A Winter Holidays Encyclopedia — 2

In a Glasbergen cartoon, someone says, “I’m already in the holiday mood… stressed, broke and exhausted!” Ouch. Sadly that is all too often the case. A lot of uncomfortable travel may be involved. Money is tight. Kids are out of control, and adults might be kind of ornery too. Family members are not always the presidents of one another’s fan clubs. And anyone who normally meets life’s challenges by eating is now officially at risk of getting even worse.

Here are more short hints about our holiday-related posts.

Coke Legacies

In the old days, it was very easy for parents to keep young children away from unhealthful influences. Kids had no way of knowing what dangers they were protected from, simply by not being taken to certain places. It’s more difficult now to keep them out of harm’s way, but we can still draw the line when it comes to transporting them to events that glorify values we don’t want to endorse. We might, for instance, choose not to take them to a giant decorated truck for free samples of sugar water.

By the way, did you know that Santa’s red and white color palette was chosen by, and culturally enforced by, the Coca-Cola Company?

Escaping Winter Holiday Hell

The late Dr. Billi Gordon knew more than most people about the mental and emotional stress imposed by holidays, and all from traumatic personal experience. Once he had to pass up a critically needed MRI because there were 150 pounds too much of him to fit into the machine. Yes, this is grim stuff. If people come from dysfunctional home environments — and, around the holidays, a lot of us seem to — no amount of tinsel can cover up the distress, so it might as well be faced.

Fitting Into the Winter Food Festivals

We can pretend that family time is all love and bliss, but what is the point, really? Is there enough armor in the world to protect us from our relatives? Dr. Billi Gordon casts a neuroscientist’s eye on the trauma that comes with the holidays and causes our rational systems and self-preservative instincts to shut down.

Is there any hope for binge eaters, compulsive overeaters, or even moderate eaters who are conditioned by a lifetime of thinking of the holidays as a permission slip for imprudence? Can we possibly separate the cycles of destruction from the positive and desirable parts of the holiday experience?

Get Out in Front of Holiday Stress

There is a lot of recreational food around. The atmosphere is often stressful. We feel obliged to set a good example for our own children, and all the rest of them, too. Over the holidays, a person can gain enough pounds to keep them chubby all year. Demands and obligations are at an all-time high.

Look for the silver lining. Maybe the hand-knit scarf you love, from the crafts website, will be marked down in January. Or if you are a scarf-knitter, maybe people who get checks for Christmas will buy a few in January.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Image by Rudolf Ammann/CC BY 2.0

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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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