We've all been there: you're reconnecting with a friend, and a new dietary bug has bitten them. Undoubtedly, you and everyone with an ear to hear will learn all about the new program that has changed their lives and little else.
While ones' passion around their diet can intrigue and inspire, we never want to impose or inconvenience others with our food choices and commitments, especially when mingling in social situations. Honestly, there's enough to navigate as we venture into mixed spaces safely and responsibly nowadays as it is.
Plus, there's no need to draw a line in the sand in social situations to stay true to your commitment to cut the carbs. Simple tricks like eating a light meal before going out, adding to the affair by bringing keto-friendly dishes for everyone to enjoy, or opting to fill your plate with the lowest-carb fare available all help you stay on track.
Socializing can present some anxiety, but we hope to help remove any you may have with making wise eating choices in social situations on keto.
Interest and accommodations for those following a low-carb, high-fat diet are evident on restaurant menus and along in-store aisles. But parties and pot-luck-style social gatherings can be trickier to navigate.
Here are some helpful tips to keep you focused on feasting on fat and avoiding sugars and carbs while connecting with others:
1 - Get clear on your 'why': Everyone changes their eating habits for a reason, a strong driving force. Maybe it's to release excess weight or help regulate blood sugar; whatever the reason, it's something of value to you.
Part of the awkwardness in social settings can rest around feeling uncomfortable or insecure when questioned about why you do or don't eat certain foods on a ketogenic diet and why food choices are crucial for ketosis.
It may help to jot down a brief note regarding why you started the protocol and the basis for the reason it's imperative to restrict carbs and sugars on keto.
Having a well-thought-out response to, "Why can't you just eat the bread already?" will alleviate anxiety around the possible interaction.
2 - Acknowledge Your Triggers: Certain foods will always have a hold on our hearts and our guts, as they're difficult to eat in moderation.
While finding ingredient replacements in most recipes will do the trick, the taste of specific recipes can send some into a craving tailspin.
Boredom: Your days may mostly seem hectic, but there are also lulls when tasks are tended to and aimlessly eating can take hold. Boredom eating can also occur in social settings, so opt to hit the dance floor or mingle when temptation to eat mindlessly strikes.
Social Anxiety: Some overdrink to mask the jitters and smooth the edges around their nerves in social settings, and others pop a few extra appetizers to boost feelings of comfort.
Unfortunately, either maladaptive behavior can bust your macro budget and result in unwanted weight gain and sluggishness.
Lack of Sleep: Go to your social events well-rested and balanced, so it's easier to distinguish between hunger and lack of rest, potentially leading to idly eating excess calories.
Hidden Sugars: Beware of hidden sugars in foods eaten out as they can spark cravings to eat more sweets and other high-carb foods.
Dressings, sauces, and beverages are the most common culprits, so choose those selections incredibly wisely to avoid blood glucose spikes.
Chug some water if you find yourself drawn toward temptation when out in social settings; it can quiet a craving in moments if thirst is masquerading as hunger.
Also, consider calling a friend to talk you out of making a slew of questionable food choices if your willpower and level of fat-adaptation fail to suppress your appetite.
3 - Plan Ahead: Consider eating a well-balanced, low-carb meal before venturing out to eat in a mixed dietary setting, so you're not ravenous and more likely to make subprime choices.
4 - BYOF - Bring Your Fare: We're not suggesting you bring your meal to a restaurant, but making dishes to add to the spread at dinner parties and potlucks increases your safe options and provides a more low-stress experience.
5 - Pack Snacks: The main course may not arrive immediately, and a grumbling belly can lead to naughty noshing. Consider carrying snacks with you, like pouches of pili nuts and freeze-dried berries or full-fat Babybel cheese, so you have options in a pinch.
6 - Master Staple Substitutions: Stevia rather than sugar. Cauliflower over potatoes: these are a couple of clever ingredient swaps that will serve you well on a ketogenic diet.
And you can apply the same approach to making dining selections when out. Again, there's no need to deprive; instead, revise and make tweaks to your ingredients to make it work.
