Vacation and Weight Loss: Diet Danger (cont.)

''Most families offer loving environments, so when it comes to dinners, your relatives who make the dish want to make sure you enjoy it to the fullest extent, so they'll encourage you to keep eating,'' says Hall. ''We eat because people are telling us to. We also have this idea, that most of us have grown up with, that we have to clean our plates, which isn't necessarily a good message.''

Coping Strategies: Be polite but stand your ground, even with family members.

''You have to nicely say, when someone is offering you something for the third time, 'Oh Auntie Sophie, I absolutely love your mashed potatoes, but I can't eat another bite,' and be firm about it,'' says Mitchell.

Also, remember not to bite off more than you can chew.

''We had this big family reunion and there were people there we hadn't seen in a long time, and everyone wanted you to try just a little bit, which was tough,'' says Neuman. ''I made sure if I tried something, it was just a tiny bit -- not a normal portion size -- just to make them happy. So I focused on the salads and drank plenty of water. The good news was, I was the center of attention because I had lost so much weight.'' Some families, though, may see thinness as a threat or even a sign of ill health. In that case, it may be best not to spill too much about your weight loss plans.

''Don't tell your family you are trying to lose weight,'' Mitchell tells WebMD. ''If you tell them that, they'll start in with "you don't need to lose weight, you're too thin -- eat!'''

Workplace Woes

Disaster Area: Long days and late nights at the office, especially when co-workers so nicely leave sweets out on their desks for all to enjoy.

''The office is conducive to snacking,'' says Hall. ''From birthday parties, to doughnuts in the morning at a meeting, to snacks on someone's desk, people eat these foods and they're forgotten calories, but really, they're adding up.''

Coping Strategies: ''It's important to recognize that just because it's someone's birthday at the office doesn't mean you have to eat cake,'' says Hall. ''Or if you really want to have cake or a doughnut, share it with someone. Or step up to plan the event, and offer healthier choices.''

And be sure to plan ahead so you're prepared when hunger strikes during the workday.

''Fill your pantry and fridge with a multitude of snacks: grapes, cherries, cheese, raisins, trail mix, or healthy granola bars,'' says Mitchell. ''Every day you can grab two or three snacks'' from your supply.

''That way at 5:30 when you are starting to get hungry for dinner but you have a long night in front of you, you have healthy snacks to take the edge off,'' she says.

Says Neuman: ''I always have a small bag of fruit and nuts at my desk so if I'm hungry, I have something healthy to snack on. I also always make sure I drink plenty of water at work.''

Disaster-Dodging Tips

Whatever diet disaster areas you may run across on your way to your goal, here are some tips you can take with you:

  • Anticipate. ''Plan ahead,'' says Susan Moores, a registered dietitian in St. Paul, Minn. ''What is the situation going to be like? Is it your favorite restaurant that you go to once a year? Then maybe you go and have a great time. If it's the fifth night you've stayed late at the office, and you know they are all doing take-out Chinese again, maybe you do something different, like bring a healthier option with you, or go extra-healthy for breakfast and lunch.''
  • Be creative. ''Often, we think the cards are stacked against us in a situation, but there are creative ways to get around a trap,'' says Moores, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. ''If you know breakfast is a huge buffet every morning at your hotel, you don't have to have it -- many will offer a continental breakfast instead, or you can stock up on fruit to balance out your day later on.''
  • Have a Plan B. ''As much as it's great to plan ahead, you also need a rebound plan,'' Moores tells WebMD. '''I had a really great time at dinner last night, so today I'm going to go with fruits and veggies.' Move on and get past it.''
  • Be proactive. ''Always recognize that physical activity can't fix everything, but it sure can make it better,'' says Moores. ''A brisk walk can really make you feel good.''
  • Drink to your success. ''If all else fails, be happy with what you did with your beverages,'' says Moores. ''Almost everywhere you go will offer you healthy choices for drinks, even just water, so feel good about the decisions you make around the things you can control.''

Published March 6, 2006.
Originally published March 11, 2005.
Medically updated Feb. 16, 2006.

SOURCES: Rick Hall, RD, lecturer, Arizona State University, Phoenix. Susan Mitchell, RD, PhD, author, Fat is Not Your Fate, Orlando, Fla. Susan Moores, RD, spokesperson, American Dietetic Association, St. Paul, Minn. Linda J. Neuman, CPA, Longwood, Fla.

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