How to Avoid Weight Gain During the Holidays

December 4, 2021

We all know for the next 4 weeks there will be an abundance of treats at family gatherings, at work, at neighborhood get-togethers and at shopping centers. There are so many more temptations and it is more challenging to avoid those treats and weight gain than during other times of the year. Today we will share how to get through the holiday season without gaining weight with habits for controlling cravings and providing an understanding of the biochemistry of weight loss and energy. Tune in to meet one of our new dietitians, Jolene Carlson, as she shares her own personal success story of maintaining weight loss, even through the holidays!

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TERESA: I have a question to ask you: are you worried about holiday weight gain? Do you have thoughts recirculating through your brain asking yourself, “How am I going to avoid gaining weight this holiday season? How am I going to manage the parties, the family gatherings, the break room at work with all those holiday goodies, the lack of time for exercise, the stress filled evenings or the lack of sleep that increases cravings?” We all know that for the next four weeks, there is going to be an abundance of treats at family gatherings, at work, at church at neighborhood get-togethers. And even sometimes it's at the public places we go like the shopping centers. There are so many more temptations at this time of year, and it's challenging to avoid those treats, and in turn that makes it challenging to avoid the weight gain that can happen this time of year.

My name is Teresa Wagner. I'm a Registered and Licensed Dietitian. And even though I'm a dietitian, I still struggle with all of the holiday treats. You know, being a health and food professional does not make us, you know, it doesn't make us immune to the desire to partake in all the deliciousness that's around us this time of year.

BRITNI: So true.

TERESA: And you know, on previous Dishing Up Nutrition shows, I have mentioned that I am not particularly great at just stopping with one treat. I'm kind of an all or nothing person. One small piece of fudge, a spritz cookie, one peanut butter blossom, can lean to wanting another and another and another. And if I'm not careful, it can, it can, it can be trouble for me. So I have to admit that the holiday season can be a challenge for me sometimes too.

Today, we are going to share how we get through the holiday season without putting on weight. We we've got a couple of people studio today. One of the co-hosts this morning is Britni Vincent, who is also a Registered and Licensed Dietitian. Britni, I, you know, I don't know, in us talking in the office, I'm not sure if you have the same all or nothing personality that I do, but I know that this time of year is going to be a little different for you. You're especially busy this time of year. So are you worried about gaining weight this holiday season?

BRITNI: You know, this holiday season, that's not, not quite my concern. I'm breastfeeding my twin little ladies, and so I'm just more on a mission to eat healthy to, to provide good nutrients for them. But, you know, I have to admit, I too have, have a hard time with those sweets. They are very tempting and it is sometimes hard to stop at one, but you know, this, this season I have a little extra motivation that helps and, you know, the planning of the real protein, real vegetables, real fat that I know helps to, to prevent, you know, slipping into all that sugar.

TERESA: Right. Yes.

BRITNI: And, you know, we have a lot of tricks to share with you today that we share with our clients to help you get through this holiday season.

TERESA: Yeah. I would imagine that breastfeeding twins would really help to avoid the holiday weight gain for lots of reasons.

BRITNI: Yeah. It's very true. Yeah.

TERESA: And one of those reasons being that you're just too busy to be baking.

BRITNI: Yeah. There's no, there's not a lot of baking or cooking going on.

TERESA: Yeah. Yes.

TERESA: Now, today we also have a new co-host with us. So it's a fun day today. So Jolene Carlson is joining us today. This is her first time on Dishing Up Nutrition.

BRITNI: That’s so exciting.

TERESA: Yes. We are very excited to have us have her here with us today. Jolene is a licensed nutritionist and she sees clients at Nutritional Weight and Wellness three times a week. And for those of you who struggle with your weight, stay tuned because Jolene has a very inspiring story about her weight loss successes and her struggles. Over the past several years, Jolene has lost a lot of weight and has successfully kept it off. But the holidays with all of the extra treats, it certainly adds additional challenges. So Jolene, how much weight have you lost and how do you handle the holidays? I suppose you're not really involved in cookie exchanges either.

JOLENE: Well, it's so good to be here. Good morning, ladies. It's nice to be in studio with you and to finally connect with our audience. I'm super excited. So great questions, Teresa. And that is a big no for me in cookie exchanges; not because I don't want to, or that I don't love them. And I love the traditions of those. It's just like you Teresa, it's either like one or all for me.


