A Winter Holidays Encyclopedia — 6

Yes, there are several previous posts with cogent reminders about the importance of mental health during the winter holidays, especially if a person is dealing with issues — and who isn’t? Check out this one:

Moderation Is or Is Not the Answer

Some pertinent thoughts inspired by it: The one huge, inescapable fact about food is that food is inescapable. We’re talking about substance addiction here, and why food is in a class almost by itself (the other members being water and air). A person can live without nicotine. A person can live without alcohol or cocaine. Yes, withdrawal from some substances can be fatal, but a person has to work pretty hard to reach that point. Other factors being equal, food is not a thing that a person can live without.

It might seem as if the distinction between food addiction and eating addiction is a minor one. After all, the only thing there is to do with food is eat it. Sure, you could puree it and inject it, or get it into the body some other way, but the purpose of using nutrients to create energy will not be served. Likewise, the only thing there is to eat, is food. Of course, it is possible to eat other things. But they won’t provide calories for the body to convert to energy.

People find it very difficult to part with their substances. Established addiction recovery programs are far from foolproof, and they mainly deal with substances that almost no addicts needed to be messing with in the first place. Imagine how much harder it is to deal with a thing that a person literally cannot live without, namely food. Or eating. Whatever you call it, this is a super-charged addiction with the potential to reach every single human being on the planet.

Obesity, the Holidays, and Fitting In

One of the most uncomfortable aspects of the holiday gathering, especially if family members are involved, is the perceived need to be on guard every moment. It may feel as if the room is full of nothing but critical eyes, and mouths just waiting for you to move out of earshot so they can say mean things.

Obesity and Psychology at Christmas

What if we told you there just might be ways to make it through the holiday season without having a nervous breakdown? When it comes to saving your body from destructive forces, the most powerful tool at your disposal is your mind.

Your brain can, for instance, remind you that “Just this once” or “It’s only for one day” or some similar formulation is just a big, fat copout. Because it’s so easy to go from there to, “I’ll get back on track come Monday.” And from there to, “Might as well just leave things as they are until the New Year. Then I’ll really buckle down and get serious about limiting my food intake.” Your very smart brain can — if you let it — put a stop to this nonsense.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Image by Hamed Saber/CC BY 2.0

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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.

Food & Health Resources