7 - Sip on Keto-friendly Beverages: Seltzer or mineral water make for excellent beverage options at gatherings. However, sugar-filled spritzers can spike your blood sugar wildly—compromising ketosis and likely leading to further cravings and lowered dietary inhibitions.
Certain meals are perfect for parties and social gatherings, and many of them contain healthy fats and none of the carbs and sugars you want to avoid.Try making some of these simple yet crowd-pleasing keto dishes. They're sure to add extra flavor and spice to any fete:
Are you venturing out for home-based brunch with friends? Bring a freshly-baked basket of our Too Good to be True Keto Bagels with an assortment of low-carb cream cheese spreads to compliment the other selections.
Plus, one-pan dishes like The Breakfast Sausage Keto Quiche are perfect for a crowd. Pair a slice with a bubbly low-carb mimosa, if you like.
- Keto Cheesecake Fat Bombs: A silky and sweet slice of cheesecake is a coveted classic, but this keto-friendly take on the treat is portable and helps control portions.
- Keto Almond Cake Fat Bomb: Add a touch of sweetness to any gathering with this delightful, light almond cake. This baked treat offers various tastes and textures, perfect for everyone, from those who prefer moderately-sweetened baked goods to anyone with a diehard sweet tooth.
Konscious Keto Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies: Chocolate and peanut butter are the perfect pair. Plus, we've never met a brownie we didn't adore.
Bake up a few batches of these chocolatey treats to share, and you'll win over keto skeptics effortlessly—the food does all the work for you!
Keto Savory Pie with Zucchini: Making a quiche or savory pie is the perfect recipe to make ahead during meal prep and also works well as a party offering.
Plus, preparing a savory pie is a perfect way to use up the produce you have on hand to make use of everything you have and avoid food spoilage.
The Best Keto Vanilla Cupcakes: A pretty platter of vanilla cupcakes makes for a beautiful presentation—one that's good enough to eat!
Plus, making the recipe is simple and fun to encourage the kiddos to get involved in a baking project that they'll love to devour!
- Bake a few loaves of sweet bread: A hearty and satisfying slice of quickbread is a classic comfort food perfect in any season.
Golden Keto Cauliflower Bake: The cauliflower floret is a wonder. It becomes a silky and creamy mash to rival those made with potatoes; it can act as a stand-in for pizza crust and can even transform into a batter-dipped buffalo wing that rivals chicken!
As is always the case, cauliflower delivers in this cheesy bake to offer a dish that's a cross between potatoes au gratin and keto mac & cheese—YUM!
The Social Aspect of Choosing a Low-carb Lifestyle
If you're passing on the fries and slices of pizza when out, it may strike your friends and loved ones as strange.
Change can feel awkward and odd to others at a different place in their wellness journey, but that's OK. Resist defending your food choices from a position of being right or asserting expertise, and instead focus on sharing how your new food choices make you feel.
Sharing that limiting sugars and starchy foods have drastically improved your energy levels is much less likely to garner an argument than rattling off all the proven health benefits of eliminating overt carbs and sugar in your diet.
In addition to learning how to navigate conversations related to your new-found food choices diplomatically, here are a few additional tips to help you wade through the proverbial social waters on a keto diet:
You can have one cookie: Friends can sometimes lead you astray even with good intentions. Comments encouraging you to eat one sugar-filled cookie because it won't hurt or splurge this one time on an old-time favorite aren't helpful pieces of advice.
One, it's easy to locate or make a keto-friendly cookie that's at least as delicious as one loaded with inflammatory sugars, and their premise is flawed because a keto diet asks us to make different choices rather than restrict ourselves from tasty foods.
We’re not deprived; instead, we choose better and thrive.
I could never give up "x": Letting go of a beloved food can be tricky. Those thinking of going vegan pine over the prospect of accessing good dairy-free cheese options, and the same is true for keto-seekers eliminating sugar.
Fortunately, there's a sea of keto-friendly sweeteners—and dairy-free alternatives for that matter—to enjoy on keto to replace other less favorable ingredients.
Isn't fat bad for you: If you lived through the 80s and 90s, you might still have bad taste in your mouth for fat; so much was done to demonize the ketone-boosting macronutrient for decades.
