My husband and I started eating Keto over a year ago near the tail end of summer. This meant that we were a few months into our Keto journey by the time Thanksgiving and Christmas rolled around, but we were still in the learning process. Surviving get-togethers where the food was decidedly non-keto for the most part was a challenge and lessons were definitely learned along the way! Hopefully, with the help of this Keto holiday survival guide, you won’t have nearly the stress about it that we did!
Holiday get-togethers are supposed to be fun and something to look forward too! Certainly, no one needs the extra stress that comes with figuring out what you can and can’t eat. Unfortunately, that’s sometimes a part of life and it can lead to a great deal of stress. Let’s just try to mitigate all of that beforehand shall we? So that we can enjoy the time with family and friends that the holidays are supposed to be about!
Keto Holiday Survival Guide
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Decide on your Approach beforehand.
There are two trains of thought when it comes to holiday eating. The opinion that holidays only come around a few times of year and one day of eating badly isn’t going to ruin everything and the opinion that you must stick the course no matter what! Which one you choose typically depends on both the type of Keto diet you are following and how far along in your journey you are. People who follow a stricter diet, to begin with, or who are just starting out on their journey and struggling with cravings tend to try and stick to keto. Those who have been doing Keto for a while or following a more relaxed version of the diet sometimes take the other path.
No matter which path you pick, deciding beforehand can take a lot of stress off the table.
Although this might be an unpopular opinion I want to say that neither choice is wrong! For some people choosing to just forget about the diet for a day might be the right choice. Some families put a lot of pressure on people to eat the typical holiday meals. Stress isn’t good for you either and if sticking to the Keto diet for the holidays is causing you a lot of anxiety and stress it’s okay to just let it go.
Will you feel bad afterward? To some degree yes, you probably will. The reaction to eating a lot of carbs when you have been off them for a while tends to vary. The most common side effects seem to be feeling sleepy for the rest of the day and stomach upset/bloating. You might notice a few extra pounds the next day if you check the scale but this is typically inflammation and water retention from the carbs and should disappear once you are back to your regular eating habits.
Words of Caution
Notice I said “regular eating habits” up above. This is key. You must absolutely, make sure that you are capable of eating badly for one day and then walking away from it again. One day of eating badly will throw you out of ketosis for a very short period of time. But! Overall have only a small effect on your ultimate goals (remember this is a marathon, not a sprint!) However, allowing yourself to slip up for a week or two is a very different story. If you don’t have the willpower to say one meal and done then this approach is not for you. Likewise, if you know this approach will cause you a lot of guilt and self-hate afterward then you should also skip it and try the tips below.
The Strict Approach
If you know eating badly for one day will completely throw you off the wagon or if you follow Keto for medical reasons then you are probably looking at following a stricter approach. Hopefully, if you are following Keto for medical reasons your family will understand and take steps to help you out by providing keto friendly options!
But, if they don’t understand or are unwilling to accommodate you all is not lost! There are a variety of steps you can take to enjoy your meal and stay in Ketosis. Some of these might require a bit of pre-planning. But that tends to be the way of Keto eating!
Keto Holiday Survival Guide – Tips for Keeping on Track!
- Know Your Keto foods and stick to them. – Turkey, ham, deviled eggs, and a few green beans are always a good choice. Skip the stuffing, anything potato related and watchout for the gravy which can often be laced with a lot of flour!
- Watch Your Portions – If you absolutely must try a bit of Aunt Rays famous side dish then limit yourself to a small amount. Sometimes satisfying yourself with a tiny amount is enough and will keep you from binging elsewhere. Remember watching your portions counts for proteins too. Your body likes to turn extra protein into sugar.
- Bring Your Own Sidedish – Thanksgiving side dishes don’t tend to be very keto friendly. Stuffing and sweet potatoes are no no’s for sure. The same goes for anything based on regular potatoes. It might be necessary to bring your own side dish. There are a lot of keto friendly dishes suitable for a family get together. If you bring something you know you can eat and enjoy then you won’t have to live on a bit turkey and deviled eggs. If you’re stuck for ideas then our Keto Cauliflower Casserole is a great option! You can even make your own stuffing by switching out regular bread for an almond or low carb bread in almost any recipe.
- Bring Your Own Dessert – Dessert is often the hardest to get through when it comes to holiday cooking. Everyone wants that banana pudding or holiday pie. Thankfully most of those recipes can be made keto with only a few adjustments. My kids didn’t even notice when I made our pumpkin pie recipe Keto! Take along some cookies or even an assortment of fat bombs to keep your happy and sated. Bring enough to share and you might even convert a few people.
- Don’t forget the Drinks – Typically punch is served at most of our family get-togethers. Clearly, that’s not keto! If you’re not fond of drinking tap water, make sure you bring a few keto friendly options for you to enjoy!
Keto Holiday Survival Guide – The Bottom Line
Eating Keto is a decision you made so that you can start feeling better, both mentally and physically! No matter what choice you make when it comes to holiday eating accept that you are doing the best you can! You are not doing yourself any favors if you are stressing or worrying yourself about holiday meal choices. We always preach to each other about being kind and forgiving and that needs to apply to ourselves too! Do your best, enjoy the holidays using the tips here in our keto survival guide in whichever way you choose and then Keto on with pride.