You’ve been eating low-carb, keto, carnivore or whatever for the last couple months and doing great. You have lost weight, tamed your blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes too. People are beginning to notice your weight loss and you’re getting compliments. But now the holidays are here to put all your your gains in jeopardy.
It’s the time of year when people gain 80% of the weight they put on over the course of the year. Yep, it’s the holidays. As a doctor who tries to coach people about how to reduce and maintain fat loss, the holidays are…um…quite challenging.
What are you going to do? Cave? Roll over? give up? Capitulate? Hell no! Instead of giving in to the annual eating orgy with the idea of getting back to diet sanity in come January 2, why don’t you develop a pregame strategy right now. It’s possible to stay true to your health goals even during the holiday season. You came to keto because you had health and weight issues. Taking a 6 week hiatus from that is clearly going to take you further away from your goals.
Set some goals and try to stay true to them. Lets talk about “cheating”, a term I actually hate. It has some many negative connotations. It implies doing something bad and shameful. I like the term “eating off plan”. Eating off plan takes you further away from reaching your goals.
Plan your off plan eating:
When you eat something that is clearly keto-killing, it’s eating off plan. Want to eat some beloved traditional but clearly not keto-friendly at a holiday gathering? Of course, it would better to stay strict but….I get it…sometimes you just want to join in like everyone else. Here is what I do to do shame-free eating: Plan to go off plan! Give yourself limited permission to eat non-low carb. Put your non-keto treat on the calendar and enjoy yourself when the time arrives. Lots of spontaneous off plan eating clearly IS a problem.
What’s the non-keto food that I can’t get through the holidays without? Latkes! Grated potatoes deep fried in oil! I love ‘em. I could eat a full tray by myself. I’m really good at making the too! Rather than deny myself this tasty holiday treat I make an advanced plan to go off plan for one meal. See it’s not cheating. Its planned and and its limited. Just do not do too many planned off planned meals. Make sure they are spaced well apart. The more limited the better of course. Clearly you’ll do better If you can keep the non-keto foods to just one element of a meal rather than the entire meal.
Make a low carb version of your holiday favorites:
Look online. There are many great low-carb holiday recipes on line. Bring your own keto fare so you can be certain there something there you can eat.
Learn to tactfully deal with the carb pushers:
You’ve lost weight and it shows. You show up at the family gathering looking great. Someone brings a tray over to you and says “A little won’t hurt”. Try a little redirection: “Thanks, but I don’t want to risk not feeling good. So you go ahead and enjoy some and I’ll try some of thus delicious cheese.”
Bring your own cheese tray, fat bombs, devilled eggs, low carb cakes or whatever.
Eat before going to a holiday party:
Don’t go get into a situation when you are surrounded by tempting food while hungry! Fill up on beef, eggs or whatever LCHF food you like before you go. This makes it much easier to exercise control.
Be choosy. Take a hard look at the holiday buffet and more often than not you will be able to identify some keto foods such as turkey, ham (but not if not candied), cheese, charcuterie, cut veggies.
A word about holiday imbibing:
Alcohol is a toxin. It stops fat burning while the liver is metabolizing it. So the best alcohol is zero alcohol. That said, some choices are better than others with respect to alcohol. Distilled spirits like vodka, tequila and whiskey provide the alcohol effect without additional sugar. Dry wine and lite beer are better than the alternatives.
A complete guide to alcohol while on keto can be found here:
December is heart attack season:
Heart attacks peak in December. While the link between the avalanche of festive food and heart disease isn’t proven, it’s seems like a safe bet to stay clear of the foods that were increasing your blood pressure and sugar. Calculated cardiac risk is lower on keto. A trip to the ER with chest pain would certainly kill the festive spirit.
Eric Sodicoff MD
Member: Obesity medince Association