JOLENE: So once I kind of go down that road of having a cookie, then I have two, I have three and then all of a sudden have a whole lot of cookies.

TERESA: Yeah. It's like, doesn't it get, it just gets in my brain. Like for some reason I'm just very drawn, very drawn to it. Once I have that taste, you know.

JOLENE: Exactly. Exactly. And it takes, I mean, it's taken a long time to learn that about myself and it doesn't mean that I always resist temptation, but just to have that knowing of okay, is going to be a problem if I start with one cookie?

BRITNI: Well, and I think that's really important that you said you just know yourself now.


BRITNI: And you know, being honest with yourself about how you do handle those situations, I think is really helpful.

JOLENE: Yeah. Yeah. I think it's a start, you know, and it just takes time to figure that out. So yeah, I don't do, I don't do cookie exchanges just because it's too tempting for me. And it is true that I have struggled with my weight my entire life, as far as I can remember. There was quite a big number on the scale. I've lost over a hundred pounds. I usually like to be kind of around, I maintain a weight loss of about 120 to 140 pounds.

BRITNI: That's amazing.

JOLENE: Yeah. But it's, you know, it's a journey. It's definitely a journey. You know, we're not talking this has happened in one year or two years or three years. It's been decades of learning and experimenting with who I am and how I eat and how my body works. And I like to kind of refer to singer and songwriter, Adele, because she too lost a significant amount of weight.

And when she was asked, “What diet did you follow? How'd you lose all the weight? What worked for you?” I love her answer that she didn’t do a specific diet program and she changed her lifestyle. To me that speaks to the journey of weight loss.


JOLENE: That it's not about a specific amount of time, but it's about this lifestyle that you create that you know, is going to support you and your health. And so I can really relate to her story. Her story is a lot like mine and it started about 20 years ago and it's still being created every day as I learn more and learn more about myself.

TERESA: Yeah. You know, I think I saw that interview too with Adele. I think didn't she have a live concert with Oprah or, I mean, she had a live concert and then was interviewed by Oprah. But I, I, I, I heard her talk about that piece too. And I loved her answer about lifestyle change. Like you're saying Jolene as well, you know, you become the person that you want to be, right? You become the person that cooks meals for themselves. You become the person that prioritizes sleep. You become the person that makes movement, you know, exercise a priority. Those become who you are. It's not some sort of restrictive program that has a deadline on it that once you get to the goal, then you're done. No, it's, it's a, it's an ever evolving, it's an ever evolving thing, you know, it's the lifestyle.

JOLENE: Yes. And I think it has to be, to be sustainable. Right?


JOLENE: I mean, none of us can do something that's really restricting or depriving or even just really specific for too long. And so, you know, it's helpful to have it be more of a change of your lifestyle.

BRITNI: Well, I'm sure Adele had a personal chef and a trainer, which of course makes things a little bit easier, but Jolene, I know our listeners would love to hear about, more about your story and how you lost that significant amount of weight.

How a licensed nutritionist lost a significant amount of weight


JOLENE: Well, I didn't have a chef or trainer. I became my own professional chef and trainer, which is probably why it took 20 years. There was a big learning curve there. That would've been nice. For me, I just know that there's no magic pill. So again, kind of going back to, you know, I don't even like to use the word diet or whatever, because it's just more about a lifestyle. And through time, I really started to understand my why. Like, why was I gaining weight? Why was it hard to lose weight? And for me, it was really insulin resistance. So kind of goes back to that sugar thing, you know, where my body just responded really, really not well, where I was really sensitive to eating sugars or processed foods. And for me, like Teresa, a little sugar can cause a lot of big problems so I have to be really careful about going down that road. And so that's kind of how I started. I was a cereal, toast girl, like that was my staple food in my early twenties, like, oh, I'm going to have some toast or I'll have a bowl of cereal. And that was literally the first thing I cut out was toast.

TERESA: And you know what, Jolene, I was the same way. And I'm going to cut you off here because we have to go to our break. But we'll get back to it because I know people are really going to want to hear more about what you, what you've been doing. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition, brought to you Nutritional Weight and Wellness.

