Do you bring stress to the table when it's time to eat? Many of us do. We race through the day, checking off our to-do lists, and eating on the run. We take our emotional-stress to the cupboard for relief. And many of us, stuck in the diet-mentality, feel anxiety about the food itself. We eat while a voice in our head anxiously chatters, "I shouldn't be eating this."
As it turns out, being in fight-and-flight mode while eating affects how you metabolize your food. A fascinating study at Ohio State University found that when their participants ate while stressed, they metabolized their food less efficiently, which could increase fat storage. And their bodies generated more inflammation and plaque buildup, even when eating healthier foods. (1) The finding reveals that eating when stressed can increase weight and set us up for heart disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. We watch what we eat because we think it will make us healthier and perhaps thinner. But this study reveals that anxiously watching what you eat doesn't achieve that at all. It's another reason I don't recommend dieting.
Join Alison Ross, LMFT and her guests as they share their experiences with the body-positive gratitude challenge.
IG LIVE @nondietinghealth
Wed. Aug 5 - 9am PT - singer/songwriter/mom - Julia Faussone-Martinez
Sun. Aug 9 - 2pm PT - actress Veronica Dunne
"Gratitude is the best medicine." - Anonymous
Did you know that a gratitude practice is like medicine for your physical and psychological health? I was reminded of this on my walk this morning when I passed a street sign decorated with flowers and a plaque that said, "Gratitude is the best medicine." Dr. Robert A Emmons, professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, and the world's leading scientific expert on gratitude, said, "Gratitude empowers us to take charge of our emotional lives and, as a consequence, our bodies reap the benefits."(1) Studies have shown that people who engage in a gratitude practice experience profound physical, emotional, and social benefits. Advantages include stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, more happiness, and optimism. And they are less lonely, more helpful, generous, forgiving, and compassionate. (2)
In my psychotherapy practice, I have found that we can harness the therapeutic power of gratitude to improve our body image. Body image struggles represent a loss of appreciation. When our relationship with our bodies is about self-criticism and pushing toward unrealistic forms, we have lost gratefulness for the fact that our bodies are feeling, thinking, sensing, breathing phenomenons! But we can reclaim that appreciation and powerfully improve body-confidence by practicing gratitude. Doing so doesn't require much effort. You can make a shift right now by identifying one thing that your body does for you, for which you are grateful. Go ahead, give it a try. Then reflect upon how you feel. If you need some help, here are some body-gratitude examples:
I am grateful for my body because it enables me to:
See beautiful things.
Listen to music.
Savor my coffee.
Breathe deeply to feel calm.
Hug and kiss my loved ones.
Snuggle with a pet.
Create art or music.
Do meaningful work.
Smell the roses.
Like any therapeutic practice, the more you do it, the more benefit you will get. Consider taking this body-gratitude challenge for one week. Here's how it works. Open up the notes app on your phone. Start a new note entitled "Body-Gratitude." Now, set a daily alert on your phone for the next seven days. It will be your reminder to practice body-gratitude. Each day, when the alert dings, make a list in your phone of five things about your body for which you are grateful. Then, notice how it feels to enter the thankfulness realm. At the end of the week, reflect upon how you feel about your body. Do you notice more gratitude, more confidence, more awareness of your awesomeness? Less criticism and shame? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
(1) Emmons, Robert. The Little Book of Gratitude. Gaia, 2016.
(2) Prosperity, Gratitude. "Why Gratitude Is Good." Greater Good, https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_gratitude_is_good. Accessed 26 July 2020.
Hi. I’m Alison Ross, founder of Non-Dieting Health in Agoura Hills, California. I’m a licensed psychotherapist and neurofeedback practitioner specializing in eating and body image. My favorite things are my family, my dogs, yoga and working with my clients.
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