Holiday story ideas

OBESITY AT THE HOLIDAYS: STAY CONNECTED WITHOUT STAYING OVERWEIGHT
In many families, holiday eating is about more than satisfying hunger, it is a way to express affection and share in the warmth of the holiday spirit, says Paul Ribisl, chair of the department of health and exercise science at Wake Forest University who has studied obesity for more than 25 years. “That makes it especially complicated to change the way you eat and even the way you look,” he says. Ribisl was a featured speaker at two international health conferences this fall and has been interviewed by numerous national media on the topic of obesity. “Relatives may interpret your desire to lose weight as a rejection of their traditions or even as a judgment of their own extra pounds.” But staying connected to the family during the holiday season does not have to mean staying overweight. Ribisl says to take a seat at holiday meals, but serve yourself moderate portions and gently decline second and third helpings, or choose dishes that may be a bit lower in fat and calories. As obesity reaches epidemic levels, Ribisl says exercise at the holidays is more important than ever. “Try inviting a relative along on a walk as another way of spending time together,” he says. To arrange an interview with Ribisl, contact the News Service at 336-758-5237 or mansels@nullwfu.edu.

HOLIDAY ARTS TRADITIONS PROVIDE FAMILIES MORE THAN JUST ENTERTAINMENT
To combat holiday stress and build family connections, Samuel Gladding, associate provost and chair of the counseling department at Wake Forest University, says that families should consider starting arts-related traditions such as attending a holiday symphony concert or a performance of “The Nutcracker” or “A Christmas Carol.” Gladding, who is the author of “Counseling as an Art: The Creative Arts in Counseling,” says that attending such holiday activities not only brings families together with the added bonus of entertainment, but it also enriches, de-stresses and distracts families from some of the other anxieties associated with the holidays. “Not everything can be simulated on a computer or television screen. There’s something about going together to a creative event that helps families keep growing together,” Gladding adds. To arrange an interview, contact Gladding’s office at 336-758-4900.

JOB HUNTING AND THE HOLIDAYS: GETTING THROUGH THE HOLIDAY LULL
Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, hiring is often at a standstill, and for many unemployed workers who still face an uncertain economy in 2004, this can increase job-hunting anxiety. According to Bill Currin, director of career services at Wake Forest University, job seekers need not be overly anxious during the holidays. “This is the perfect time to stop, re-evaluate your search and prepare for a fresh start in January. January can be one of the best times to be looking for a job because many companies’ fiscal year begins then, and new budgets and corporate initiatives often include hiring,” says Currin. For practical tips on handling the holiday lag and what to do immediately after New Year’s, contact the News Service at 336-758-5237 or walkercv@nullwfu.edu.

NUTRITIOUS HOLIDAY FARE: LOW-FAT OPTIONS NOT ALWAYS BEST
In an effort to beat the scales during the holidays, many people will cook foods with lower-fat substitutions. But Gary Miller, a nutrition expert with Wake Forest University’s department of health and exercise science, says that in many cases, lower-fat options are not always best. He says that eating a sliver of a traditionally-made pie or cake would be better than eating a larger portion of a reduced-fat option. “You have to ask yourself if you’re sacrificing the taste. If the lower-fat option doesn’t taste as good and you’re still craving that particular food, then you’ll end up eating more,” says Miller. Although Miller still maintains that people should use lower-fat ingredient substitutions, such as skim milk in eggnog, as much as possible, he also contends that substitutions should only be one component of a holiday eating plan. Such a plan would also include eating light lunches on the day of a big holiday dinner, continuing regular exercise programs and never going to a party hungry. Miller can offer more specific tips on ingredient substitutions and maintaining good nutrition throughout the holidays. To arrange an interview, contact the News Service at 336-758-5237 or mansels@nullwfu.edu.

DON’T LET WINTER WINDS STOP YOUR EXERCISE ROUTINE
Even though chilly winds and bitter cold may discourage you from venturing outside, there is an advantage to exercising in the cold, says Don Bergey, an exercise instructor for the Wake Forest Cardiac Rehabilitation Program. “Exercise generates its own body heat, which helps keep you warm,” he says. Bergey works with the nearly 200 patients in the cardiac rehab program on maintaining their exercise routines when the weather turns cold. He suggests wearing layers so as not to overheat, covering extremities with gloves or mittens and a hat, and head out into the wind so it is at your back on the return. To arrange an interview with Bergey, contact the News Service at 336-758-5237 or mansels@nullwfu.edu.

MAKE NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS AS A FAMILY
In today’s fast-paced culture, families often get caught up in their daily routines, which can discourage growth and good communication. Family resolutions can be an ideal way for families to take inventory, set goals, discuss issues and plan activities. “Have a family meeting on Jan. 1 and take stock of what would make life better for the whole family,” says Samuel Gladding, associate provost and chair of the counseling department at Wake Forest University. A family resolution meeting can help families be proactive and help foster improved communication, says Gladding who has published several books on family and group counseling. For practical tips on making family resolutions, contact Gladding’s office at 336-758-4900.

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