Jingle Bell Blues


We humans need our families, our tribes, our communities. Isolation from them is a kind of death. To demonstrate the fact that we prefer to live, people gather in groups and do the things that promote life, namely, eat and drink. “Obesity, the Holidays, and Fitting In” explores the deeper meanings of festive gatherings that highlight food, through the writings of an associate professor of psychological sciences and a neuroscientist who are both experts on holiday binge-eating.

All Hail the Lord of Misrule” looks at customs from the past, when life was tough and boring, winter was dark, long, and cold, and any excuse was seized upon to fling mundane routine aside and boogie all night long. This post also mentions some of the psychological difficulties that trouble people in modern times. “Fitting Into the Winter Food Festivals” does more of the same, pinpointing the factors that can cause all rational systems to shut down, making way for a binge.

A Holiday Reminder” reflects on holiday stress in all its dismal varieties — financial, interpersonal, intergenerational. There may be harsh weather to cope with, and even in good conditions, the stress of travel can unravel a family’s equanimity. But relatives have to be visited, or hosted, and there may be religious duties.

There may be obligations concerning places to go and things to do that, given a choice, a person might simply prefer not to deal with. And everywhere, there are “refreshments.” From the most basic primeval instinct to share resources and preserve all members of the group, to the most cynical entrepreneurial ambitions of a glitzy gift-basket delivery service, everyone has reasons to ply their fellow humans with food and drink.

Advertising, which is insane at the best of times, goes into hysterical overdrive at this time of year, urging us to eat-eat-eat, and eat some more.

More holiday “roundup” posts

Meanwhile, a lot of beleaguered people have their own reasons for resisting the onslaught of treats and goodies. For them, this post contains a couple of very helpful hints.

For additional strategies, and a peek into the mind of a compulsive overeater who is also very intelligent and highly educated, we recommend “Escaping Winter Holiday Hell.” “Season of Challenge” offers more workarounds and tricks to prevent holiday occasions, especially those of the family kind, from becoming disasters.

Holidays and Childhood Obesity” zeroes in on one of the particular holiday hazards for obese children. Relatives who only see you once a year are bound to say something about your size, and it doesn’t matter if the remarks are negative or positive because you just don’t want to talk about it. But they insist on asking nosy questions and saying embarrassing things.

If the world of wearables had not already impinged on a parent’s consciousness by this time last year, surely that parent has caught up by now. “Fitness solutions” are a huge market, and choosing among them is a significant decision.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Photo by Neville Wootton Photography on Visualhunt/CC BY

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Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

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The Book

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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