Tips From the Nutrition Experts on How to Eat Healthy this Holiday Season

The holiday season is quickly approaching and many find themselves filling up their calendar with holiday parties, which means they may also be filling up their bellies a bit too much. Being surrounded by lots of food and drinks in social situations can be worrisome, especially for someone who is trying to lose or maintain their weight. It’s best not to avoid the party (or parties for most) altogether, but to treat it as a challenge to overcome. Having a game plan prior to attending a holiday party is extremely important because it will help keep you mindful of your eating habits.

With knowing difficult healthy eating during the holidays can be, I asked a bunch of fellow Registered Dietitians (aka Nutrition Experts) for their tips on how to make healthy choices at holiday parties. 

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“Focus on greens (start off the night with veggies appetizers/salad) and make sure you’re adequately hydrated before going into the holiday event! As this can all help prevent overeating at the holiday meal! “Yasi Ansari, MS, RD

“Have a healthy snack before you go to curb your appetite. Fill up 1/2 your plate with non-starchy vegetables.” Janet Brancato, MS, RDN

“Consider a party is more about enjoying talking to people, getting to know them and enjoying food thoughtfully, not just eating habitually or nervously to fill the time.” Michele Redmond, RD

“Avoid filling up on foods that you aren’t truly excited about and opt for fully enjoying your favorites instead.” Chelsea Jackle, MS, RD

Intermittent fasting. Lean protein and fiberous veggies. Come into dinner with a buffer of carbs and fats to play with but consume enough protein and fiber to stay satiated.”Jordan Gross, RD

“Survey the buffet or food table first to see what’s available then fill your plate with what you want e.g. you want that stuffing- go for it, and maybe don’t eat just the plain old bun.” Allegra Gast, RD

“If you want to eat it, eat it – but don’t overdo it”- Morgan Speik, RD

“Before the party, don’t skip meals and snacks to save for party calories. Doing so will only set you up for overeating. Do get in an exercise session to help you be more in-tune with your body and hunger. At the party, try to eat off of a plate and sitting down. This will help you be aware of how much you actually are eating.” Alyssa Ashmore, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD

“If you try something and don’t love it, there is no rule that says you have to finish it. If you’re afraid to offend the chef, you can say you are too full to eat another bite.”  Kacie Barnes, MCN, RDN

“If you’re at a holiday party with a lot of appetizers, I tell my clients they can eat whichever ones they want, but they all have to fit on one cocktail napkin or appetizer plate. Because they only have a limited amount of space, it forces them to think about which foods they really want while not feeling as though they are depriving themselves.” – Chloe Schweinshaut, RD, LDN

“Eat a high fiber, high protein meal before you go such as oatmeal with walnuts. It will curb “starving Marvin” from making bad food choices!” Jennifer O. Barr, MPH, RDN, LDN

“Don’t stress out about overeating during the holidays. Enjoy the many flavors, the company, the music, but most importantly enjoy yourself. Remember everyday isn’t a holiday, but always get back on track afterwards.” – Jaymar Saniatan, RD

“Prepare the day of the party by eating a breakfast and lunch that will keep you satisfied, so that you don’t arrive at the party hungry! Focus on getting in extra protein, fiber, and healthy fats. A veggie omelette with some avocado is a great option for breakfast, and a big salad with fish or meat and a dressing made with olive oil and sprinkled with nuts would make an ideal lunch. Then at the party, fill your plate with veggies and protein first (crudite, shrimp cocktail), before hitting the treats. Then, take only the foods that you know are “worth it,” and enjoy every bite! Another note: those foods made with love are always worth it…Grandma will always remember that you took a bite of her special pecan pie, but it’s not going to have a lasting impact on your health goals.” Melissa Groves, RDN, LD

“The holidays are all about enjoying time with people we may not get to see often and food can certainly be an extension of that enjoyment in a balanced way. Instead of stressing over how to eat at holiday parties, make the choice to have the foods you genuinely love or want to try, savor and enjoy them and see what it feels like to eat until satisfied instead of uncomfortably full most of the time.” Gretchen Zimmermann, RD, CNSC

“Wear snug pants, skirt or dress. It will be a constant reminder to eat moderately!” Christine Palumbo, RD.

