The Vault


“Are you a foodie?” asked the woman sitting next to me. I had woken at 5 am while on vacation to get a cab at 6 am and stand in line over an hour and a half at The Vault, a specialty donut shop. I had learned about the donut shop from a magazine, and I already knew each of the flavors I wanted to try.

The two of us ordered two dozen donuts in nearly a dozen flavors. We sat on picnic tables right outside of the tiny shop with a bottle of milk and sampled each flavor. With our taste of each gourmet flavor, we compared notes not just with each other, but with those around us. That’s when one of the women sitting nearby noticed my joy at the conquest, and asked, “Are you a foodie?”

I paused. Our entire trip to Chicago had been planned around foods to sample and restaurants to visit. Was I a foodie? One definition of the term is someone who seeks food as a hobby instead of eating out of hunger. A foodie is “keenly interested in food”.

This is what I remember about my trip to Chicago. The early morning taxi to The Vault, the donut shop that was so tiny, only 3 or 4 customers could stand inside at a time while the line to order wound around the block. When they ran out of donuts, the Vault closed. We got there more than an hour before it opened so that we could be among the first in line.

We also ate deep dish pizza at Pizzeria Uni and Giordano’s, making sure to get there early enough to get a table at lunch. I went to the restaurant ahead of my husband, so that I could be seated and ready to order. We were proud of our strategy that allowed us to compare the two iconic restaurants and save time.

Another day we took a taxi 30 minutes across town to have a signature upside down pizza in a bowl dish. The place was cash only so we had to make a detour to an ATM as well. We had to time that excursion just right to get back to our luggage at the hotel and make our flight home.

We also saw two movies while we were in Chicago and discovered one of our all time favorite restaurants ever – the Purple Pig. Right on the magnificent mile, that place was fantastic! We waited in line 3 different days and even sat at tables with strangers to sample their delicious foods.

It was there that we had Pork Neck Tomato Gravy which inspired me to make my own version at home. We loved it so much that I even made a low carb version! In spite of the name, trust me, you will want this dish! The Purple Pig was just a few doors down from the hotel, and we found a breakfast place that was just a block away so that I wouldn’t have to walk very far.

It was July 2012, one year before I began eating low carb high fat. I was in my early forties and weighed over 250lbs. I had gotten my first epidural steroid injections as I had begun the pain management process for my back in the week prior to our trip.

We spent those five days scouring the city for foods that I had learned about well in advance. Besides a brief walk down Navy Pier, our sightseeing focused on foods. Using magazines and online guides, we had planned the trip around foods we wanted to find and conquer! In four and a half days, we had spent several hours each day focused on food. We even had dinner one evening, and later went to a movie and had drinks and popcorn. We ate Chicago!

The cab rides alone to our foodie find restaurants totaled three hours. The wait time in lines at these highly popular venues totaled at least seven hours. That’s ten daylight hours for six of the eleven meals we ate in Chicago. If you consider that we probably spent an hour ordering and eating and talking, that’s nearly 24 hours spent eating in just four and a half days! None of it was inexpensive either.

Search things to do in Chicago. Besides one walk down Navy Pier, we did none of them. When I think about the hours we spent being “foodies”, those were hours we weren’t fully living. The donuts and doughy pizzas were actually making us sicker. Those hours eating or waiting to eat or journeying to eat kept us from really getting to know the city.

My family started low carb high fat one year later in the summer of 2013, and our vacations changed dramatically!

In summer of 2014, a year after starting low carb, we want to Hawaii. Let me tell you about our amazing trip! We hiked a volcano! We went kayaking in the ocean! We went snorkeling and my husband and daughter went scuba diving! We went on a helicopter ride, played in pools, and scouted out the best beaches. We stumbled upon a great seafood restaurant and enjoyed fresh omelets one morning, but the rest of the food over those 10 days is a blur to me. We did not eat Hawaii. We LIVED Hawaii!

Family hiking view from YosemiteIn summer of 2016 we went to Yosemite and San Francisco and the northern California coast. We hiked Upper Yosemite falls! I was fasted! I remember the cheeseburger I devoured that afternoon but only because it was so dang expensive!

We had a fantastic meal with low carb friends in San Diego, and I remember their smiling faces more than I remember what we ate. We walked China town and took a ferry to Angel Island. We found a Trader Joe’s for “supplies” and walked several beaches and rushed to catch sunsets instead of restaurants. We tried hot pot in China town which was a fun experience that also allowed us to stay on plan. In our twelve days of travel, we walked everywhere we could, including the Golden Gate Bridge.

Wanderlust is real. Travel takes us outside of ourselves and gives us an opportunity to see, explore, and do the things that are not in our own backyards. I want to travel differently now.

I imagine my next trip to Chicago. While I might enjoy a meal at The Purple Pig, it will not dictate my travel itinerary. Maybe I will go to the Field museum or take part in an outdoor yoga class at Millenium Park. I could also shop in one of the petite stores on the Magnificent Mile since I no longer have to worry about whether stores carry plus sizes!

