It’s the holiday season. And that means family dinners, parties, and lots of festive fare. And while the season is a welcome time for celebrating – it is also all too easy to overindulge in carb-laden foods.
For most people, that means entering the New Year with a little extra “padding”… not to mention higher levels of inflammatory markers, triglycerides, blood pressure and more.[i]
Today, I’ll share five simple strategies to help you stick with your keto diet (or any healthy way of eating) during the holiday season, so you can ring in the New Year looking – and feeling – better than ever!
Keto Holiday Strategy #1: Reinvent Carb-Rich Comfort Foods
Stuffing with gravy… bread… mashed potatoes… creamy casseroles…
These comfort foods are often what we crave the most. But just a few bites can throw you out of ketosis, not to mention triggering more hunger… and more eating.
The good news is that there are plenty of keto-friendly stand-ins that will satisfy your cravings…
- Instead of mashed potatoes, try creamy and satisfying Mashed Cauliflower-Celeriac for a side dish with lower carbs and higher nutrients.
- Make a delicious Keto Pan Gravy from the fatty drippings of your pastured turkey, using a small amount of arrowroot powder or xanthan gum to thicken. Include creamy casseroles – like Green Bean Casserole – in your holiday spread, using real grass-fed heavy cream and butter. Instead of fried onions, try pastured pork rinds for crunch and textural contrast (and avoid the flour and carb-rich toppings).
- Stuffings can be made with keto-friendly bread crumbs / cubes, or cauliflower rice to recreate the tastes and textures of this popular turkey accompaniment.
Keto Holiday Strategy #2: Eat MORE Fat
While eating more fat may sound easy, most traditional fatty foods are paired with carbohydrates. Here are a few easy ways to boost your fats, while keeping your other macros in balance:
- Roasted Bone Marrow and a Keto Spinach Artichoke Dip are fat-and-nutrient rich appetizers that can be served with sliced and toasted keto bread.
- Classic Hollandaise Sauce and Horseradish Crema are great ways to add healthy fat – and flavor – to roasted turkey and prime rib.
- Keto Cheddar Sage Biscuits and Cheddar Rosemary Crackers made with almond flour make great use of grass-fed raw cheese… while scratching the itch for bread and crackers.
- Paleo-Mayonnaise Turkey with Herbs not only adds more fat (and succulent moisture!) to your bird, it makes for baste-free roasting too!
Keto Holiday Strategy #3: Limit Liquid Calories
While most cocktails have around 150 calories, festive sips (like traditional egg nog, spiked punches or alcoholic hot cocoa drinks) can pack a whopping 300 calories and more than 20 grams of sugar.
And because your body doesn’t register liquid calories the same way it does those from food, it’s all too easy to keep sipping those calorie-laden cocktails, without triggering a feeling of fullness.
The good news is that you can imbibe wisely and stay in ketosis too. Hard liquors like vodka, gin and rum are the best options, due to their low carb count (ethyl alcohol is carb-free). Using stevia, monk fruit and/or erythritol, you can create delicious and keto-friendly cocktails like Minty Mojitos or Hot Toddies. Dry wines are also a good bet.
Keto Holiday Strategy #4: Give Your Favorite Desserts a Makeover
Did you know that one slice of pecan pie has more than 500 calories, 65 carbohydrates, and 32 grams of sugar? And who can eat just one piece?
The good news is that you can enjoy holiday treats that have all of the sweetness… with none of the sour side effects. Simply replace the sugar cup-for-cup in your favorite recipes with natural, non-GMO erythritol. Please keep in mind that erythritol is about 70% as sweet as sugar, so you may need to boost the sweetness a bit with stevia or monk fruit extract. Start with the erythritol and then add the stevia or monk fruit to taste.
While there are still many misconceptions about erythritol, the fact is this substance is naturally occurring in common foods (like pears, watermelon and wine) and your body actually produces erythritol too![ii]
Keto Holiday Strategy #5: Chew (or Sip) on These
One of the best things about keto is how effectively it can suppress hunger.
But even the best laid plans can go awry when there’s buffet filled with an assortment of delicious food, just beckoning to be eaten, so here’s a reliable way to send your body the message that the feast has concluded.
Chew a piece of all-natural, sugar-free gum. Not only does peppermint taste terrible with asparagus and ham, but chewing gum for at least 45 minutes was found to suppress hunger, appetite and cravings, while promoting a feeling of fullness, according to research published in the journal Appetite.[iii]
Look for Spry gum at your local health food store. It’s made with all-natural xylitol – a low-glycemic sugar alcohol that also helps to reduce cavities.
Another option: Enjoy a soothing, calorie-free cup of herbal tea. I like to make my own blends, using organic bulk herbs like peppermint and spices. Not only is it more economical, it also reduces waste and exposure to chemicals.
Creating Happy and Healthy Holidays for Your Family
The holidays are the time of year we get to enjoy friends and family… the time we have to reflect on the previous year with gratitude and look forward to a New Year ahead. With just a few small changes to the classic holiday spread, you can stay healthy and energetic through the holidays… and enter 2019 as the best version of yourself!
ED NOTE: Need a little help planning your keto-friendly holiday spread? Kelley has put together a free guide – Keto Holidays – that will help you keep the joy and delight in your holiday meals… while leaving the unwanted carbs aside. Inside, you’ll find 20+ keto-friendly recipes (including each one mentioned in the article above), all nutritionally analyzed and containing 5 grams of net carbs (or less!). Grab your free copy here.
[i] Richard D. Feinman, Wendy K. Pogozelski, Arne Astrup, et al. Dietary carbohydrate restriction as the first approach in diabetes management: Critical review and evidence base,Nutrition, Volume 31, Issue 1,2015,Pages 1-13,ISSN 0899-9007
[ii] Katie C. Hootman, Jean-Pierre Trezzi, Lisa Kraemer, Lindsay S. Burwell, Xiangyi Dong, Kristin A. Guertin, Christian Jaeger, Patrick J. Stover, Karsten Hiller, Patricia A. Cassano. Erythritol is a hidden glucose metabolism product. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences May 2017, 114 (21) E4233-E4240; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1620079114
[iii] Hetherington MM, Regan MF. Effects of chewing gum on short-term appetite regulation in moderately restrained eaters.Appetite. 2011 Oct;57(2):475-82. Epub 2011 Jun 28.