Food was, is and always will be part of our lives, but the role it has in our lives, and the value that goes with this, is something that depends mostly on us. The Festive Season is upon us and simply thinking about it brings joy to many of us. There are many reasons why the Festive Season is so important to us and gives us much to look forward to. Spending time with family and friends, going on a holiday, shopping for presents, decorating the Christmas tree, waiting for the snow to come, reading a book in front of the fireplace, watching children playing, and eating good food are just some of our beloved Christmas traditions.
For the purposes of our discussion, we will be thinking about food, and the part it has to play in our festive celebrations.
We are all aware that we must eat to survive, to fuel our body with energy for the day. We also eat for pleasure. As with everything else in life, we should find joy in eating. However, this often proves to be difficult in our busy lives. For example, can you think of a time when you were eating, and you were fully engaged in this and not being distracted by anything else, such as watching TV, reading a book, thinking about work or the bills that need paid? We all tend to do this from time to time, it’s only human. It is important, however, to remember why the food we eat is so vital to us: it feeds us, it ensures our survival, and it makes us feel good.
Food doesn’t replace anger, sadness, loneliness, boredom, low self-esteem and many other unpleasant emotions. It can, however, make us feel that we are coping with our problems better, in the short-term. This is why it is so important to know why we are eating and the influence our eating habits have on our lives. Attempting to build pleasant memories and experiences while eating is the best way to approach food in a healthy, positive and enjoyable manner.
When you are thinking of food, try to consider all the sensory elements that make food so enjoyable. How our food looks, smells, and tastes; the texture, colour and temperature of it, and the way it is served – all of these not only stimulate our senses but prepare us each time for a new journey when we are eating. Food is something to explore, to taste and to discover.
One interesting way to learn about food and its vital role in our lives is by finding out how other cultures relate to food. There are many ways to do this. By reading books, watching documentaries, participating in cultural events or simply going to Italian, Chinese, Indian, Persian etc. restaurants, we will undoubtedly be more exposed to different foods. This will broaden our perspective and give us a better understanding of food.
So why is food so important to us during the festive season? Psychologist Luc Brunet, of the Université de Montréal, says that Christmas and New Year are “sacred”. “It is part of our culture to come together to laugh and eat in a festive setting”. Being together with our family and friends on these special occasions, given the nature of the global workforce and the fact that lots of family members and friends may live a considerable distance apart, becomes all the more special. “The dinner table is where relationships are forged, where children can express their joys and concerns”, as Marie Marquis, a Professor at the Université de Montréal Department of Nutrition, says. It may also be regarded as a desire to keep in touch with the past. Being with our loved ones gives us a feeling of continuity and stability.
We are all likely to be aware of the saying, “You are what you eat”. This means that the food we eat has a big impact on our state of mind and our health. What we eat and the way we eat can tell us a lot about how much we respect ourselves. How do you feel when you are in a nice restaurant with good music, good food, and good friends around? Your answer will most likely be a positive one. Sometimes, in the right context, even the simplest food can be the most delicious.
We can all enjoy not only Christmas dinner, but the good food that we have throughout the festive season, simply by keeping in mind that although we should not be intimidated by food, we can be aware of the quality and quantity of it, and the way we choose to eat it.
Try to cook something for yourself, your family or your friends and you will hopefully experience not only the joy of sharing something you have done, but also feel a sense of achievement, that you are able to cook an enjoyable meal.
The festive season is not about eating “forbidden food”, as many of us may think. It is about the joy of being with our loved ones, sharing good food, kind words and warm feelings. So, start the Festive Season by trying to answer to the following question: How would I like to remember this Christmas?
Written by Sorina Oprea, Edited by Jennifer McElroy
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