“Eat foods you enjoy in satisfying amounts all year round. Then the holidays won’t be much different than normal. And if you happen to get overfull, recognize it’s normal to eat a little bit more of food you rarely get, it’s just one meal, don’t sweat it and trust your body to kick in it’s natural self regulation.” – Adina Pearson, RD 

Don’t skip meals in attempt to “save” calories for the big meal/party! This will leave you overly hungry and more likely to overeat (and be cranky!).” – Erin Burke, MS, RDN, LDN

“Beware of the caloric punch resulting from alcoholic beverages (especially mixed sugary drinks such as Cosmos) AND the lowering of inhibitions, likely to lead to eating more food than intended.” – Adrienne Raimo, Integrative and Functional Dietitian 

“Approach the holidays with gratitude and kindness. With food everywhere overeating is bound to happen and it’s not a big deal. It if becomes habitual, however, then this is an opportunity to assess your habits and get curious about what leads to overeating, but without judgement; what emotions are you experiencing; how does it feel in your body. Without help and practice, you may not stop overeating, but you can start to become more aware of your habit loops, and awareness is always the first step to change.”
Basheerah Enahora, RDN, LDN, MS, MBA

I hope these tips help you with eating healthy this holiday season! Don’t forget to click the  name of the RD to access their blogs for more healthy eating advice!

Angelica Lee (4) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5 Reasons Why You May Not Be Losing Weight

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Let me guess- you’re eating healthier but you aren’t seeing the results. Been there, done that. Although rare- maybe there’s an underlying medical condition impacting the way the scale moves or doesn’t move (and if you feel there might be, please see your doctor!). From my own personal weight loss experience, I know how discouraging that can be. For some, they are closer to their goal weight and the scale isn’t budging. For others, they’ve completely hit a plateau and their weight loss journey has just begun.

Here’s a list of reasons you may not be losing weight, inspired by my own weight loss  and what I’ve come across in my profession as a registered dietitian.

  1. You aren’t keeping track of what you’re eating.  Do you think about what you’ve already eaten before your next next meal/snack? If not, maybe you should. With how hectic life can be, it’s easy to forget what you had for breakfast. It’s important to be mindful of what you eat so that you don’t splurge or make unhealthy decisions throughout the day.  One way to make you more aware of what you’re eating is to plan your meals/snacks in advance. If planning meals in advance isn’t for you, try keeping a food diary. I use MyFitnessPal (a free and easy to use app) to log my intake to help me keep track of what I’m eating.
  2. You don’t count the little things. I’m talking about the salad dressing, condiments, the sugar/cream you put in your coffee, the alcoholic beverages; these things can really add up. Finding healthier replacements for these foods or eliminating them completely can help cut out a lot of unnecessary calories. For example, instead of using a gravy or cream sauce to make chicken or meat more tasty, try experimenting with different spices/herbs.
  3. Lack of exercise.  Sometimes eating less isn’t enough to put yourself in a calorie deficit, especially as you get closer to your goal weight. Try to make time to incorporate exercise into your everyday routine. This may mean parking further from your job, taking the stairs, or getting a gym membership (and actually using it).  Plus, studies have shown that those who engage in exercise are more successful with maintaining weight loss.
  4. Portion control. Even if you’re eating fruits and vegetables, it’s still important to be aware of your portion sizes. When I first started paying attention to calories/portions, I couldn’t believe that a yam (1 cup) was approximately 177 calories! It’s not a bad idea to indulge in veggies at meal time (and I bet you never met someone who said they gained weight from eating too many carrots),  but just be mindful that they still contain calories, especially those that are starchy. One suggestion is to use a salad plate for meals to trick your eyes into thinking there’s more on the plate than there really is.
  5. Emotional eating. This includes, but is not limited to eating out of boredom, eating because you’re upset, or eating just to eat. Figuring out the root cause of your emotional eating is the key to preventing it from happening. It’s important to remember that the only problem food is going to cure is hunger. I believe that eating foods high in carbohydrates (like ice cream) can make you feel better temporarily, but it won’t change the fact that he/she broke up with you.

