“The saleswoman said that there were supplies and everything would be there. On the 4th day of the war, the store was closed because of an armed checkpoint nearby.”

Kyiv Anastasia stories

The story of Anastasia from Kyiv, who lost 20 kg and managed the symptoms of autoimmune thyroid disease thanks to the keto diet, and now, because of the war, is stress-eating chocolate.

February 24

At about 5 a.m., my husband and I were woken up by a phone call. His brother said the war had started and Kyiv was being bombed. We ran to watch the news, and then we heard the first air-raid siren and then the explosions.

By 7 a.m., I had packed an emergency suitcase with a first-aid kit and documents. At 8 a.m., I was on my way to the pharmacy and the grocery store to restock my supplies. 

That morning, none of the pharmacies nearby were open (this was the case during the first two weeks of the war), but I managed to get into the store and even bought eggs, shrimp, and frozen fish. There was chicken, which I usually don’t eat, but I decided to get it this time, just in case, since there was a war. 

All in all, we had 5 to 7 days’ worth of food. I was not too upset because the saleswoman said there were supplies and tomorrow everything would be there. (The next day I found only spoiled fruit and notorious shrimp in the store, and on the 4th day of the war, the store was closed because of the armed checkpoint nearby.)

All day long, we were checking the news and chatting with relatives to find out where they were and how they felt. We set up a possible shelter in the hallway of our one-room apartment and frantically tried to sort out the situation.

On the first day, panic gripped the city, with people fleeing in droves wherever they could. The city quickly emptied out, leaving us and two other apartments with tenants on our block.

Our house is directly over the highway to/from Kyiv, and we saw the terrible traffic jams and panic. We ourselves had to make a Herculean effort to convince our loved ones that we were staying home with the animals and were not going into the unknown. Now we realize how right we were. 

The first night was very scary – time after time, we heard very strong explosions, windows were shaking and car alarms went off. We didn’t sleep. Not at all. After that, we slept from 10 to 12 a.m., and it seemed to be enough. I stopped eating the day the war began. I had no time for it and didn’t want to.

We survived the bombing that night. Then came the realization that our shelter in the hallway wouldn’t save us. We had to look around the basement of the house.

It turned out to be completely unsuitable for sheltering people: a sandy floor, pipes with hot water, and no depth. But we decided that we would be safer there at night than on the 5th floor of a 5-story building.

In the evening, we were ready to go down into the basement. But when the next bombing started – even closer in feel and sound than on the first day – we decided to go to the nearest bomb shelter (a 15-minute walk at a brisk pace) to explore and, if there was an available place, to return there with our stuff and pets.

Despite the fact that there were a lot of people, there was some place for us, and we returned with our animals – a 14-year-old sheepdog and a cat in a carrier. 

We went into the bomb shelter with other people because the explosions were very loud and it seemed like they were going to come right over. 

We spent the worst night of our lives there – there were palpable explosions outside, and it was so cold and damp inside that being there was a form of torture. And I’m far from gentle and generally can tolerate the cold, so we prepared ourselves – we took all the warm clothes and blankets with us.

In the morning, when everything had calmed down, I left my husband with the animals and went to explore the outside world. As I walked, I doubted whether I would see my house in place (it was right above the highway, and one of the defense lines went through there). Thank God it was safe and sound, so we got back there. Once we had cleaned our apartment up, we went to the store to restock some food. 

There was no meat, only cereals, chocolate, and canned peas and corn. We decided to take what we had and give it to someone if it wouldn’t be useful. So sugar and canned food returned to my daily diet. I couldn’t eat all day and then have tea and a chocolate bar in between worries.

Keto diet before the war

Since last April, I’ve switched to a low-carb diet, almost a keto diet. Before that, I was eating on the principle of classical “healthy eating” standards, but periodically allowed myself sweets, while leading a very active lifestyle and exercising, and the weight, for some reason, slowly crept upward.

At that time, I was already in my 10th year of kung fu training. I practiced 3 times a week all year round, except for one month. I exercised by myself, I jogged with my dog, and I went swimming in the summer. In my free time, I always liked to walk in the woods. So I really had an active lifestyle.

Doctors would throw up their hands and say that all the tests were normal, I should give birth right away and everything would pass. Unfortunately, this is the most common advice from gynecologists and endocrinologists in the post-Soviet states for women of reproductive age. Along with weight gain, I began to have problems with my gastrointestinal tract and my cycle and became sick more often.

I started to try different diets and would break down, going on binge eating. I understood that there was already an eating disorder problem, but I couldn’t do anything about it.

I heard about keto from my martial arts instructor. He had been in ketosis for 5 years already, but I was not ready to go on such a diet myself.

Who are we? The Rebels Diet is a healthy living and nutrition coaching and education platform. We are coaches and journalists from Ukraine (that’s why sometimes our texts don’t sound native, but we are working on it). Our mission is to help people – to help you lose weight, to help our team get back to work (we lost it because of the war) and to help the people of Ukraine win and rebuild our beautiful country. Try us. We are cool!

When my problems began to show, I gave up and asked my mentor for the contact of a doctor who practiced integrative medicine and used keto to help patients cope with illnesses such as diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and cancer. I don’t have a medical degree, but I realized I had to go to him. I had a lot of tests and did an ultrasound of my thyroid. It turned out that I had an autoimmune disease and impaired carbohydrate tolerance. It, in turn, led to inflammation in my intestines and a host of other “minor” problems…

At that time, I was preparing for a wedding and at the same time I was passing university exams – the period was extremely unsuitable for starting a new diet and very stressful.

I was shocked, but I switched to a new kind of diet for myself the very next day after talking to the doctor. By the wedding, I was back to an acceptable weight, but still not quite my normal weight. So I followed a low-carb diet for almost a year – right up until the war – and lost 20 kg. 

My diet during the war

At the local convenience store, they started bringing in chicken. Yes, it was not really fresh and had a price 4 times higher than in peacetime. Payment: only cash, which, by the way, was extremely difficult to obtain. Well, I switched over to this bad-quality chicken and eggs. I also bought chocolate to calm my nerves. 

Because of the war, my husband and I lost our earnings, and our small cash savings went to the local “stores.” The only saving grace is that my husband has a government job, so he is paid a percentage of his salary. There is not even enough money for food, but my parents sometimes help us with meat. 

There were a lot of nights of bombing, but we didn’t go to the shelter any more – we just sat in the hallway at home.

Now, life in the city is gradually getting better; stores are running normally again; people are coming back. There is good meat, of course, more expensive than before the war. We are still without any work – we are looking for any opportunities, I began to learn a new specialty to work remotely. My husband is still not going to his government job – the building he used to work in is ruined, and no one knows when he will resume his work. 

I am trying with all my might to get back to a normal life and diet: I eat meat and vegetables whenever possible, except that chocolate is firmly in my diet – it is a way to relieve stress. From the arrivals, the news, the enemy’s uncertainty, and cruelty. During the war, I used to lose and then put on a couple of kilos, but I felt worse. There is a noticeable difference in the gastrointestinal function. Some old allergy problems came back, which were completely absent on low-carbohydrate. 

I’ve been trying to get back to my old ways of eating for a couple of weeks now. It’s just not really working out yet.

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