The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health not only as the absence of disease but a state of physical, mental and social well-being. In the past few decades, positive psychology and mental health researchers have established an overwhelming connection between gratitude and good health.
Gratitude interventions create a positive feedback loop at the neurochemical level; when we express and receive gratitude, our brain releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for making us feel ‘good.’ Dopamine is considered the “reward” chemical because it feels good, but it also incites repeat action, meaning that when we feel grateful, our brain will look for more ways to bring about that feeling, called the reward circuit. By consciously practicing gratitude, we can help these neural pathways to strengthen themselves to help create a more permanent grateful and positive nature within ourselves.
Eating pumpkin pie may also trigger the dopamine reward circuit. With the pleasure that hyper-palatable foods create, we want to practice more balance. Mindfully enjoy holiday food without guilt. Food guilt perpetuates a cycle of shame and guilt to rigid and restrictive, which makes you feel out of control and miserable around food.
Do aim to take a walk afterward since many studies show that even a 10-minute post-meal walk can help lower blood sugar. 🦃