Becoming healthier can happen with gratitude: Here's how to apply thankfulness to your daily routine
- 2 Minutes Read
Did you know taking food for granted could backfire on weight loss, for there are literally health benefits from a little gratitude? Learn how practicing gratitude may help you achieve your healthy lifestyle goals.
Psychologists define gratitude as a general state of thankfulness or appreciation. It is an appreciation for what a person receives, what is valuable, and what is meaningful to oneself. Gratitude encourages us to recognize that the source of that goodness lies outside ourselves. It also connects us to other people, nature, or a higher power.
Health research indicates that gratitude is associated with an improved sense of well-being, such as greater happiness and life satisfaction. In addition, a growing number of studies suggest that deep appreciation tends to make people physically healthier and causes them to adopt healthier lifestyles. For example, studies found gratitude associated with such health benefits as improved sleep duration and quality, less fatigue, decreased inflammation, stronger immune function, improved blood vessel function, fewer physical complaints, lower depression and anxiety, and even better blood sugar control.
There is a lot of talk these days about how much of the general public is disconnected from our food sources. As a result, we could be taking food for granted. For instance, have you ever caught yourself complaining that there are too many cereals or yogurts from which to choose? Think about it-griping about an overabundance of food? Could an underappreciation of our bountiful food supply be harming our health? Put another way, can gratitude actually enhance and benefit both our psychological and physical health?
Think about what it takes to get the food to your plate. The farmers till the soil and plant, cultivate, tend, and harvest the plants, or they raise animals for our nourishment. The plants or meats are then cleaned, sorted, processed, and packaged by workers. Drivers transport the food to the grocery or market. There, workers stock the shelves so we can easily make our selections. A cashier rings up our purchases, and a bagger places them into bags. Then, you or someone at home prepares the meal so that you can finally enjoy it. Now, if you like, trace a restaurant meal back to its origins. Yes, we have come a long way from the early hunters and gatherers! There is definitely a risk of taking food for granted without thinking of all these steps, right?
Enjoy the colors, aromas, and taste of food. Perhaps, set the table with appealing dinnerware, light a candle, and play music to relax and enhance meal-time enjoyment.
Take a deep breath and consciously express gratitude, whether as a statement to your family or guests or in the form of a mantra, prayer, or poem-silently or aloud.
Ask questions about where the crops were grown and by whom. Learn about your food sources. This connects you more deeply to the food you eat.
You can derive daily enjoyment from growing and tending a vegetable garden of any size or container or through raising fresh fruit or your own herbs. Have you noticed that your own produce somehow tastes better, even if it is not an award-winning crop?
You might consider keeping a gratitude journal or a gratitude jar. For a "gratitude jar," keep strips of paper and a pen next to it. Then, each day, write down at least one thing for which you are grateful. Before you know it, the jar will be full!
Gratitude is a state of mind, and practicing it offers health benefits to make us both happier and healthier.
How to change your mindset about food
Brief gratitude meditation - a short 4-minute meditation practice by Lynn Rossey, PhD
Greater Good Magazine - science-based insights for a meaningful life from the University of California Berkeley
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