Our topic today is how to avoid weight gain during the holidays. My way of avoiding weight gain during the holidays is to cook real food meals for myself and of course for my family too. For new ideas, join Marianne, our culinary nutrition educator next Tuesday or Thursday, as she will show you easy to cook sheet pan and one pot meals. And I think, Britni, you are going to describe this in more detail when we come back from the break.


Cooking Classes


BRITNI: Welcome back, Dishing Up Nutrition. To stay on track during the holidays, it is important to cook real food meals. So next Tuesday, December 7th and Thursday, December 9th, Marianne will show you how to cook a simple sheet pan and one pot meal. And you know, for us one pot means my husband will only have to clean one thing; very appealing.

JOLENE: I like that it's your husband.

BRITNI: Yeah, sometimes.


TERESA: You know, I think we should do that. We should make that, that the thing, right?

BRITNI: Yeah, right? Absolutely. You know, and those type of meals are usually easy to double, you know, triple, that's what, you know, we try to do and you can throw some in the freezers. But you know, we're offering these classes at 12 noon on Tuesday or 6:00 PM on Thursday. They're Zoom demonstration type classes and they're only $25. And Marianne is just a wealth of knowledge.


BRITNI: So sign up online our call 651-699-3438. So before break, Jolene, you were telling us about your story and you shared that cereal and toast were your go-tos so that those were the first foods that you, you cut out, right?

Weight loss tip: cut out foods that are addicting


JOLENE: Yeah, Britni, that was, that was kind of my biggest addiction or what I recognized as being addiction that, wow. I eat a lot of white foods and I eat them often. And so I thought if I could just start cutting those out, that would make a big difference. And it did. That's kind of what started me on my journey and then it into maybe changing one more thing and then another, and then another, and all of a sudden, it just kind of, you know, you see the progress. You feel better. You know, I was losing weight and that was motivation to stay on this journey, but it also happened slow enough or they just became my new lifestyle, like my new habits.

TERESA: Well and I think that we should just remind people too, that what we're talking about is, is Jolene's journey in losing 120 to 140 pounds. I mean, that is a significant journey. So if people have just joined us from, you know, didn't hear the first segment that, that is, that's, that was the start. That was the beginning of that, that weight loss.

JOLENE: Yeah. It has to start somewhere. Right?


JOLENE: And for me that was where I started and it could be different for everybody, but you know, taking that first step is sometimes the hardest and scariest, but you know, taking that first step is going to keep us on that journey. And yeah, I didn't really eat a lot of vegetables. I grew up in a family where they thought corn was the primary vegetable of choice.

TERESA: Well, it is delicious. I don't blame them.

JOLENE: It is. And yes I do. I do love corn. I just had to learn and be educated that corn isn't a vegetable. And so there's other ways to…

TERESA: So what is it? Because people are probably like, well, I think corn is a vegetable. What is it?

JOLENE: I, I, I always say it's a grain. What you ladies say?

TERESA: Yes. I mean, yes. I, I do think I tell my kids though that it's a vegetable now that I think maybe I'm…

BRITNI: It’s technically a vegetable, but you know, in our body it does, it acts more like a grain.

JOLENE: We can say it's a gateway vegetable to get you into other vegetables.

TERESA: Yeah, it's a good one to get, you know? Yes. It's an easy to eat vegetable. Let's go with that.

JOLENE: Yes. It’s still real food. So that's, that's good. But you know, we can, we can certainly eat other vegetables that are better for us. And then for fats, I didn't really eat real fats. Both my parents worked and my mom wanted to be able to go back to work after having four kids. So the whole growing up in the seventies and eighties, the idea of like, look, you can buy packaged meals, and you can put a meal in a microwave and here kids just grab the box out the freezer and, and there's dinner, just exposed me to a lot of processed foods, which at the time, I didn't know how harmful they were. But you know, it does explain a lot about my insulin resistance growing up.

And so that's what I had to learn. I had to learn what real food was, how to really watch my sugars to know what changed to sugar in my body, like corn, and to understand that when I eat real foods and when I eat regularly and nourish my body with the right stuff, that my body will respond with weight loss and health. And it also helped with the cravings. So, you know, that, those intense sugar cravings for that cereal and that toast, those start to go away when my body was actually getting nutrients that it could use.

