You’re following your keto meal plan, reaching your weight loss goals, and your energy is high. Everything is going great until you get invited to a social event like a party or holiday gathering.
Following a high-fat, low carb diet is a great way to boost your energy and mental clarity, but the world isn’t quite set up to cater to all of your low-carb needs. In fact, many friends and family don’t understand why you can’t just have one cheat meal.
This can make most social situations a little tricky and sometimes uncomfortable.
Most social events are land mines of high-carb snacks and desserts. Your food choices are limited, and if you don’t know how to plan ahead, you may find yourself throwing your hands up and giving in to temptation.
You may feel okay in the moment, but it’s likely you’ll regret your cheat the next day.
So how can you reap the health benefits of a high-fat, ketogenic diet without becoming a social introvert?
Here are a few tried and true tips to keep you on track.
#1: Be Upfront Yet Open In Your Communication
Practice your elevator speech
The best form of defense is a strong offense. If you feel insecure when people start asking about your dietary restrictions, plan a short, concise elevator pitch. That means 15-30 seconds about what you can and cannot eat.
The point is not to try to convince someone that they too should be keto, but to gently let them know that you’ve put a lot of thought into this, and your decision comes from a place of confidence.
Practice your speech, say it with confidence, and this should dissuade most people from prodding too much.
You don’t owe anyone an in-depth explanation
Remember that your dietary choices are personal
People may naturally be curious, and that’s okay. But if someone keeps asking questions or starts to make you feel uncomfortable, you don’t need to get on a soapbox defending your choices. It’s your body, your health, your decision.
Conversely, some people may genuinely want to know more. Therefore, before you write everyone off as naysayers, take a moment to determine where they’re coming from.
You may have an opportunity to teach someone about the benefits of eating in a new way.
Let them know you don’t need special treatment
This is important. Some people will feel like they don’t know how to host you properly if they don’t know how to feed you.
Often when people throw parties or dinners, it’s because they want to gather people they care about and treat them to a meal or an evening of entertainment.
If your friends or family don’t know how to do this for you, they may feel frustrated or disappointed in themselves.
Let them know upfront that you came for the company, not the food. And if it’s appropriate, bring your own dish or snacks to share so they can feel satisfied that you’re taken care of.
Let people know it’s about health
You can let people know you’ve decided to put your health first for a while and explore what diet makes your body feel best. So far, this diet is working great, so you’re going to stick with it.
By letting people know it’s about health, and your health in particular, it gives them little wiggle room to judge and prod. And no one can argue with a diet that makes you feel amazing.
Don’t get dogmatic
It’s good to get excited about a new diet that works for your body. It can cause issues if you try to push your new diet on all your friends.
If you’ve been doing keto for a while, or have tried other diets in the past, you’ve probably seen how trying to change someone’s views often blows up in your face. Getting on a high horse or assuming that what’s right for you is right for everyone is an easy way to turn people against you.
Instead, state why you enjoy keto and underline the fact that this diet is working for your body at this time. When people understand that you’re open to different points of view they’re less likely to force theirs upon you.
Assure people that you are not judging them
If your friends or family are giving you a hard time or questioning your decisions, it’s most likely because they are beginning to question themselves.
It can feel unsettling when someone shows up doing something entirely new and different. Are you still going to want to be their friend? Can you still relate to each other and connect? Some people just need a little reassurance that you’re still you.
#2: Know Your Triggers
Everyone has their triggers, and for many people, those triggers show up at social events. If you can predict your triggers before they appear, you’ll be in much better shape to respond instead of reacting to them.
Here are some tips on dealing with the most common social triggers:
If you’re someone who enjoys social drinking, the best way to get ahead of a sugary cocktail dilemma is to stick with keto-friendly options (see list #7 below).
If you’re headed to a party at someone’s home, you can bring your own alcohol. Low-sugar wine or cocktail mixers like a vodka soda with lime are simple options everyone can enjoy.
Give yourself a drink limit before you go. You know your tipping point, and one too many drinks can result in a blood sugar nightmare or unwanted snacking.
If you prefer not to drink, you can refer to all the tips given in #1. Simply tell them you’re choosing not to drink.
Sugar and carbs are a trigger for many people. And if you’re following a keto diet, it’s probably been a while since you’ve come face to face with your favorite desserts.
The best way to fight the siren-song of the dessert table is to fill up on high-quality foods and keep your goals in mind. If you know that there will be tempting desserts at the social event you’re attending, you can offer to bring a keto dessert to add to the table.
Your keto option will be high in fat, and super satiating. This should help curb any urges for sugar.
Some fantastic keto dessert recipes to bring to any party are:
You’re headed home for Thanksgiving with your family, and you know your mom’s going to cook up your favorite pie recipe. This can present quite a dilemma. If you’ve been keto-adapted for a while, this may be a situation where you can allow yourself to dip out of ketosis a bit.
If you’ve been in ketosis for a while, your body may be well adapted enough to let you bounce back pretty quickly. Sentimental foods can nourish you on a level that’s deeper than physical nutrition. They hit you on a soul level, and there is no replacement for the comforts of home.
However, if you’re in the fat-adaptation stage, even one piece of pie can derail your initial efforts.
If your family is open, you can try to modify that old family recipe to make it more keto-friendly. Replacing sugar with monk fruit or stevia, and wheat flour with almond or coconut flour may do the trick.
While food and alcohol can throw you for a loop; certain people can put you in a complete tailspin.
