The taste of thanks

With the American Thanksgiving holiday this week, the holiday season officially begins.

If you’ve been bah-humbugging your way through till now, it’s about to get harder. I’m here to tell you the best thing is just to embrace it. 

Much like sitting around the holiday table with family members can sometimes be a trying time or eating the Brussels sprouts might not be your favourite thing, we need to see the glass as having something in it, even if it’s half empty. 

Looking through the negative aspects of the world and seeing what is positive is what truly makes us grateful. (Kind of like focusing on the delicious gravy that gets into those nasty Brussels sprouts.)

Anyone can do this. Ask a child, they’ll tell you. Being kind is a good place to start. Paying it forward works too. Kids will share toys, and snacks, and even hugs in many cases, without a second thought.

We big kids need to remember it’s that easy. (As a side note, if we teach kids that there is a positive side to the Brussels sprouts, that helps them to be better eaters.)

We can’t save the whole world single-handedly. But every bit we each do makes a difference. And I’m not just being altruistic here, alluding to how good others will feel. 

Research has repeatedly shown that when we show our gratitude in our actions, it affects our brain; our levels of feel-good chemicals such as dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin increase, making us feel more connected to others and happier in general.

This happy circle will perpetuate itself if we train our brains to focus on the positive instead of the negative. We have that survival instinct that makes us notice negative things more easily (as in threats to us or our environment).

Since the idea is to be not only alive in the face of a complex world but also happy, focusing on positive experiences is the key. 

Focusing on something positive for a mere 20 seconds is enough to get our brain in gear. (That’s only two Brussels sprouts worth of chewing.) Those happy-making chemicals will begin to flow after that time.

The next step is to continue this approach on a consistent basis so we make it a habit.

The good news from the Brussels sprouts perspective is that our brain enjoys versatility and novelty. So no, you don’t have to keep eating just sprouts. Or maybe next time cook them with bacon. Try all kinds of new things, new combinations. 

I will add here that our taste buds grow throughout our life, our palates are continuously evolving. New food experiences can make us happy too, when we discover new foods we enjoy.

The holiday season can be stressful, with all the expectations and that looming deadline. Here is a way we can re-focus our efforts and enjoy the anticipation of it all. 

Just as I always suggest you slow down to savour your meals, taking in the flavours, smells and the company, I’m offering that counsel for the season in general.

Gratitude is a tasty undertaking, and you can indulge as much as you like without it affecting your figure.

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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