The holidays are upon us, and we all know what that means. The carbs are about to rain down from the heavens. Treats so sugary they’re addictive. Office parties and family potlucks are full of mashed potatoes, stuffed turkey, and carb-packed casseroles. There’s Grandma’s famous pie—which she made especially for you, by the way.
Maybe it’s time to throw in the towel on your ketogenic diet, at least until you go back to your routine. After all, you’ve been good all year. You can always make up for a little carb splurge by being good later.
A lot of us fall into this kind of thinking when the holiday season rolls around. No one’s perfect. But if you think that you can simply go back to your keto diet in January with no harm done, you’re wrong.
Carb Bingeing Has a Permanent Effect on Your Metabolism
Too many carbs can permanently affect your metabolism. The more sweet treats you eat over the course of your lifetime, the more likely you are to develop insulin resistance. Once you develop insulin resistance, the changes can’t be reversed.
What’s insulin resistance?
Insulin is a hormone that is made in the pancreas and plays a major role in your metabolism. When you eat carbs, they’re broken down into glucose, a type of sugar, in your digestive system. Glucose enters your bloodstream and with the help of insulin, it’s absorbed by cells and used as energy.
In insulin resistance, cells stop responding to insulin and therefore cannot absorb glucose into the bloodstream. Over time, insulin resistance may turn into prediabetes and eventually, type 2 diabetes. Though it’s not the only factor that determines whether you develop diabetes or not, it’s a big one.
According to this study, nearly half of all American adults are already pre-diabetic or diabetic, which means there’s a 50-50 chance you’re already affected by insulin resistance.
…It Gets Worse
As if being at risk for type 2 diabetes weren’t bad enough, insulin resistance poses some other serious threats and may increase your risk of obesity, heart disease, kidney failure, stroke, and possibly even cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
In other words, it’s not something you want. Especially if you’re already on the right track and it’s just a matter of avoiding a few holiday treats.
Practice Makes Perfect…Or Not
Anyone who’s tried to maintain ketosis over the holidays knows just how hard it is. The best course of action is to decide what your goal will be in advance. Will you splurge on Christmas morning? Or at your family’s Chanukah party? Or when you’re out for New Year’s Eve dinner with your sweetheart? Maybe you’re planning to bump up your carb intake by 5 grams per day for the week between Christmas and New Years?
If you do decide to cheat, decide what you’re going to eat. Establishing a clear goal by choosing something specific makes it easier stay in control. Not to mention, it’s the only way of guaranteeing that the carbs will be absolutely worth it and not something you’ll regret the minute you’re done eating.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about all the amazing food you can eat during the holidays. These practical strategies and natural, healthy food products are ideal for a keto or LCHF diet.
Low-Carb Friendly Holiday Tips & Tricks That Actually Work
1. This holiday season, ask for a Spiralizer.
Best. Tool. Ever. Want to make your very own low-carb pasta? A vegetable spiralizer can turn your favorite veggie—try zucchini, carrots, cucumbers, beets—into curly strands that mimic the look of noodles. Yum!
2. Make use of slow-cooker recipes for easy meals and potlucks.
Too busy to cook this holiday season? Get a slow cooker and turn it into your new best friend. Stews, soups, meats, and curries make perfect winter meals.
3. Keep a steady supply of eggs.
When you’re on a low-carb diet, eggs are an easy go-to convenience food. Cook them your favorite way and enjoy for breakfast or lunch. Don’t know what to do for dinner tonight? Having eggs on hand means you can fry up an omelet in under five minutes.
4. Take your meat to-go.
Take your already-cooked breakfast sausages or uncured bacon along with you on holiday road trips. Simply pack it in a cooler and reheat it or eat it cold when hunger strikes. Jerky is another option.
5. Find zero-carb noodles.
If you’re still mourning the loss of pasta, these delicious and realistic “yam” noodles will make your life 100% better. From Japan, Konjac noodles are a yummy—and healthy—zero-carb option that is sold by Miracle Noodles in the U.S.
6. Opt for gourmet seasoning and vinegar.
You’ll be surprised at the difference quality makes. Gourmet salts, seasonings, carb-free condiments, and vinegar can open up a whole new world of flavor.
7. Save your bacon grease for cooking.
Remember fat? You can eat as much as you want of it. Save your bacon grease and store it in the fridge to fat-ify all of your cooking.
8. Tweak your macros.
You’re the only one who can figure out how many carbs you can eat per day to make ketosis work for you. If you’re still craving carbs, it could be a sign that you haven’t found the right combination of macros.
9. De-carb old holiday classics.
Craving mashed potatoes and stuffing? Go online to find a carb-free variation of your favorite recipe.
10. Have you embraced fat?
A lot of people still have trouble really indulging in fat, no matter how long they’ve been on a keto diet. If you haven’t embraced fat, what’s stopping you?
11. Sweet tooth? These desserts will hit the sweet spot.
Banana-split cake, chocolate lasagna, homemade frozen yogurt, flourless chocolate cookies, low-carb cheesecake…have we converted you yet?
12. Lean on friends and family for support.
It’s no fun trying to go keto alone. Taking the time to explain your reasons for the diet to your loved ones and friends can make things easier.
13. Learn how to refuse respectfully.
If you have to say no to something that contains carbs, mention your health reasons for doing so. You don’t need to go into any more detail unless asked.
14. Carbonate your own drinks at home.
Going keto means giving up most drinks—except for water and unsweetened tea and coffee. Make your own Seltzer and lime- or lemon-flavored carbonated water and you’ll forget about soda and juice forever!
15. Make a holiday meal plan.
Don’t leave your meals up to chance. Having a weekly plan is key if you want to stick to your keto diet—especially over the holidays.
16. Shop at night.
Going to the supermarket can be a nightmare over the holidays. But when you have to scour ingredient lists for rogue carbs before you put anything in your cart, it’s even worse. Avoid the rush by shopping for groceries late at night.
17. Don’t forget to exercise.
Stressed? Hitting the gym, go to a yoga class, play outside with your kids, or watch a fitness video can to clear your mind and relax.
18. Monitor your progress and work towards a goal.
Having a clear, specific goal can help you to both identify what you’re working towards and monitor your daily progress.
19. Find a healthy way to treat yourself.
You deserve to reward yourself for all your hard work. How will you treat yourself?
20. Remember, you’re only human.
What’s more important than all the items on this list? Learning how to forgive yourself when you make a mistake.