A Winter Holidays Encyclopedia — 3

Do we want mental and physical health for 2023? Yes, please! Here is a review of hints for fitness and sanity over the winter holidays.

Get Ready for the Christmas Calorie Blitz

Eliminate the mindset that says, “So what if I go a little nuts over the holidays? January 1, I’m back in the gym. No, that’s a Sunday. Okay, January 2, the gym, for sure.” Then along comes January 3 or 4, and somehow you haven’t made it yet. So you decide to make a clean start the following week — on Monday the 9. See how this works? Or rather, doesn’t work? It’s almost as if today is the only day we ever really have.

How do we show children we love them without ruining their health? How do parents withstand the pressures to abandon all caution and splurge out on treats? How do we restrain kids from accepting every offer of a free cookie or candy cane without coming across like ogres?

Holiday Eating Trauma — A Field Ripe for Harvest

It isn’t only that there is food. There is a lot of it, magically appearing everywhere, even at unexpected places like the bank. At work, people bring in goodies to share. Fancy stuff arrives in the mail. At home and wherever you visit, chances are the edible offerings are more calorie-laden than usual. Depending on what school the kids attend, it is possible that they are being plied with treats.

Some family norms break down, as parents simply surrender to the atmosphere of indulgence. The estimable Dr. Billi Gordon, an expert on obesity and compulsive eating, described this time of year as “a recurring nightmare.”

Holidays and Childhood Obesity

Obese children face ferocious hazards during the holidays. Relatives who are rarely encountered will seldom refrain from remarking on how much bigger a child has grown since last time. Guess what, grownups? Even positive comments are not welcome. Just zip it. Better yet, have another piece of pie. Go ahead, put on a few pounds, and see how it feels to have people making your size a topic of conversation. Just leave the kid alone.

In Search of Holiday Sanity

For some reason, many grownups feel free to bust loose on holidays and break all the rules. If they were the only persons who suffered the consequences of this abandon, that would be bad enough. But the kids are watching. They are observing and absorbing, and tucking away the excuses they hear for future reference.

What exactly do we want them to see and hear? Could we, as mature, responsible holiday celebrants, maybe do better? Must we really overdo it in every possible dimension, or can we act a little more responsibly for the sake of our families? And, incidentally, for our own sake?

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Image by Whitney/CC BY 2.0

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Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

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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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