In Search of Holiday Sanity

One thing we know for sure about the winter holiday season is that people tend to blithely toss aside whatever prudent dietary habits they might have maintained throughout the year. They put on weight, which is their own business… but as a sideline, they also set a regrettable example for any children who happen to be around. Kids learn from grownups how to become obese. Childhood obesity is exemplified, endorsed, enabled, and empowered by adults.

By assessing our own behavior and making efforts to change it, we can influence the young toward a good direction. At this time of the year, the behavior we might want to work on includes anything having to do with the holidays. If we can learn to de-stress ourselves, we will do less destructive eating. Consequently, there have been several posts here about how to avoid, or at least alleviate, holiday stress.

Treat yourself with consideration

On behalf of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, writer Jessica Maharaj had some things to say that are helpful to people who struggle with mental illness, and also have the potential to help anybody. Probably the most important is, “Be kind to yourself. All you can do is your best and your best is good enough.”

Maharaj reminds the reader that it is “impossible to please everyone,” and even trying to is harmful enough. But then, we run out onto the field and commence to cheerlead the team that is trying to bury us! We beat ourselves up over stuff that maybe other people haven’t even noticed, and that’s no good.

Here is a short and sweet hint for anyone who will entertain guests for a home-cooked meal. Treat yourself right by sticking to the tried and true, dishes you have successfully served before. If you are hosting a dinner for 12, this is not the time to experiment with a tricky new recipe.

… And your animal friends

Cats pretty much take care of themselves, but host families have noticed that if there is a dog in the home, things may go more smoothly if the pet can work off some energy before company arrives. In a list of anti-stress tips compiled for, Alesandra Dubin suggested,

Take your dog outside for some playtime before your gathering. A tired pooch is a lot less likely to jump up on guests or bark incessantly every time the doorbell rings.

This is a job that could be delegated to another family member, or give the cook a short break if the kitchen can mind itself for a bit.

Be the difference you want to see

In addition to yourself, it is also important to be as kind as possible to others. For Psychology Today, Connie Bennett advised readers to “put on rose-colored glasses” — in other words, make the effort to assume that other people’s motivations are benign, and to put the best possible construction on any interactions:

For instance, before you get annoyed at Aunt Jane, who keeps urging you to try a piece of her apple pie, or your co-worker Frank, who keeps trying to fill your glass with booze, first take a deep breath. Then, step into their shoes and realize that Jane is just showing that she loves you, and Frank is merely trying to be convivial.

It may require the skills of a secret agent to do that much creative pretending, but sometimes making the effort can be spectacularly rewarding.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Avoiding Holiday Stressors,”, 12/03/18
Source: “40 Easy Tips for a Stress-Free Christmas,”, 09/20/21
Source: “7 Tips to Relieve Holiday Stress,”,12/01/09
Image by Virginia State Parks/CC BY 2.0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

FAQs and Media Requests: Click here…

Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

Profiles: Kids Struggling with Obesity top bottom

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.

Food & Health Resources