Ever have one of those days (or weeks) where you feel like you’ve just gone off the rails from your low-carb diet? It happens! Don’t panic. This post will show you EXACTLY what to do when you are starting keto again.
The truth is that even if you are totally convinced that the low-carb lifestyle is something you want to stick to, there will be moments, days, or even weeks when you fall back into old patterns. After all, old habits are hard to break.
But what if I told you that’s normal?
The question isn’t really whether you’ll slip up, cheat, or get off track, but what will you do to bounce back when that happens?
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Let’s be real. There are times when your diet will be less than stellar, like when you go on vacation, spend a holiday with family, or just can’t resist that delicious homemade apple pie at your favorite hometown diner.
So, how do you get back on track?
That’s exactly what we’re talking about today.
If you’ve struggled to stay on track this summer, then buckle up, because this is the post for you!
My Experience With Starting Keto Again
Before we dive in: If this is your first time here, you may want to read about my weight loss journey and the simple changes I made to lose 40 pounds and actually keep it off to have a better idea of where I’ve been and how I got here.
Trust me when I tell you that my own journey has not always gone in a straight line. In fact, just this summer, I took a six-week cross-country vacation with my family that I joked was my Food Tour of America because we seriously ate SO much.
I didn’t so much fall off the wagon as I abandoned it completely the moment we left Florida!
But you know what? As soon as I got back home, I got right back on track. Because over the past few years, one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that a few setbacks don’t have to completely derail me.
I’ve stopped feeling guilty for those moments of indulgence and instead learned how to enjoy them in moderation.
But that wasn’t always the case.
I used to really beat myself up and use any slip-up as an excuse to just give up. And that’s why today I thought it might be helpful to talk about how to bounce back after a vacation or a setback.
Whether it was a week of stress-eating or just a moment (or ten) of reverting back to your old unhealthy eating patterns, I want to talk about how you stop beating yourself up and instead get refocused on your new path.
Because it really is a lifestyle, not a diet.
Challenges of Maintaining a Low-Carb Lifestyle
The honest truth is that, even with a healthy weightloss mindset, there are many moments in life where maintaining a low-carb lifestyle can feel incredibly challenging.
Whether it’s being on vacation, being around friends and family and not having total control of what’s on the menu, or just going through a stressful season of life, when your guard is down, resolve is weakened, and your emotions are high.
I know that for me this summer, going back to my hometown to see all our friends and family for the first time since before Covid, the nostalgia factor of getting to go to all my favorite hometown restaurants was way too much to resist.
I was NOT going to say no to my favorite homemade caramel apple pie at the Lynden Dutch Bakery, or a Monte Cristo sandwich at the Fairway Cafe, or ice cream at the Edaleen Dairy. And, of course, I couldn’t pass up the yummiest pizza EVER at the North Fork Brewery.
But vacations aren’t the only moments that can test our resolve.
I think any time we get stressed out, really busy, or find ourselves in situations that are totally outside of our control, it can be a challenge to make the right choice. (And sometimes there aren’t any good choices!)
Not only that, but a lot of us have spent years turning to food as an emotional crutch.
So even if you are totally convinced that the low-carb lifestyle is the way to go, old habits die hard.
Honestly, I think that’s really the first key to being able to bounce back from any setback: to recognize that THEY HAPPEN.
It’s normal. It’s part of life.
But it doesn’t have to be the end of the world or the end of all your progress.
Know Your Triggers and Be Prepared for Them
Part of the key to success is to be prepared. This means that you should be aware of your own potential triggers and the moments in your own life that may derail you.
Where and when are you most likely to fall off the wagon?
What are the events and situations that you should be particularly aware of?
Personally, I know that stress is DEFINITELY one of my triggers—when times get tough, I have a tendency to turn to food for comfort.
I also know that when I’m around certain people, it can be hard for me to stay on track. If their default setting is to go out and indulge, then it can be really tough for me to say no.
For some people, it might be being around family. Maybe your mother-in-law is a food pusher, or you can’t resist your grandmother’s cooking.
For others, it could be certain favorite meals or indulgences, like pasta or bread or potato chips.
But knowing your own triggers is really important, because it helps you be more mindful of the choices you will need to make in those situations.
That doesn’t mean that you won’t still make the choice to indulge. In my case, I was a willing participant! But, it’s a mind-shift change. You go from being a FAILURE to someone who is in control and making a CHOICE.
And that’s SO important from a mindset perspective.
Because once you’ve made the choice to indulge, you can also make the choice to not let that indulgence be your downfall.
Starting Keto Again After Setbacks
Now that you know your own triggers, the next step is to be aware of how to get back on track with starting keto again after you’ve indulged a little (or a lot).
