A Winter Holidays Encyclopedia — 8

House lit up with holiday lights

These comments are elaborations on some past Childhood Obesity News posts. In this problematic season, there is no such thing as too much advice. Just one of the suggestions we have gathered over the years could have an amazing effect on a person’s mental health. What does that have to do with obesity? Everything. Both adults and children tend to overeat in response to stress and let’s face it, the winter holidays are fraught with opportunities to experience stress of all kinds and degrees.

One fact about holiday excess is very clear. If adults have modeled and enforced sane, healthful eating patterns consistently, the holiday challenge will be much easier to meet. In the very optimal best-case scenario, the habits instilled throughout the year will hold steady, and the damage will be minimal. Hopefully, temporary overeating will end when the winter holidays are over. Even at worst, family members will revert back to their normal good habits when the new year commences, and any atypical weight gain will be easy to shed.

Useful notes

A lot of advice about these matters revolves around a very important life skill, expectation management. To cherish expectations is to set oneself up for disappointment. An expectation is a resentment waiting to happen. When we give a gift, we need to do ourselves the favor of not forming a mental picture of how the recipient will react. In a conversation, we need to avoid writing scripts in our heads where other people say the lines we hope to hear. Because if they deviate from the dialogue we have created for them, we will feel bad. So, why ask for trouble?

A very useful resolution for not only for the new year, but for this holiday season we are in right now, is to clear our subconscious minds of expectations, and instead listen to others with an open heart and a willing ear.


The previously mentioned post and the next one in line both offer some specific suggestions to handle the various situations that can arise. Sometimes it is possible to game out a few scenarios in our heads and figure out possible non-harmful reactions. (Note: This is not the same as harboring potentially hurtful expectations.)

In general, it begins to look as though the most meaningful contribution any individual can make to the group is forgiveness, in all its varieties. Forbearance, amnesty, clemency, absolution, reprieve, mercy — there are a lot of terms for the idea of cutting the other person some slack. Never mind whether they deserve it; that judgment call is not ours to make. Sincere forgiveness is something a person does not for others, but for our own sake. To cherish a grudge is like carrying around a pocket full of mud that we want to sling at the offender. We’re still the ones with the pocket full of mud.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

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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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