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An old Thanksgiving memory and saying I Love Food

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

On another forum today someone was talking about looking forward to the L-Tryptophan nap. I realized that in 43 years, I have never once sat down to a Thanksgiving dinner at which the goal was gorging myself.

Of course, the first 18 years that was because we didn't celebrate at all. Raised as a Jehovah's Witness, no holidays were celebrated. Even birthdays were marked by no more than being another year older.

My earliest Thanksgiving memory is in second grade. My parents had made sure I had the appropriate notes and whatnot for the teacher to excuse me from all holiday projects at the beginning of the year. I didn't make a decorated bag or cut-out pumpkins for Halloween or a flag for Veterans day. I got to work on a random non-Holiday project each time.

The Thanksgiving Day craft was creating Pilgrim or Indian outfits out of construction paper and other materials. I was given my usual make-work craft and had finished that. Being the independent thinker and doer I already was, I went to the teacher and told her that I knew my parents had excused me but that I wanted to participate. I remember the Pilgrim bonnet and apron I made and happily wore at our little feast - lunch out at one of the long benches.

(( Yes, I realize in retrospect that it seems like the teacher was helping me do something my parents said "no" to, but if I remember right the excuse notes they sent didn't outright say I couldn't do things, just that I could not be pressured and had to be offered alternative activities. It's the difference between a doctor's orders to stay off a foot and having an doctor's excuse to get out of P.E. if a foot hurts too much. The latter is left to the discretion of the person whether to do or not. ))

Why this comes to mind is that I can't even remember when I learned that people stuff themselves like turkeys for Thanksgiving. What I remember best was the stories of the Pilgrims. They arrived here in winter and it was horrible - nearly half of those who made it across had been lost by the time the harvest came around the following year. After so much trouble and struggle, they had a good harvest and they had a good relationship with the natives who had helped them pull through.

They held a feast to celebrate all the things to be thankful for - those who survived, a good harvest, a future that was looking up, good will between people.

Truly, while they did feast that day, there are three differences I think are pretty critical:

1) Harvesting is hard work. Heck, everything they did to survive that year was hard work beyond anything we go through in modern times. They "worked out" constantly as there were no machines, no refrigeration, no conveniences, and no guarantees. They worked long hours, mostly very physical manual labor.

2) The food, the harvest, that they were thankful for was going to have to last for months during which very little would grow or be available. They'd already gone through a very harsh winter. Without a doubt they'd have that in mind and not want a repeat.

3) The Pilgrims were Puritans. Puritans very strongly believe in simplicity and in the sinfulness of pleasing the flesh. Gluttony would have been considered a horrible way to show their thanks. The feast would have been more about the gathering than eating.


Makes me actually glad I've never celebrated in the "L-Tryptophan nap" style.

Of course, I'm no Puritan. I love food and see nothing wrong with pleasing the flesh IN MODERATION.

In fact, let me take that statement and say something more on it.


How often have I heard someone say that, how often have I said that, while eating something too fast to even register the flavors fully?

Consider the difference in eating ice cream.

One person takes a small spoonful, lets it rest on their tongue and melt just enough, biting any fruit or harder objects such as chocolate shavings, chewing enough to break it up and extract a maximum of flavor, smiling in that way that says "oh, this is amazingly good" as they swallow and take a moment to even savor the aftertaste, the recent memory and look forward to scooping a little more and repeating the experience.

Another person starts shoveling spoonful after spoonful into their mouth, barely chewing unless there's a choking hazard, swallowing as soon as possible so they can get more in. Enough flavor gets through via sheer volume that they know it is their favorite, but too soon the bowl or carton is empty.

Both will tell you they love food.
Both will tell you what their favorite foods are.

One, during the process, actually looks like they are loving and appreciating the food. The other looks like they are more in love with eating than with the food which becomes an afterthought.

