DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a ton of food allergies, and sometimes when I am at a restaurant, it can be embarrassing to order food. I scrutinize the menu carefully all the time, but if not all of the ingredients are listed, I sometimes find myself in trouble. I keep an EpiPen with me, but who wants to have to use that? One of my friends suggested that I make a little card listing my food allergies. That way, the server can take the list back to the chef and verify whether I can eat what I want to order. Another friend told me that was pathetic and I should just ask the questions. What do you think? -- Allergic, Portland, Oregon
DEAR ALLERGIC: I love the idea of the card with the listing of food allergies. It is a discreet and efficient way to keep you healthy. A way to make it even less noticeable is to hand it to the maitre d' -- if there is one -- upon your arrival at the restaurant, with a brief explanation of what it is. Then the maitre d' to give it to your server. This way, no one else has to know about your food restrictions. If a question or so crops up, simply ask it and keep it moving.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been saving my clothes for years now because I plan on losing weight. Once I went down about two full sizes and was happy that I had clothes in my closet to wear at that new weight. The problem is, I don't have room in my closet for all of this stuff. Heck, I have too many clothes at my current weight to fit into my dresser and closet. How can I figure out what to keep and what to give away? I cannot afford to buy a whole new wardrobe when I lose the weight. -- Holding On, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
DEAR HOLDING ON: Many organizers would tell you emphatically to let go of anything that you have not used in the past year or two. Those extra items that you hardly remember you own are taking up real estate in your life. Pare down to the essentials for the seasons and activities that are key in your life.
In terms of clothing of another size, be honest with yourself. What are you doing to get yourself closer to your goal? As incentive, give yourself a six-month marker to be the size of those clothes you are keeping. Edit them now into only the key pieces that you love, and set them aside in a special place. Check in with yourself each month to see if your fitness strategy is matching your timeline. If you can use that edited wardrobe as incentive to get fit, go for it. If you meet your goal, toss the bigger clothes so you have nothing to wear if you get bigger again. If you fall short by a lot, toss the goodies. Promise yourself that if you reach that ideal size again, you will reward yourself with a few new pieces.