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December 18, 2020 / Jennifer Husson, RDN

10 Tips for Staying in Ketosis This Holiday Season

Cooked turkey with carrots and bell peppers on a wooden table next to cherry pie for a holiday meal.

The holidays are a favorite time of year for many and it's no mystery why. The season is filled with warm kitchens, comforting smells, family, friends, and happy memories. Most holiday get-togethers typically revolve around food, so holiday weight gain can be a concern for those watching their weight. In fact, the weight you gain over the holidays can contribute to cumulative weight gain over the years. Studies have shown that holiday weight gain is typically not reversed throughout the course of the year.

If you follow the ketogenic diet, you may be thinking that staying keto during the holidays is impossible. It will be challenging at first, but with a little planning ahead and the help of our expert tips, you can stay on track and stay in ketosis during the holiday season. If the ketogenic diet feels too restrictive for you, focusing on low carb meal planning through the holidays will help you stay on track and keep those extra pounds away.

1. Tell the Host You’re Staying Keto During the Holidays

Group of four people coming into a home greeting each other and exchanging presents.

If you’re attending a holiday party this year, it’s best to let your host know ahead of time that you are following a keto diet. You aren’t being a burden – by letting them know about your restrictions, it allows them to share the menu with you so you can determine what options are keto-friendly. While it is always okay to bring your own food, letting your host know in advance can help to avoid any hurt feelings.

2. Bring a Keto Dish to Share

Food is often the star of the show at holiday events. It can be tough to watch others enjoy their meals when you're trying to stick to your keto meal plan. Instead of watching from the sidelines, bring a keto dish to share and you won’t feel left out. Plus, feeling satisfied with delicious food will help you stay away from other options that don’t fit into your plan. It's also a great opportunity to openly talk about your keto diet with your family and friends, and fill them in on why you're following a ketogenic lifestyle.

So, what should you bring? There are plenty of delicious low carb holiday recipes. For some keto inspiration, check out these Keto Thanksgiving recipes. If you're looking for a crowd pleaser, these sausage stuffed portobello mushrooms with pesto drizzle will be a guaranteed hit; try to use small portobello mushrooms to make it easily shareable. Don’t forget dessert: try these chocolate macadamia squares for a delicious keto-friendly option.

3. Keep the Ketogenic Formula in Mind When Filling Your Plate


The ketogenic diet is very low in carbohydrates, moderate in protein, and high in fat. Most keto followers aim for 5-10% of calories from carbohydrates, about 20-25% from protein, and the rest from fat. The goal of the keto diet is to get the body into ketosis. When in ketosis, the body burns fat for energy, blood sugar and insulin levels improve, and many people report an increased mental acuity.

If you are wondering what this breakdown looks like on a plate, we have you covered! When filling your holiday plate, use the graphic below for a guide. Another helpful tip: never snack directly from the appetizer tray. Placing your food choices on a plate can help you to visualize exactly what you’re eating, and when you’re done.

4. Find Keto Friendly Foods

Baked chicken drumsticks with fennel, oranges and dill in a white baking pan next to a blue plate with a fork and a knife.

Holiday meals have the reputation of being diet-busters, but this doesn’t have to be the case. There are a lot of holiday foods that are appropriate for a keto diet. For your appetizer or pre-dinner snack, deviled eggs, nuts, cheese, and olives are a great choice and often readily available at parties. Meat with the skin on is delicious for your main course, and you can add keto-friendly vegetables such as brussel sprouts with bacon, roasted broccoli, and grilled asparagus to your plate as well.

5. Recognize Hidden Carbs

White ceramic gravy boat filled with gravy and a stem of rosemary on a wooden table.

You probably already know that traditional holiday foods like mashed potatoes, bread stuffing, cranberry sauce, and candied carrots are not keto. And while some holiday favorites may seem keto-friendly on the surface, they may contain hidden sugar and carbohydrates. Knowing these ahead of time can help you to stay on track with keto during the holidays.

Here are some foods to be aware of:

- Gravy: This delicious sauce is known to be high in fat, but it also contains high amounts of carbohydrates as well, so it’s best to avoid it on a keto meal plan.

