One of the members of our Caribbean Keto Tribe reached out to the group with this question: “How do you stay on track with keto when there are people in the house who eat carbs?” It’s a very valid question. When you’re trying to change the way you’ve eaten all your life, and those same (delicious) carbs are all around you, the task can seem daunting. It becomes trickier when you’re the one that prepares most of the meals too, right? You figure that if you lived alone or if everyone else was doing keto, you could easily make a salad with grilled chicken or some cauliflower rice and curried goat and keto on. But the presence of bread in the house, that ice cream in the freezer, that box of breakfast cereal in the cupboard, the crispy snacks that you buy for the kids and the mac and cheese you’re making to go with dinner test your best resolve.
What is the keto diet?
Before I go on, allow me to ensure that we’re all on the same page. You many be reading this and asking: WTH is this keto she speaks of? Click through here to get the run down on the keto diet. Keto is short for “ketogenic” and it is one variation of a low-carbohydrate, or low-carb way of eating that has benefited so many of us. Carbohydrates (called carbs for short), simply put, are starches and sugars: bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, baked goodies, juices, some fruit and beans, cereals, flour and so on. So we cut these out of our diet and eat meat, fish, eggs, dairy and healthy fats. In the absence of these carbs, our body starts burning fat for energy and we also experience a (fantastic) decrease in cravings and we feel full quicker and for longer. If you’ve struggled with weight as I have, you understand how wonderful it is to finally be able to feel full and to simply stop eating.
Shouldn’t Willpower Be Enough?
You see, willpower will carry you so far and no further. On a good day when you’ve worked out and everything else is going swimmingly, it is easy to say no to the rice and bread and cookies and donuts, right? But when you’ve had a crappy day at work, you skipped your workout, and the kids are complaining about everything, willpower takes a hike and you find yourself saying: “Cho baxide. I’m going to have that slice of bun.” (For my non-Jamaican readers, “cho baxide” = “screw it” 🙂 )And that one slice of bun leads to a spoon or two of rice with dinner, and a muffin the next day for breakfast (because carbs do that to us… they cause us to binge eat…science, not personal weakness). Cue the inevitable guilt and feeling of failure that follows next.
My Own Keto Journey Story
I’ve been on my low-carb journey for 18 months now. I’m going to be 51 years old this year and I’ve never felt better. When I just started keto, there were three of us living at home. Two of us had decided to cut carbs. So I sat with the third one, my husband, and explained what I was trying to do. I explained that cutting carbs was the only way I was going to lose weight, and that I was asking for his support. I explained that rice in particular was my crack, and that I wasn’t going to cook it for at least an initial 30 days. He was very understanding and said no prob. I continued to buy bread for him, and if he wanted rice, he simply made it himself. I KNOW that if rice was on the stove in those early days of my keto journey, I would have caved. The absence of temptations really gave me the space to become fat-adapted and the science behind it all eventually kicked in. You see, in the absence of carbs, my body started to burn fat for energy. In the absence of carbs, my insulin surges became a thing of the past and over time, my cravings for carbs subsided. I eventually was able to make toast, mac and cheese and bake brownies with our 7 year old bonus-boy who stays with us some weekends. But for the first 30-60 days I was adamant that I could not handle those duties. I was determined to win. And I knew my weaknesses.
You CAN win with Keto !
So is it impossible to win with keto if you share living space with carb eaters or “carbers” (as I like to call them)? No it’s not. It may be harder, but it is possible. I reached out to the other members of the Caribbean Keto Tribe who are winning with keto and living with people who eat carbs. I asked others too. The responses were very instructive. One basic rule for winning with keto applies,whether you share living space with carbers or not: you’ve got to plan! You must know what you’re going to be eating well in advance so you’re not backed into a corner and defaulting to what’s available at the time, which is normally something high-carb, because let’s face it, this isn’t a low carb world…yet!
YOU decided to go keto…they didn’t.
First of all, don’t expect others to eat low-carb just because you have decided to. The keto diet is not a universal prescription, although I do believe with all my heart that even if you’re not eating keto or low-carb, reducing your portions of carbohydrates will be beneficial for your overall health (moods stabilize, joint pains subside and blood pressure normalizes) and certainly, processed and refined carbs, in particular sugar, have no place in any healthy diet. That being said, there’s no need to be an annoying keto-evangelist. And your decision is just that: your own decision. You don’t get to decide what other people eat and you don’t get to use their food choices as an excuse for what you eat and don’t eat. You’re better than that.
Staying Keto in A House That Still Eats Carbs: 8 Tips
Tip #1: Keep the carb sides simple
Keep carby sides simple: if you’re spending time making elaborate mac and cheese or potato salads or making garlic bread or fried rice chances are you’re going to taste. And carbs being carbs, you will NOT be able to stop at taking just a little taste. So keep those carbs simple. Toss potatoes into the oven. No tasting required. Steam plain rice. That’s it ! Put your effort into making keto approved meat and veggie dishes! Think cauliflower mac and cheese, ribs, chicken, stewed beef, curried goat, oxtail, colourful salads with great vinaigrette or ranch dressings and roasted sprouts with bacon for example. That way you’re satisfied with your yummy keto approved food and the carbers will enjoy those dishes too!
