Gratitude and Emotional Eating

This week as I’m checking recipes and making grocery lists and making a mad dash out to the store to buy a jelly roll pan, I’m reminding myself that Thanksgiving isn’t REALLY about the food. Thanksgiving is about gratitude.

Giving thanks and acknowledging what we are grateful for is the inspired part of the holiday. Too often,the rituals of gratitude get lost behind the pumpkin pie making, the football games and the frantic calls to the Butterball hotline.

Did you know that there is research showing that taking time out to identify and name the good in our lives on a regular basis increases our feelings of well being and contentment? Note the phrase, “taking time out.” That’s often hard for many of us, but in this case, it doesn’t need to take a lot of time and the pay off can be immediate.

This “counting your blessings” ritual can be addictive. In one study, researchers asked their subjects to, every evening for one week, write down three things that had gone well that day and to note why each good thing had occurred. They found that people who did the exercise reported increases in happiness and decreases in depression that were still present six months after the study was over. It turned out that 60% of the subjects had decided to continue the ritual on their own (or with their partners or families) and were still counting the good things six months later.

I’m guessing you know how hard it is to start and maintain a new habit. People decided to continue this gratitude ritual on their own and it stuck. Gratitude is powerful stuff!

Taking control of emotional eating involves very similar steps of slowing down, being deliberate, being present, and learningto move your focus beyond self-critical blame and judgment. I’m not aware of any studies examining emotional eating or over eating and gratitude, but I don’t doubt that gratitude is a powerful tool.

This holiday weekend, take the time. Whether you are cooking or setting the table or watching football or participating in a Turkey Trot. Slow down. Be present. Look around you. Taste, smell, touch. Listen to the others at the table. Look into their faces. And count your blessings.

Cheers and good wishes,


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