The large family gathering we had at Thanksgiving this year was much like previous years throughout my life. We all chose to laugh and eat, play and tease while avoiding talk of the sins of wayward children, jobs lost, depressing news, and election outcomes. I’m convinced it’s the amazing food we get to enjoy when we get together that makes our family time pretty spectacular. We are blessed with more than our fair share of extraordinary cooks and winning recipes. Everyone wears sweatpants or pants with elastic in them when we get together because the joyful feasting is an all-day affair. If we did this more than a few times a year, we’d all be potential stroke victims in no time. We use moderation, as far as the number of times we get to sample all the best dishes of the best cooks all in one day. According to at least one sociologist in an article claiming happy is more important than healthy, the good news is that this type of day makes for the best kind of lasting memories and is worth the calories.
Can food really make you happy?
The thing about food is that you don’t have to be at a big family affair to feel the joy. Science has proven that fatty comfort foods actually elevate the mood. It’s science and not coincidence that the brokenhearted reach for chocolate and ice cream after a painful breakup. Since the holidays come with many traditional, irresistible comfort dishes, it’s no wonder Christmas can bring joy to the Scroogiest among us. It’s kind of like how some people go to weddings just for the cake. Many people who are otherwise blasé about Christmas are made happy by the annual sugar cookies, homemade chocolates, and pies from friends, aunts, co-workers, and neighbors.
Now for the bad news
If you’re lucky, you grew up with healthy habits of exercise, to combat the effects of gluttonous affairs. Indulging in the types of holiday treats that make Thanksgiving and Christmas so comforting must be done with restraint in everyday life or obesity will be an unavoidable result. If you’ve never been there, let me tell you from experience, although being overweight has different effects on different people. I’m definitely more joyful as a human being when my weight is below the obesity line. But that doesn’t change the fact that eating family holiday favorites is worth every bite.