Holiday Behaviors Leading to Health or Disease
Alcoholism, cigarette smoking, overweight, lack of exercise and "drug" use/abuse are just the excessive extensions of normal behaviors. In ancient times these holiday behaviors were permitted/acceptable only infrequently and for very short periods of time. There could be a "Holiday" mentality just 2 or 3 days a year since life was so difficult that this was as frequent as we really could safely afford to relax and "do whatever we wanted to" such as use tobacco or alcohol, be lazy or excessive with our diet or the use of mind altering drugs. This concept is said as, "Even the Ancients partied only once in a while." In ancient times, even as recently as 250 years ago, if we ate meat, cheese, chicken, eggs, or didn't work in the fields, which is exercise, often this resulted in the social catastrophes of starvation, freezing to death, or dying from thirst because our inadequate efforts or excessive behaviors were so directly related to our survival or extinction. Because of the ruggedness of life we were always "close to the edge" and without the extended security of grocery stores and freezers.
Two thousand years ago, "holidays" occurred maximally several times a year, with the changing of the four seasons. More recently "holidays" became at first a monthly, then weekly, and now by convenience and economics it is possible to have daily holidays with inexpensive "treats" such as meat/fat/sweet/alcohol/ tobacco or even what used to be the infrequent and ceremonial use of mind-altering drugs such as wine, cocoa leaves, or mescaline and now PCP, LSD, marijuana, Ecstasy, speed, heroin, or cocaine. We, seemingly, no longer need to, and therefore do not now, pay attention to safety issues because what we do today does not have the direct effect upon us tomorrow or next month as in days gone by. What is now our modern epidemic of diseases, were prevented in the past simply because we couldn't do/afford to do those behaviors above often enough to create our modern diseases.
Overweight is due only in part to our consuming the excess availability of rich and refined foods and is no more than a part of this same continuum since the ease of our lives also contributes to a decreased need to exercise in order to get by. That is, exercise in our normal daily lives was walking a significant distance to school/work and or having to do physical labor all day long. We have all become "princes and princesses" to the point where we behave like royalty and have now developed the royal diseases of overweight, heart attack, laziness, cancer, drug addiction, gout, alcoholism, etc. These are dangerous or evil-in-their-extent behaviors which should only be accessible and available to each of us in the smallest of quantities and which are absolutely not safe for nearly any of us in such huge quantities, as these behaviors are now so common.
Our current deadly behaviors have lead to knee and hip replacement surgery from crushing overweight, which overweight is also relevant to the development of diabetes/high cholesterol/high blood pressure/heart attack/stroke/bypass surgery/dialysis/gall stones/diverticulitis/cancer of the breast-colon-uterus-prostate and so on. These are all, or certainly in large part, due to the abuses of diet, smoking, exercise lack, and use of mind altering drinks and drugs and of all which excesses are reasonably preventable.
H. Robert Silverstein, MD