By Victor, a Virta patient
I joined Virta in June of 2018. Within four months, I had already lost 30 pounds and lowered my A1c by 3 points. There have been many changes since I began dietary changes with Virta. It took only one week for my mind to feel different. It was so strange—I had never felt so peacefully calm before. Could this strange feeling be the new normal? It turns out it was. My hunger level in general is greatly diminished and my mind is no longer obsessed or preoccupied with food. It is a wonderful feeling.
When I joined, I was worried about my food options. Would this be expensive? Would I have to spend more time cooking? Would I be able to eat out? It turns out I did not need to worry about any of these considerations. Virta has a complete library of resources that removed a lot of the difficulty involved in meal planning. While the dietary changes are just one aspect of the Virta Treatment, it did take some time to adjust to the dietary changes and figure out some of my new favorite meals.
All our kids are grown, and I live with my wife in our empty nest. I do the majority of the cooking, so it was important to me to figure out ways to adapt Virta to my busy lifestyle. But once I got used to the new eating plan, I figured out easy ways to prep my food for the week.
How I feel about my food options on Virta
I love swapping out my old, unhealthy favorites for new versions. Cauliflower and zucchini are my new friends—I use them to make low carb replacements for rice and pasta! I’ve learned to make a convincing and delicious lasagna using thin strips of zucchini in place of the sheets of pasta, and I love making zucchini noodles with marinara sauce.
I’m amazed that the most filling foods I now enjoy fit very well with the Virta high-fat regimen and do not sabotage my metabolism! I am discovering how easy it is to cook with butter again.
I am learning “bread” can take many forms. A Virta lifestyle has always been based on science and while my math is adequate, I am learning again to enjoy the chemistry-art that is bread-making. In my single-parent days, I would bake two loaves a week, so the kids could enjoy hot bread in the mornings before school and sandwiches made with fresh bread for lunch. I found a microwave recipe for bread that takes only a few minutes to make. While I am not a fan of microwave cooking, this was just so tempting to try. After an initial test, and toasting the bread on the stovetop, I wound up producing a week’s worth of sausage, egg and cheese muffins that served as our breakfasts.
How I meal prep for the week on weekends
My weekend prep day involves arranging breakfast and lunch for the week. Each day I thaw the meat we choose for dinner—we grill or bake it and add some veggie sides. Weekday dinners are usually easy meals that I prep beforehand. Weekends are for experimenting with new dishes!
We prefer to cook, but we have no issues dining out. There are several nearby places that have just what we need for a quick dinner if I run out of time to cook. Virta has a resource that breaks down compatible meal options at many restaurants.
It can take a little extra effort to find meals without hidden carbs when we dine out, but fortunately, the Virta team has already taken the time to analyze menus at many restaurants in my area and major chains. I can always check with my health coach to get menu suggestions for new restaurants, and she’ll take a look and tell me my options.
Experimenting with new recipes
I love to cook, so I’m always looking for new recipes to try. I use the resource center inside the Virta app and Pinterest to find new recipes. We do have to be very diligent because not everything that says “keto” is actually Virta-friendly. As a patient, I get to be a member of Virta’s private patient community, so I get many recipes and ideas from my peers. I’m excited for more patients to join Virta because we can share more of what works for each of us with each other. One of our great finds is a stuffed meatball recipe we tried. My wife found this in a recipe book.
My advice to people starting Virta
My best advice to people figuring out what to eat on Virta is to absorb every bit of knowledge you can from the resources (videos, lists and cheat sheets) Virta offers. In addition, don’t be afraid to experiment with recipes and add whatever spices enhance the flavor for you.
And don’t hesitate to share with the community! We all benefit when we learn from each other.
Don’t beat yourself up if you try something that has a negative impact on your biomarkers. Just document that this is a new boundary for you and resolve to find something else that helps rather than hinders you. And lastly, don’t be ashamed for taking care of yourself! Sometimes even our families, well-meaning though they may be, may think they know what is best. With a little planning, we can avoid things that are problematic for us and still enjoy family time together.