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Quinn on Nutrition: Thanksgiving: live to eat or eat to live?

November 28, 2016


I’m getting off easy for Thanksgiving this year. With the crowd of in-laws and out-laws at my daughter and son-in-law’s home, the only contributions I have been asked to bring — aside from a promise not to make any nutritional comments — are cranberry sauce and sweet potato casserole.

And this cannot be just any sweet potato casserole. According to my daughter, it must be "Madge’s" sweet potato casserole. Deliciously rich with butter, sugar and pecans … and sweet potatoes, my family would never forgive me if I tried to "adjust" this adored recipe in any way.

Holiday meals do take on special meanings, depending on how we view this whole mixture of food and family and feelings. Many of the people in my family, for example are what some experts would label "live to eat" folks. Our holidays are consumed with planning tasty meals and accompaniments and drooling over the big turkey (the one on the table). Food — good food — represents more than just fill material; it is the centerpiece of our holiday.

On the other extreme are those whose interests revolve around activities other than food. They eat when they are hungry — especially when someone else is cooking — and they’re not too picky about the meal. Eating is like brushing teeth; they do it and then go on to other things. These folks "eat to live."

Nutrition experts suggest we would be happier and healthier if we stayed somewhere in the middle of "live to eat" and "eat to live." We can and we should salivate over all the holiday aromas and tastes. And it’s perfectly fine to fuss over good food and share meals with others. That’s how it’s supposed to be. We tend to fare better health-wise, however, when we slow down to savor small bites of all the exquisite flavors. More is not always better.

On the other side, if we’d rather be watching football than pulling a meal together, we can realize that even simple meals shared with friends and family can add more meaning to a holiday. So, whether we a) hover around the kitchen to make sure everything is just right or b) throw together a potluck with friends, we still have the option to make good choices.

As we celebrate this day of Thanksgiving with food … lots of food, I am thankful for the bounty with which we are blessed. But most importantly, I am thankful for the people who will be sharing this meal with me … Madge’s sweet potato casserole and all.

 

 



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