WORCESTER — About five years ago, while Christian Leatham was working from home in order to parent his children, he realized he’d started putting his health on the back burner.
He used to visit the gym and eat healthy but somewhere along the way, he lost sight of healthy living.
These days, he’s turned that around, quitting his job and spending six days a week preparing ketogenic meals to help others improve their diet.
“I woke up one day and I thought, ‘I want to help people get healthy,’” he said.
With $34 invested in a website, he started Dad’s Keto Kitchen, making meals that are free of sugar and gluten.
“My meals are low-carb and diabetic-friendly,” he said, adding that he also creates bakery products that can be enjoyed by those who’ve adopted the keto lifestyle.
Leatham creates the meals in a commercial kitchen he began renting at St. Roch Roman Catholic Church in Oxford after things took off and his customer base grew.
Now, he said, he’s looking for a permanent home, maybe a bakery that’s closed and is for sale.
“I want something with a storefront,” he said.
He delivers to more than 30 towns and employs three, and sometimes four, drivers who set out to bring the meals to customers every Thursday.
For those outside the delivery area, there are meet-up spots where they can catch up with one of the drivers to pick up their food.
In the nearly three years he’s been at it, Leatham said he’d conservatively estimated that he’s prepared about 30,000 meals.
He said he enjoys putting together a weekly menu that contains choices from the more than 150 selections he’s created.
Customers log on to his website between 8 a.m. Tuesday and 5 p.m. Sunday, to peruse the menu before ordering.
Choices include jalapeño cheddar meatloaf, chicken and sausage in marinara over Italian zucchini and cheeseburger soup. There are keto pizzas in several varieties and bagels, along with desserts that look high-sugar but actually contain none.
Leatham said problems with obesity in today’s society come from an addiction to sugar and what it does to our bodies. That leads to diabetes and other serious health problems.
“We need to drop the sugar,” he said. “Those are carbs we don’t need. By eating better, we can reduce Type 2 diabetes.”
Leatham likes to talk about healthy lifestyles and said he’s always there to help customers with questions or concerns about their diets. Eating healthy helps improve mental health as well, Leatham said.
He’s clear to say he’s not a doctor nor is he a nutritionist. Leatham is working toward a certification as a keto and carnivore coach. He also joined the Society for Metabolic Health Practitioners, which, he said, “Is overseen by some of the very best professionals in the industry — doctors, nutritionists and more.”
Leatham said he understands that many people are adopting the keto lifestyle, and sometimes they find it difficult to prepare foods if they’ve already got a busy schedule.
That’s where he comes in.
The meals he prepares are easily microwaved, can be conveniently packed for work and are “nutrient dense” so one feels full from consuming quality fats and proteins, he said.
On average, a meal costs between $11 and $14, with meal plans available to bring down the costs.
Cooking keto can be a bit more expensive because of the ingredients used but, Leatham said, he can buy in bulk and spread the cost over several meals, bringing prices down.
The Facebook page for Dad’s Keto Kitchen is teeming with positive reviews, especially when it comes to the whoopie pies and cookies. Those with keto experience wrote that they found following the lifestyle much easier with a meal delivery service and praised the food labeling, which helps them better keep track of their intake.
Leatham said he knew, once he began eating healthy, that he could help others. His daughter now watches him work in the kitchen with his crew of three employees. That’s something he’s glad to see because she, too, is learning a healthy lifestyle.
Dad’s Keto Kitchen can be found online at dadsketo.com.