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A Case Study, Samantha, Part 2

by Judy Palken MNS, RD, LDN

You may remember Samantha, from the last post.  To summarize, Samantha was eating too much every evening.  She would take the cartons, bags, and boxes, and eat in front of the TV, trying to make herself feel better.  The plan she arrived at with her dietitian involved eating dinner with her kids, and focusing on her food, savoring all of its qualities (no matter if it is just spaghetti)!  Later on in the evening, if she wants a snack or dessert, she will allow herself one serving only. 

So, how did it go?  A mixed bag, in fact. 

The good news - Samantha reported at her next visit that the kids had been fairly agreeable about sitting at the dinner table for 15 minutes and even helping to clean up.  Yay teenagers!  Not perfect, mind you, but a big improvement, and Samantha was pleased and proud of herself for putting this rule into effect.  She enjoys the time with them, and her resentment lifted.  She can't do anything about the fact that her husband has to work late, but at least she is not alone at dinner, has a bit of help, and no longer feels so unappreciated. 

She also is making that conscious attempt to notice the qualities of her food.  She said, that by slowing down, she has realized a couple of things already -

  1.  After all these years of preparing spaghetti with jarred sauce, she found that she prefers a simpler version - one evening she topped the pasta with only veggies sautéed in olive oil, and some shredded Parmesan cheese.  After eating the dish slowly and twirling the pasta around her fork, she decided it was more elegant this way.  And she's getting in some great broccoli, tomatoes, and spinach!   

  2.  It feels very satisfying to put her fork down after every few bites, pause, and drink some water.  She had often congratulated herself on not being a soda-drinker.  (She didn't grow up drinking it, so this was one thing that had always come easily to her.)  She says she now realizes, she was not drinking enough fluid.  The dietitian confirmed - it is not enough to avoid the bad stuff - we also need to get in the good stuff!  Fluids are SO important to health and wellbeing, and water is excellent! 

The area where Samantha is still struggling is the after dinner eating.  She still sits down to watch TV, feeling that she needs the rest and relaxation.  She tried the dietitian's suggestion of dishing out one serving of ice cream, chips, or cookies, and the results haven't been stellar.  She reports that she gets up from the couch, and gets seconds.  And thirds. 

Dietitian:  Are you putting the container away after you take that first serving?   

Samantha:  Yes, absolutely, the ice cream goes back in the freezer, or the chips go back in the cabinet, it all gets put away. 

Dietitian:  …and then, you eat your serving, and what happens?

Samantha:  I go back, get the container out again, and take more.  And even repeat that, sometimes. 

Dietitian:  So, the extra work of having to get the food out again isn't stopping you? 

Samantha:  Heck no.  And believe me, I know it should.  As I'm getting it, I'm telling myself, You shouldn't be doing this!  Stop!  But then the other voice comes up, and says I want this ice cream, I am still hungry, it wasn't enough.  End of conversation.   😕

(Judy’s note - for a lot of people, putting the snack away after dishing out one serving is indeed a deterrent to taking more - but everyone is different, and what works for some doesn't always work for others.  So if you have Samantha's problem of taking too many servings, try this strategy first - it may work for you, even if it didn't for her!) 

At their follow-up visit, Samantha and the dietitian came up with a new plan, which the dietitian called Samantha's Dilution Plan.  Dilute the treat with healthy, low-calorie, high-fiber foods, so she can eat more VOLUME and NUTRITION (but not calories), and eat for longer, and get that wonderful sense of satiety that high fiber foods provide.  

For example:  when taking that serving of ice cream, Samantha will again measure out a 1/2 cup serving, according to the package serving size, and then combine it with a sliced half-banana, a half cup of blueberries, and 1/4 cup of walnuts.  Now it is a serious sundae, with some really healthy and delicious toppings (no fudge or whipped cream, however!) 

If the snack is going to be chips, she will combine it with a plate of raw veggies - maybe carrots and celery.  The dietitian advised Samantha to have them prepped ahead of time (that is important after a long day) - washed, cut, and  in the fridge.  Then it will be very easy to grab a couple handfuls, and place them on the plate with the chips. 

The plan is that the crunching and chewing required to eat the healthy, high-fiber additions will slow Samantha down, allowing her to feel like she has had a substantial and satisfying snack or dessert, and stop after one serving. 

Hopefully this will work for Samantha, and also that it gives you some good ideas to try.  Samantha, you, and I all need to be of a mindset that we can do this.  We can decide what, how much, and in what manner we eat.

Until next time!