Thanksgiving has the most appeal of any holiday for me. Its origins honor and recognize the humanity and generosity within us all.
It is a favorite time to acknowledge what is right about our lives and why we have so much to be thankful for, even if times are hard.
Humanity benefits from recognizing things we all share. Ceremonies around eating and the simple act of eating a meal are things that we have in common.
Eating and the rituals around eating often determine our health as well. Of all topics, food is the one that creates infinite gratitude for me.
Here are 9 reasons why I am thankful for food.
That food brings people together: Lives get hectic and weeks blur into years. The most joyous occasions tend to be when we stop and enjoy food with a good conversation, whether we are in Rome or in a remote, rural community.
The mood of good company at meals even drives how much we enjoy the food on our plate. For me personally, meals are the time to connect with my loved ones when the rest of the day may be scattered to the wind.
That food is a simple pleasure: We may not derive much love for the work we do or the commute getting there. We may not enjoy the menial tasks of daily chores. But the food we choose usually doesn’t fail to provide a measure of comfort and relaxation as well as satisfaction.
That food brings us into the present: Eating is a time to slow down and bring our bodies back to the present moment. Less worrying about tomorrow and relishing in the current moment of peace and calm. It is a grounding and centering force in our lives.
That food helps us define current trends: Some people don’t love new diets and “fad diets” and I don’t necessarily love them either. However, I personally find it fascinating how people decide to eat or not eat some foods.
It is part of how we define eras and how we define current efforts to solve perceived and real problems.
Of course, this can be taken too far, as in the case of an eating disorder called orthorexia. This disorder includes obsessive behavior in the pursuit of a perfect diet.
That our food choice is an expression of personality and autonomy: So much of our lives may be regulated by others and forces beyond our control, yet food is very personal and can help define who we are. Our food flair is an expression of personality.
That I have access to great spices and flavors: I’m lucky. I’m pretty sure my ancestors weren’t this lucky. I can access cinnamon, turmeric, sage, and cayenne, all of which may have originated on different continents.
Often, kings and monarchs only had this privilege of spice access. Blood has been spilled so many times in efforts to gain access to great spices and flavorings; certainly, the quest to find India’s spices by explorers carved out a different life trajectory for many.
The spice trade is part of why we have Thanksgiving today, even if some of this history is quite tragic.
That food has some of the most powerful impacts on health: It is undeniable at this point that the food we eat is either making or breaking our health; many experts say that a bad diet is as bad or worse than cigarettes.
And yet, the food we eat has tremendous power to heal.
It has healed me and countless others.
I’m also thankful that food and nutrition are my life’s occupations: I have never, not even for one moment, wished that I was anything other than a nutritionist and registered dietitian.
Sure, there are frustrating moments when I see the news and it distorts the truth about food and nutrition. That is the motivating force behind starting this blog!
That I have the privilege and access to food when so many go without.
Thanksgiving can be bittersweet when we think of those suffering, those who are homeless, and those alone or struggling to get enough food to eat.
I resolve to give to others, even if it is in some small way.
Be thankful today. Here are 101 Ways To Be Thankful.
What are you thankful for? I would love to hear from you.
Heidi Moretti, MS, RD is The Healthy RD. A registered dietitian for 23 years as well as a book author of the new book Gut Fix and The Whole Body Guide to Gut Health, Heidi has a passion for functional nutrition and natural medicine. She has researched supplements and natural medicine throughout her career. One of her biggest loves is helping people gain function and vitality by tackling the root causes of illness.