Thanking God before a meal is a staple for many Americans. Thanksgiving is a holiday in which many practice giving thanks before meals, and it is a holiday during which many find themselves overeating. The stigma around holidays and overeating is often circulated, but would you believe giving thanks could help weight control and health?
As millions of Americans look ahead to Thanksgiving with worries about overeating, brain and cognitive scientist and Ph.D. who specializes in the psychology of eating, Susan Peirce Thompson, offers this surprising piece of wisdom:
“Thanksgiving, with its underlying message of gratitude, can help, not hinder, willpower around food.”
Thompson argues incorporating giving thanks before a meal into every day habits has immeasurable health and weight control benefits. She sites her belief on the following reasons:
- It reinforces the routine of eating meals on a regular schedule.
By eating at regularly scheduled times, our body lengthens its fasting window and subsequently increases fat loss and strengthens cell recycle and repair. This improves insulin sensitivity and lowers cholesterol.
- It takes the burden off willpower.
The depletion of willpower is a real phenomenon in our culture. Research shows people may have as little as 15 minutes of willpower at their disposal before it runs dry, but research also shows that a simple gratitude list can replenish its stores. Having an “attitude of gratitude” is a good way to harness the brain’s ability to resist unwanted and unneeded extra food.
- Turning thoughts toward gratitude eases temptations themselves.
Shifting the focus to gratitude causes a people to think not of what they want, or crave, but of what they have. It creates a habit of mindfulness that sharpens the awareness of one’s actions, leading to better choices.
Thompson is the president of the Institute for Sustainable Weight Loss and author of the upcoming book, “Bright Line Eating: The Science of Living Happy, Thin, and Free.” You can pre-order her book here. For more information on Thompson, visit her website.