When you embark on a Keto diet, a handful of friends, family, and colleagues won’t be as supportive as you’d like. They won’t get what you’re trying to do.
This can be disconcerting. Even in our stronger moments, we care about the opinions of others. We’re social creatures.
If someone questions your eating habits, it might feel like a challenge. Are you supposed to defend yourself? Argue? Pretend you didn’t hear them?
To handle the situation smoothly, some tact is required. For instance, if you explain that eating bread makes you feel like a queasy groundhog in a clothes dryer, it’s unlikely to provoke any arguments.
This brings us to the main principle of discussing Keto in social situations: Make it about how you feel.
Make It About How You Feel
You’ve been in this situation. Someone asks why you’re on a low-carb diet, and now you must explain yourself.
Saying that Keto helps with weight loss, energy, and mental sharpness—especially if you start citing science—isn’t a good strategy[*]. Here’s what might happen if you start spewing facts:
- The person will be mildly interested. (Best case.)
- The person will think you’re lecturing them.
- The person will bring up “facts” of their own to support their preferred diet.
None of these results are ideal, especially the third option. You won’t win any points by arguing. As Dale Carnegie said: “The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.”
You might be wondering if personalizing the health benefits would help. Is it better to say you’re eating Keto to lose weight or reduce disease risk?
It’s better, but problems still lurk. Your companion might wonder aloud how a high-fat diet can help you lose fat. (A classic argument starter). Or they might think you’re criticizing the way they eat. (Oh so my diet makes me sick, huh?). Warm fuzzy feelings will not abound.
The best strategy is to give them something they can’t latch onto: How you feel.
Only you know how you feel. If someone argues that point, they’ll seem like a lunatic:
THEM: So why are you doing this Keto thing anyway? Seems kind of extreme.
YOU: I just feel my best on Keto.
THEM: No you don’t!
That conversation will never happen. In fact, when you say you feel 110% on Keto, it might pique their interest. They might start asking questions about how it all works. Now they’re receptive, so feel free to share your knowledge.
Social Challenges On Keto
In this section, we’ll cover common objections to your Keto diet and how to handle them. You’ve probably heard at least one of these.
“Just treat yourself”
This jab insinuates that you’re depriving yourself by not eating certain foods—usually pseudo-foods high in refined sugar. Picture a co-worker needling you to have a piece of cake. Handle this like you handle the “why Keto?” question. Tell them eating those foods makes you feel lousy. They can’t argue with that.
“I would die if I couldn’t have [insert junk food here]”
This is the other person’s attempt to rationalize their diet. The truth is, anyone can enjoy life without refined carbs, but don’t say that. Instead say that eating junk food doesn’t make you feel good. Keep it vague and don’t proselytize. They probably won’t ask for more detail.
“Isn’t all that fat bad for you?”
First, keep in mind that your friend or family member may be legitimately worried about your wellbeing. Be gentle with them.
Avoid the temptation to argue that dietary fat doesn’t clog your arteries, or that a high-protein Keto diet is more satiating than a higher carb diet[*][*]. That will just make them defensive. Simply point out that you feel your best without carbs, and mention any benefits (including your blood work) that are relevant. Keep circling back to these points if your friend quibbles.
“Keto seems too extreme (or restrictive)”
“Sure,” you might say, “a lot of people have trouble sticking with Keto. But I’ve found a bunch of delicious recipes and don’t feel deprived at all. Actually it’s nice not to crave sugar anymore. And my energy is great.”
That last bit is important. They can’t argue with how you feel.
Tips For Dining Out On Keto
Eating out while Keto can be stressful. You lose control outside your home kitchen.
Here are four tips to mitigate this stress while maintaining your low-carb lifestyle:
Tip #1: Eat something first
If you know you’ll be dragged to a Keto-unfriendly restaurant, have a snack before you go. It’s much easier to pass on junk when you’re not hungry.
Your colleagues may be confused. Why aren’t you having anything? Tell them you were ravenous earlier and had to eat something. Now you’ve lost your appetite. Oops!
Tip #2: Research and pick the place
Whenever possible, take charge of restaurant selection. Five minutes of online research should be plenty. Any well-reviewed establishment with steak, seafood, or salads is usually a good bet.
In most situations, the group will follow whoever makes the first suggestion. Be that person.
Tip #3: Tell the server you’re Keto
The Keto diet is no longer a fringe phenomenon. Most people have heard of it, and many restaurants specifically accommodate it.
When your server comes around, ask if they can recommend any Keto-friendly options. One of two things will happen:
- They’ll point out Keto-friendly options.
- They’ll stare at you like you’ve just sprouted a third eyeball.
Worst case scenario? Tell them nevermind and pick something that looks safe.
Tip #4: Give yourself a break
In restaurants and in life, you can’t be perfect. If a few extra carbs sneak into your belly, be easy on yourself. It’s a rare deviation. It’s okay. You’re still committed to your health journey.
Social Life on Keto
Refer to these tips and scripts as often as you’d like to navigate social life on Keto. Make it about how you feel and things should go fairly smoothly.
And for times it doesn’t go smoothly, remember that it’s your health, your body, and your life. If others support your health journey, that’s great. If they don’t, that’s their problem. You’re doing this for you.