Stop and Smell the Memories

Do you ever take a moment to stop and smell the memories? My tomato plants are covered in tomatoes so heavy they tipped the trellis over this morning. As I was setting them back up surrounded by the smell of the plants, I was reminded of gardening with my grandmother when I was small. There’s a strong connection between smell and memory. There’s a strong connection between memory and comfort. And there’s a strong connection between comfort and food.

Have you ever had a chance to stop and consider how smell and memory influence your food choices? Most of us don’t even have time to stop and smell the roses, much less the memories. But an awareness of our relationships to smell memory can be helpful with compliance when we need to follow a specific diet in order to be healthy.

A few years ago, a gluten-free bakery opened in my city. My response upon first visiting it was to feel disappointment that there was no yeasty smell in the air. For me, the joy of a bakery lies in the smells-yeast, coffee, cinnamon. The visuals are great too, but while I might be hesitant to eat an oddly shaped cut of meat or deformed looking vegetable, I’d never refuse a misshapen cookie or a torn piece of bread.

Much of the joy and comfort of cooking come from familiar aromas. The first time I cooked fresh green beans in my home, I remarked, “This is how this house should smell.” The house is over 100 years old. Somehow, the smell fit the hardwood floors, carved wood doors, transom windows, and 12-foot ceilings. And I knew it.

When smell is a reminder of family, comfort, and tradition, it can be especially compelling. That’s because smell goes directly to an olfactory bulb that’s connected to the amygdala where emotional processing occurs. All of those warm feelings can end up being connected to related smells.

The idea of giving up a certain food may trigger a feeling of loss or separation as if you’re giving up family or comfort. Knowing this up front can help inform your choices and give you enough insight to recognize and overcome emotional memory stumbling blocks.

And perhaps knowing this can help you process through a diagnosis of celiac disease, diabetes, IBS, or Crohn’s disease without feeling as though required dietary changes will be dire. You will quickly recognize that you can enjoy the warm memories associated with the scent of a cinnamon roll without actually eating one. This knowledge will increase your sense of power, confidence, and choice.

It may also mean you value your memories more because you take time to smell them.

Create a Father’s Day Memory – Take Dad on a Hike!

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Take Dad on a hike for Father’s Day! When you can’t think of the perfect gift for Father’s Day, why not create a memory instead? Even if you already bought the perfect gift for your dad, how can he help but treasure time with you in a beautiful environment?

If your dad is relatively young and strong, a hike up a mountain can provide beautiful scenery. The closest hiking mountain nearby where I live has numerous natural rock stairs on one side and larger rocks you must scale on the other. Neither trek is straight up and no special equipment is required. An early morning hike is the perfect prelude to a Father’s Day brunch.

Because it’s quite hot here even early in the morning, we have to make sure to bring along plenty of water. I also carry snacks suitable for each hiker’s dietary preferences. I keep it small, simple and lightweight. Salted peanuts or trail mix with a variety of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit are my most common choices.
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If the weather is cool, Ben likes to carry “jam tacos”. That’s what he calls the food created when he jams as much meat and cheese as will fit into a soft corn tortilla. He doesn’t use condiments, so these sandwich rolls can be jam packed and placed in a zip top plastic bag before the hike without the risk of excessive sogginess.

Other than that, we just carry a smart phone for photos and video and to call for rescue if we need it. Keeping things simple allows us to focus on being present in the moment. Of course, in spite of thinking I’m paying close attention to what’s going on around me, I’ve still managed to sprain my ankle and puke on my shoes during two of these hikes. Hey, I didn’t say all the memories would be pleasant!
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If your father is elderly, you can bring the hike to him. Find photos from a previous hike. Scan them and have oversized digital prints made of the scenery. Mount the prints on foamcore so they can stand on their own or hang them on walls and furniture then literally walk through the posters down memory lane right in the living room.

If you’ve never been hiking together, you can still bring the hike to him. Get some potted trees, plants, or flowers and create a path in the yard, on the porch, or through the house. Hide or station the grandkids amongst the plants to provide the sound effects of wind, a waterfall, thunder, or airplanes overhead. For around $10 you can sit around a Light n’ Go Bonfire and tell stories or make s’mores. Of course, this is not advised if you’re hiking inside.
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When I think back to my less than fortunate hiking incidents, I realize they provided some of the funniest memories and gave us great stories to retell. That’s the beauty of memories – especially the ugly ones.

Happy Father’s Day!

We hope you’ll take a moment to share your favorite Father’s Day memory below.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”