Circumvent the Winter Holiday Blues

Circumvent the Win

For anyone who aspires to be a worthy role model — and don’t we all? — the holiday season is the perfect time to practice all our best habits and set a good example for the kids. But we look around and see many adults with a different point of view, who regard this as the perfect time to abandon all restraint and just get as crazy as they wanna be. Meanwhile, the young’uns soak it all in, learning from these bad examples how to make excuses for less-than-pristine behavior.

Expectations and excesses

Many of us are saddled with extra visit-related obligations, whether we remain stationary or are ourselves travelers. For both hosts and company, everything adds to the general cost burden. Even the most gracious hosts and the most eagerly anticipated guests are sometimes unable to meet expectations.

We hope to make a good impression on those people we only see a couple of times per year. We aspire to be on our best behavior, but the odds are stacked against us. People are still human, and if there is some latent hostility, any contingency could easily bring it out.

There’s shopping in crowded environments to deal with, and stressed-out people whose individual missions are just as important to them as our own are to us. Churches and other institutions that we are involved with ask for exceptional sacrifices of time and energy. Frazzled relatives make extra demands. Emergencies come up, and are more difficult than usual to handle, as vacationing employees leave businesses short-staffed, or maybe even closed. Just when we want to put our best foot forward, the world sets up even more than its customary allotment of booby traps.

And looming over everything…

What if there were one huge super-charged addiction with the power to affect every person on the planet? Actually, there are at least three, water and air being two of them. The third is food. A person can live without nicotine (substance addiction) or gambling (behavioral addiction) but nobody can live without eating food (apparently, a dependency that combines both substance and behavior.)

The inescapable fact about food is that food is inescapable, and during the holidays this becomes exponentially true. The ubiquitous sharing of tempting goodies makes abstention almost impossible. We don’t want to spurn the generosity of the people who offer free treats. And besides, cooks who are justifiably proud of their skills deserve to be praised and appreciated. We have a thousand excuses to over-indulge.

A trap for all ages

So many “feels” are involved, and a lot of that, of course, is nostalgia-based, grounded in positive emotion that we cherish and certainly don’t want to banish. And then… there is the overwhelmingly present negative emotional side. People of every age tend to overeat in response to stress, and in the field of stress causation, the winter holidays perform brilliantly. However, this quotation from a previous post about solid grounding still holds true.

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.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Image by Tanya Hart/CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

FAQs and Media Requests: Click here…

Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

Profiles: Kids Struggling with Obesity top bottom

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