Best of luck to you on your weight loss journey!

 

Angelica Lee (4)

 

How to Land a Job Working in a Hospital as a New Dietitian 

usethisoneI know how you feel; you’re fresh out of the internship, ready to finally strut your stuff as a new RD! But why aren’t you hearing back from the 100 jobs you applied to?

It took me approximately 2 months to land a job after passing the registration exam. And boy, did those 2 months feel like FOREVER! It’s important to stay patient and remember that your time will come. I’ll admit, I also made some not-so-smart decisions; like applying to jobs that asked for 10+ years experience (yeah not happening-although you may get lucky when applying for jobs that require at least 1-5 years experience). Within the past 2 years as being an RD, I have been offered 4 out of the 5 RD positions I interviewed for. I’ve learned a lot from my job search experience and wanted to share some information I found to be beneficial.

When Creating your resume/cover letter: 

  • List your internship experience as if it were a regular job. After all, your internship experience will be your selling point. If you had a unique opportunity during your internship, mention it! Put emphasis on your clinical rotation experience because this is the type of job you are applying for. Have someone who has experience with resumes review it before submitting. 

The job search:

  • Keep in mind that not all hospitals will post their job openings on popular job search sites. This is why it’s important to go to their direct website and look for the careers section. Also consider food service company websites as these hospitals may contract their dietitians from them. 

Consider per diem positions

  • Although not ideal, it may be easier to get a job that’s per diem. Okay- so you don’t get all of the perks a full time employee may have (job security, health insurance, paid vacations) but it won’t last forever and it usually means you’re next in line if a full time/part time position opens up. Also, from my personal experience, it’s an amazing learning opportunity. Working per diem exposed me to a variety of different patient populations because I covered different units. I guess you could say I was a ‘floater’. This gave me a brush up on what I learned during my internship. Not to mention- per diems have a little more flexibility with days they can/can’t work which means if a part-time/full-time position opened up somewhere else, it’s possible to work at two different places at once. Even as a per diem you may have the opportunity to work 40 hrs a week which is great, especially considering per diems usually make a little more on an hourly basis than their full time counterparts.

Maintain a good relationship with those you worked with during your internship:

  • Networking plays a big role on how dietitians get their jobs. Especially since the field of dietetics is a small world. Keep your preceptors in mind when you need references.

For the interview:

Don’t forget to dress the part. Hospitals are huge on maintaining proper hygiene so it’s best to look as clean cut as possible. As you know from ServSafe- long nails, long earrings, and wearing your hair down is not ideal. Keep in mind that as a clinical dietitian you will be entering the kitchen at some point. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you should arrive to your interview wearing a hairnet. But it’s recommended to keep your jewelry simple, hair out of your face, and your nails natural and short. Business clothing is a must!

Job Interview

Don’t forget about the clinical rotation experience you had during your internship. You may not have any prior experience working in a hospital and that’s okay! This is when it’s important to use your internship experience to answer clinical related questions.

Patient satisfaction is the number one priority of hospitals. You’ll learn very early on what Press Ganey is. Be prepared to answer questions on your interview on how you can improve the care of your patients. When answering patient related questions, put yourself in their shoes and remember- the customer (patient) is always right. Keep this in mind when asked how to handle a patient that may be unsatisfied with their food/diet.

Time management is everything. I can guarantee you learned how to manage your time during your dietetic internship! But what would you do if something came up that you didn’t have time for? Think about it. This question is asked a lot during interviews.

You can’t avoid working as a team. It’s nearly impossible to work alone as a dietitian in a hospital. You will be in constant communication with nurses, doctors, dietetic technicians, food service workers, etc. Before your interview, recall a time you had to work as a team player. Think about how you would react if someone on your “team” wasn’t doing their part. If you had any group projects during your internship, it would be a great example to use.

Don’t forget to write a thank you note to the person who interviewed you! A handwritten note in a thank you card is more personal, but I have found that an email is just as appropriate.

I hope some of this information is useful! If you have any questions, please feel free to drop them below in the comment section.

And, as I said before, be patient. Don’t worry- your time will come when you can finally order Ensure without asking another dietitian if it’s okay.

Angelica Lee (4)