Gravy, ham, candy canes, hot chocolate, eggnog — American belts are definitely going to loosen this holiday season.
Over-indulgence is a staple of Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Halloween in America. The holidays reinforce cultural behaviors of gluttony because they provide an excuse to eat beyond what is needed. With two-thirds of all Americans being obese or over-weight, it allows many of them to abuse the holidays as a tool to over-eat.
A modern American eats 523 more calories per day than what is needed for the body, according to the CBS series “Where America Stands.” This extra intake is nothing compared to Thanksgiving, which is known as a shameless personification of over-indulgence. The University of Michigan Health System found that a Thanksgiving dinner contains all of the calories in a day, and it does not include extra helpings, appetizers, or desserts. Many Americans spend the entire day eating until pained, sleeping, and then waking up to eat some more, while most do not do any physical activity period. This is not a healthy practice. Days later, the family can still be found eating leftovers with as much gusto as before. They keep over-eating, but rationalize, “Oh, its fine! It’s just Thanksgiving.”
On the other hand, Halloween has a different practice. Children are given bags, sometimes trash-bag size, and told to go get as much candy as they can get their hands on. Americans celebrate and willingly give as much candy to children. Going home in a cloud of sugar-induced high, these children will fill their bellies for many days to come on a stash of sweets without check. Halloween teaches nothing about self-control and it sets children up to form bad habits and relationships with food and candy.
Christmas has a combination of Halloween and Thanksgiving practices and still the same poor relationship with food. Christmas dinner is virtually the same tradition of binge eating as Thanksgiving. Sweets, cookies, and desserts are given out and eaten without hesitation. Eggnog contains 50% of fat per serving, contributing to Christmas’ unhealthy habits. The holiday treats and traditions ensure that all Americans will gain weight because it is the tradition to make these foods and consume them vigorously.
The holiday season is a vacation from self-restraint and good judgment. As if somehow, Santa will magically make obesity, the second highest preventable death reported by the CDC, not count when binge eating. Obesity rates have tripled in the last 30 years. The alarming figure lets America plainly see that, perhaps, all practices and traditions need to be put under a microscope.
Photo Credit: J.McPherkson