We've all been there, the excitement and motivation for your lifestyle change wears off, and suddenly the kids' halloween candy is lookin' like a snack, like, seriously, an actual snack. I get it. We're busy! When the going gets tough, it's easy to fall back in to old routines, and fall off the wagon. Take a deep breath, girlfriend, we're going to get back on track, and stay there, just in time for the holidays.
October has been such a busy month for us! We're still navigating this family of six business, it was my first month back at work from maternity leave, and we've been juggling sports and all of life's major events (weddings, funerals, gatherings). These last two weeks of attempting to stay keto have tested my limits more than our potty-training toddler learning her new big girl bedtime routine (what idiot does those things simultaneously? This one, right here).
Full disclosure, I've let it get the best of me more than once. I'm not beating myself up about it, but if you really let yourself go on keto, you start right back at square one. So, I got my shit together, and went back to basics. Back to my OG keto transformation days, as a single mom in nursing school, the good ol' keto on-the-go routine. Here's a few tips that have helped me to be successful!
I know, right? So obvious. What meal plan doesn't tell you "failing to prepare is preparing to fail"? But it’s really true, sometimes. This doesn't mean you have to make all your meals ahead of time, and live out of tupperware off reheated food for every meal. It means to have keto-friendly options available for yourself, so the temptation doesn’t get the best of you.
For me, zucchini noodles are a staple, they're a great alternative to pasta and can easily be substituted in your favorite carb-heavy recipes. I spiralize several zucchini at the beginning of the week, and portion them into quart-size Ziplocs (suck all the air out with a straw before fully closing to increase shelf life). This allows me to easily toss them into a pan for a few minutes to amp up my fiber and nutrient dense carb intake, without having to take the time to prep it for each meal that week.
Another meal prep staple at my house is shredded chicken breast. This is where my Instant Pot is GOD! I like to use bone broth or even Franks hot sauce (if I'm feeling spicy that week) with 4-5 frozen chicken breasts. Toss them all in the pot, set it for 40 minutes on the poultry setting, and voila! Easily shreds, and can be tossed in with the zoodles, on a salad, or even made into a keto-friendly chicken salad. The options are endless, and the carb content is zero.
Small make-ahead options like these will really help you stay on track and even keep your grocery list budget-friendly.
Easy Fat Bombs
Most meal plans, fat isn't a staple. In fact, it's likely something people try to avoid. Not on keto. I wish I had the time, energy, and motivation to make all the fancy fat bombs we see all over Pinterest that mimic some of our favorite treats, but in actuality, I'd rather spend that time with my family, so I rely on a few easier high fat options.
Our overall fat goal with keto is focused on healthy fats, but that doesn't mean bacon is completely off the table. I bake roughly two pans of bacon a week, and on average eat 2-4 slices a day. I have absolutely no issue eating it cold, but you can also chop it up and toss it in a salad, or even enhance your veggies with it to pump up your fat and protein intake for the day!
Another great option is an avocado. With its high fiber content, the net carb count on a whole avocado is typically pretty low (always weigh them so you know your exact numbers). Personally, I'm not a huge fan of just plain avocado, so I like to spice it up with some crushed red pepper, shredded cheese, and my all time favorite seasoning, TAJIN! If you don't know what Tajin is, it's basically a chili-lime salt that makes anything taste good, and it's heavenly.
Bento Box Snack Pack
Listen, as a mom, I am the queen of snacks. Michael Scott can find me at any wedding for his snack needs (if you don't understand my nods to The Office, go watch the whole series so we can be friends).
One of my favorite Pinterest keto finds is a weekly snack box. This is basically a large bento box where you portion out keto-friendly snacks for the week. Nuts, seeds, cheese, olives, pickles, and cured meats (watch your choices for hidden sugar), fill up the spots in the box, you've already measured out the proper portions, so when it’s time for a little midday pick me up, just grab your box and pick some snacks. The fat content in these should easily hold you over until dinner time.
I also keep fun flavors of Blue Diamond almonds on me AT ALL TIMES. In my purse, my drawers at work, in the car, literally EVERYWHERE. They have so many flavor options and at just a couple net carbs per serving, it's a great midday snack, especially when paired with cheese.
Fast Food Keto
We all have those long days at work, or evenings filled with practices and extracurriculars, where going home and making a meal is just off the table that day. Have no fear, you have plenty of options, even with fast food.
Our family isn't huge on fast food, but when we're in a pinch or traveling, we're down to clown. I have found that I am able to find something keto-friendly at nearly any fast food restaurant (the exception being Taco Bell). Any of the burger joints you can order your burger wrapped in lettuce or sans bun, without ketchup, and you should easily be under five carbs for the meal. In fact, with the growing popularity of the ketogenic lifestyle, many restaurants, such as Hardee's and Jimmy John's, have a specific low carb menu. How could it be any easier?
Sweet Tooth Cravings
In all honesty, the craving for sweets is nearly non-existent if you're hitting your fat intake correctly, but that doesn't mean you should never indulge. Just indulge with good intentions. I like to keep a few Quest or Fat Snax cookies around for those days when you barely make it through without throat chopping someone. It's not an every day choice, just a little special “hey girl, way to adult” treat!
I'm also a huge fan of Atkins shakes. I'm not currently using protein powders post workout, instead I rely on a mix of the Atkins Dark Chocolate shake with a little heavy cream blended together with some ice...tastes almost like a Frosty from Wendy's!
We're always going to have days when we're down and out, where we lack the motivation to maintain our diet or exercise routines, those are the times it is most important to have prepared for. That's when we truly separate our wants from our needs to reach our end goal, a happy, healthy life!