Into the New Year

Happy New Year 2013“Well, I already broke my New Year’s resolution, so I guess I’ve blown it for 2016. I’ll just have to start over again next New Year.” Here it is January 4, and somewhere, a certified fatlogic ninja has formulated that rationalization, or one very much like it, on which to coast through the next 361 days.

So let’s talk about health logic instead. Actually, holiday feast temptation is just an exaggerated version of the problem some people face every month, week, or day. A lot of the helpful holiday hints are good all year round. For instance, if you know that lunch will be a food-gobbling circus, do a light breakfast and plan for a scanty supper.

Elena Scuro offers several suggestions for managing children’s holidays without incurring obesity penalties. Not surprisingly, the same common-sense tips are applicable throughout the year. Her post, of course, goes into more detail, but here are the basic precepts:

  • Plan ahead
  • Portion control
  • Be a role model
  • Update your recipes
  • Organize a fun activity

Scuro makes several other great points, including “Don’t bargain with food.” Some things should never be used as emotional bargaining chips, and food is one of them. As Dr. Pretlow and many other experts repeatedly remind us, using food as a reward or bribe is the shortcut to regrettable outcomes. The good news is, now more than ever, parents have the opportunity to do better.

In the past, you’d have to drive around to the bookstores, or hope a nearby university would offer an extension class in Parent Effectiveness Training or a similar program. Today, with the Internet, almost everyone has the means to learn better ways to do things. An astonishing amount of generosity is out there in the form of free help. Harsh as the world sometimes seems, a lot of “paying it forward” happens. Even technology is offered for the general good.

Reflecting on the holiday season has led to quoting Psychology Today‘s Dr. Billi Gordon before, and it’s about to happen again. This coping hint to cancel out stress is for adults and teens, and maybe even younger kids. It’s called the Power Shower and yes, there is a water shortage in many places, so a person might want to go long on the stretching, breathing, and singing, and short on the rinsing. This very pleasant ritual does beneficial things like stimulate the production of endorphins and lower the production of cortisol.

Anybody can sit around all day and enumerate the reasons why they got fat and the reasons why they will never be able to escape fat. Or we can step up our game and change our ways. Compulsive eating may be part of our history, but it doesn’t have to run our lives. One more paragraph from Billi Gordon:

It’s like having a dog with a biting history. You can’t extinguish it like a cigarette; you can’t pretend the chance of it biting again doesn’t exist; and you certainly can’t let it go unleashed. You have to understand the beast as best you can, be vigilant, diligent, persistent, responsible and loving to manage it successfully. We are who we are, and we have to honor that by embracing our assets and liabilities, triumphs and tragedies, personal angels and private demons, 24/7/365.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Avoiding childhood obesity contributors during the holiday season … ,”, undated
Source: “The Power Shower: Washing Stress and Pounds Away,”, 01/30/14
Source: “Christmas Cookie Blue,” PsychologyToday, 12/06/13
Image by Prachanart Viriyaraks

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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