A Keto Dietitian’s Tips for Families Celebrating the Winter Holidays, Keto-Style!

Thanksgiving is a week from today and the rest of winter holidays are right around the corner! In today’s guest blog post, ketogenic dietitian Robyn Blackford, RDN, LDN, provides her tips for families celebrating the holidays while on the ketogenic diet. Thanks for these awesome tips, Robyn!


For people following a ketogenic diet during the holidays, it doesn’t have to be a season of additional stressors. Parents of children who follow a special medical diet, including the ketogenic diet, may even find the upcoming holidays easier to survive than they first thought.

I often hear that extended family members are very supportive of their child’s special diet. Educating others on the diet will open your family up to a potentially strong support system. Most people like to hear about the nuances of the special diet and learn how they, too, can help. Talking about the diet and getting that ‘pat on the back’ can give you just enough motivation and energy to make the next special meal. Siblings may ask if they, too, can have the yummy, magical keto food that you are preparing. What a nice, fun, supportive time that this can be for your whole family!

Whether you are hosting holidays at your house or joining others elsewhere, you are sure to be successful to sticking to your ketogenic diet during these festive days if you practice these tips.

Holidays at your house:

* Consider serving a low carb dish on your menu. There are many low carb recipes readily available, such as a cauliflower mash in place of mashed potatoes. This may be helpful for others to understand some of the details and enjoy the foods that are part of the special diet

* Using festive holiday plates, bowls, and napkins to distract from ordinary or special diet food is a welcome change for people of any age! Try using cookie cutters to make foods more appealing and brightly colored toothpicks to add fun to your holiday meal.

* Keep food out of reach for tiny guests that are on a special diet. This way they cannot snatch foods quicker than you can say no or be able to take it away from them. They can be faster than you anticipate!

Holidays as a guest:

* Consider eating or serving your keto meal before leaving the house. This way you do not have to worry about finding foods you can eat later when you or your child is hungry. Talking to the holiday host can help you be successful if you plan on eating a little something at the get-together.

* Plan to serve and eat your favorite keto foods while away from home in easy-to-warm-up containers. It can be quite a treat if you haven’t had that favorite food in a while.

* For smaller children, be sure to pack a bag full of toys and fun things to help distract them from focusing on food. Do not underestimate the power of non-food rewards during playtime!

 

In any case, make sure that you plan ahead. Mentally prepare your child to resist food that is not part of their special diet and prepare yourself to teach others about the positive impact the diet has had on your lives.

Helping people follow their ketogenic diet can be one of the best gifts you can give them during the holiday season!

-Robyn

Tips for Managing Your Child’s Ketogenic Diet Over the Holidays

The holiday season is officially upon us! Hanukkah starts today, Christmas is just over a week away, and Kwanzaa starts the following day! This time of year tends to be very food-focused, which can make it challenging for parents of children on restrictive diets. For today’s blog post, Robyn Blackford, a ketogenic dietitian from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, helped us to come up with some tips for managing the holidays with a child on the ketogenic diet.

Plan Ahead for Meals & Treats

  • Talk to your child’s dietitian for any recipes that you may need well before the time you need them.
  • Make the recipes in advance to ensure that they taste good and travel well.
  • For holiday meals, if possible, find out what will be served ahead of time so that you can find keto-variations to match what everyone else will be eating.
  • Make a few batches of keto treats to have handy over the holidays so that you can provide them for your child at school parties, family get-togethers, etc. when other kids are enjoying treats.

Prepare for Holiday Meals & Get-Togethers

Preparing your child:

  • It’s important to prepare your child for holiday meals, get-togethers, and parties. Talk to your child ahead of time about what to expect and practice saying “No, thank you” if offered any foods other than the foods that you bring.
  • For holiday meals, some kids may enjoy a smaller, kid-friendly, holiday-themed dinner plate. Smaller, sectioned plates can be helpful for making keto meals more appealing to children and also make it less obvious that their meal is smaller in size than a typical meal. On the other hand, some kids may prefer to have the same dinner plate as everyone else so that they don’t feel different. Talk with your child ahead of time to find out which option he or she prefers. If you go with the small, child-friendly plate, you might also bring some for all of the children attending to enjoy!

Preparing friends & family:

  • Let family members and friends know ahead of time about your child’s special diet so that they know not to offer foods other than the food that you bring for your child. By letting everyone know ahead of time, you can avoid having the conversation in front of your child, which might make your child feel self-conscious.

Preparing your child’s school:

  • If there will be a holiday party at your child’s school and food will be provided, remind your child’s teacher(s) that your child cannot have any food except for the food that you send. If there will be treats provided, send a special keto treat for your child so that he or she doesn’t feel left out. You might also send along non-food, holiday-themed treats like stickers, pencils, etc. for all of the children to enjoy.

Embrace Non-food Variations of Favorite Holiday Traditions

A lot of holiday traditions involve foods that are not allowed on the ketogenic diet, but you can still enjoy them by taking a new, non-food spin on favorite traditions.gingerbread house

  • If your family enjoys making gingerbread houses, you can make a non-food gingerbread house this year using a cardboard box, paper, cotton balls, jewels, glitter, puff balls, stickers, etc. Here’s one that we made as an example. They are just as much fun to make and they last longer!
  • Rather than filling your child’s Christmas stocking with candy, fill it with non-food treats like small toys, stickers, markers, fun socks, etc.

We hope that you find these tips helpful for managing your child’s ketogenic diet over the holidays.  With a little creativity, improvising and planning ahead, you can make your child’s holiday as normal as possible. Try to remember that although food seems like such an important part of holiday celebrations, most of our best childhood memories of the holidays have nothing to do with the food.

Happy Chrismakwanzika everyone!

-Robyn & Mallory