Last week we had a holiday of sorts called Fat Tuesday. (Mardi Gras means Fat Tuesday in French! I just learned this.) This alludes to the last day of feasting before Lent. While not everyone celebrates this, it did make me step back and look at just how many holidays and celebrations we have in this country that involve eating. While I stuffed my face with a paczki — an oversized Polish Donut with filling for those of you asking yourselves “What’s a Paczki?” — I decided to take some time and look into this subject.
In this country, we find reasons to stuff our face for just about every occasion you could possibly think of. Often times we are stuffing our faces with food (or stuff that we call food) that we really shouldn’t. Stuff that some of us who are trying to eat smart and stay within our dietary goals tend to regret the next day.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Food has long been associated with the celebration of big events, and also a coping mechanism to help us work through others. Whether that something is good or bad, it does not matter. When there is a wedding, we celebrate afterwards at a reception that has a feast. When there is a funeral, a gathering called a wake happens afterwards where people get together and talk about the deceased while they (you guessed it) feast.
Our holidays are no different either. Can you think of one Christmas, Easter, or Thanksgiving that didn’t have a big meal that was prepared and served with the intention of spending time with family? Real holidays like these aren’t the only ones. There are others as well that involve eating sweets such as Halloween and Valentine’s Day. And as if that weren’t enough, we invent other holidays to eat even more treats on, such as Sweetest Day. Even Super Bowl Sunday has turned into a holiday of sorts, where we gather with friends to eat and watch the Big Game.
We as a society have no problem whatsoever finding reasons to eat. What we do have a problem with is finding reasons to not eat so much! I’m not trying to dissuade anyone from eating what they love in times of celebration — just to point out that you should try to be smart with your choices and how much you eat. We are raised to think that if we don’t eat when we are offered food by a host that it is rude. We are taught that we should always finish what is on our plate. If you’re concerned with that, then eat a little but don’t force yourself to eat more than you need to. Just pay attention to what and how much.
There is nothing wrong with eating that one paczki on Fat Tuesday! It’s perfectly okay to treat yourself to that yummy treat. Just don’t eat the whole box!
Happy eating everyone!
Written by Christopher Smyth
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