How to fight that Holiday splurge!
With the holidays fast approaching as the summer time comes to a close–you, like myself, might find it difficult to maintain your regular eating habits or new healthy diet especially in the face of all of the upcoming sweets and meals you'll be tempted by in the months ahead.
That in mind; I caught up with my friend and dietitian, Melissa Rifkin, on what to do to stay on track—or make new habits stick.
As I understand it you're a fully trained dietitian with a whole line of initials following your name—MS, RD, CDN and more. What does your work usually entail?
As a dietitian at Montefiore Medical, my work entails preparing individuals for prospective weight loss surgery. With that being said, my patients are educated on dietary and lifestyle changes to help prepare them for a healthier and more meaningful life post operatively.
I notice in your bio on social media that it mentions you are a Rise Coach. What brought you to them, and how has it impacted your career?
RISE is a weight loss coaching app where I am able to coach a broader range of clients directly via their smartphones on how to improve their eating habits based on the size, preparation and content of their meals.
Originally I was referred by a colleague and in the two years I've been with them I've found it to be a truly rewarding experience. Not only do I love the connection to and communication with my clients; since starting I've had the honor to coach the CEO of the company and several celebrities, as well as assisting in the growth of the company, improving the app itself and management of their Instagram presence @letsrise where I provide healthy eating tips on delicious images of food.
As you've gone about work as a dietitian and with branching out into social media. What have you found to be the most challenging aspect..? What has been the most rewarding experience?
I find my work to be incredibly rewarding experience; whether it be watching a patient come to me at 350 pounds and teaching them the skills and motivations to change and withhold for a lifetime, then following them on their journey and watching them drop 200 pounds is an amazing feeling for me. I just love that interaction, the coaching meal to meal and watching them improve in real time as they learn the exercises and habits to help themselves—the challenges can be complex, just like my clients, but the emotional fulfillment I get is well worth the effort.
As you know Holiday season is almost upon us and the temptation to overindulge can be near to unstoppable. How bad for my weight and health is it to, perhaps, splurge and enjoy just a bit too much during the Holidays or on vacation?
Personally I believe in cheat meals not cheat days. Just because it's a holiday, birthday, vacation or celebration doesn't mean you should give up on doing what's right for you and your body—especially given that they come each year, often times throughout the year. At these times I think it gives you an opportunity to spread the word on healthy eating; for example, by using whole wheat pasta rather than white at your next BBQ when bringing pasta salad or by substituting "spiralized" vegetables in different dishes for a healthier change of pace.
It can be immensely tough to maintain willpower in the face of all of those cookies, candies and family dinners— it seems especially difficult after a few days of overeating. How can I or anyone else find the motivation to get back on track?
I find eating off of a smaller sized plate can help to control your portions and by having conversations throughout the meal will slow down your consumption allowing you time to feel full before you've overindulged.
Are there foods I should cut back on, eliminate or particular foods I should focus on?
High sugar and high fat sweets can be the toughest but most important to cut down; during the holidays allow yourself one cookie, one piece of pie or other treat but know when to stop. I also always love to sign up for a race or walk around the holidays; for example, the "turkey trot" to burn some extra calories before I know I may be overeating.
What would be your number one tip to help those of us lacking the will combat the urge to over eat?
The Plate Method. Really, I find it can not only be helpful at parties or celebrations but even in the comfort of your own home. Half the plate is salad and vegetables while the other half is a quarter protein and a quarter healthy starch. Never fails me or my clients.
Any other useful tips our readers may be unaware of to help avoid splurging?
It can take 20 minutes for your brain and stomach to get on the same page and communicate, think about what damage you could do in that time? Drink a whole glass of water before and after you eat and take your time, give yourself a chance to feel as full as you are.
Any final words of advice before I let you go for making these habits long lasting?
This is a lifestyle-not a diet. You are what you eat, cliché or not, when you eat junk you feel it. Life is short, fuel your car with the finest gasoline possible—because you're worth it! Aren't you?
Well thank you so much for your time, insight and advice. I'm sure it will prove to be helpful for those of us in need during the mad holiday rush from now until New Years. In closing; any future plans you can let our readers in on..? Perhaps a book even..? I know I'd be looking to get my signed copy of "Confession of a Dietitian"
Nothing as of now but you never know what may happen in the future.
Melissa Rifkin MS RD CDN CSO is a licensed & trained dietitian who attended UCONN as an undergrad before attaining a Masters at NYU. After completing her Dietetic Internship at NY Presbyterian Hospital she began working with Montefiore Medical, as well as RISE Weight Loss. She's available for contact about coaching on the RISE phone app along with her website at http://www.melissarifkinnutrition.com as well as on social media via Twitter @MelRifkinRD or Instagram @ConfessionofaDietitian