Uh-oh, Here Come the Holidays!

Originally published: 11-21-13

Thanksgiving and Hanukkah are upon us, heralding the beginning of the time of year we call “the holidays.” What are your plans for this holiday season? Will you attend typical holiday dinner parties with all the trimmings, perhaps typical holiday cocktail parties with booze and junky snacks, and will you indulge in typical holiday sweet treats in between all the parties? Most people engage in these activities because this is how we typically celebrate and enjoy the holidays with family, friends and co-workers.

The problem with all this typical behavior, of course, is that it is very fattening. And this is even more of a problem because most of us (2/3 of adult Americans) are already overweight. Of course, we’re all planning to take care of our weight after the first of the year, when we start our New Year’s resolution to go on a diet, right? Even if we do follow through with such plans, we likely will quit dieting by February and then quickly regain whatever weight we had lost.

So, what is the point of consuming fattening foods and beverages in the interest of celebrating the holidays? Okay, so we enjoy ourselves for the few minutes that we are eating and drinking holiday fare, and then what? We have worsened our chronically overweight state and added insult to the constant discomfort, disease and unhappiness that excess weight causes. In the process of celebrating the holidays, we have contributed to the ruination of our lives. And this we call “enjoying” ourselves? I call it insanity.

How about, for a change, we depart from conventional behavior this year. Why don’t we eat sensibly for the rest of the year and limit the fattening consumption to maybe a couple of “really important” occasions, doing so in moderation. We can still be with people and do all the other things we enjoy at the holidays and actually feel good about ourselves in the process. Then, after the season is over, we won’t have to deal with the misery of a significant weight gain (on top of the holiday bills that arrive in January).

The point is the big picture. If you are overweight, you are likely unhappy with the way you look and feel, and you likely have or will have health problems related to your excess weight. Why worsen all of this just because it is “the holidays.” Why not celebrate the holidays by giving yourself the best gifts anyone could ever get: health and happiness. Why don’t you start a new lifestyle today, by cutting down on sweets, starches and alcohol and engaging in a few minutes of physical activity each day. Don’t go on a diet; just make some positive changes to your daily routine in the interest of achieving goals that are truly important and exciting.

Go ahead! Make this holiday season the beginning of your transformation to a thinner, healthier, happier you. Now, that’s what I call enjoying the holidays!

Dean Sloan, MD

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