Because honestly the only thing worse than having a moment—or 10—of weakness is using it as an excuse to completely give up!
Here’s a few things I’ve learned to help get yourself back on track after a set back:
1. Stop beating yourself up.
First things first—ya gotta STOP beating yourself up!
You have to make the conscious choice to let go of the shame and disappointment and anger you might feel towards yourself for any of the not-so-great choices you may have made.
You’ll also need to consciously choose to not dwell in that shame spiral of negativity that can be so easy to slip right back into, and to not allow yourself to slip into those old patterns of negative self talk.
You have to shut off that little voice in the back of your head that’s saying all those same old things. “You’ve ruined everything.” “You’re never going to lose weight.” “You always do this.” “You’re so weak.” “You’re always going to be fat.” “What’s the point?”
And I’m telling you right now, it’s a doom loop—one of the hardest patterns to break. So don’t go there. Because it’s so easy, in those moments of weakness, to slide back into that old pattern of self sabotage and self-hatred—but it’s only going to make you feel worse.
I know it’s easier said than done, especially when all that negative self talk has been the voice on repeat in your head for however many years. But you’ve got to remind yourself, over and over again, that those thoughts aren’t serving you.
They’ve never served you. Not only that, they’re NOT TRUE.
Indulging on vacation, or eating the foods you’d normally rather stay away from during moments of stress or during a busy season doesn’t make you a bad person. It doesn’t make you a failure. It makes you a human.
Self Compassion vs. Self-Sabotage
I guarantee that if you were talking to a friend or a family member in the exact same position, you’d have enough perspective to realize that life goes on. You’d say all sorts of encouraging things, and reassure them that it’s okay, and they’ll be fine, and the best thing they could possibly do is try to get back on track.
You certainly wouldn’t tell them they’re a failure, and that they’re worthless and weak, and that you knew they’d screw it up. Not unless you’re a psychopath.
But you know what I mean? We say the most horrible, horrific things to ourselves that we would NEVER say to the people that we love. We wouldn’t even think those things.
So why are we doing it to ourselves?
Instead, try practicing a little bit of self-compassion. Remind yourself of the TRUTH—that your journey to get healthy is too important to give up on, and that this truly is a JOURNEY, which means it’s totally normal to have bumps in the road.
Give yourself some patience, understanding, and kindness—all those things you’d give your best friend (or maybe even an enemy).
So start by taking control of your THOUGHTS and stop beating yourself up. Because if you don’t take care of that mental game first, then no matter what physical steps you take afterwards won’t stick in the long run.
2. Assess the damage
The second step is to assess the damage and get real with yourself about how much of a setback this really was. And honestly, this will probably be different for everyone. It will depend on how long you’ve been sticking to a low-carb plan, how long you’ve been Thin Adapted, and how big or long this setback was for you.
Because the reality is that if you’ve been doing this for a while and before going on vacation you were fully Thin Adapted and metabolically, you’ll probably find that the damage wasn’t nearly as bad as you made it out to be in your head.
Yes, the scale may read a few pounds higher than it did before, but most of that is likely just water weight, which will come right off again the moment you start cutting out the carbs again.
My Own “Damage” Before Starting Keto Again
In my case, I’ve been fully Thin Adapted for more than two years, and living in Phase 3—what we call maintenance mode in our Thin Adapated System—for a long time. What I learned from this trip is that my body is now far more metabolically flexible than I gave it credit for.
Because while I did gain a couple of pounds, the weight gain was actually pretty minimal. I was at the top of the five pound weight range that I like to stay in, but still in the range.
I was actually pretty shocked because I FELT like I had gained weight. My clothes definitely fit a little tighter than they normally do, and my face looked puffier. I had honestly been dreading getting on the scale.
But it was important to find out what I was working with. Because the truth is that burying your head in the sand and avoiding the scale once you have gotten off track isn’t going to help you.
It’s a little bit like avoiding your bank statement when you’re in a financial crisis. The longer you avoid facing the truth, the bigger the problem gets.
So you gotta rip off that bandaid and be honest with yourself about what actual damage has been done.
Starting Keto Again When You Are a Low-Carb Newbie
In other cases, especially if you’re relatively new to the low-carb lifestyle, it might feel like you are starting back at square one, and honestly you might be. This is especially true if most of the early weight you lost was just water weight.
If that’s the case, remember that it often takes many false starts before someone is actually successful at losing weight and keeping it off. The more times you try, the higher chance you’ll have of success you’ll have.
Everything you’ve learned so far is preparing you for starting keto again next time.
3. Make a plan to get back on track
Next up: You’ve got to actually make a plan to get yourself back on track with your healthy eating habits as soon as possible.
For me, after coming back from six weeks vacation (after a McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish sandwich on the way home from the airport and a good night’s sleep), the first thing I did was sit down the next morning and plan out my meals for the next week. I made a shopping list and headed to the grocery store.
