Quick Summary tl;dr
During the holidays, it can be difficult to stay low carb on a daily basis, especially if you're new to this way of eating. However, there are many strategies for remaining on track at this time of year.
Making keto-friendly versions of your favorite foods and beverages, graciously turning down high-carb offerings, and taking care of yourself by exercising and managing stress can help you stay healthy and happy throughout the holiday season and beyond.
Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year's Eve are holidays we eagerly anticipate celebrating with family and friends every December. However, this time of year can be challenging for those of us trying to remain low carb, energetic, healthy, and fit. Here's our guide to navigating the holiday eating season, low-carb style.
Make Low-Carb Holiday Foods Everyone Will Love, Including Carb Eaters
During the holidays, you'll very likely be spending time with people who eat considerably more carbs than you do. In fact, some of them may think that a low-carb lifestyle sounds unhealthy, unappealing, and too restrictive. Holiday get-togethers are the perfect time to demonstrate that keto and low-carb foods can be undeniably nourishing, satisfying, and delicious.
You can find lots of low-carb holiday recipes on the KetoDiet blog, and even get inspired by some of these ideas for a healthy low-carb festive menu.
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Have Responses Ready When Offered High-Carb Food
Before attending parties or other social events, make sure you have a game plan for staying on track. If possible, bring a dish or appetizer you can enjoy if you suspect there may be a lack of low-carb options available.
Anticipate that some people — often with the best of intentions — will offer you homemade baked goods and other high-carb treats at these gatherings.
A polite “No, thank you,” said with a smile, should suffice. However, if the person is persistent and you don't want to hurt their feelings, here are a few responses you can try:
“That looks absolutely delicious, but I really can't handle that type of food. Thanks so much for understanding.”
“Thank you very much for the kind offer. Unfortunately, some of the ingredients in that luscious dish just don't agree with me.”
“I truly appreciate the time and effort you spent making this. However, I've found that I only feel good when I follow a strict low-carb diet at all times.”
Enjoy a Festive Low-Carb Alcoholic Beverage
Fortunately, some types of alcohol are allowed on a keto or low-carb lifestyle.
Most holiday parties and celebrations include alcoholic beverages. Dry wines, champagne, and hard alcohol mixed with soda water are all good options. However, limit your intake to two drinks at most, especially if you're concerned about weight gain.
Make sure to avoid sweet cocktails, spirits, and high-carb seasonal drinks like mulled cider, eggnog, and hot buttered rum.
When entertaining at home, enjoy indulging in low-carb-friendly versions of holiday favorites, like these:
Engage in Physical Activity Every Day
When things get busy around the holiday season, it's easy to push exercise to the back burner. This is a mistake, because being physically active not only helps prevent holiday weight gain but can also improve your energy levels and reduce stress. Although you may not always have time to get to the gym, try these strategies for getting some daily exercise in:
- When doing your holiday shopping, walk the perimeter of the mall at least once before heading into the stores
- Skip the elevator, take the stairs
- Do a 30-minute workout DVD at home in the morning or after work
- Try stair sprinting at the park or even at your office during your lunch break
- Aim for a minimum of 20 minutes of uninterrupted walking per day. If necessary, multitask by walking while talking on the phone, watching TV, or cleaning up around the house.
Manage Holiday-Related Stress
Although the holiday season can be fun and exciting, it can also be stressful at times. Attending parties and other events, traveling to see family or hosting guests in your home, and experiencing other changes to your usual routine may seem overwhelming. During this hectic time of year, it's important to get a handle on stress so you'll remain healthy, vibrant, and less likely to indulge in high-carb comfort foods.
Here are a few stress-relieving techniques for holiday survival:
- Practice tai-chi, yoga, stretching or any type of movement that incorporates deep breathing
- Take at least 15 minutes to be alone every day (walk, read, or simply rest)
- Ask for help when you need it
- Get to bed early whenever you can
Remember That the Holidays are About More than Food
Sometimes it may seem as though tempting holiday meals and treats are around every corner. And yes, it's true that there's a focus on festive foods at parties and other celebrations.
However, do your best to ignore the constant food cues and instead appreciate all the other wonderful things about the holiday season: spending time and reminiscing with family and friends, listening to familiar songs, watching favorite movies, reflecting on the year's end and making plans for the new one about to begin.
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