So my health story is just probably like lots of other stories out there where you don't really know until you know, right? You know, until you know what you're eating and how it's nourishing or not nourishing your body, and then once you have that education, we can start to make changes to benefit ourselves and then start on this journey.

BRITNI: Thank you so much for sharing that. And I love how you reiterated it's a journey. It's a process, you know, be patient with yourself, you know, listeners, because it does take time, you know, this…

JOLENE: Absolutely.

How do we develop insulin resistance?


BRITNI: These are habits that have been created for decades for many people. So it does take time, but you know, let's, let's walk through that bad habit that many people do still have around dieting. We've said it many times on Dishing Up Nutrition that when people skip a meal or snack, oftentimes then their blood sugar crashes and your body craves sugar, processed carbs, because that's going to give you the quickest pick me up. But the problem is, is generally then your blood sugar's going to spike too high. And then your pancreas produces insulin to bring down that glucose level. And you know, a reminder: insulin is our primary fat storage hormone.

TERESA: Right. And when this happens day after day, week after week, month after month, you can develop insulin resistance. The longer it goes on, the more insulin resistance a person may develop. More insulin resistance, more weight gain, and more bodily inflammation as well. In addition, excess insulin drops your blood sugar. So when you eat one brownie or more, your blood sugar initially goes up, right? But then it can drop low telling your brain that you want more and more of those brownies so that you feel good. So you can see how this can lead to a vicious cycle of eating sugar and then craving sugar.

JOLENE: I can so relate to that, Teresa. That's basically describing my young childhood teenage years and into my twenties where I was basically demanding so much of that insulin for my pancreas. Because I was feeding it sugar all the time. And that's just kind of, I think of it as like my pancreas just got tired. It was kind of like, hey, Jolene enough is enough off. And then it just doesn't release insulin in the way it's supposed to. And then all of that extra sugar or that insulin that can’t get used, like you said, Britni, just turned into fat for me.

And so once I learned what was happening, understood that chemistry or biochemistry of sugar and insulin, then I realized that actually eating more of the right food and not trying to starve myself. Of course, I grew up on the age of low calorie, low fat, just control what you're eating. It's all willpower. And it was really hard to break out of that cycle. But what helped me is I could tell how I felt, so when I was eating the right foods and eating often and not starving myself, I just felt better. And I was still losing weight not counting calories, which was super, super motivating.

BRITNI: You know, I understand that well too. Sometimes I get so busy, I forget to eat and then suddenly I'm starving and I will eat anything in sight. And I know a lot of people can relate to that. So I think it's time for break, but when we come back, we can share some strategies around that.

TERESA: All right. So you are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. The Center for Disease Control, otherwise known as the CDC, reported that obesity affects more than 40% of Americans, but the old USDA dietary guidelines is still just recommending reducing the total number of calories eaten so that you can lose weight. It's the same old message we have heard for the past 50 years. Unfortunately, the American population is continuing to become more and more overweight. In fact, with the obesity rate at 40%, this tells us this old model isn't working. At Nutritional Weight and Wellness, we encourage eating fewer processed carbs and sugar to reduce blood sugar and the insulin response. This is called a carbohydrate insulin model, and it produces positive results without feeling deprived.


BRITNI: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. I would like to share a story that actually works for many clients to lose weight and what did not work. A lot of people try to reduce calories and follow a low fat restrictive calorie plan, but that causes a lot of weight gain because people get so hungry and then just kind of lose it and binge on junk food like processed carbs, candy, and what they find, what many of our clients find is that when they're eating real carbs, which would be vegetables, eating about a tablespoon or more of beneficial fat per meal and snack, and then upping their protein. You know, some people need to eat six ounces at a meal. That helps to keep people's blood sugar in range. So then they have more energy, lost more weight, and then the binging goes away.

Avoiding holiday weight gain tip #1: eat on a regular schedule


TERESA: So that probably should bring us into our first tip then as far as avoiding holiday weight gain; is to eat on a regular schedule; eating real food, such as real protein, real vegetables, real fats, at a scheduled time. You know, we'll talk about some planning coming up, but you know, maybe every three to four hours, some people, you know, when they're just getting started with this sometimes a little bit more. Depending on the insulin resistance, maybe it's every two to three hours, but really having a schedule at what time you're going to eat and then eating that balance of those protein, fat and carbs. Yeah. So Jolene, what about you? What are your tips for avoiding some holiday or avoiding holiday weight gain this time of year? Because it is kind of a challenging time of year.

