Conscious eating might not be the first thing that pops into your head when you think about “World Gratitude Day” or how to practice gratitude, but next to the air we breathe, food is our second most important form of substance.
We live in a beautiful part of the world where we tend to take food for granted.
But, if we asked you to close your eyes and visualize yourself for a moment as a different person born in another part of the world, perhaps as a child in a gang-ravaged country, in a rural area where rain makes it through the ceiling, but food doesn’t always make it to the table… You probably wouldn’t be so quick to take that food for granted.
Suddenly conscious eating makes a lot more sense as part of your gratitude and mental health practice; you can feel a lot more fulfilled, content, and even happy with the food you get to choose to eat every day.
If you’re struggling to see conscious eating as gratitude, don't pick a cause - pick a person.
At least, that’s what we did.
In fact, we picked Jyoti, a bubbly four-year-old with shiny mocha skin and a smile that can light up the room, who almost completely lost her eyesight due to malnutrition.
Even though her father starts to work at 4 o'clock in the morning in the busy streets of Agra - home of the world’s best-known tribute to love, the Taj Mahal- while her mother sows clothes for strangers and cares for her (plus her brothers and sisters) on a shoe-string budget, Jyoti’s limited access to nutritious food weakened her immune system to the point of partially losing her sight.
It’s not about feeling sad or striking comparisons, it’s about moving you to feel gratitude! And when possible, get into action, like we did when Organifi partnered with Vitamin Angels to help kids like Jyoti keep their sight.
For now, let’s just focus on gratitude and how conscious eating plays into that (we’ll get back to Jyoti later!)
How Gratitude Reshapes Your Brain
According to The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence gratitude is a “state of mind that arises when you affirm a good thing in your life” (like being grateful for your job or conscious eating, wink-wink) that may come from an outside source.
Psychiatric studies define it as “the appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to oneself.” And food is just one of them; it’s one of the little pleasures you can notice and relish in.
Mounting research shows that gratitude can reshape your brain and predispose you to happiness.
That’s why you keep hearing people harp on about it!
Gratitude has been shown to boost happiness, improve mood and sleep, reduce fatigue, boost morale in heart patients, help strengthen the immune system, revamp romantic relationships, motivate you to exercise, and even enhance physical wellbeing.
Studies show that being grateful changes the brain’s chemistry in the medial prefrontal cortex, an area associated with learning and decision-making, which means people who practice gratitude may develop conscious and assertive mindsets.
This area showed lasting effects in MRI scans up to three months after the event that caused the feelings of appreciation in “Pay it Forward” experiments that evaluated gratitude and random acts of kindness.
If these benefits are enticing not enough to join World Gratitude Day, perhaps achieving your weight loss goals could be the ticket.
Why Conscious Eating and Gratitude go Hand in Hand
Conscious eating the act of focusing on what we are eating without distractions. It’s a mindful approach to eating that we strongly recommend; research shows that when we pay attention to our meals, we develop a healthier relationship with food, lose weight, and keep it off.
Conscious eating may help you control mindless and compulsive overeating (aka uncontrolled snacking) that leads to weight gain.
For us, it’s the perfect match to World Gratitude Day because we live in a blessed society with delicious and healthy foods we often want to pass up for unhealthy fries or empty white carbs - this is the best day to reboot your ‘ship with nutrition.
How Conscious Eating Works
According to experts, conscious eating is the “art of presence while you eat” and they offer these simple tips to put it into practice:
- Before eating stop and notice your feelings: are you stressed, angry, or sad? Are you physically hungry? Then ask yourself, what you do I want to eat to fill me up?
- If your desire is not about hunger, do something else.
- Eat intentionally and don’t do anything else - that means phones away!
- Thank your food with love for giving its life to nourish you (a little trick from Louise Hay)
- Think about all the people and processes this food went through to reach your plate and appreciate them.
- Chew slowly and savor each bite. Close your eyes at times to focus on the flavors.
- After a few bites, check-in with your body to see if you are satisfied; sometimes we keep eating just because there’s food still on the plate.
Conscious eating makes us grateful for our health, the abundance in our life, and the food we have.
You’ll notice as you savor your food that you have more blessings than you can count, that there’s a roof over your head, people to love, and superfoods to nourish your body. It’s like a warm feeling that sets you up for a good day - but with every meal!
15 Ways to Cultivate Gratitude Today
For World Gratitude Day, we’re not just giving you the gift of conscious eating but these super easy 15 ways to boost your mood with thankfulness right way.
#1 Start a Gratitude Journal
Puta notebook by the bed and before you sleep write three things you’re grateful for that day and why.
#2 Appreciate Technology
Mentally thank your phone, laptop, dishwasher, and Netflix. The kings and queens of the past didn’t have it as easy as we do.
#3 Tell Someone They’re Doing a Good Job
Thank your boss, child, or partner for something they’re doing well. Even the smallest things counts!
#4 Practice Conscious Eating with a Child
Bring the next generation on the world gratitude day (and lifestyle) bandwagon eating consciously with them - you’ll be surprised by the wonderful things they notice!
#5 Pay It Forward
Remember Jyoti and the “Pay It Forward” study? For every bottle of Organifi Red Juice you buy, we donate a One-Year Dose of Vitamin A to help save a child’s life and eyesight. You can also pay someone’s tab, make a donation, or do a favor.
#6 Pick Up a Gratitude Book
Books that explore the science and practice of gratitude will help expand your appreciation for life and incorporate the habit.
- Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier by Robert Emmons
- The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown
- 365 Thank Yous by John Kralik
- Living Life as a Thank You: The Transformative Power of Daily Gratitude by Nina Lesowitz and Mary Beth Sammons
- The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want by Sonja Lyubomirsky
#7 Write A Letter to Your Parents
Thank your mom, dad, or a significant person from your childhood for something specific that helped you become who you are. Write it in pen and paper!
#8 Thank The Good in The Bad
Remember that One Awful Terrible No-Good Thing that happened, but that somehow turned out for the best? Feel the gratitude for that.
#9 Fish for Silver Linings
When you hear someone complain or feel yourself go there, try to think of one good thing and sat “thank goodness there’s still [silver lining]” Replace goodness with your higher power.
#10 Ask People, What do You Love About That?
It’s easy to only talk about the negatives at work, in relationships, school or more. When someone (or you!) goes in that direction, redirect the conversation into one of appreciation merely asking, “can you tell me something you love about (the job/partner/project)?
#11 Practice Mindfulness At Work
Just like you do with conscious eating, try to pick a task you can do intentionally -even if it’s folding laundry- and appreciate that you get to do it. What makes it possible? How is it easier than it could be?
#12 Tidy Up Like Marie Kondo
Marie Kondo is famous for more than up-right folded T-shirts; she teaches people to thank their possessions. Do that!
Studies show it boosts well being, thankfulness, and broadens your perspective on life. Plus you pay it forward!
#14 Say Thank You More!
Sounds like a no-brainer but audibly verbalizing your gratefulness helps cement the feeling.
#15 Celebrate the Small Victories
Ask yourself, what small victory can I celebrate today? Getting out of bed in the morning totally counts.
Do you have any other ideas to practice thankfulness for World Gratitude Day - and beyond? Will you give conscious eating a try? We can’t get enough of it. Let us know below!