A Winter Holidays Encyclopedia — 9

A previous Childhood Obesity News post made passing mention of a piece by Clinical Mental Health Counselor Jessica Maharaj that deserves a closer look. For starters, Maharaj has a lot to say about the importance of managing expectations, which we have mentioned also.

There is a condition that used to be called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. This nomenclature was later changed to Major Depressive Disorder with a Seasonal Pattern. To avoid the problem, the recommended lifestyle fixes include adequate hydration, which is crucial for good brain function. Exercise is endorsed, to get the endorphins flowing, along with other forms of self-care like a warm bath or a massage. Stay from unhealthful foods, or too much of any food. Adults: go easy on the alcohol, and everyone: skip the sugar-sweetened beverages. And for goodness sake, get enough sleep.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” one may say. “Heard it all before.” But guess what? This might be the year to finally try some of those tips we’ve heard a thousand times.

Self-care for the brain

This is a good place to add some new hints suggested by Nicole Pajer from, of all places, the American Association of Retired Persons website. These are things that parents and grandparents need to know. First, only a fool perpetuates a grudge, and a study found that resentment and negativity are consistent with cognitive decline. The author quotes the advice of psychologist Patty Johnson:

Make a list of five specific things that you are grateful for and focus on those.

Take some deep belly breaths, try a new task or change your focus to something in your environment.

When a negative thought pops up, greet it with “Hello,” then tell it “Goodbye.”

Also highly recommended is a sense of purpose, so now let us focus on the specific subject of holiday gatherings and their deleterious effect on everyone’s efforts to avoid obesity. Whether host or guest, do not let a sense of purpose overwhelm you. The purpose ought not to be staging the most impressive blowout in history. Let the purpose be ensuring that everyone is comfortable, and unthreatened by any aspect of the festivities.

While a sense of responsibility can be a lovely thing, an obsession rarely is. The whole holiday entertaining concept needs to be taken just seriously enough. Participants depend on an event’s organizer to plan well, and of course, the organizer also needs to depend on others for a lot. It should always be a two-way street and if it isn’t, try to spend the rest of the year catching up in order to be ready for next year’s winter holiday emotional extravaganza.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Avoiding Holiday Stressors: Tips for a Stress-Free Season,” NAMI.org, 12/03/18
Source: “The 9 Worst Habits for Your Brain,” AARP.org, 12/06/22
Image by jilblacktown/Flickr

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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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