Dr. JoAnn Yanez, AANMC executive director, joins KCAA’s NBC LA affiliate “On the Brink” to discuss tips to avoid overindulging this holiday season. Hear all about how to help keep you on track!

Full Transcript of Interview Below.

Topics Include:

  • Reducing holiday sweet temptations in the workplace and at home
  • Focusing on people instead of food this holiday season
  • Alternatives to sugary beverages
  • And more…

Erin Brinker: Welcome back. I’m Erin Brinker-

Todd Brinker: … and I’m Todd Brinker-

Erin Brinker: … and we are On the Brink, the Morning Show on KCAA, AM 10.50, FM 106.5 and FM 102.3. I’m super excited to welcome back to the show, Dr. JoAnn Yanez. She is the executive director for the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges. She joins us once a month to talk about all things health and wellness, and just feeling the best way you possibly can. Dr. Yanez, welcome to the show.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Good morning. Happy holiday season.

Erin Brinker: Happy holiday season to you. I have to say thank you to you. Yesterday I get this call from the station that this beautiful fruit bouquet had been delivered here to the station and it was from you all, and thank you so much for doing it. I do have one complaint. There was one dipped in chocolate and Tobin ate it before I got home from work. I’m like, “You ate the only chocolate one?” He’s like, “Well, I’m the one who went and picked it up.” But I was up, so I had a fruit feast last night. It was delicious. There’s still plenty of fruit left, but …

Dr. JoAnn Yanez:  I’m glad you enjoyed it. Yes, we try to keep it mostly healthy here at the AANMC.

Erin Brinker: Well, I wanted something sweet last night. It was absolutely perfect. So, thank you so much.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: You bet. You bet.

Erin Brinker: Well, and eating healthy over the holidays is easier said than done, because there are sweet things and fatty things and creamy things everywhere.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: There are. You know, it is funny that so much of our holiday season focuses around food and drink and debauchery and lots of extra calories available if we so choose. And so we’ve written a few pieces on how to stay healthy during the holiday season, and that includes food, but there are a number of things that you can do to minimize that holiday bloat, shall we call it, that many people find themselves gaining weight over the holidays, not feeling as well, and there’s a lot that you can do about that.

Erin Brinker: So, we all know to stay away from the cookies and the other things. But you know, in my office for example, we just made a move and people were bringing in donuts and people were bringing in candy and you know … and some of those people were me. And so, how do you make healthy choices in that environment?

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: One thing that you’re bringing up here is workplace culture. Having been in medicine and so you know, witness to the plate of cookies and the chocolates and the donuts at a place of health care, it’s very difficult. I think there’s something that leadership can take a stand and step up and say, “Hey, we’re going to celebrate our holidays differently this year. Let’s keep the cookies and the cakes to a minimum.” Or make one day that, everybody gets to bring in their sugar fix if they like to make holiday cookies, and that’s part of their tradition.

But you know, leadership can take a stand in that, and leadership sets the tone of what is … you know, without being overly restrictive of what is healthy. There are ways that leadership can do that, and set that pace for the rest of the staff. That’s one way. Now if leadership isn’t doing that, and isn’t stepping up, then we all have to take ownership in that. If we’re bringing in cookies ourselves or we’re bringing in things that aren’t as healthy. We have a rule in our house. We don’t buy bread. We don’t bring in ice cream. We don’t bring in cookies and things like that into the house, because guess what happens?

Erin Brinker: We eat them.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Yes, we do! And so we have a rule, like every once in a while my son will see something on the shelf and, “Oh mommy, I want that,” and I’ll bring it home and then I’ll get this nasty looks from my husband like, “Why did you bring that into the house? You know I’m going to end up eating it?”

Todd Brinker: I would spend a lot of time on the patio.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Exactly. I think that we all have to do our part. One of those core tenets is, don’t put yourself into that position if you can. And so, you know, in the workplace we’re kind of held captive. We don’t have as much of a say. But if you do have ways of giving feedback back to your leadership and saying, “Hey, I’d like to create a healthier tone for the holidays. What can we do? Can we organize a corporate wellness event? Can we do a corporate walk? Are there charities we can raise money for, rather than spending money on food and things that we really don’t need here? Can we organize a community event? Can we organize some sort of a charity event or something like that?” And focus the energy in a different way. Does that make sense?

