5 Ways to Use Gratitude for a More Healthy and Happy Holiday Season

Written by Jamie, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

With Thanksgiving and other holiday celebrations going on, regarding our diet many of us can feel turkey tension and ham heebie-jeebies.

And the funny (not funny) part of this is that a lot of these winter worries stem from our being critical of ourselves, not giving thanks or really tuning in to those tidings of either comfort or joy.

But we can hit the reset button on so much of this. 

It turns out that an extra helping of gratitude and thankfulness can seriously help us navigate around some of the naughtiest no-no’s the season throws at us.

 This frees us up to focus on our diet and our health without getting down on ourselves about our occasional missteps.

The Greatness of Gratitude

According to the Harvard Health Letter, gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, build stronger relationships — and improve their health.

Simply put, gratitude helps us re-focus on what we have versus what we think we lack.

Two psychologists researched this to find out more. In a study they asked all participants to jot down a few sentences each week about specific topics.

After 10 weeks, the subjects who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. 

Not only that, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than did those who focused on things that made them upset.

In fact, studies have shown connections between living a thankful life and fewer aches and pains, improved sleep, and more.

The Mood-Food Equation

Food can also affect how we feel. In fact, a lack of protein in the diet could signal that you may not be making the right amount of amino-acid neurotransmitters, like dopamine and serotonin, that our bodies need to fuel emotions like a good mood or even a feeling of gratitude.

Low-protein high-glycemic dietary supplement hacks, like Almased, can ensure that we are getting enough high-quality protein and amino acids in our diet.

Since we know that gratitude and mindfulness are such a huge part of how we either dominate or get dominated by our weight-loss worries and body blues, we’ve put together 5 ways to use gratitude to create a more healthy, and ultimately more happy, season — way beyond the wreaths and the tinsel:

1. Keep a gratitude journal

We’ve all heard of food journals and food diaries — and these are valuable tools — but have you heard about gratitude journals?

While a food journal records what folks eat, a gratitude journal is a tool that dieting people can use to jot down any choice or any activity they did in the day that supported their health, fitness or weight-loss objectives.

You can give thanks to yourself for having made a good food choice, for having exercised, or for having avoided a food temptation you were having problems with.

It could even mean you ate a small portion of cake or one slice of pizza instead of beastly amounts!

According to dietitian Jessica Cording in Shape magazine, “Suddenly, the story of, ‘I have no willpower’ can be transformed into ‘I am making steady progress and these small changes are sticking.’ "

A gratitude journal is not a crystals-and-moonbeams trick but is, instead, a powerful tool which Cording says can be used to remind ourselves that we can do it, that we will do it, and that we’re worth it. 

“I've found that [writing in a gratitude journal] can be incredibly powerful in helping people foster a positive mindset as they work toward their goals,” says Cording.

2. Savor your food

Take time to appreciate, and savor, the food that is on the table. By eating food slowly, and mindfully, this allows your body the chance to process the food and your taste buds the chance to enjoy it.

Often, using this approach we may wind up eating about only half of our usual servings. 

As Shawn Clark says, in the Huffington Post: “Even something [like] protein shakes for weight loss will take a new form of importance in your eyes after you have spent a few moments on appreciating their existence!”

3. Exercise a bit more

Give yourself props for using those workout props! Challenge yourself a little bit each day. This could mean parking in the last parking field, taking steps rather than an elevator, walking or cycling rather than driving, or even mowing the lawn. Whatever small changes to our physical activity we make daily will reap big rewards with our metabolism and our health.

4. Don’t skimp on sleep

Wonder why you feel sleepy after eating turkey at Thanksgiving? That’s because it has L-tryptophan, a super-important amino acid that helps the body make serotonin, a chemical in the brain needed for relaxation and sleep.

We need to be well-rested, since shut-eye reduces stress and aids weight loss.

Each serving of Almased contains 400 mg of L-tryptophan. Most individuals who have used Almased reported better sleep quality and feeling well-rested the next day.

5. Don’t stress on those holiday foods

According to Good Morning America, we should remember that pumpkin pie and potato casserole are available year-round.

"The idea that these foods are unique and special to [the holidays] leads to a panic feeling of eating everything you can in this one opportunity," Dr. Alex Conason told GMA. "We can have pumpkin pie in July.”

To support our health and nutrition goals this time of year — and to cut ourselves some slack in case we do overeat — let’s try to be more grateful to ourselves, and others, in this season on thanksgiving. In the process we can also feel good about low-glycemic, protein-packed and amino acid-rich Almased!

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