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How To Enjoy Holiday Meals Without Derailing Your Nutritional Goals

The holidays are a time for merriment, togetherness, and an avalanche of culinary temptations. From sugary treats to carby delights, gathering around the holiday table can feel like tiptoeing through a minefield. So how do you fend off the gingerbread men and eggnog hoping to lure you into their trap?

By learning how to make healthy food choices for the holidays — ones that don’t deprive you of the traditional seasonal flavors you love or sabotage your health and wellness goals. 

It may sound impossible, but our favorite tips for navigating holiday meals make this mission well within your wheelhouse. 

Why Holiday Food and Nutrition Matter On a Keto Diet

Everyone seems to struggle with overeating carby, sugary foods between Thanksgiving and the kickstart of their New Year’s resolutions. But cheating on a ketogenic diet during this time of year isn’t like cheating on other diets. 

One meal has the potential to kick you out of ketosis and throw you off course. A surge of carbohydrates in this fat-burning state is like jamming a wrench into a finely tuned engine – your blood sugar levels go haywire, carb cravings intensify, weight loss stalls, and you may succumb to short-term weight gain.

Worse? It could take days or weeks to get back in the keto game.

That’s why consistency matters. You may not want to track every macro during holiday eating. However, you can leverage our healthy holiday eating tips to stay as close to your ideal macros as possible.

How To Make Healthy Food Choices for the Holidays: Keto Edition

Embrace your inner Grinch when those pesky carbs come calling and emerge from the holiday season victorious! All you need is a bit of planning and these healthy eating tips: 

1. Recognize Your Triggers

To navigate the holiday food maze without derailing your nutritional goals, consider the situations, emotions, or social cues that trigger your cravings. Whether it’s the sight of the dessert table or the smell of Grandma’s famous green bean casserole, knowing your triggers can help you avoid them or have a plan in place.

For example, you may choose to indulge in your sister’s homemade cranberry applesauce but won’t eat the store-bought whole-wheat rolls on the table. Or maybe you’ll enjoy a slice of pie and double your gym time the following day. Identify your trade-offs and workarounds and stick to them!

2. Plan Your Plate Ahead of Time

You’re used to menu planning and meal prepping. So why should your holiday nutrition protocol be any different? To ensure the food frenzy doesn’t get the best of you:

  • Never leave home on an empty stomach. Showing up starving to Thanksgiving lunch or Christmas dinner is a surefire recipe for overindulging. Get a satisfying meal in, and you’ll have less room for temptation.
  • Fill up on keto-friendly gems like nuts, cheese, and cured meats during appetizers or happy hour. You’ll appease a grumbling stomach and have more power to resist the heavy hitters later.
  • Prioritize protein-rich plates. You can’t go wrong with a plate full of roasted turkey, beef, pork, or fish. As long as they’re not battered, fried, or covered in a questionable sauce, you should be golden.
  • Pack the rest of your plate with non-starchy, fiber-rich veggies. Pass the sweet potato casserole and grab the Brussels sprouts, asparagus, broccoli, green beans, zucchini, spinach, leafy greens, etc., to complement your protein.
  • Watch out for hidden carbs. Low-fat salad dressing, veggie dips and hummus, honey-baked ham, etc., can all be sugar traps.
  • Pack keto-friendly snacks. Stashing a Keto Brick or other keto snacks will feel like a lifesaver when you can’t find healthy choices to fit your macros.

3. Bring a Keto Side Dish or Main Dish

Volunteering to bring a dish to a holiday gathering gives you control over at least one option. You can choose healthy recipes (like roasted brussel sprouts with bacon and gorgonzola) or keto versions of classic holiday recipes.

For example, keto mashed potatoes swap the carby spuds for cauliflower or parsnips. Mixed with grass-fed butter, sour cream, and fresh herbs, no one will know the difference (or care).

Err on the side of low-carb veggies, high-quality protein, nutrient-dense organ meats, and healthy fats rather than total fat overload. People still mistakenly think the fat on a keto diet causes high cholesterol and heart disease. So it's better to make approachable keto holiday foods rather than something that requires you to give a keto 101 lesson or defend your good food choices.

4. Whip Up Some Keto Desserts

A quick online search will yield an astounding amount of ingenious, delicious, guilt-free keto holiday desserts. You’ll score an outlet for your seasonal sweet cravings while keeping yourself accountable.

Did you know Keto Bricks can be added to recipes to improve the overall ingredient profile? You’ll find healthy holiday desserts like these on the Keto Brick Recipes page:

5. Practice Mindful Eating for Cheat Foods

Mindful eating is all about intentionally savoring each bite of food rather than mindlessly noshing at holiday parties or eating just because the food is there. With each bite, meditate briefly on the flavors and ingredients you can taste, how they make you feel, what holiday memories they bring up, etc. Listen to your body’s cues to know when enough is enough.

Food plays such a starring role in the holidays that depriving yourself of these traditions can sometimes feel like a punishment. Mindful eating allows you to savor those special flavors without going overboard.

6. Make Time for Physical Activity

Always incorporate physical activity into your holiday routine. A brisk walk before and after mealtimes, a dance session featuring your favorite holiday tunes, or a round of snowball fights with the fam can help burn off those excess carbs, bring down those blood sugar levels, and minimize the impact of your cheats.

7. Prepare for Your Ketogenic Comeback

Don’t fret if you do succumb to holiday overindulgence. It’s really not the end of the world; dwelling on a slip-up will only make you feel worse. You’ve gotten into ketosis before, and you’ll do so again. 

    • Reaffirm your commitment to your keto journey. Remind yourself of the reasons why you started in the first place.
    • Consider fasting. A short fast, such as a 24-hour or 16/8 intermittent fasting window, can help deplete your glycogen stores and fast-track ketosis.
    • Exercise those carbs off. Physical activity can burn off glucose and promote fat-burning. It also enhances insulin sensitivity, making it easier for your body to utilize ketones for energy.[*][*]
  • Bump up your fat intake. You’ll feel satiated and spur your body into ketone-burning again. Keto Bricks have perfect keto macros; each Brick is 81.5% high-quality fat from cacao butter, a stearic acid powerhouse, 12.5% protein, and just 6% carbs. Built for performers by performers, they don’t contain any junk found in other bars either.
  • Now You Can Own Healthy Eating for the Holidays

    The holidays are meant to be celebrated and enjoyed, not stressed about and begrudgingly endured. Smart planning, mindfulness, and a healthy dose of holiday spirit will help you triumph during the festive season without sabotaging your keto goals.

    Remember, you can always get back into ketosis if you go a bit off the rails. Keto Bricks can empower you to overcome the keto flu fast and tackle the New Year with renewed energy and determination.

    🎄🎁  Santa’s belly may shake like a bowl full of jelly, but yours won’t when you stay fueled with Keto Bricks! Gift yourself guilt-free indulgence and stress-free macro tracking with the perfect stocking stuffer.

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