- Green bean casserole: A traditional green bean casserole has a crunchy onion topping that is high in carbohydrates. To add some keto-friendly crunch to your green beans, you can substitute the onions for slivered almonds.

6. Bring Keto Snacks

White ceramic cup full of kale chips seasoned with vegan cheese and seasoning.

Walk into any holiday party and chances are you will find people chatting around the snack table. There are a lot of common snacks that are keto friendly, like olives, nuts, and cheeses. But just in case, bringing your own keto snack to share so you can still hang out at the snack table, while also curbing your cravings. These jalapeno poppers with veggie bacon will be loved by everyone, even those not following a keto plan. And you can’t go wrong with these simple and festive roasted mixed nuts and pumpkin seeds.

7. Eat Simply

Food at holiday parties can often be extravagant and indulgent, and this can make it feel overwhelming when trying to follow a keto plan during the holidays. Be sure to keep the basics in mind when preparing your holiday menu. If overwhelmed with all of the choices, focusing on eating simply can help you stay on track. That doesn’t mean boring or tasteless. This simple recipe for salmon and sweet potato cakes with roasted broccoli is delicious, attractive and satisfying. To make this even more simple, you can use pre-chopped broccoli and pre-cubed sweet potato. For your next holiday brunch, you can easily prepare these colorful mini ham and broccoli frittatas ahead of time. With less energy being put into your food choices, you will have more time to focus your energy on what is really important: celebrating with family and friends and making memories.

8. Take a Keto Friend Along

If you are the only one at a get-together that is following a keto diet, it can be challenging to stay on track. If you can invite a +1, bring a friend who is also following the ketogenic diet to help you stay accountable. When you have someone to share the experience of staying keto during the holidays with, it can make it feel less isolating. If you can’t bring a friend along, you can always give a fellow keto follower a call during the event for support. Sometimes, just having a chat with someone who relates to you can make all the difference.

9. Enjoy Non-Food Activities

A group of people playing cards around a coffee table next to a fire place inside a house.

While it may seem that most holiday events revolve around the food table, this does not have to be the case. There are a lot of other activities you can enjoy this season that aren’t food-focused. While at a party, you can suggest playing a favorite board or card game. For some fresh air and friendly competition, get outdoors for a game of corn-hole, horseshoes, or kickball. Gift wrapping parties are also popular during the holiday season, and can be fun to share wrapping papers and bows. At night, you can suggest taking a stroll through the neighborhood to view the holiday lights and choose your favorite displays.

10. Try Not to Stress

Most importantly and above all else, remember to enjoy yourself. You don’t want to spend your holiday so stressed about food that you miss out on the joys of the season and lose sight of what is truly important to you. Planning ahead for events is extremely helpful for staying keto throughout the holiday. However, do remember that small, isolated indulgences will not hinder your progress. Be sure to show yourself forgiveness and grace this season.

The Takeaway

Maintaining keto during the holidays will help you to stay on track with your overall health goals. These tips will help you navigate the hustle and bustle of the season and the food challenges that come. Utilizing the PlateJoy meal planner will help you meal plan during this busy season and eliminates much of the planning work involved. If you are unsure where to start, check out this keto shopping list for a simple guide for keto shopping. If keto isn’t for you, PlateJoy has a large variety of other diet plans, like vegetarian meal plans, to help you stick to your personal goals this season.

Holidays are a time for us all to reflect on the many blessings we have in life. No matter what your table looks like this year, where you are, or who you spend it with, be sure to take time to reflect on the little things that matter most.

Jennifer Husson, RDN
Registered Dietitian and Health Coach @ PlateJoy

Jennifer is a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) with the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). She holds a Bachelor of Science in Health Science degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and an associate from the State University of New York at Morrisville. Her love of nutrition and helping others led her to work as a registered dietetic technician, and after relocating to Colorado with her husband, she worked as a dietitian for a behavioral health hospital. Jennifer is now settled in Charlotte, NC with her husband and three young children. She enjoys spending quality time with her family, attending bootcamp classes, and going for family hikes.

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