BETTER HEALTH THROUGH GIVING THANKS
My role and my passion have always been to promote optimal health and wellness. Since I believe that good food is wise medicine, much of what I write about and share involve food ideas and recipes that promote physical balance and general well being so that you may be healthier and feel great as you move through your life. But I have learned that optimal health is not just dependent on what you put in your body, the key to a truly healthy body goes way deeper than just what you eat.
As we have just passed a season of giving thanks and celebrating each other, I am reminded that this is a wonderful time to express appreciation and gratitude. I am reminded that the key to a happy life, to feeling good, to being truly healthy in mind, body and spirit is enhanced by the daily practice of appreciation. And it feels great! So why limit it to just one time of year?
The physical benefits of feeling gratitude and experiencing, allowing yourself to feel appreciation in your daily life are multiple. Just by letting yourself feel gratitude you will contribute to your sense of peace and overall well being thus strengthening your immune system, lowering inflammation in the body (so less aches and pains), lowering your blood pressure, and decreasing the stress hormone cortisol that can contribute to inflammation, heart disease, diabetes, fatigue and general dis-ease. Need I say more? A little bit of gratitude can go a really long way! Just by appreciating this moment, by breathing deeply right now you will automatically increase the hormones of well being like Oxytocin, serotonin and DHEA. Just by appreciating this moment you will instantaneously feel more relaxed, calm, and balanced. If you practice gratitude you will feel more alive, alert, more joy, optimism and pleasure. Gratitude is the best health insurance that you can invest in, and the beauty is that it is free.
So how can you make appreciation a habit? For some of us, it actually takes a lot of practice, so I suggest a few simple techniques. Firstly, when you wake up in the morning, before you get out of bed, think of three things that you are grateful for. You can do this at night before you go to sleep as well. It can be as simple as the feeling you have in your toes, or the sensation of the sheets on your body. Next, as you take your first bite of food or drink, take a moment to appreciate the source of your food, did it come from the earth, who took care of it before it reached your table, imagine the energy it took to grow. When you bite into your food, be grateful for the way the flavor bursts in your mouth and enjoy every bite. Think of all the nutrients that your body is receiving with every morsel and be thankful that you have such rich, nutritious food at your finger tips.
You can actually practice gratitude and appreciation all throughout the day. There is always something to be thankful for in every moment. I tell all of my patients that maybe every time they look at their phone, to use this as a reminder thoughout the day to express your gratitude. You can just think about it, you can journal it, even keep a gratitude jar in your home so that you can visualize all that you are grateful for as the jar continues to fill up. Notice how your heart expands and your life begins to improve and feel better the more that you engage in this magical practice.
Appreciation is a wonderful gift that you can give to yourself all year round. When it becomes the way of living, when we practice noticing the little joys in life, everything in our lives appreciates!
Dr. Alison Levitt,
Doctor in the Kitchen