December 14, 2018 by Dr. Kyle Varner in Ketogenic Diet , Obesity , Solutions

What’s the #1 reason why people fail on their diets over the holidays?

In one word, the answer is willpower.

You see, studies show that using your willpower is like exercising a muscle. It feels good at first, but the more you work a muscle, the more it gets strained and fatigued. If you push it too far, eventually you’ll collapse from exhaustion. Your body won’t be able to take it anymore.

In the same way, each time you resist a temptation throughout the day, you’re exercising your willpower. At first it’s good, it makes you feel stronger. But if you have to exercise too much throughout the day, you’ll exhaust yourself, and eventually you’ll capitulate.

Now don’t get me wrong, exercising your willpower is really important. Just like exercising your body, the more you do it the stronger you’ll get.

But until you have built that willpower of steel, if you go into the holidays expecting to rely on your willpower alone, you’re just setting yourself up for failure.

The real secret to dieting success is not willpower, it’s planning.

By taking some simple steps to plan ahead, the temptations you face will be smaller and the willpower you exercise minimal.

So this holiday season, plan to stay healthy by making sure you always have healthy options readily available to you. This way, it doesn’t have to be a chore, and you can get on with enjoying the festivities!

Here are my top 5 tips to get this done…

Change up Christmas Dinner

A Classic Christmas Dinner Setting

Traditions can be nice, but honoring tradition isn’t a good reason to sacrifice your health or your goals. Luckily, you can even have both by swapping out a few foods from your Christmas Dinner this year. Just a few simple changes can make a huge difference!

You can easily search for low carb versions of just about every traditional Christmas dish online. Why not make a couple dishes ahead of time and bring them to Christmas dinner?

While Aunt Sally is shortening her life by pigging out on carbs, you can stay healthy by eating the dishes you’ve brought.

Cut the Eggnog

From Eggnog to Gluhwein, alcohol is a big part of the holidays across the globe. While you might not want to completely abstain from the stuff, it’s important to remember that alcohol is a toxic substance. So regardless of the occasion, it’s important to keep your consumption in check.

Luckily, not all drinks are equal. Some are going to be far better for your waistline than others, or at least “less bad”.

When given a choice, the best options to pick are dry red wines and unmixed spirits. While spirits are generally lower in sugar, the mixers are what can catch you. Hopefully you already know that Coca-cola is something you really should NOT drink when you’re trying to lose weight, but also keep in mind that even innocent-looking mixers like cranberry juice and tonic water are also packed with sugar.

Whichever drink you choose, try and keep it to no more than one or two glasses or you’ll start embarrassing yourself more than your racist uncle.

Eat Ahead of Time

If you can’t plan for the foods in front of you at the party, make sure you’re not hungry! I often eat before coming to special gatherings where I know I will be tempted by high carbohydrate foods.

This way, I have more strength to resist the piles of carbohydrates placed in front of me. While I’d prefer not to be in the presence of high carbohydrate foods, if I must, I know I stand a much better chance to staying strong if I’m not hungry.

If you don’t always know where your plans will take you, it’s a good thing to keep low-carb snacks with you just in case.

Bring Dessert

Often people trying to lose weight opt to not have dessert at all, but unfortunately at Christmas desserts are part and parcel (pun intended) of the celebrations.

To make sure you’re not left looking longingly at the dessert tray, bake a few batches of low carb sweets to bring with you. Using stevia, monkfruit extract and other non-sugar sweeteners, as well as low-carb ingredients like coconut flakes and almond flour, you can make a surprising variety of holiday treats that won’t swell your waistline.

Keep these on hand when your less health conscious friends and relatives start tempting you with their Christmas treats. You’ll be very glad you did.

Tackle Your Stress

From getting everyone’s presents to arranging family outings, Christmas can be one of the most stressful times of year.

The science is clear: stress is deadly, it can also work to lower your willpower and resistance to temptation. If that we’re enough, when you’re stressed, your body releases cortisol, which can contribute to weight gain!

Maybe you have shopping to do, or maybe you’re anxious about interacting with your racist uncle who constantly praises Donald Trump. Whatever the reason, identify your stressors and make a plan to resolve them. You’ll have more peace of mind, and you’ll stay healthier as a result.


Christmas can be a joyous time for all, but it’s over within a day. Your diet, however, is not! Use these 5 tips and you can balance joining in the fun with keeping your promises to yourself.

It’s far easier than you think, as long as you plan beforehand! Planning helps you to reduce the need to fight with yourself and enables you to get through the holiday season healthier and less stressed.

How do you intend to get through Christmas? Have you already made plans for the food? Let us know below.

This information is intended to help readers be more informed about their health options when speaking with a professional, but it should not be used alone to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition. Be sure to speak to a qualified doctor before taking any action to make sure that your choices reflect your actual health situation.

Comments (1)

  1. Judy Dohm says:

    As a Mom, Grandma and from a family with several type 1 diabetics, we don’t do a sit down dinner. Instead we have fruit and veggie platters, soups and then a cheese and meat platter, breads so that the teens may make a sandwich but the rest of us can have a slice of ham and cheese. We need to support the children with fruit and vegetable finger foods, shrimp cocktails and hot soup after our sleigh ride. Yes, we do have cookies and treats but the kids (and adults) need limited sugar and healthier foods and not overeat!

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