Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Weightwatchers article: Holiday Stress Relief

I'm feeling the holiday stress. Even if you aren't, this article has some handy weightloss tips.

Holiday Stress Relief

The holidays inspire visions of sugarplums for some, but for most of us, they also inspire dread. After all, between planning the perfect get-together and dealing with friends and family, it can be easy to overeat. But experts say you can avoid this trap. Consider this: Unless you examine your priorities and assumptions, chances are you're setting yourself up for stress, says Dr. Joyce Nash, PhD, a clinical psychologist. "Women especially get a picture in their heads about what the holidays have to look like. They hold high expectations and try to do too much," she says.

Nash says that by making a list and choosing only the things that are really important, you can avoid getting overwhelmed by things that don't matter. Unfortunately, when you're dealing with people — especially family — that's sometimes easier said than done. For example, it's often difficult to say no to a favorite aunt and her special holiday cookies or your mom's piled-high dinner plates.

In these cases, it pays to be firm but nice. Let yourself have a cookie and decline seconds. Likewise, tell mom that you'll serve yourself. Even better, offer to do the doling out this holiday season so she can sit down and enjoy herself. That way, you avoid turning a reasonable dinner into a calorie-fest.

You can employ the same strategy for relatives who insist on having you stay at their home while you're visiting, a scenario that may inspire stress eating. Tell relatives firmly that you'll be staying at a hotel. But be kind, says Nash.

"Remind mom and dad that just because you're staying elsewhere doesn't mean you don't love them. Tell them that it's something you need to do and remind them that you'll be visiting a lot," she says.

And if you are stuck in an uncomfortable situation, try the following strategies that can help minimize stress eating:

Don't skip breakfast. You've probably heard it over and over, but Lola O'Rourke, RD, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, says that this is key to a smart weight-loss program. "You'll be less likely to binge if you fuel your body early," she says.

Chew gum while preparing food. Those little "tastes" add up. Chew minty gum, which will keep you from noshing pieces of cheese or pinches of seasoned meat.

Give yourself permission to snack. Love your grandma's latkes? Work them into your plan. Saying "no" to foods you love is unnecessary and will only make you crave them more.

Keep your hands busy. Wrap gifts or wash vegetables in the kitchen. Go out and play touch football. If you keep yourself busy, there are fewer opportunities to eat.

Take small bites and leave some food uncut on your plate. Pre-cut food is easier to eat quickly. Cut your food one bite at a time and take small pauses in between swallows.

Pile on the lettuce. Avoid eating seconds by filling your plate with lettuce and fresh veggies.

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