Of all things, the food I actually learned this on was the Ultimate Cheeseburger from Jack in the Box. That thing is overkill, but (in my opinion, of course) delicious. I've eaten it ridiculously fast, on the order of 5 minutes. I had a vague appreciation of the burger, but while I felt stuffed I didn't feel particularly satisfied with it. I've also cut it in half and eaten it slowly, on the order of twenty minutes. That's right ... four times as long to eat half as much. I enjoyed, yes loved, every single bite thoroughly. I wasn't stuffed, but I was more than satisfied.

When we eat too fast, we miss out on an important part of the experience - the mind's appreciation of the meal. We get the aromas and basic flavors, our stomach gets filled, but our brain is sitting up there going "What?! That's it? No! I want more!"


I love the entire experience. I love slowing it down and dragging it out, so my senses can be fully engaged. The aroma tickles my nose before any food passes my lips. My eyes light up at a beautiful presentation. My tastebuds dance with the first explosion of flavor across them. My ears perk at the crunches and snaps, even the occasional slurps that escape. My tongue delights in the smooth and the rough, the soft and the crisp, a world of textures to experience.

THAT is truly loving food and brings the experience from just loving the taste of something to loving the entire experience fully.

Take the time to make your next experience of food worth having, worth saying "I love food" and really meaning it at every level. Not because it is comforting or pleasurable in a life lacking those. Not because it smashes down some emotion we can't handle. Not because it is a habit or a necessity. Definitely not mindlessly.

Because food and our body's capacity to appreciate it is truly an incredible thing. Food fuels us, but we could be fueled with bland bread, water and supplements. Instead, we have the ability to eat a very broad array of food items, exploring a wide spectrum of flavors, colors, textures, temperatures, and more.

Treat the next bite like you haven't eaten all week and this bite is the only one you're going to get.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Julia used the perfect word to describe your I Love Food thought when she picked "meditation"...that was a very thoughtful, and a very wise read. Thanks!
    1934 days ago
  • JULIA1154
    Thank you for a lovely meditation on Thanksgiving. I know it will come to mind again next year, to be enjoyed and appreciated again.

    Our family definitely celebrated holidays but has never been in the business of gorging. Perhaps some of it is because my parents grew up during the Depression; self-restraint and appreciation of what one has have always been part of their personalities. I will treasure those aspects of my parents (and my extended family) all the more for having read this piece.

    Again, thank you.
    1935 days ago
    Thanks for this, Blue! Makes me wish I could do Thanksgiving over, and take your advice this time. emoticon
    1941 days ago
    thank you for the reminder to eat slow and enjoy my food .
    I worked so hard to eat slow and some where along the way i started eating fast again so thanks for the reminder . i was the last done at dinner on Thursday and was still on my first when the others were working on seconds !!!
    1941 days ago
    Happy Thanksgiving!

    I don't gorge on Thanksgiving, but I'll admit I do eat more than I probably should. Perhaps because, being single, I don't prepare large dinners for myself and I usually eat alone. So on Thanksgiving, when I'm with family or friends and there are all those yummy foods on the table that I don't get the rest of the year, I do tend to try them all while enjoying the companionship, conversation, and laughter that eating with others provides. And even though I try "just a dab" of each item to keep it in moderation, all of those little dabs add up! But I do have a walk scheduled tomorrow to help me burn off those extra calories.
    1944 days ago
    You have given us some good advice. Everything in moderation. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
    1944 days ago
  • KARL1266
    I LOVE FOOD. 3 simple words that can be taken in two entirely different ways. Your explanations of each are far superior to what I could come up with but at the same time echo many facets of my own thinking.

    Truly exceptional blog once again.

