Behavior / Diet / Health

Thanksgiving and the Attitude of Gratitude

Picture taken from www.essaytigers.comIt’s here again! Thanksgiving: a day that carries meaning far beyond thanks. For some, it’s a drudgery of food preparation and stress. For others, it’s about family and togetherness. For still others, it’s about loss, or loneliness, or friends far away.  And for some, it’s about Black Friday and Cyber Monday and the start of the holiday season. There is one thing we can all agree on about Thanksgiving, though. Almost universally, it’s about indulgence. There are endless articles published about the excessive caloric intake that goes on every Thanksgiving. On the extreme end, the Calorie Control Council estimates that the average American consumes 4500 calories and 229 grams of fat in this holiday meal.

NBC’s Jeff Rossen, with Cornell University professor Brian Wansink, an expert on eating behaviors, recently took a closer look at family meal patterns over Thanksgiving in this real-life experiment. The Rossen Reports team organized a Thanksgiving dinner for the Lemieux family of Monroe, Connecticut, under the premise of filming a general story about holidays and families. What the family  didn’t know was that Wansink was hidden in a car outside, calculating their caloric intake as producers recorded every bite they took. Some family members consumed in excess of 3500 calories (the number of calories in a pound of human fat), taking seconds and thirds of various entree and dessert items. Moreover, about 20% of the total calories consumed occurred before dinner (e.g., drinks, hors d’oeuvres), as family members socialized and prepared dinner.  Here’s the video clip of the segment for you to watch.

What’s the message here? If you’re really concerned about weight, certainly Thanksgiving can be a pretty big caloric splurge, and it’s great to be aware of just how much we can consume over the course of a day of drinking and eating. But it’s also…just a day. A day with meaning, and a day to be meaningful. And perhaps the bigger message is that having that day means something different, but equally worthy of gratitude, for all of us. I leave you with mine.

By Julie Cadwallader-Staub

This is as far as the light
of my understanding
has carried me:
an October morning
a canoe built by hand
a quiet current

above me the trees arc
green and golden
against a cloudy sky

below me the river responds
with perfect reflection
a hundred feet deep
a hundred feet high.

To take a cup of this river
to drink its purple and gray
its golden and green

to see
a bend in the river up ahead
and still


One thought on “Thanksgiving and the Attitude of Gratitude

  1. This is a great message. “It’s just a day” sums it up, but the underlying significance is the feeling behind the Holiday. We, in this country, have so much to be thankful for, and if we can be cognizant of that, and be sensible in our eating, and giving to those in need, then westerly an be Thankful for being alive. The poem at the end sums it up for me!

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