I am never really quite ready for the holiday season, and I am guessing many of you are not either. It seems to get here quickly and then we move in a daze through three months of holiday celebrations that center around starchy food high in carbs — and a lot of it centers around homemade desserts and sugary food gifts.
How are you planning on dealing with the food pushers and huge amounts of non-keto foods put in front of you over the next few weeks? The important thing for success IS to have a plan. We all approach life in our own way so what works for one may not work for another. Choose a path that you feel will give you the best chance of success. Here are some coping options:
1) Decide to eat what everyone else is eating on Thanksgiving Day. If you are keto 95% of the year, one big blow out will not cause a catastrophic health event. In theory, if you’ve been fat adapted for some time, you have been creating digestive health and resilience. If you do decide to go with a traditional Thanksgiving meal, just be aware that this meal is a serious carb/sugar overload and you could face unhappy consequences such as a migraine, feeling bloated, digestive upset, gaining weight or worse. You could take some activated charcoal along with unhealthy meals to help clear the bad stuff. Likewise you could fast the day before and after to give your insulin some rest.
2) Decide to have only one or two special carb/sugar treats to eat on Thanksgiving Day — or have one or two bites of whatever pleases you. This approach gives you the taste of all that is familiar about this special day but can help you keep the carb and sugar consumption to a minimum. This choice can be hard for those who are/were sugar addicts, however, as one bite can lead to another and another. For some it’s easier to abstain and not have any special treats. For others, a small bite here and there scratches that itch.
3) You could decide to cook in your own home and make every dish a keto approved one. You do not have to even tell others attending this is what you are doing and most will in all likelihood not even realize they have gone keto for a day. If it is important to your success that you are not given pies and other sugar/carb Thanksgiving Day extravaganzas, it is only fair to let your guests and family members know this ahead of time.
You can send out invites in the mail or online and describe your menu in glorious terms — be sure to say you will have keto pies, etc. on hand as people can freak out if they are missing desserts. You could ask guests to bring something that has alternative sugars and flours or just ask people to bring a light vegetable or meat dish. I think the important thing here is to try to make all feel welcome and ask from your heart to help you and your family share this day without gobs of sugar and carbs. Alternatively, you could bring a few of your own keto dishes if you are headed to someone else’s home and load your plate with those and lots of turkey.
4) Some guests will either not “hear” your request for healthy foods or bring what they want to bring anyhow. Of course, that’s pretty rude but people will be people and that includes all types of behavior, good and bad. I suggest you be ready for that one (or more) who waltzes in carrying Grandma’s famous overly-sweet pecan pie. If you know in advance this is likely, you can create a plan that works best for you on how you choose to handle it. Please note: no one can force you to eat anything you do not wish to eat, although there is certainly the social aspects of shaming or guilting you into eating how they are eating. Have some set responses rehearsed and ready, such as “sugar gives me migraines,” or “I can no longer tolerate gluten.” One of my favorites is to simply delay eating it, saying “I am so full but I look forward to trying some later,” and then later never comes but no one notices. You can also put the non-keto food on your plate and move it around a bit but don’t eat any of it. If anyone calls you out on that, well, that is their problem with extremely rude behavior and not yours! Change the subject or suddenly need to get up to get a refreshing glass of water.
5) If you do “fall hard off the keto wagon,” use it as a learning opportunity. How did you feel the next day? The next few days? Did sugar cravings show back up and insist to be fed the white devil? If I consume SAD carbs or sugar I notice that the next few days I am actually hungry and I eat more food. I am rarely hungry when I am fully keto. There will be a price to pay for over-indulgence so decide in advance if that is worth paying or not. Don’t “should” yourself if you had a hard fall. You are also human and sometimes we fall down. The crucial thing is not that you fell but how quickly you pull yourself back up. I don’t care if you fell off from Halloween to New Year’s Eve. I care that you wake up New Year’s Day and begin anew.
Remember that this day is all about being thankful. It can be hard to remember that’s what it’s all about with the hustle and the bustle of the holidays combined with potentially land mind relationships that go back decades with some family or friends. I think Thanksgiving is not the time to talk politics, religion or what your older brother did to you when you were kids. If there are huge family issues that will derail this day, it might be a far healthier choice to cook at home and choose carefully who you share the day with. It’s your life and you have every right to decide where and with whom to spend your time. If someone tries to pick a fight with you or you feel like picking one, take a deep breath and instead say something directly to that person that you are thankful for in them — even if it is the pretty sweater they have on!