JOLENE: It is Teresa. And I, first of all, I just full disclosure, it's challenging for all of us, even us nutritionists and dietitians.


JOLENE: And so, yeah, we, you know, we just really have to think about it and be aware like we talked about. And what you just kind of said with ensuring that you're getting scheduled eating or balanced eating. So a great way to do that is on any day, even those holiday meals, start with a really good breakfast. Okay? So start your day with a breakfast that has good protein, good fat, good vegetables. I know for me, like, I really love the fast frittata recipe that we have, cause it's so easy and you can pick and choose what protein you want to put in there. Sometimes I put leftovers in.


JOLENE: Sometimes I'll put some chicken sausage in. I love to just kind of use some of the vegetables that are leftover from maybe other meals in there. And I really enjoy topping it off, like with a little bit of goat cheese and seasoning.

TERESA: Well, yeah. And if that recipe sounds good to you, cause I'm like, oh, that sounds really good.

BRITNI: That's really good.

TERESA: If you go to our website,, under recipes tab, that fast for fast frittata recipe is there. Yeah.

JOLENE: Yes, it is a good one. So, and there's so many other recipes, but that's kind of what it's about is finding what you enjoy eating and, and enjoying that first meal the day and making sure it's balanced, so you can stabilize your blood sugar and stay balanced as you go into that holiday meal later in the day.

BRITNI: Yeah. I mean, breakfast really does set the tone for the day. So, you know, often I recommend to my clients, that's a great place to start. And you know, many people benefit from a mid morning or a mid-afternoon snack or both sometimes, you know, if you're finding yourself getting overly hungry by mealtime, then you should be adding that snack in there.

So that could be cottage cheese with some berries and maybe some slivered almonds. And you know, if some, if you know that you can't stop with one, you know, first kind of admitting that that that's who you are.

JOLENE: I admit it.

BRITNI: So, you know, sometimes it's not even worth tempting yourself. Just say, no, thank you. You know? And, and using the verbiage, “I'm choosing not to have, or I don't want to have, because cause I know that I don't feel good or I'm going to then eat a lot of them,” instead of saying, “I can't have.” You know, so just sometimes it's not, not even worth starting.

Tip #2: don’t save all your calories for the holiday meal


TERESA: So what I'm hearing you say is that we shouldn't be banking our calories for those holiday meals; that we should be eating before. Cause you hear that all the time. Right?

BRTINI: Totally.

TERESA: It's like it's Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner and people are going to save those calories. But then what happens is that you end up overeating, right? So I would say that's the next holiday tip is don't save your calories for those meals, cause you'll end up going way over. Instead, start your day with a balanced breakfast. Maybe even have some snacks beforehand. And, and yeah, and then as far as those holiday treats too, when you can, you can be a good guest and say, oh, that looks delicious. I'll have one later. And nobody's going to be checking in with you to, to make sure that you're having it. So yeah, that's, those are great tips.

You know, during this next four weeks I have many clients that will be making a food plan and they'll be very specific in their food plan. They plan what they're going to eat for their meals and then they stick to it. I know for myself, when I have a plan, I feel more relaxed. I'm not worried about what I'm going to eat, and I'm not scrambling to put together meals for my family either. So, so that's another tip is to really plan out what you're going to be having between those big holiday gatherings. Know what you're going to do on, on, on midweek let's say. Or weekends, you know, anytime. Also maybe planning for those holiday meals. I think when we were talking in the break room, weren't you saying one of the tips that you give your clients, Britni is to go to the party with a plan?

Go into the party with a plan


BRITNI: Yes, absolutely. You know, if you can figure out what's at, what's going to be served at the party and then ahead of time you can be, you can think about, okay, I can have that, that, or maybe it's an opportunity to bring a dish.


BRITNI: A lot of times I'll do that. So you know, there's, you know, one healthier option there. But yeah, all about planning. So then we're less likely to impulsively, you know, eat those cookies or desserts.

TERESA: Right. Don't leave it to what, up to what you feel like eating.

JOLENE: Absolutely.

TERESA: I always feel like eating cookies, right. That always feels good.