I knew if I did anything else—unpacking, diving into the huge pile of mail waiting on the counter, trying to catch up on all the work I got behind on while I was gone. Then, I would start feeling stressed out and overwhelmed. And we would have end up grabbing takeout or going out yet again.
I’d put off starting keto again for another day or week or month, or whatever.
Choose Your Hard
This was a big deal because my daughters and I flew home and left my husband to drive the motorhome all the way back to Florida by himself with the two dogs. So, I was going to be single-momming it for a couple of weeks while he made the slow trek home.
As the stay-at-home dad, he’s normally the one to handle most of the grocery shopping and the laundry and just dealing with all the house stuff but it was all on me. So yeah, I was pretty overwhelmed with all of it.
But I knew this was the thing I needed to tackle first, so I made a plan, and I got myself to the grocery store and stocked up on all the healthy foods I normally eat: meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fresh berries, heavy cream, and all the things.
I’m not gonna lie—it was not a cheap trip to the store after 6 weeks of being gone. We literally needed everything. But it felt so good to get a handle on the food piece right away and to know that my fridge was packed full of good choices.
Prioritizing Your Body’s Needs will Help Your Mind
That honestly made all of the other overwhelm—the backlog of work and the unpacking and the laundry and the mail—so much easier.
The funny thing is my KIDS were SO excited for me to be cooking again after 6 straight weeks of eating out. My two daughters are teenagers, so it’s really important for me as a mom not to talk about dieting or trying to lose weight. I don’t want them to have any weird hangups about food.
They eat what I eat when we’re eating at home, but they don’t normally stick to a strict low-carb lifestyle because, well, they’re teenagers. As much as I preach to them about how bad sugar is for their bodies and how important gut health is to their overall health, most of the time, it’s just in one ear and out the other.
Like, “Okay mom, I know, it’s good for my gut health.” With the eye roll, of course.
But by the end of our trip, they were SO excited about getting back to our normal healthy eating habits. They were begging for salmon, steak, parmesan-crusted pork chops, and all their other favorite meals.
It actually wasn’t hard to come up with a meal plan for starting keto again because they had so many requests lined up.
Look Forward to Food That Nourishes You
And honestly, that’s something that I love about our program and this way of eating SO much—that it’s a lifestyle everyone around you can embrace also. Because the food is delicious, and it’s not really a sacrifice. It’s a treat.
But it does take some forethought, some planning, and some intentionality.
So that’s step three—actually sit down and make a plan to get yourself back on track as soon as you possibly can.
Don’t wait. Don’t put it off. Do NOT allow another day to go by.
You can’t go backward. What’s done is done. The choices you’ve made have already happened. That pie has already been eaten. But tomorrow is a new day and a new chance to start over.
4. Don’t punish yourself
Maybe that should be enough to say about this topic, but the final piece of advice I want to give you is this: Don’t punish yourself.
This goes back to the mindset thing. I mean, honestly, what doesn’t go back to making a mindset shift? But as you’re starting keto again, you might be tempted to start skipping meals or start dramatically restricting your calories in an effort to reverse the damage quicker.
Don’t do that. Honestly, it’s counterproductive and will only set you up for another big setback.
Remember that this way of eating is intended to be a LIFESTYLE, not a diet.
And that takes time.
It should be a JOY and a RELIEF to get back to nourishing your body from the inside out, because you know that you just FEEL better when you eat this way.
If you make it feel like a punishment, you’ll set yourself up for failure.
Remind yourself of why you love eating this way.
Don’t stress about calories or even about trying to get right back into intermittent fasting if your body’s not ready.
Consistency is Key to a Healthy Lifestyle
Celebrate the fact that you’re making healthy choices that will impact your health long-term, not just over the next week or two.
In the end, consistency over the long term is what will win the race.
There was never a quick fix for this problem and anyone who told you there was absolutely LYING to you.
Big goals never happen all at once – they are only the result of small steps taken consistently over time.
And my friend, I know you’ve got this.
In the meantime, don’t forget that if you are new to Thinlicious, I’ve got an awesome starter guide that you can grab absolutely FREE. It’s really helpful at explaining how our program works and WHY it works—and the science behind it.
Let’s keep the conversation going! I’d love to hear your thoughts in the Thinlicious Facebook group about this topic, and your own experience.
Have you fallen off the wagon and gotten back on track? What worked for you? What didn’t? Let’s learn from each other! Because, in the end, that’s really what it’s all about.
If you have any questions or feedback, or any topics you’d like to see me cover, feel free to email me
If you loved this post, you’ll absolutely LOVE the podcast—listen to the Ditch The Carbs podcast here!
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