Erin Brinker: It makes total sense. It makes total sense. There’s probably way … you bring in, I have to say the fruit that’s in this wonderful arrangement that I was given by you, it had melon and pineapple and … It has, because there’s still some fruit left because there was a lot … grapes and beautiful strawberries. So, then I got the sweet fix last night but it wasn’t unhealthy.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Yes. I think that some people are able to tolerate fruit better than others, but again, it’s really the whole thing. Now, this is holiday party season, so how do we manage the holiday parties, because that tends to be tough for a lot of folks as well, between the alcohol and all the extra finger food. And so, there are a couple tips for navigating that holiday party. Number one is, don’t show up super hungry, because if you’re hungry, guess what. You’re going to be gorging yourself on everything that there is there that may not have been a choice you would have made otherwise.

Another is, bring healthy food with you. If it as a potluck and you can bring something to the holiday party, brings something that you would prefer to eat. I have friends of mine who are celiac and gluten free and a lot of times they’ll end up just bringing things they know that they can have because they can’t anticipate that there will be food that will be in their food plan and diet plan and not make them feel ill. So, I think that there are a lot of tricks to that. Drink water. Have a glass of water for every alcohol drink you have. Maybe skip some of the eggnogs and punches if you are going to drink, and have just a plain glass of wine. But there are a lot of ways of navigating that.

And, focus on the people. I think at the holiday parties … I know my family traditions are always guilty of this. “What are they serving? What’s the food? What do they have?” Everybody’s focused on the food. But, focus on the people. What are the holidays really about? What are these gatherings really about? Are they just about sitting and feeding your face, or should they more be about connecting with people? And so, I think if you look at these holiday parties more as a chance to get to connect with folks and it isn’t so much about the food components, I’d just stay focused on the people more than the food.

Erin Brinker: Oh, that’s a good idea. That’s really what it’s about anyway, is that if you’re going for the food, you’re going for the wrong reason. I mean, it’s about connecting people to one another, you know? I mean, unless it’s at a Michelin star restaurant. Then you’re going for the food.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Well, yes, but my holiday parties don’t roll that deep.

Erin Brinker: You brought up having a glass of wine. Are there other beverages, alcoholic beverages, that are better? You know, along the spectrum of beverages, in addition to wine, what are some other choices that are not quite as bad?

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Skip the sugary mixers. If you are going to drink … I’m not one authorizing, you know, taking shots at the bar or anything like that, but if you’re going to be drinking, the sugary mixers are also what gets people into trouble. You know, the sodas and the fruit juices and all of that and so maybe choose-

Todd Brinker: There’s egg in my nog.

Erin Brinker: There’s egg in your nog?

Todd Brinker: This can’t be unhealthy.

JoAnn Yanez: In the nog … Actually, I’m of the Caribbean persuasion and so the holidays bring out … I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of coquito, but it’s a coconut-based eggnog which is just decadent and ridiculous, but-

Erin Brinker: Oh, that sounds delicious.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: … full of sugar and not one of the healthiest choices to be making. So again, mixed … If you are going for an alcoholic drink, limit the number, be mindful of how many you’re having, keep it to one or two max, and skip out on those sugary drinks or sugary mixers if you are going to be mixing. You can have a splash of soda water instead of soda or tonic or things that have more of a carb count in them.

Erin Brinker: There are often skinny versions of favorite cocktails. Like, you can get a skinny pina colada or a skinny lemon drop.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: They are often loaded with chemicals. The way they make them skinny is … What are they using as a sweetener? What are they using for flavor? And so, I think often you’re better just saying, “Hey, if you are going to give me … If you’re going for a “skinny margarita,” just have them give you tequila and a bunch of lime juice with the salt rim. That is a much more waist friendly version than if you were going for the full-blown margarita with the sugar and all of that added. I think there are ways of making healthier cocktails. You know, squeeze the lime, squeeze the lemon, squeeze the orange just straight rather than going for a lot of fruit juice. So, there are healthier ways of making those cocktails.

Erin Brinker: We are out of time. How do people find out more about the AANMC, and how do they follow you on social media?

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: AANMC.org. We have a webinar tomorrow with Dr. Doni Wilson on depression and anxiety and how to overcome that naturally (view the recording). So, there are lots of ways that you can connect with us at AANMC.

Erin Brinker: Dr. JoAnn Yanez, as always, it is such a treat to have you on the air. Thank you so much. And Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah and happy holidays to you.

Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Same to you both.

Erin Brinker: All right, so with that we need to take a quick break. I’m Erin Brinker-

Todd Brinker: … and I’m Todd Brinker-

Erin Brinker: … and we are On the Brink, the Morning Show on KCAA. We’ll be right back.

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