Thanksgiving Weekend & Our Top 4 Holiday Eating Strategies

By Jason Fung, MD

Happy US Thanksgiving to all our American patients, long-distance participants and readers! One of the perks of being married to an American is that I get to have two Thanksgivings!  Here in Canada we celebrate Thanksgiving every year on the second Monday of October.   I get two turkey blowouts every year now!

For those of you who have been following my Six Month Ketogenic Challenge know that I am trying to stay in ketosis from August 1st until February 1st (and hopefully even longer) without breaking and binging on carbohydrates and other refined sugars.  So far, so good.  We have been incredibly busy but have stuck to it.  This weekend kicks off the start of the holiday party season, and I know I must stick to my diet or it can easily go down the drain.

This year my husband, Angel, and I will be spending this US Thanksgiving at our other home in the San Francisco Bay Area.  I am currently reviewing this post from an Air Canada airplane on my way over there from Toronto.  We will be experimenting transforming some of our favourite Thanksgiving Day dishes into keto-friendly recipes and will be sharing with our followers on social media.  Feel free to follow us on Facebook Live and Instagram Live tomorrow.

What do we plan on making?

  • Almond flour. psyllium husk and rosemary bread
  • Broccoli soup
  • Turkey
  • Crispy turkey skin chips
  • Almond flour stuffing
  • Bacon wrapped brussel sprouts
  • Green beans and mustard
  • Cauliflower mashed ‘potatoes’
  • Baked apple stuffed with cinnamon butter and topped with whipping cream
  • Keto hot cocoa

Our Top 4 Holiday Eating Strategies

Whether you are celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend or not, holiday parties are already starting to kick off.  Today’s blog post is going to focus on holiday party strategies for making healthier selections so we don’t have too much catching up to do in the new year.

  1. Never go to a holiday party hungry! You are never going to be able to control those carbohydrate cravings if you show up to your party and are starving.  You will have a lot more success at avoiding the bread and those pastries if you are somewhat satiated before you arrive.  Try to have a nice, fatty meal an hour or two before you head to your celebration.  I often have my own little charcuterie board with meats, olives and cheeses, or I’ll eat an avocado or have some eggs.
  1. Always volunteer to bring a few of your favourite low carb dishes or appetizers. My friends and family always know they can count of me to bring meat, cheese and vegetable platters with homemade dip and guacamole, and deviled eggs.  This way I always have some ‘safety’ foods I can consume in excess without experiencing any guilt.
  1. Eat a fatty breakfast or brunch if you are going to be the one who is cooking all day. I know we often discourage patients from eating breakfast in the IDM Program, but when you eat matters just as much as what you eat.  It is better to take a nice, fatty breakfast or brunch to satiate yourself rather than grazing on what you are cooking on ALL day long.  My game plan for this morning is to wake-up and eat some of my favourite Trader Joe’s bacon (my husband bought eight packages for the two of us for this weekend – this is why I married him), have a nice omelette stuffed with veggies, and half of an avocado.  That way I am satiated and won’t be eating all day long and refueling before the fuel from my last meal has been used up.
  1. Always save your carbohydrates for last! I understand that not everyone is following a strict ketogenic diet like myself and want to indulge in some holiday favourites.  This year is my first-year celebrating the holidays and being fully committed to a ketogenic diet.  Do your best to save your carbohydrates for last.   Try to fill up on salad and soup first.  Move on to any non-root vegetables next followed by any protein.  Make sure to cover the vegetables and protein in fat, especially if they were not cooked in fat.  Save the carbohydrates for last.  This way you will be partially satiated before getting to the carbs so you prevent yourself from over indulging.  By eating the fat and protein first, you are decreasing your hunger hormones and increasing your satiation hormones.  If you eat the carbs first, you spike your insulin and your hunger hormones, therefore, you are much more likely to overindulge.  Also, you will force yourself to digest the carbohydrates a bit slower by filling up on all of the fat and vegetable fibre first.
  1. Try drinking a tall glass of water an hour before you expect to eat and then again within 5 to 10 minutes of eating. We often mistake thirst for hunger.  Adding vinegar will help control your cravings and your blood sugar levels as well. Tip: cover as much of your food with any kind of vinegar as possible, especially the carbohydrates!
Jason Fung, MD

By Jason Fung, MD

Jason Fung, M.D., is a Toronto-based nephrologist (kidney specialist) and a world leading expert in intermittent fasting and low-carb diets.

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