Unfortunately, this tends to be especially true around family occasions and holidays. If you’re facing that aunt, cousin, or family friend that gets on your last nerve, it’s time to hold firm boundaries.
Remember your communications tools from #1, and if all else fails — you can always walk away.
Having some practical stress reduction tools ready can be helpful before entering a stressful situation.
To avoid using food as your go-to comfort, try some of these quick and easy techniques:
- Do a two-minute deep breathing exercise
- Dip out for a five-minute walk
- Sending a good friend a text for some relief and support
#3: Plan Ahead
No matter where you’re going, planning ahead will prove essential in keeping yourself on track. This includes:
If you don’t know the menu at your next social event don’t leave it up to fate. Eat something ahead of time so if you won’t starve if the main dish is pizza with a side of garlic bread.
If the task of choosing a place to eat falls in your lap — congratulations you’re life just got easier. Look up restaurants that have keto-friendly options as well as options that will satisfy the rest of your group. Searching “Paleo” or “farm to table restaurants” usually yields promising results.
If you tend to eat out a lot, make a list of local places that will work for you so you can throw them out as options in a pinch.
If you’ve been invited to a restaurant, be sure to check out the menu ahead of time. If it looks like there are no low-carb options, you can call and ask if they can cater to your needs. Almost all restaurants will be able to come up with something for you.
Plan your carb-up meal
If you’re doing a targeted or cyclical keto diet, you can plan your carb-up meal around your social event. This can be a slippery slope though, so make sure not to splurge too much.
Bring your own food
If you’re attending a dinner party ask the host if you can contribute a side dish or a dessert. If you’re headed to a restaurant pack your own salad dressing or other sauces that you can replace sugar-laden option with.
#4: BYOE: Bring Your Own Everything
Whenever possible, bring your own stuff. This means anything and everything from alcohol, to snacks, to salad dressing and sauces.
Following a keto diet means you’re putting yourself and your health first. Yes, this takes a bit more work and care, but it’s worth it.
Most of the time people love when their guests want to contribute to a part of the meal. Bringing your own food, booze, desserts, and snacks makes you look like a gracious guest while setting you up for success with your diet goals.
#5: Opt for Keto Snacks to Hold You Over
This is an excellent tip whether you’re off to a party or you’re running out the door for a few hours of errands.
Letting yourself get too hungry can lead to high-carb snacking.
Some portable keto snacks are:
- Perfect Keto Salted Caramel Bars
- Perfect Keto Almond Butter Brownie Bars
- Keto cheese crisps
- Chia seed crackers
- Perfect Keto Nut Butter Singles
- Crunchy keto rosemary crackers
#6 Know Your Fail-Proof Substitutions At Restaurants
Most restaurants base their meals around high-carb foods because, frankly, carbs tend to be cheaper than healthy fats and protein.
Here are some tips to keep you keto, no matter which cuisine you choose:
You’ll always be able to find a salad at a standard American cuisine restaurant. If you want to play it safe, you can bring your own homemade keto salad dressing in a leak-proof container.
In a pinch, you can also ask your server to hold the dressing and to bring olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the side. Word of caution: some balsamic vinegar is actually high in sugar, do a taste test before you pour the balsamic on your salad.
Go bunless on your burger. Many burger places now offer lettuce or collard wraps in place of the bun. And worst case — just go without the high-carb bun and order a side salad or a side of veggies instead.
Instead of rice in Asian cuisine, double up on your vegetables. At sushi restaurants opt for the riceless sushimi, or see if they do seaweed wrapped sushi without the rice as an option.
Who doesn’t want to dig into that guacamole at Mexican restaurants? You can ask your server if they have any vegetables you can use in place of chips.
And if you really want to plan ahead, you can bring your own low-carb crackers or veggies.
Fajitas and most salads are keto-friendly menu options. Just replace the rice and beans with extra vegetables and skip the tortillas and chips.
#7 Choose Keto-Friendly Beverage Options
Managing your alcohol intake while following a keto diet is a whole journey in itself. There’s certainly nothing wrong with relaxing with a glass of wine or a vodka soda at the end of a long day, but quantity and quality are both key.
Here are some of the best options to choose from when the occasion for a boozy beverage presents:
While all wines will vary in carb count, here are some estimates:
- Pinot Noir 3.4 grams of carbs per glass
- Merlot 3.7 grams of carbs per glass
- Cabernet 3.8 grams of carbs per glass
- Sauvignon Blanc 3 grams of carbs per glass
- Chardonnay 3.2 grams of carbs per glass
- Champagne 3.8 grams of carbs per glass
- Pinot Grigio 3.8 grams of carbs per glass
Everyone enjoys a cocktail now and then, but it can be tricky to choose a clever-named cocktail of your favorite bars drink menu. Here are some safe bets:
- Martini’s have around .5 grams of carbs per glass
- Gin Rickey has about 1.5 grams of carbs per glass
- Manhattan has about two grams of carbs per glass
Getting an invite to your friends birthday or a neighbor’s BBQ doesn’t mean you have to give up your diet plan. In fact, these social events aren’t a big deal at all –when you know how to prepare.
The most important tool you have is your voice, understand that most people want you to be happy and just want to hear from you why you’ve chosen to make a new choice in the way you eat.
And on from a practical standpoint, have some keto recipes on hand like salad dressings and snacks that can be your allies as you navigate your social scene.
As Benjamin Franklin said, “by failing to prepare, you’re preparing to fail.”