The pie and potato feast that is Thanksgiving though year’s end is already pretty daunting for people who want to keep their waistlines intact, but it can seem downright terrifying for those of us on keto. Rest assured, high-fat squad—you can enjoy the holidays without sacrificing ketosis. Just keep these tips in mind.
1. Plan Your Carbs Ahead Of Time
When you only have room for 40 to 50 grams of total carbs per day, you’ve got to accept that your holiday dinner plate won’t look like a Trader Joe’s ad.
That doesn’t mean you can’t have any of grandma’s marshmallow-topped sweet potato casserole or cornbread—but you’ll have to carefully plan how to spend your precious few carbs, says Julie Stefanski, R.D., spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.
Throughout the day leading up to your holiday meal, focus only on healthy fats so you can dedicate all of your daily carb allotment to the good stuff. Then, decide which of your comfort foods to incorporate into your meal—and how much you can have without exceeding that keto carb limit. Otherwise, fill your plate with low-carb, high-fat foods that only fit into your eating plan. (Stefanski recommends two keto-friendly veggie sides and some turkey.)
If the treat you’re really looking forward to is having a drink, go for plain liquor over carb-filled wine, beer, or cocktails, adds Seattle-based dietitian Ginger Hultin, R.D.
2. Bring A Keto-Friendly Dish
Sure, it’s a nice gesture to bring a dish to your holiday gathering—but it also gives you an opportunity to add something keto-friendly to the menu.
“If you’re committed to seeing [the holidays] through without falling out of ketosis, consider bringing options that meet your needs,” says Stefanski. Considering how many bloggers and recipe developers are churning out keto-friendly recipes, you’ll have no trouble finding a suitable dish. Stefanski recommends options like cauliflower mash, roasted veggies, or even roasted cauliflower steaks.
Not sure what to bring? Check out a few of our favorite keto-friendly Thanksgiving recipes.
3. Pack Snacks
If you’re worried about holding yourself over while surrounded by biscuits and breaded snacks, bring a stash of keto-friendly snacks with you.
4. Beware Surprisingly Non-Keto Foods
While many of the holidays’ fattier foods—like green bean casserole and gravy—may seem keto-friendly, that may not be the case.
“While gravy contains a lot of fat, it also contains added carbs from flour or cornstarch,” Stefanski explains. The same goes for green bean casserole. Even cranberry sauce, tart as it may be, actually packs tons of added sugar and is a no-go on keto.
Safer bets include creamed spinach, roasted Brussels sprouts, and any plain-and-simple vegetables on the table. When in doubt, though, don’t be afraid to ask about a recipe’s ingredients.
5. Don’t Eat Extra Fat To Compensate For Carbs
If you do eat enough carbs to shift out of ketosis, know this: No trick will help you shift right back into it. A few days back on a keto diet is the only thing that will reset you.
“While loading up on extra fat may seem like a good idea, it won’t negate the effects of overindulging in carbs,” says Stefanski. “If you’re following keto to lose weight, eating the extra fat on top of the carbs will likely lead to weight gain.”
If you went a little too carb-crazy, don’t sweat it. Savor your favorite treats knowing you’ll get back on the keto wagon tomorrow.
6. Enjoy More Than The Food
Remember, the holidays aren’t just about food! “Focus on enjoying the non-food rewards, such as being with friends or family and being grateful for the blessings in your life,” suggests Stefanski.
And if you can’t stop staring at the constant stream of carbs? “Look for ways to join in that don’t involve food, such as playing a game outside or even helping to wash the dishes,” she says.