According to nutritional psychologists and researchers at the University of Southampton, nostalgia (as experienced at Thanksgiving) fills a very important need to belong and feel socially connected, and is actually good for our mental health.
Studies show that nostalgia increases our self-esteem and reminds us of the things that are really important to us in life. People who are lonely often feel more connected after engaging in nostalgia.
As far as traditional holiday feasts go, nutritional psychologist Marc David had this to say in a CNN interview:
“When you do something repeatedly over the years, it builds up a kind of power. It creates its own momentum. To make the same dish year after year, decade after decade there’s something in that that connects us to the past.”
Was sweet potato pie with marshmallows–or pumpkin pie with a graham cracker crust–a childhood favorite of yours? Taste of Home Editor, Catherine Cassidy, refers to them as
“food memories. When it come to the holidays, we are always trying to recreate the magic and the specialness we experienced when we were children.”
Dr. Clay Routledge, a researcher with the University of Southampton’s nostalgic project, questions:
“Is it really about the food? Or is the food just sort of a trigger or cue for what the holidays are really all about, which is relationships. We don’t eat these foods other times of the year because we’ve segmented them off as special. They go with this occasion. They go with the relationships.”
So, relish the food, cherish the memories, enjoy & appreciate the friends & family who matter most in your life. Happy Thanksgiving!