Dietary Interns Evaluate Nutritional Lifestyle

The holiday lights in downtown Glendale signal the beginning of the holiday season that brings friends and families together, shows the true spirit of mankind — and brings endless lines at the mall.

The extra stress and elbowing are all worth the hassle when Thanksgiving dinner comes along, and before one can say “no, thank you,” Christmas dinner is served. All that turkey, gravy and extra chocolate devoured on a daily basis during the period (between Nov. 27 and Jan. 1) adds a few pounds of stress to the heart and slows one down at the mall.

According to the Hope Heart Institute, the average American gains seven to 10 pounds during the holidays. To everyone’s shock and dismay, opening gifts and passing the gravy is not considered a true cardio workout. So what is there to do? Give up the foods everyone loves and watch as other family member eat enough for a small nation? This seems unlikely.

From now until the end of May, registered dieticians, ready to consult students and staff on everything from high blood pressure to losing and maintaining weight and eating healthily, will on hand in the GCC Health Center. The dietician program began its third year this fall.

Instead of making the same New Year’s resolution of getting in shape, people can avoid the problem entirely and make a trip to the health center and schedule an appointment to see a dietician.

Prior to the visit participants are asked to fill out an eating log for the last few days, which may make many people cringe, if their food groups consist of fast food, chips, cheese, soda and more fast food. With the log in hand, Dietician Dima Tabbaa, who has her master’s degree in nutrition, begins to read the participants nutritional past and guides them towards a healthy future.

“We’re here to help everyone with what they put into their bodies,” said Tabbaa. “A lot of people aren’t really aware of what they are eating.”

She warned that over the holidays nearly everything one loves to eat is high in cholesterol. Tabbaa gave many pointers on how to get some exercise and eat healthy during the holidays.

“If you go shopping at the mall, park as far away so you can walk, or go walking with the whole family after dinner,” Tabbaa advised. “It’s an all or nothing mentality and that needs to be changed, because little habits changed can go a long way.” With this in mind, a great gift idea for the holidays is a gym membership instead of a sweater that will probably be returned.

She also advised that snacking on fruits and veggies throughout the day is important, because hungry people tend to overeat. A hearty breakfast will also reduce hunger throughout the day. Tabbaa stressed the importance of portion control and slow eating. “Eat slowly and take small portions,” said Tabbaa. “It takes the mind 20 minutes to process that one is full.”

The health center’s program also advises clients on the newest trends in dieting, such as the trendy Atkins diet, which cuts carbohydrates out of the menu, Tabbaa said.

“Health professionals don’t advise the Atkins diet,” Tabbaa said. “They are worried about heart disease, kidney stones and a number of other complications. It’s never safe to omit a food group entirely.”

For most, the assessment may be to eat more balanced meals and actually discover vegetables. To many, they were possibly only plate ornaments.

She also advised to cut down dramatically on soda intake. She added that one can of soda has 11 teaspoons of sugar, which can create jumpiness. Not to mention all the sugar that turns into fat.

“My biggest advice for the holidays is take everything in moderation and focus the holidays more on physical activities, rather than the food.” Tabbaa said. Visiting the dietician may open up a space on the New Year’s resolutions list and the visit only takes an hour to complete
The Health Center can be reached at: 551-5189 and is located in the San Rafael Building.