JOLENE: Yeah, I like, I like the whole planning thing and, and even, you know, if you want to start today, you know, still have some time before Christmas and, and Christmas Day, Christmas Eve and all those meals coming up. But even just focusing on eating really good foods and eating the balanced way, just perhaps would be better for those days as they come up, if you, if, or you can just plan the day of. I think a lot of times if you think it and plan for it, it's kind of like you're willing yourself to change that situation to what you want it to be.

BRITNI: But what, what if you indulge?

TERESA: Yeah. What if?

JOLENE: It happens.

BRITNI: It does happen. And then it's one day and you move past it. It's not worth upset with yourself. You know, a lot of people say, oh, screw it. I already had cookies. I'm now going to eat, you know, whatever I want the rest of the day.


BRITNI: Which we know is going to lead to not feeling well. And then, you know, that might turn into the next day, maybe the next week.

TERESA: And then it starts on January 1st. Right. Yeah. And let's just wait till the first of the year.

BRITNI: Yep, yeah, exactly.

JOLENE: But the past is the past. Right? We can't relive it. We can change it. It's just the choice that we make for our next meal, our next day. And just do the best you can with what you have.

BRITNI: Exactly. And yeah, I encourage my clients to make a commitment to follow their meal plan. You know, each person is generally going to be a lot more successful when they personally commit to, you know, avoiding that sugar. And realistically it can't be, you know, someone else's goal or what your doctor thinks you should do, or your family members. It's whatever motivates you. You know, we talk about finding your why. Why are you, why do you want to eat healthy? Maybe it's getting off a medication or preventing a health condition. Oftentimes I have my clients write that down and then put it somewhere that they see on a daily basis. So they're just kind reminded about, about that commitment.

And you know, perhaps for many people, the lack of commitment is coming from fear of failing or fear that they're going to lose that special friend, sugar. And, and then they feel like there's nothing exciting to eat if they do don't have that sugar, which we know is not true.

TERESA: Right, and I think sometimes this fear is just, sometimes it's a fear of success. If you look or feel a certain way more, might be expected of you. People may treat you differently. So I encourage my clients to just let go of these fears, just do it and we'll see what comes as it happens. You know, we will worry about that at that time.

JOLENE: Yeah, I love that Teresa. You know, we have to just kind of take that step forward, like we talked about and the first step is to approach those fears and make a step towards your health. So another thing that I think about over the holidays to avoid weight gain is your liquids, right?


Be mindful of your liquids


JOLENE: So how can we make sure we're staying hydrated? Hydration just does everything that's good for you. And then not to drink those calories, right? Or not to drink your nutrients. So really just try to think about, if you can think about one thing, that's just always having water in your hand, starting your day with water, ending your day with water.


JOLENE: Having water with your meal; those are easy ways to get some water in. And if you can just, you know, try to avoid that beer or those lovely coffee drinks that have chocolate and peppermint and everything nice in them and eggnog and choose water instead. And I know that it's real that some of us might still partake in a drink or two. And if you choose to do that, still incorporate water, you know, during that time. Try to drink water in between a drink if you're having one and then just make sure you're hydrating into the evening and the next day as well.

But water just does all these great things for you. It's going to make your kidneys and liver work better. It's going to have you have less cravings and it's going to jump start your metabolism so you can lose that weight.

TERESA: Yes. And I, and I tell people too, you know, the, with alcohol, it lowers inhibitions. That's a lot of the reason why people like to drink it. It just relaxes you and it makes you, well lowers inhibitions. And that can, that can have an effect on what you choose to eat as well. So your convictions might have been stronger pre that glass of wine or whatever drink you have, and then after you have that glass of wine, it might be like, oh, what does it matter if I have a little bit of this and then maybe a little bit more of that and then a little bit of this. So, so then I also, you know, that there's something to consider too with alcohol, if, if you're affected in that way.

JOLENE: And I also say that alcohol for me in my body is like sugar.


JOLENE: So it does trigger. It does trigger like, oh one. Okay. Why not two? Why not three?

TERESA: Yes. It definitely does work like that. I mean, one glass is good. Two glasses is great; the whole bottle.

BRITNI: A lot of people can probably relate to that.

JOLENE: Right.

