you are able. If you’re congested, breathing through your mouth is great, too.

  • Picture yourself going off-plan. What does this look like? Taking a break from measuring? One non-keto meal a day? Or a total break from keto? What would bring you temporary relief?

  • Once you’ve identified the ways you might deviate from your plan, think about how this decision makes you feel, focusing on your body. How does it feel in your chest? In your belly? In your shoulders?  Stay with this feeling for five minutes, breathing in and out. After five minutes have passed, release the feeling with three deep breaths in, followed by powerful exhalations that last longer than your inhalations.

  • Next, imagine yourself after your illness. How does this change things? If you are taking a break, how are you getting back on track? Consider the work it will take to get back into ketosis. How do these consequences make you feel? Again, stay with these thoughts for five minutes and release them with deep breaths.

Now that you’ve spent time focusing on how these options make you feel, make a decision. There’s nothing wrong with either option. Dieting is always a journey of “two steps forward, one step back,” and going off-plan while sick does not mean you’ve failed at anything.

Staying On-Plan

Take a moment to imagine the things that will help you get through this illness. Would a good podcast or bit of television help take your mind off it all? Does staying in bed all day sound cozy and comforting? Find other areas of your life where you can cut yourself some slack.

Next, decide what keto will look like for you for now. If you want to stay in ketosis, you’ll need to keep your carb and protein count at your recommended macros. Determine how closely you will follow your current plan.

Going Off-Plan

Just like above, take a moment to imagine the things that will help you get through this illness. Start with non-food related things. Making sure that you have options other than food will help you manage any stress or cravings.

Next, decide what “off-plan” means to you. Is there a specific non-keto dish you would like to eat? Are friends and family making meals for you? How many meals a day will have non-keto foods?

Figure out when you’re going to go back on-plan. Maybe you’ll go back on your plan after a specific length of time has passed, or maybe when your fever has dropped. Identify the milestone that tells you it’s time to get back to eating to your macros.


In either case, envision how you’ll get back to your macros when that time comes. What will your first meals be when you get back on plan? Will you return to exercise? Check in with yourself each morning, taking stock of how you feel and what you feel capable of that day. Knowing how you’ll be getting back on plan will help you commit and rebuild your momentum.

No matter what, make sure your fluid intake is high. Broths, soups, and stews can be very keto-friendly and comforting while sick; if you can’t make your own, be sure to read the labels for sugar and flour. Take care of yourself — see what stresses you can remove from your plate while you recover.

We’re here for you! Let us know how you decide to approach keto in this time and feel free to ask for support by email or in your daily log.