The Keto Diet & Thanksgiving

If the key to your dieting success is ketosis, navigating the Thanksgiving table can seem like an insurmountable challenge. There are starchy foods as far as the eye can see and that’s even before you get to all the pies. But with a little planning and flexibility, you can still enjoy great eats and the time with your family and friends this holiday season.

Keto (pronounced key-toe) is short for ketogenic diet, a very low carbohydrate, moderate protein and very high fat diet, says Vanessa Richard, RDN, LDN, Eat Fit BR dietician. “Basically, this diet, when followed properly, puts your body in a state of ketosis, which is burning body fat as the primary source of fuel.” Normally, our bodies use the carbohydrates we eat for fuel.

In order to reach ketosis, you have to have extremely low carb intake, less than 10 percent of your diet, and protein must be moderate, which means unlimited turkey isn’t going to cut it as a Thanksgiving meal plan. 

Proteins without sugary glazes, such as roasted or baked turkey, should definitely be part of your holiday meal plan. “The primary part of your plate would be non-starchy vegetables heavier on fat and plant-based oils and a salad with nuts, cheese and seeds,” Richard says.

Foods that are keto-friendly are also great to share, and people on most eating plans can enjoy them, including kids. “If you’re not hosting, bring a dessert or a side dish that is keto-friendly, something you could eat on your plan and enjoy,” Richard says. “Cruciferous vegetables, such as brussels sprouts and cauliflower, are great roasted.” There are lots of keto-friendly dessert options, too.

Of course, an alternative is to allow some temporary flexibility in your diet. “Is it a time period where you feel comfortable taking a break during that holiday season, not giving up on (keto) but still eating in a moderate way?” Richard asks. “Maybe there’s a pause if it’s causing distress or feeling like you’re not able to enjoy that day with family and friends.”

Before starting any diet, you should always check with your medical professional. There are some people who should probably avoid keto, such as people with organ dysfunction or diabetes. 

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