However, the keto diet has refocused on how different varieties of fat impact health. Monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fat function in the body quite contrary to hydrogenated options which cause inflammation and oxidative stress in the body.
Keto seems too challenging and restrictive to follow long-term: Honestly, a ketogenic diet is as simple or complex as you decide to make it. At its foundation, the primary focus of eating a ketogenic diet is to limit simple carbohydrates and sugars, not much more.
Once you hold to the program's premise, you'll find greater latitude with the types and varieties of foods you can eat freely without worrying about compromising ketosis.
You can still enjoy sweets and a slew of confections with the aid of sugar alternatives and keto-friendly flours. Plus, ingredients like cauliflower create so many chameleon-level recipes that can pass for their high-carb counterparts that you won’t miss a thing.
Finally, although some may question your choice to ditch the carbs, most will prove supportive once they realize you're feeling healthier and looking more vibrant. But here are a few additional tips to ease the social angst at times where dining is involved:
- Don't dine when hungry: This may seem counterintuitive, but bear with us. Instead, we suggest eating a little something before entering a social event, so you're slightly satisfied rather than ravenous—and therefore more likely to make wise food choices.
- Scout the joint ahead of time: Planning is a powerful tool when eating a low-carb diet. Whether it's meal planning or scanning restaurant menus ahead to make more informed choices, taking the time to do a little research on the offerings will go a long way to help curb carb and calorie consumption.
Enlist an ally: Your server is the gateway between yourself and your meal, and they can make subtle requests that lead to a significant dietary payoff.
Your server can take care to withhold the bread and butter basket before your meal or swap in a side salad for the obligatory fries paired with burgers on most menus.
- Cut yourself some slack: You don't indulge every day, so a little planned and strategic splurge when out won't hurt. Decide ahead to loosen your carb macros, and by how much, and opt for keto-friendly treats rather than tinkering with the sugar-filled fare available. Instead, enjoy the company of others while feasting on a variety of keto eats during these last precious days of summer.
A ketogenic diet is an approach to eating that works well long-term if handled realistically. No person or diet is perfect; we must make space for our humanity and what it's like to live healthy in the real world.
Keep a 90/10 mindset and prepare most of your meals to control quality and portions, but allot 10% of your macros to planned indulgences. No one can live under a microscope forever, and a sustainable diet is one that we can follow under all conditions—the simpler we keep things, the better.
Soul food may take on a renewed meaning this year, something signifying the essence of the food we eat as much as the company we keep and memories we're fortunate enough to create after a long year apart.
There's so much more to consider when socializing today, and the food we dine on should not be a source of stress or frustration. So plan, bank some extra macros to accommodate a dietary splurge, give yourself a break, and most importantly: enjoy reconnecting with those who matter most to you.
- G, A., & C, M. (2017). Exploring the relationship between the fast-food environment and obesity rates in the US vs. Abroad: A systematic review. Journal of Obesity & Weight Loss Therapy, 08(01). https://doi.org/10.4172/2165-7904.1000366
- Mindless eating: Losing weight without thinking: Smaller Plates, Slimmer Glasses, linked to weight loss success. (2011). PsycEXTRA Dataset. https://doi.org/10.1037/e631722011-001
- Behary, P., & Miras, A. D. (2014). Brain responses to food and weight loss. Experimental Physiology, 99(9), 1121–1127. https://doi.org/10.1113/expphysiol.2014.078303
- Herman, C. P. (2017). The social facilitation of eating or the facilitation of social eating? Journal of Eating Disorders, 5(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40337-017-0146-2
- WILKINSON, D., & MCCARGAR, L. (2004). Is there an optimal macronutrient mix for weight loss and weight maintenance? Best Practice & Research Clinical Gastroenterology, 18(6), 1031–1047. https://doi.org/10.1016/s1521-6918(04)00085-x
- Slomski, A. (2019). Low-carb diets help maintain weight loss. JAMA, 321(4), 335. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2018.22031
- Feinmann, J. (2018). Low calorie and low carb diets for weight loss in primary care. BMJ. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k1122
- Lomangino, K. (2008). ADA recommends low-carb diets for weight loss. Clinical Nutrition INSIGHT, 34(2), 7–9. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.nmd.0000311965.01818.f8