BRITNI: Well, you, you are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. I want to talk about the biochemistry of weight loss and energy. When you eat highly processed carbs, such as a bowl of cereal, a plate pasta, or a bagel, the body increases the secretion of the hormone, insulin. And it suppresses glucagon. Now glucagon is the hormone that breaks down stored glucose. So your body can use it for energy. So to lose weight, we want more glucagon and less insulin. When we have more insulin, the result is our fat cells store more calories. Our calories are energy, right? So our fat cells store more that energy, leaving fewer calories available to fuel our muscles, our organs, our brain, you know, we, we start to feel low energy. The brain in turn perceives this as hunger. We feel hungry. We have a slower metabolism and then we want to eat more.


JOLENE: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. The low calorie, low fat plan has not worked for long term health and weight loss. Currently 75% of the American population is either overweight or obese? How can you learn a new approach? Actually, how do you learn a new system of eating that will provide you with the wellness and the weight loss? Even as a nutritionist, it took me years to push out those old messages of calories in calories out fat is bad, low fat is better, to find my answer. At Nutritional Weight and Wellness, we have a systematic approach based on science and it's called Nutrition 4 Weight Loss. If you want a different answer, check out the Nutrition for Weight loss program on our website at

Nutrition 4 Weight Loss program

Prioritizing your sleep to prevent weight gain


BRITNI: Yeah. So, so before break, we're talking about tips to avoid that holiday weight gain. So another tip is prioritizing your sleep. You know, I, I think that's very, very important during any stressful time, right?

TERESA: Yes, absolutely.

BRITNI: But you know, all of the research tells us we need at least seven and a half hours every night to maintain a good metabolism. And even just getting one poor night's sleep affects your metabolism the next day and leads to more cravings; just one poor night's sleep. So getting that sufficient sleep, it's a really hard habit, you know, and you really do have to prioritize it for a lot of people.

TERESA: Do you, when you're working with clients, do you do the math with them? As far as, okay. So if we need seven and a half hours of sleep, what time do we need to go to bed?

BRITNI: Right. Yeah.

TERESA: And then it's always, well, how long does it take you to fall asleep? If it takes somebody a half hour to fall asleep, will that have, has to fit into that math equation. Right? So if we're going to bed, now my math, right? You know, if you get up at six in the morning, that means that you need to be sleeping by 10 to get eight hours of sleep. If it takes you a half hour to fall asleep, that means you have to be in bed at 9:30. And for a lot of people, 9:30: that's relatively an early bedtime. So, you know, you need to take that time into account and go work backwards.


TERESA: Because most people know what time they have to get up. Even on the weekends a lot of times there are commitments that we have, and so we know approximately what time we need to get up. So then we should know what time our bedtime is. Just like you probably with your twins.


TERESA: You probably have a bedtime and you know that if they don't get that sleep, then the next day is going to be hard.

BRITNI: Exactly. Yeah.

TERESA: It's the same thing for adults. Right?

BRITNI: And let's say you're only getting six hours of sleep right now. Realistically, you're probably not going to go to bed an hour and a half earlier right away. So, you know, gradually moving that bedtime back is, is a place to start, you know? And, and, and there's lots of people that just have difficulty sleeping, either falling or staying asleep. We have lots of previous Dishing Up Nutrition shows, talking about strategies just to help you fall asleep easier and stay asleep.

JOLENE: Yeah. I like that. And I like that. Or I like to talk to clients about what are you doing before you go to bed? Sleep doesn't start when you hit the pillow. Right?

BRITNI: So true.

JOLENE: So, you know, kind of looking at what happens in the evenings, what's going on and then creating that schedule. That's so important. And to keep it consistent for a while. It's almost like you have to train your body what you want this new schedule to look like. And it’ll get used to it.

TERESA: It's interesting that you say that because I do feel like we talk about that with, with kids, just to bring it back to kids is that we do sleep training with kids, and it's because, so their body, they, they can't read the clock. Right? So their body can recognize that it's time to go to sleep at a certain time. And it's the same for adults too. If your sleep schedule is very off where you're going to bed at various different times, your body doesn't have that regular schedule that helps make sleep easy. And so sleeping on a schedule; sleep training for adults.

JOLENE: Yes. That's great. I, I love it. And do you guys notice that if you don't sleep well, I notice this with me is I, I can certainly tell those days that I do have more cravings for those sugars, and I'm more willing to give into those cravings.