    Have a very memorable and Happy Thanksgiving! And savor the experience.
    1944 days ago
  • 1EMMA2011
    So proud of you! What a lovely, thoughtful blog post!! I appreciate you!! emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1944 days ago

    Another emoticon blog

    Your last sentence says it all

    Have a Wonderful Turkey-Day !


    emoticon emoticon
    emoticon emoticon

    1944 days ago
    1944 days ago
    Yes, thanks for this blog. I have never been one to gorge on Thanksgiving -- I may have 2 servings of something, but I don't eat until I'm stuffed and overflowing out of the chakras most people describe themselves as doing onThanksgiving.
    1944 days ago
    Savoring each bite is an excellent suggestion. And, I have read, probably on SP, that it's only the first three or four bites of food that provide us with the satisfaction of enjoying the taste of what we are eating. My plan is to select healthy food options and to "taste" the less than healthy options, if I am hungry. Happy Thanksgiving to you and thanks for all of the information about the first Thanksgiving. Very informative!
    1944 days ago
    This is so wise, and so timely. Thank you and I hope you enjoy every bite of your Thanksgiving meal tomorrow. You deserve it! emoticon
    1944 days ago
    Loved your blog, enjoyed it all, from the First Thanksgiving, to how we really do overeat, to the point of misery, I have done it myself, we all have, but I plan on being careful tomorrow, Thanks for the reminder, I will savor my food, and give Thanks for our bounty.
    1944 days ago
    I find it very sad that a group of people could not celebrate the birth of their children; but that is beside the point. I do not love food, I think, if I could live without it, I wouldnt eat. I found comfort in food, if not for that, I'd be skinny! Haha.
    1945 days ago
    Thank you! This is another great blog! I will keep this in mind as I sit down to thanksgiving food. I will take my time and savor it.

    1945 days ago
  • 13ICANDOIT13
    Well, that was well said. I am glad you are doing well on your journey. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Have a great day. Teresa
    1945 days ago
  • CIPHER1971
    I hope you have an awesome Thanksgiving.
    1945 days ago
    emoticon your blog was emoticon
    Happy Thanksgiving!
    1945 days ago
  • _JODI404
    I don't always have time to comment, but I *always* read and enjoy all of your blogs.

    I LOVE this very wise reminder:

    "Not because it is comforting or pleasurable in a life lacking those. Not because it smashes down some emotion we can't handle. Not because it is a habit or a necessity. Definitely not mindlessly."

    Thank you for a timely reminder on the proper appreciation of our food....and what it should not be to us.

    I hope you have a wonderful holiday, and cheers to REALLY ENJOYING and savoring our food!!


    1945 days ago
  • ANTOF9
    Oh, my goodness! Thank you for writing this! I *was* raised with the traditional holidays, but I, too, never sat down to Thanksgiving dinner INTENDING to eat too much. Sure, I knew I might; but that was not what I planned. But over the years, I certainly did it many, many times. In fact, you've reminded me of one (recent) year where I finally ate too much. I ate so much that I actually had the indigestion feeling of thinking I might be having a heart attack. I will NEVER forget that feeling.

    I love what you've written about the first Thanksgiving, and your take on "loving" food. Thanks, thanks for writing this!
    1945 days ago
    I like this thoughtful blog. I think part of my problem isn't wolfing it down, it's just that the array of goodies is so vast. Even if I take just a small portion of each delight, it adds up to a lot! Also we are eating foods we eat only on special occasions and often fix more than is really needed. Probably the recipes we all rely on were designed to feed large gatherings. Now we have leftovers and a bit of free time to make trips to the fridge for snacks. One way to combat this problem is to ATTEMPT to make smaller amounts and to seek out recipes using our favorite seasonal ingredients in tasty lower fat/lowercarb/lower calorie ways. I don't think I'm doing much of this myself as I am going to my sister's for the meal. I'm bringing a jello salad she requested that is full of manderin orange sections, celery, pineapple, and pecans. It's probably pretty sugary too. My sister will be making an old fashioned turkey and dressing that will not skimp on richness. I am also making yeast rolls. Hopefully the kids will eat the bulk of these. My goal this day is to keep my weight at a standstill. Eat what I want on the day, and not to overindulge for days on end.
    1945 days ago
    I am thankful for your reminder! Savor each and every moment. Happy Thanksgiving!
    1945 days ago
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