Dec 16, 2015

Interview Transcript

Interviewer: Eating healthy through the holidays, while still enjoying the holidays. We'll talk about that next on The Scope.

Announcer: Medical news and research from University of Utah researchers and specialists you can use for a happier and healthier life. You're listening to The Scope.

Interviewer: Theresa Dvorak is a registered dietitian. She's from the Division of Nutrition at University of Utah College of Health. Today we're talking about staying healthy through the holidays while still enjoying the holidays.

This is for somebody who's been maybe for the past year really working on watching what they eat and managing their weight, and maybe even losing some weight, and then all of a sudden you come slamming into November. Do you find a lot of your clients are scared of the proposition of coming into November?

Theresa: Certainly, because we're constantly surrounded with lots of great food and tasty drinks and what have you during the holidays that it can be challenging for the individual who's been successful at losing weight through the rest of the year, when they've been able to manage those eating situations, and they haven't encountered something that is so surrounded by food and parties and togetherness like the holidays.

Interviewer: It's not just the food, it's the events that we go to, right? It's part of the ritual, if you will.

Theresa: Right.

Interviewer: And it's real easy to control yourself when you're not around those rituals.

Theresa: Right. When you have a consistent schedule at home, you have breakfast, lunch, and dinner and a couple of snacks, you have that pattern set, that's an easy way.

Interviewer: You don't have to make choices.

Theresa: Right. Versus when you got a holiday party and you're bringing one dish and there's a plethora of other tasty things available to you on the buffet.

Interviewer: So for that person, the solution is just stay home during the holidays and don't do anything, right?

Theresa: That doesn't sound like very much fun now, does it?

Interviewer: Okay, no. It doesn't. So you're telling me there's a different way.

Dr. Dvorak: There are. We always talk about balance, and we have to find that balance, especially during the holidays, of being able to enjoy our foods, but also being mindful as well that we're there for some of the social involvement as well. Taking maybe our view of the holiday party and focusing on the social aspect of the holiday party versus just the food. And the food as being part of it, yes, but not the primary focus when we go. Choosing smaller plates when you're at the party, using those cocktail plates, or salad plates, or just making one pass through the buffet line.

Another great tactic is actually walking the buffet line and picking out what you actually enjoy, versus starting at the beginning and building your plate, and all of a sudden, by the time you get to your favorite dish, you have a full plate already. So limiting yourself to just one plate, but making sure that they're foods that you really enjoy, and take your time eating those foods mindfully, truly enjoying them.

Having a taste of something, and often we are satisfied by foods within three bites, so if we can remember that, especially around our high-dense, calorically high-fat, high-sugar foods, really focusing on the taste and the flavor of those foods, and focusing on those first few bites, and maybe putting it down or putting it to the side. We find that within the research when we look at individuals who eat first a salad or a broth-based soup prior to their entrÈe, they will eat fewer total calories by incorporating a salad or a broth-based soup prior to the entrÈe.

Interviewer: Should somebody expect to continue to lose weight during this time of year, or is it best just to say, "If I can just maintain and not gain back." What's your experience on that?

Theresa: If we can just maintain weight through the holidays, I find that that's a much better mindset for going into the holidays. It's a very hard expectation to think that, okay, I've been consistently losing weight throughout the year, that that's going to continue when I suddenly have all of this availability of really high-calorie, high-fat, high-sugar foods available to me. That can be a bit unrealistic for many people during the holidays.

Interviewer: It seems like it would be really hard, because there's a whole mind shift that has to go along with this as well. We associate these foods and these times with having fun, and then we also think about how we used to be at Christmas parties. How can people overcome that?

Theresa: That can be a challenge, finding a new identity.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Theresa: Within those foods, or within those parties or situations. And that's perfectly fine. Often, if we think about who we're surrounding ourselves with, these parties, they're usually friends, family, close colleagues, and most likely they've known about you going through these transitions through the past year and becoming more healthful and mindful about what you're choosing to eat, and what have you. Sometimes it's just having that communication with the people that you're around.

And then maybe rather than always having the classic party, maybe we incorporate games or other events outside of food. And incorporating exercise, that's a part that we often forget about during the holidays, because it's cold, so we forget about moving during the holidays.

That can be a really helpful way to help us maintain weight, because often as we're expected to go to all of these places and work and adding one more thing into the schedule, even just thinking about a 15, even just 10 minutes, a 10 minute walk a couple times a day would be perfect.

Ideally we're doing 30 minutes most days of the week. But if we can just get something in, something's better than nothing when we come to exercise, and that's really going to be beneficial in maintaining our weight and starting off January on the right foot.

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