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by Christina Wilson November 21, 2023

Gratitude, not understanding, is the secret to joy and equanimity.” – Anne Lamott

The idea of an “attitude of gratitude” deserves major traction around the holiday time. 

Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy some quality time with family, friends, and loved ones and to share a communal meal that brings everyone a little closer together.

An attitude of gratitude upgrades your hormones, from oxytocin to cortisol, and your neurotransmitters, including dopamine and serotonin. Recent data suggests gratitude provides behavioral and psychological “glue”—oxytocin is associated with promoting the glue that connects adults in meaningful relationships. Not surprisingly, gratitude increases blood flow and activity in the hypothalamus, the master gland that controls hormones.

Being mindful and giving thanks at mealtime puts our minds in a relaxed state and can be one of the most important things we can do to improve our digestion. As you sit at the Thanksgiving table, before you take that very first bite, feel that “in your gut” sensation of gratefulness and thanks, not only for the amazing way your body works but for the love and friendship of everyone sitting around you. 

Take a few deep breaths if you’re feeling stressed when you’re about to eat. Focus on a soothing word. Put an image in your mind of your favorite place or the most tranquil spot you can imagine. Say a prayer. Do whatever you can to move to a calm, relaxing state—then take your first bite. Your body will thank you, and you’ll make the most of that delicious meal in front of you.

Ways to increase your parasympathetic nervous system and not overeat

  • Eat a protein/fat/fiber-rich breakfast so your blood sugar is stable
  • Stay hydrated all-day
  • Write down ten reasons you are grateful for the people and occasions ahead
  • Meditate in the car and take deep, relaxed breaths before you arrive and throughout the gathering
  • Engage, but do not react
  • Eat slowly and chew lots (remind yourself why you are grateful while you chew)
  • Make every cocktail or mocktail last at least 45 minutes and have a glass of water lasting just as long between every class of wine, beer, or cocktail
  • Contribute to the dinnertime conversation. The more you talk, the less you’ll eat.

Post Thanksgiving Day Meal Plan:

 

Try taking the dog for a walk, or spending some time outdoors after dinner. Here are some more great ways to get moving and open up some glucose storage space on Thanksgiving:

  • Play charades after dinner! Even just standing up versus sitting down has a significant impact on your glucose use and insulin sensitivity.
  • Make movement fun! Run a family 5k together on Thanksgiving morning.  
  • Take a family walk around your neighborhood. 
  • Get a touch football game going in the yard.

 

 

 

 

 

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Christina Wilson
Christina Wilson

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