Monthly Archives: November 2019

3 compelling reasons to practice gratitude in your life

It’s kind of amazing how many health and life-related benefits have been associated with the practice of gratitude, but just what does the research say and where does the most support lie?  As I found in a review of this topic, there is already a wealth of content highlighting researched-backed insights to the practice of gratitude.

As this article from Harvard Health detailed, simply writing out things one is grateful for could lead to a greater sense of optimism and overall positive feeling about life.  Furthermore, when assessing happiness on an index, those who take the time to thank someone tend to score higher.

Other studies have compared measures related to the practice of gratitude to health outcomes, such as self-care and physical health, sleep, and psychological well-being.  This Forbes article did a nice job synthesizing these benefits.  (Note, it also appeared in Psychology Today).

Another emerging area is the impact on brain activity.  Brain health is one of the most popular topics in health and wellness right now so the findings thus far are quite intriguing.

This Greater Good Magazine article, which is published by UC Berkeley, focused on the mental health benefits of practicing gratitude and, also, detailed an experiment where brain activity was measured while participants completed a “pay it forward” task.  The study accounted for other self-reported measures of behavior and motivations associated with gratitude.  In a nutshell, the researchers observed that people who were generally more grateful and participated in the task showed greater neural sensitivity in the medial prefrontal cortex, a brain area associated with learning and decision making.

The field of Positive Psychology is more or less the master at monitoring facets such as the practice of gratitude with respect to other health and well-being outcomes.

In 2019, PositivePyschology.com broke it down (link here).  To briefly synthesize, appreciation was considered to be a key trait to gratitude, but, as they detailed, can also be expressed through other distinct aspects.  Expressions of gratitude have been associated with well-being, relationships, and health.  Furthermore, these associations can be influential in feelings of happiness, love, and life satisfaction.

Finally, Happier Human, a leading source focused on tips and resources to support a happy life, gave us 31 science-backed benefits of gratitude in this blog post!  It broke down benefits across the areas of emotional, personality, social, career, and health.

So to recap, the most compelling reasons to practice gratitude are:

  • Level of happiness
  • Benefits to health
  • Quality of life

Whichever way you look at it, practicing thanks and, perhaps, a little generosity as well may be excellent options for your overall health and well-being.

Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash

One easy thing to help you achieve better health with diabetes

It can be quite challenging for a newly diagnosed diabetic to know how to go about making dietary changes.  It can even be a struggle for someone who has been living with the condition for a while.  November is National Diabetes Month in the U.S., hence the focus on this population.

There is a unique intersect between making changes in the dietary approach itself with the various lifestyle habits that are related to actually making those shifts happen.

It didn’t take long after I started working with people living with type II diabetes for this facet to become clear to me.  Typically people are trying to figure out what actually spikes their blood sugar and are often concerned about other health outcomes, such as weight loss.  Their approach usually ends up, indirectly, rather haphazard at best.

Although I am not a clinical nutritionist, I do specialize in helping people with behavioral shifts and lifestyle plans.  Coming from an extensive health science background and experience working directly with integrative nutritionists for close to 10 years, I’m rather clear on this topic.  

When we think about blood sugar regulation and our daily meals, a few key principles are at play; fiber, complete protein, and healthful fat.  Getting more in-depth is factoring in the glycemic index or load, but that can often get overwhelming.  Typically if we can hone in on content itself and simplify the process, it can lead to significant strides in making the lifestyle shifts.  

So…  for example, start with a plate consisting of about 75% veggies (whole-food, not processed concoctions).  Then, make up the remainder of the plate with a complete protein, such as baked chicken or quinoa for a vegetarian approach, and at least 2 tablespoons of healthful fat, such as avocado or, perhaps, a raw, unfiltered olive oil drizzle. 

(Note; it can be helpful to emphasize veggies first, then discuss the incorporation of ideal fruit options).

There will undoubtedly be targeted shifts down the road for the specific person at hand, but, generally speaking, this can offer a good baseline for meal composition.  After options for various food combinations per meal are understood, it’s then figuring out how the heck to make sure those are the meal choices selected. 

This is where meal preparation and storage become one easy thing to support a better health plan.  It can be specifically relevant for those living with chronic conditions, such as diabetes.  

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Furthermore, combining meal preparation with a homemade approach and storing the excess for future meals ensures that most healthful options will be readily available.  It makes the choices easier, there is complete awareness for what ingredients went into the dishes, and, although some prep work is necessary, it can actually save time in the future. 

In thinking about this for people who need a little help sticking with a healthful diet and plan, I went on a pretty significant search to find freezable compartmentalized dishes.  I also wanted to focus on options that weren’t plastic because putting both hot foods and/or fats into plastic can be problematic from a toxin uptake perspective.

This search led to a few viable options as well as some other cool food storage swag. 

If you are thinking of a great gift for someone aiming to stick to a healthful diet, such as someone with diabetes, these options might be good to consider :).  

Photo credits:  Brianna Santellan and Ella Olsson on Unsplash