Christmas is upon us, and it’s not only the season to be merry, but it is the season filled with lots and lots of food temptation. So, how do we celebrate Christmas and stay keto?
Whether or not you’ve have managed to navigate all the other social gatherings, events or celebrations throughout the year, rest assured, with these tips and tricks you’ll be able to navigate your way through Christmas.
TIPS TO ENJOY CHRISTMAS AND STAY KETO
#1 PITCH IN WITH THE CHRISTMAS MENU
I’m going to generalise and say that there are usually two scenarios here. You are either over at your family’s house, or everyone comes to your house. Whichever way you spend Christmas with family, you can pitch in with the food.
Scenario one: You are over at your family’s house, and your mother, sister etc., is cooking Christmas lunch. Usually, there is some planning around what will be on the menu. This is the best time to offer to help with some of the items on the menu. Meat is usually, or let me say, “traditionally” easy. Think about those Christmas meat hampers consisting of gammon, chicken, turkey and lamb.
Scenario two: Our family comes to our house, and my mother-in-law has carte blanche in my kitchen. Traditionally, we love the whole gammon and skaapboud vibe. Because she does the meat, I will usually offer to make the sides and the dessert.
My Instagram account is filled with all of the desserts and sides I’ve made over the years, and I’ll post some of my favourite desserts at the end of this post.
#2 LIMIT YOUR FAT INTAKE FOR THE DAY
I am generalising quite a lot, but I think it is safe to say that we tend to overeat on Christmas day, right? Well, if and when you know you will be indulging, whether it be in food or alcohol, my second tip is to limit your fat intake for the day. In fact, depending on whether you are fat-adapted, I would limit my fat intake for a couple of days leading up to Christmas day.
If you are going to be having a few drinks, keep in mind that the alcohol will go straight to your liver and be consumed first. Read more about oxidative priority here.
Basically, you’ll be limiting your fat intake a bit in anticipation of over-consuming calories on Christmas day.
#3 ASK YOURSELF IF IT IS REALLY WORTH IT
It’s been years since I’ve decided to cut out sugar and refined carbs, and I still look at a McFlurry or chocolate cake and think it tastes delicious! I still walk in Woolworths and look at their mince pies and Christmas pudding, and I salivate.
I don’t know if that feeling or notion that pastries, chocolate cakes and sugary foods are delicious will ever disappear. Does it taste as good as my mind thinks it does? No, it doesn’t. Although my brain is filled with a lifetime’s memories (dendrites) and sensations associated with these types of foods I have loved and enjoyed in the past, it’s just not worth the taste anymore.
Here are some of the things I personally have experienced and weigh up in my mind before indulging:
- Because my palette is used to eating clean foods, those mince pies or Christmas desserts are usually too sweet. It looks yummy, but it’s just too sweet.
- The blood sugar spike and crash causing fatigue is just so obvious, and painful to be honest; I rather cherish the sustained level of energy I experience daily, so, to give it up for some piece of cake… nope, not worth it.
- The bloated tummy and constipation days afterwards also far outways the momentarily taste of whatever temptation is presented.
By the way, these moments of temptation and choices are not isolated to Christmas time. It is an ongoing battle. For those of you who know me, you know that I have two teens, and yes, they are allowed to indulge in some or other sweet treat over weekends. Sometimes it’s a croissant (an almond croissant still trips me up), Starbucks, mini swiss rolls, ice cream or even waffles. So, the temptation is always there, but I have, thankfully, made the connection that it really isn’t worth it.
Okay, so, perhaps you aren’t where I am at yet, and with this next part it might seem that I am contradicting myself, but hear me out.
Most treats are just not worth it but some things I will give a second thought. For me, it is the cheap, mass-produced pastries and crap in the shops that I’ve come to say no to more easily. The average ice cream or chocolate is no temptation at all.
But, call me a snob for chocolate, when it comes to good quality chocolate, sure, that I might take a small bite of it.
Thankfully with De Villiers No-Added-Sugar-Free chocolate range, this chocolate snob is quite satisfied and have no desire to indulge in any other chocolate.
*Remember if you use my code leanfitketo you get 15% discount online.
Or, I always say, if we were to visit Italy I would eat all the pasta and pizza it has to offer. I’d be stupid to say; “oh, no, I do keto“, and not enjoy authentic Italian pasta.
#4 FALL SEVEN TIMES, GET BACK UP EIGHT
Let’s assume you give in to temptation on Christmas. Or, maybe you go out for your Christmas lunch, and there is just nothing on the menu that you can eat. That’s okay. It doesn’t matter! In the greater scheme of life, this lifestyle you have chosen, one day, one meal, is a blip or a drop in the ocean.
We tend to beat ourselves up way too much and quickly forget the things we do well. So, if you overate or fall off the bandwagon, just make up your mind to not beat yourself up, and the very next meal, you get back on track and eat clean again.
#5 FAST THE NEXT DAY
I find that fasting is almost like hitting a reset button. Often when we travel, I’ll lose my rhythm a bit. I’ll snack in between meals or eat foods that I wouldn’t usually eat, e.g. grilled fish that I know was grilled in canola oil or have a glass of wine with dinner. However, as soon as I am back in my routine, I would do a 24 hour fast to reset my mind and body. This point ties in with the previous one where you just get back up and keep going, and fasting is another way to kinda just reset your mind.
#6 GO FOR A WORKOUT
When we are on holiday, our schedule is usually a little more relaxed, and there is time to go for a walk or a run along the beach. So, if you overindulge, just go for a good workout the next day. Without going into too much detail, a workout or some movement like a brisk walk along the beach will quickly deplete any sugar stored in your liver and muscles, and you should be back into ketosis quickly. This will depend on where you are in your keto journey and how fat adapted you are. Read more on fat adaptation here.
I just did a social media post on this last week. These two items should be in your arsenal, and here is why I say this.
Although I might have the willpower to not eat anything crap or even indulge and then go for a workout and be back in ketosis, it doesn’t stop there. The problem with refined foods and overeating is that it sends chemical signals to our brain that trigger the desire for more of these types of foods. It’s called hyper palatability.
BHB suppresses these signals or cravings and makes it “easier” to get back on track again.
#8 KETO-FY SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE CHRISTMAS RECIPES
As mentioned earlier, traditional Christmas in our house is an assortment of cold meats, gammon, leg of lamb etc., with things like coleslaw salad and other sides. Protein is easy. It’s the desserts that are tempting (for me in any way), so I usually volunteer to make the dessert.
One Christmas dessert, also traditionally South African, is a trifle. And, you’ll be so surprised to see just how easy it is to a keto-friendly trifle. Trifle consists of vanilla sponge cake, jello, cream, custard and sometimes fruit. Yes, I know, you’re thinking, “what about the alcohol”? Well, I personally leave that out, but that’s entirely up to you.
Here are three food blogger’s Trifle Recipes that look absolutely yummy. After writing this post, there is no doubt that we’ll be having a trifle for our Christmas lunch dessert.
Now, I like easy and quick! So, what I’m thinking right off the bat is the following:
- Vanilla sponge cake I will either get from Somayya’s online or simply buy the new Vanilla Sponge Cake Premix from Banting Blvd (available at Food Lovers and other stores).
- The sugar-free jello is a no-brainer. That’s from Footy’s (available at Dischem).
- Custard is also easy to make, so I’d probably make that from scratch.
- Chocolate shavings on top…. De Villiers Chocolates of course!
I hope these tips help and do send me pictures of your trifle creations! Happy Holidays! Enjoy the festive season and keep safe!