Holidays, long-weekends and social events is usually scary for someone who is new to keto. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be and, depending on whether you are in a self-catering place or a hotel, it can be quite easy to navigate.
The key is preparation. Not necessarily preparation in terms of food prep, but to be prepared in knowing what situation/s you’ll be finding yourself in. A bit of prep can be the difference between a make or break holiday.
HOW TO BE PREPARED
First you need to determine if you’ll be staying in a hotel or whether you are in a self-catering place. Self-catering is much easier as you’ll have control over your meals. As a family, we are quite well known for taking over the menu when we are away with friends for a weekend. I’ll easily volunteer to do the whole menu for the weekend and everyone else can just split the bill.
One of my favourite meal options for a weekend away is snack platters or charcuterie boards.
KETO CHARCUTERIE BOARD
I love Charcuterie boards. In fact, for my husband’s 40th birthday, I had The Cheesecake cater for his birthday with a lovely Harvest Table of cheese and meat and had everyone raving.
Whether it is a planned party such as my hubby’s birthday or a simple weekend braai with friends, charcuterie boards is a great way to stay keto, and even impress your guests. You simply can’t go wrong with a cheese and meat platter. And, stores such as Woolies really make it so easy with cream cheeses and spreads that you can simply buy and add to your board.
Here are some products you can use in your meat and cheese platters to stay in keto:
- Sliced salami
- Spicy salami
- Shaved parmesan
- Fully cooked beef tongue
- Chorizo Coins
- Blue Cheese
- Goats Cheese
- Mozzarella Balls
- Chicken Liver & Bacon Pâté
- Smoked Snoek Terrine
- Sun-Dried Tomato, Feta, Basil Pesto [slightly higher in carbs]
- Caramelised Onion & Balsamic Dip [somewhat higher in carbs]
- Smokey BBQ & Spring Onion Medium Fat Cream Cheese
- Green Fig Preserve [not keto friendly]
- Onion Marmalade [not keto friendly]
- Roasted peppers [can be higher in carbs]
- Pickled onions
- Dried figs [not keto friendly]
- Soft Eating Turkish Figs [not keto friendly]
- Dates [not keto friendly]
- Crackers [opt for keto-friendly crackers or make your own]
PUTTING YOUR PLATTER TOGETHER
Woolies and Checkers have extensive selections of cheeses. Choose three to four different meats and three to four different cheeses. Most cheese on keto is perfectly fine as are the meats.
Some of the sweet items, e.g. fig preserve or fresh figs, are not keto-friendly, but I do add it to the list as you’re probably going to have guests who don’t follow keto and would want something sweet with the platters.
If you have some time, make your own crackers, but if you don’t have time and you’d want to have some crackers with your platter, then you could simply buy the Carb Clever Crackers from Woolies. If you wanted to make your own you can try these crackers or even these crackers. Some other local brands make crackers too, but I have to go look for it the different brands as I’m not sure at the moment.
Once you have your meats and cheese, it is easy to add your spreads and other garnishes like pickles, tomatoes and even nuts.
You could also cater some bread for your guests, but if you feel that would be too much of a temptation for you, then rather leave it out.
I always say that life will always be there. Celebrations, whether it is celebrating a new birth or a funeral, food is always there. If you make a conscious decision to eat something that is not keto-friendly, it doesn’t mean you’re not keto anymore. If the one bite becomes five and an afternoon’s celebration turns into a week of binging on carbs, then, well, yes, you’ve tipped the apple cart! Just be wise about it. I read somewhere something called a “one bite” approach. Whatever it is, taking one bite of it, it probably won’t kick you out of ketosis.
It always remains a choice.
After years of doing keto, whether we are away for a weekend or on holiday in Plett for a week, it’s still a decision I have to make not to eat rubbish. The double-thick milkshake advertised on Mug and Bean’s Menu, or the almond croissant at Le Fournil de Plett Bakery and Cafe, still look (and smell) delicious. But do I want to eat it? No, I don’t think it is worth it. Have I had it before? Yes! And, it made me feel bloated for days afterwards. Are we all human? Yes! Sometimes I’ll still have a bite of it, only to be reminded that, yes, all the memories and senses are still there, but it just doesn’t taste as nice as it looks and it’s simply not worth it.
TIPS FOR WHEN YOU ARE SELF-CATERING
Like I explained above, if you are in a situation where you are staying in a self-catering place, things are much easier to control. With a bit of pre-planning, you can plan your weekend or week’s meals without the fear of falling off the bandwagon.
Most South African’s enjoy a braai (né!), so the protein portion of your meals will be easy. All you need to plan is what you’ll be having for sides. Here are some ideas:
- Bacon and Broccoli Salad
- Greek Salad (add some halloumi cheese)
- Braai broodtjies with We love low-carb bread
- Garlic bread with We love low-carb bread
- Rosemary focaccia
NON-SELF CATERING SCENARIOS
If you are staying in a hotel or semi-self catering, it can be a bit more challenging, but it is still easy to navigate.
Breakfast in a hotel is easy, especially when it’s a buffet. Usually, there’ll be a hot breakfast option and the continental breakfast option. I will usually choose the hot breakfast and then have an omelette with cheese, peppers, cream cheese and bacon. Or, another option is an omelette with cream cheese and salmon. There is usually a lot of different food to choose from and you can’t go wrong here.
The same goes for dinner. Dinner in a hotel or dining out, as a matter of fact, is also easy. Choose your protein and choose a side dish. The safest bet for a side is usually a salad. Don’t even let the chips come to the table because you’ll just tempt yourself.
Here are some ideas that we would usually do as a family (or hubby and I). He’ll choose red meat, whether it is steak or pork or something like lamb shank. I will choose chicken or fish. And then we’ll also order a huge salad for the table. Sometimes we’ll order a couple of items from the starters like chicken livers, chicken wings, kebabs or ribs as well as a salad.
In this blog post on Keto When Dining Out & Travelling, you’ll find plenty more ideas with a breakdown of various cuisines like Italian, Asian and Indian Restaurants.
The key to staying on track with your diet is to be prepared. Do a bit of pre-planning if you’re making your own meals. If you are staying in a hotel, then Google the hotel’s menu or the restaurant/s you’ll be eating at. It is much easier to make decisions if you’ve looked at the menu beforehand and know what you are in for.
And then lastly. Remember to take your Berberine with you!
Happy Holidays! Enjoy your trip and stay keto!