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USC Verdugo Hills to serve up nutrition basics in 10-week ‘Mindful Eating’ series

USC Verdugo Hills to serve up nutrition basics in 10-week ‘Mindful Eating’ series
A free 10-week Mindful Eating series at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital runs from Jan. 23 through March 27 and is led by Megan Tancredi, a graduate student of USC's Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. (Courtesy of Megan Tancredi)

For those who’ve put weight loss at the top of their list of New Year’s resolutions or simply wish to rebound from recent excess, a 10-week series of free classes at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital offers pointers on mindful eating.

The Wednesday classes take place from 10 to 11 a.m. and start Jan. 23 with the topic “Defend Your Health.” The informal sessions will be led by Megan Tancredi, a graduate student at USC’s Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, and Verdugo Hills Hospital Clinical Nutrition Manager Stephanie Wood.

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Subsequent classes cover dining out, heart healthy eating, the importance of eating breakfast and staying hydrated and decoding nutrition labels. Tancredi said she developed the series last year to get people thinking about small changes they can make for their own benefit.

“I like seeing progress, and I like seeing people find a way they can apply the information they get from that session to their lives,” she said.

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Each session will include a discussion and presentation on the theme, along with a Q&A period and activities designed to inspire and motivate participants. Wood said the classes aim to serve up nutrition basics people can use on the go in their busy lives.

“In this day and age, it is a lot harder to be mindful of eating with the fact of people’s work schedules, lifestyles and families,” Wood said, adding many commuters and busy parents turn to prepared meals and restaurants for convenience. “Some people get deceived because they don’t have the right nutrition information available to them.”

Alternately, older people may not be able to spend as much time and energy preparing healthy meals each day, she added.

Tancredi said simply slowing down, unplugging and taking a moment to be aware of one’s eating can stimulate healthier responses to food. It takes about 20 minutes for the brain to register fullness.

“Finding small ways to turn off your electronics, be in the moment and enjoy your food is going to be really beneficial,” she said. “When you’re mindfully eating, you’re paying attention to your basic senses — you’re really savoring.”

The classes run through March 27. Because many sessions include healthy snacks, participants are encouraged to sign up in advance online at uscvhh.org/mindful-eating or by calling (818) 952-2228. Tancredi said all ages are welcome.

“[Nutrition] doesn’t have to be scary,” she added. “It’s about very simple things everybody can do.”

USC VHH’s ‘Mindful Eating’ series:

Jan. 23: Defend Your Health

Jan. 30: Dining Out Made Simple

Feb. 6: Heart Healthy Food

Feb. 13: Hydration

Feb. 20: Jump Start Your Day with Breakfast

Feb. 27: Mindful Eating

March 6: Nutrition 101

March 13: Reading Labels

March 20: Protein and Aging

March 27: Tips for Your Wallet

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