Whatever that future trip looks like, I can assure you that I will not wait in line at The Vault. I am free.

Kristie Sullivan


Low Carb for Beginners

A Keto Diet for Beginners

Earlier with Kristie

The Sound of Silence

How a Pumpkin Pie Spice Muffin Can Mean Freedom

Mastering the Waves of Ketosis

My Miracle Oil

Low-carb basics


Weight loss

About Kristie

Obese for nearly all of her life, Kristie Sullivan, PhD, is passionate about helping others learn about all of the health benefits from eliminating sugar, grains, and starches. She focuses on eating whole, real foods that everyone in the family can enjoy.

You can learn more about her at her YouTube channel, Cooking Keto with Kristie. She also published a cookbook, Journey to Health: A Journey Worth Taking to help others discover how delicious and healthy a low carb lifestyle can be. Join her (and several thousand others) on the low carb journey at her closed Facebook group, “Low Carb Journey to Health (Cooking Keto with Kristie)”.


  1. Diane
    "I am free". I love this post! I can completely identify with everything you've said. I can hardly wait for my next "living" vacation.
    Reply: #4
  2. Shaun
    Thank you! How timely this article is for me. I suppose I also am (was?) a foodie, and only just today was noticing that my relationship with food is changing. I live in Tucson, AZ, which has become something of a foodie destination. For years the wonderful food here has brought me such intense pleasure - and health problems galore. I began my keto journey a couple of months ago, and today I was missing that electric joy I found in the glorious food that's been slowly killing me. Your article is so absolutely, beautifully the reminder that I needed: my home abounds with so many other joys and glories. Perhaps I will rediscover electric passion in the desert and mountains, instead of the bakeries and dining rooms. Thank you!
    Reply: #5
  3. Jayne
    I love this article!! Going on a Christmas river cruise in Germany and Austria, will be lchf-if for 10 months by then. It has been four months now and I fell fantastic! Hoping to make the cruise be about the family and sights and not the sweets....
    Reply: #6
  4. Kristie
    Hi Diane! We find that we save a lot of money eating far less now while traveling. Not only that, but we have time for the things that really matter!
  5. Kristie
    You live in a beautiful area! So much to enjoy there. It took a few months but we had to consciously replace our food "hobby" with other interests. It's so rewarding when those interests are things you never dreamed you would do like kayak or Hold! Wishing you the most wonderful adventures!
  6. Kristie
    The river cruise sounds like so much fun! Take me with you?
    I find that social settings are so different for me. Rather than obsess over the food, I can actually focus on the people. Have a fantastic time!
  7. April
    Awesome testimony to the power of taking back control of your appetite and choices! Way to go. :)
  8. Colyn
    Thanks for your article -- been there myself. I must say that the Facebook comments by folks that can't understand how someone could plan a vacation based on food and who say "eat to live, not live to eat" really haven't been obsessed or had eating disorders or who maybe just don't enjoy food as much as others. Eating IS living! You wouldn't be alive without it. And why not look forward to a great meal? Since going low-carb I don't fear missing a meal and I feel so much healthier generally, but I do love to eat. And when on vacation I won't hold back on experiencing the foods of another place/culture, because that's part of travel and enjoying a place and people. With LCHF I don't need to eat as much, so just a little will do. Denial is not a part of my travel experience anymore. It gets walked off anyway. :-)
    Reply: #12
  9. Bill Croft, Ph.D.
    This is my awesome friend and colleague. She has such a great story. Seeing her struggle for so many years, everyone should read, listen, and understand that she is the REAL deal. #happyformyfriend!---Bill Croft
    Reply: #11
  10. Do
    I really appreciate your story, how wonderful that this WOE has benefited you and your family so greatly! I love your Youtube videos, (waiting for some new ones) you taught me a lot. One thing I really appreciate about Keto is how I don't get cravings. I used to have to keep food with me, but not anymore. Thanks for sharing your journey, I look forward to many more of your insightful articles.
    Reply: #13
  11. Kristie
    Thanks for being part of my journey!
  12. Kristie
    It's so true! At the time I couldn't see how dysfunctional it was. People who haven't lived it can't see how it could have been normal for me. Thanks for understanding.
  13. Kristie
    Thanks so much! Yes, I need to make those a priority. The books have kept me busy.
  14. Marilyn
    Doing great on diet but major problems with constipation and leg cramps. Haven't found a solution that works.
  15. gbl
    No one has but they just ignore that pesky little fact here. If you can't eliminate regularly easily and without using laxatives you are not healthy.
  16. LMC
    If you eat enough fat and get sufficient Potassium & Magnesium, the cramps and constipation will resolve itself. I've been keto for a year and haven't had leg cramps or intestinal problems since about my 3rd month in. It takes some time to dial in what works best for your body.

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