Thanksgiving is not the only time of the year that we should feel thankful for what we have. That should take place every day whether you believe in a god, or yourself. Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday.
We celebrate gluttony by stuffing ourselves far more than we would at any other time of the year. Don’t get me wrong, I won’t refuse a turkey dinner and I have eaten too much at Thanksgiving on many occasions, so I’m not putting myself above the crowd here.
But maybe we should give a thought about what the first Thanksgiving was all about: sharing. It’s a good time to share a meal with a stranger, especially one who doesn’t have much to be thankful for.
And it’s also a good time to think about the American Indians who kept the pilgrims alive that first Thanksgiving so the folks who came later could conquer them and establish a new country. I know that it’s unfair, but that’s the way it goes when a new territory is conquered, the native inhabitants often suffer.
But let’s get back to the over indulgence at Thanksgiving and for that matter, the rest of the holiday season and year. What is it about a full belly that makes you feel so good?
According to CNN: “On Thanksgiving, many of us will eat way more than normal and then waddle away contented, with a turkey and sweet potato buzz. Having a belly stuffed with comforting food can feel like a warm hug from the inside. Evolution has given us the instinct to eat a lot every time we can, preparing for hard times. It’s the drive to survive, like puffy-cheeked squirrels storing up for the winter.”
Those of us who tend to be fat actually had a better chance of surviving when food was scarce than those who were thin. So if you are overweight, you can tell your skinny friends that you would have survived better than they would have in prehistoric times.
Overeating releases brain chemicals that actually work the same as drugs, alcohol, and sex, researchers say. Scientists call it “ingestion analgesia.” Eating and reproduction were the two greatest drives to survive, so nature gave us an incentive to do both by making them pleasurable.
Today food, especially in the United States, is plentiful and we know that we don’t have to consume so much of it to survive. But our brains haven’t changed that much since prehistoric time so we overeat to survive, even though we know we don’t have to. It’s just like sex. We no longer have sex just to reproduce, but there is still that instinct to propagate the species every time we do.