Tip #2: Let them fend for themselves
If children are grown, or partners are flexible and willing, let them fend for themselves. I encourage you to sit with them though and explain what you’re attempting to do. Ask them for their support for the first thirty to sixty days. Tell them their support includes them fixing any carby stuff they want to eat for themselves. You may be surprised at how willing they are.
Tip #3: Visualize what happens in YOUR body when you eat carbs
Maybe you simply can’t get away from making sandwiches with wheat bread or cooking mac and cheese for fussy little eaters. You just have to handle carbs and there’s no way around it. Well visualize what happens in YOUR body when you eat carbs: your insulin surges, your body becomes inflamed, your body holds on for dear life to its fat stores and you won’t lose weight. Keep that vision front and center and then visualize your body releasing and burning its fat stores when you feed it meat and green veggies and healthy fats. When you treat carbs like the poison they are for you, it makes it easier to say no to the call of the carbs.
Tip #4: Make delicious, interesting low-carb dishes
Try interesting low-carb dishes that the whole family could reasonably enjoy. A loaded cauliflower bake for example seems to be one of those dishes that everybody enjoys. Fat head dough pizza is another one. Fat head dough is seriously good. Mashed cauliflower with cheese and butter is delicious too. When I just started keto I was determined not to feel deprived so I challenged myself to make delicious, interesting, low-carb food. And to up the ante, I started my Instagram account to document and hold myself accountable. (That was actually my daughter’s idea 🙂 )My husband remarked one evening as he made his way through a herby, creamy, cheesy chicken concoction that of late, every single dinner was like eating at a new restaurant! He said he found himself anticipating dinner every single day of the week 🙂
Tip #4: Hide the Carby Foods from Yourself!
Out of sight, out of mind! Rearrange your kitchen, pantry and fridge so that you have to go look for the carby stuff. Place snacks and bread in an opaque container so you don’t have to see them every time you step into the kitchen. Dedicate space in the fridge for the carby stuff that doesn’t hit you flush in the face whenever you open it.
Tip #5: Have your own keto treats close by
Make sure you have your own keto treats on hand. Personally, I only allow myself treats on a Sunday. But when you’re just starting out on keto, better a fat bomb like this, than a donuts Seriously. Make them and put them up. When temptation comes knocking, turn to your keto treat.
Tip #6: Fat doesn’t make you fat. Eat up!
Be sure to add healthy fats to your plate to help you feel full faster and for longer. Those fats can be in the form of buttered veggies, olive oil based dressings on your salads, avocado slices and nuts.
Tip #7: Convert them to keto (by example!)
And in my case, guess what happened next? Well Hubby saw me losing weight. He even commented on my improved moods (yes, cutting carbs improves and stabilizes moods). He saw our son shed weight, shoot up and gain confidence. And he decided to try keto with us! After a few weeks he couldn’t stop talking about how his knee and shoulder pain had disappeared! He gloated over his improved running times! He marveled at his even keel as his own moods stabilized and improved. Whenever our daughter comes home from college, she simply joins the keto band.
As you start to demonstrate the positive effects of the keto diet and as you have interesting, low-carb food available for all, you may find that the other members in your household willingly convert to a low-carb way of eating. For Christmas 2018, I did a 100% keto Christmas dinner, including dessert, and it was received with rave reviews from all who partook.
Tip #8: Seek Support
When you’re trying to change a habit, support is critical in ensuring the change sticks. Even if you’re the only one in your house doing keto, there is support elsewhere.
- Maybe you could have a work buddy join you and you can hold each other accountable. Perhaps a good friend. Y’all can make dates where you enjoy delicious keto food together and swap stories and victories.
- You could hire a weight-loss coach to guide you and hold you accountable (I offer such a service if you’re interested. Contact me here for further information).
- Or you could join an online support group such as our own Caribbean Keto tribe on Facebook. It’s free to join and provides lots of information and inspiration. You are not alone!
You absolutely can win with keto even if you ‘re the only one doing it in a household that isn’t. I’d love to hear from you, your own tips, your struggles and your victories. Be sure to subscribe to my blog to get updates on my new posts and to follow my own journey. There are great freebies for you when you subscribe 🙂
I am not a medical doctor nor am I a certified nutritionist and make no claims to the contrary. Each individual’s dietary needs and restrictions are unique to the individual. You are ultimately responsible for all decisions pertaining to your health. The information on this website is written and produced for informational purposes only. This website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Content should not be considered a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. The reader assumes full responsibility for consulting a qualified health professional regarding health conditions or concerns, and before starting a new diet or health program.