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On Black Friday, Leave Your Coat in the Car

If you're among the throngs of people planning to spend today -- Black Friday -- scouting the malls for bargains, you'll have to plan your strategy: which store to hit first, which hot-ticket item to stand longest in line for.

If you want to get through the long and grueling day without getting so frustrated you wind up stuffing your face at the food court, you might want another shopping-day strategy, too.

Nutrition consultant Christine Palumbo, a director at large of the American Dietetic Association, is big on planning ahead and on nurturing yourself throughout the whole holiday season, in part to avoid stress eating. Hunger, thirst, overheating and crowds can stress a shopper out; a little planning can help you minimize their impact.

Here are Palumbo's tips for avoiding food-court frenzy:

  • Start early: Get to bed at a decent hour the night before and log a good eight hours' sleep; then head out at the crack of dawn. "As the day goes on, the stores are more crowded and the clerks more irritable," Palumbo says, both of which can ramp up your own frustration.
  • Fuel up: "Don't leave on an empty stomach," Palumbo cautions. A good shoppers' breakfast includes protein and fluid, she says: Try oatmeal with fruit and chopped walnuts, she suggests, or some turkey sausage and egg. Protein helps keep you feeling full and energetic through the morning.
  • Bring your own bottle: Carry a water bottle from home or buy one at the mall. At breakfast and throughout the day, fluid keeps you hydrated and hence less crabby.
  • Ditch your coat: Speaking of crabby, nothing's more annoying than having to wear or carry a heavy coat while you shop. Leave it in the car if you can, Palumbo says. Or, if that's not possible, "at least wear a lighter coat than usual."

Are you planning to shop today? What's your strategy for snacking and dining as you go?

For more advice on navigating the food court during the holiday season and throughout the year, check out the "Eat, Drink and Be Healthy" column in the Post's Health Section on Tuesday, December 16.

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  November 28, 2008; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Nutrition and Fitness  
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