TERESA: Yeah. You don't have the mental fortitude to keep you strong in your convictions. And so we need sleep for that.


BRITNI: Yeah. So let's, let's think about you're at a holiday party. What do you actually do?

TERESA: Yeah. How do you prep for this party? Yeah. Britni, why don't you start us off? What's your first go-to tip when you're thinking about holiday parties?

BRITNI: Well I, I kind of look at the spread, check out what's available, you know, oftentimes I will eat at the beginning, so I'm not letting myself get overly hungry.

TERESA: At the beginning of the party or before you go?


TERESA: Oh, okay.

BRITNI: I mean, so planning, like we said earlier, not saving, not saving yourself for this big meal, but you know, eating on the regular schedule that you normally would. And then, you know, eating at, at the event. And of course it depends on the event, if it's just kind of snacky stuff or if you're having a meal, you know, it could be two different scenarios, but, and then filling your plate with the good things. Usually there's vegetables and dip there, or maybe that's something that you bring. So that that's one, one way to approach those holiday events.

TERESA: Jolene, do you have any tips that you follow? Like if you're thinking about going to a party?

JOLENE: Yes. Well, first I do a good job of trying to, you know, actually shower and get to the party on time. That’s the first big first step.

TERESA: Step one.

JOLENE: Yeah. But yes, when I'm there yeah, I try to just really take a moment, you know, look, like Britni, look around; see what's there if you don't know prior. And I love, like, I love small plates. I love appetizers. And so I, I like to look at those things and pick those things that I know are going to be great on my plate.


JOLENE: So like the veggie tray, like you said, maybe some meat and cheese or if they have nuts or olives.


JOLENE: You know, things like that. I try to grab them and then I make it try to try to always think about like, do I have a water in my hand at all times? You know? Cause if it's right there, it's just easier to sip on it and, and drink it and make sure that you're getting some water in between meals. What about you Teresa? What do you do?

TERESA: Well, I, I, I do some of the, I do similar things. You, I don't usually go to parties hungry because, because I don't, I, I stay away from gluten. And so I'm always like, okay, is there going to be anything there for me to eat? And if there's not, I don't want to be starving. So I usually don't go too hungry unless I know for sure there's going to be something there.

Another thing I do is I try to position myself away from the food because I, I tend to like snack out of convenience when I'm at parties. So if I'm, you know, when you're, everybody gathers in the kitchen, right?


TERESA: That's like where that, where everybody gathers and if there's an island or if there's a spread or it's on the table, I like to just sort of position myself away from that. If I can stand back far enough where I have to go out of my way to get food, that's something that's helpful for helpful or me. So I don't do that mindless eating, that you know, it's just unnecessary, unnecessary eating.

I also, you know, I say this with my clients too, but it's, I, I, for myself as well is, you know, the focus of the holidays isn't just food. Food is a major part of it and no denying that, but I try to focus on how fun it is to be with these family members that I don't get to see all the time or the friends that I don't get to see all the time or just, you know, whatever you celebrate at Christmas. For me, I celebrate, or I should say this holiday season. For me, I celebrate Christmas, so focusing on the message of Christmas. If you celebrate Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or whatever, you know, focusing on the purpose of the holiday that you're celebrating is another thing is to get kind of caught up in, in other things, besides the food, cause the food is very easy to get caught up in.

BRITNI: For sure.

TERESA: So trying to really, you know, enjoy those other, those other aspects of it as well.

JOLENE: I like that Teresa, because it really is about that. And then seeing these people that you haven't seen for a while, right? So having these conversations. Another thing, especially if you have kids is to try to just get outside and play, you know, play with the kids, go, you know, if you have the opportunity to go sledding or skate or throw some snowballs or build an ice, you know, shelter, but…

BRITNI: That's a great idea.

JOLENE: That fresh air can sometimes take away that trigger of having food around you at all times and trying to avoid that.

TERESA: Yes. Create those family traditions. I know that with my family we usually do a walk after big holiday meals, which is a great way to use up some of that energy that you just took in. Right?


TERESA: Well, our goal at Dishing Up Nutrition is to help everyone experience better health through eating real food. It's a simple yet powerful message. Eating real food is life changing. Thank you for joining us today and have a wonderful day.

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