Sunday, January 24, 2021

Expressing and reflecting on gratitude: step away from food

This guest post provided by Heidi_PsyD from

Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes. Ugh. Get rid of the thoughts of food, calories, and weight —it’s not really what the holiday is about. Although the first Thanksgiving was a way to celebrate the harvest by savoring the bounty of the season, even more, it was a way to celebrate what the Pilgrims were thankful for and to express gratitude.

One way to turn from “Turkey Day” to Thanksgiving is to turn your focus to the positives in your life. Whether the list includes large things, such as being able to move closer to recovery from your eating disorder, small things, such the feeling of sun on an otherwise chilly Fall day, or just recognizing the people you love, expressing gratitude allows you to step outside of yourself.


Melody Beattie, a renowned expert on recovery from addictive behaviors says this about gratitude: “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

Being aware of the things you are grateful for grants wholeness and a sense of inner peace, which promotes healing.

A gratitude journal is a way to deliberately attend to the things that we are thankful for each day. By concentrating on gratitude, we become more mindful of these things and shift in our thinking to the positive. To keep a gratitude journal first begin be aware of the things for which you are grateful. Notice how this focus shifts you to a more optimistic outlook. Before bedtime, write down five things you are grateful for. You can include anything, large or small— the blue sky, something funny your child said, etc. Write a few words about the five things you select. You can also personalize the gratitude journal with quotes, photos and things that make you feel good.

Another way to enhance optimism is through the use of gratitude affirmations. Like other affirmations, they are positive statements targeted at a set of beliefs. Affirmations that focus on gratitude connect you with the things that are healthy in your life. An example of a gratitude affirmation is “I am profoundly connected to the source and power of life through continual gratitude.”

Share what you are grateful for with others, especially those things that you appreciate about them. Watch their faces when you share your list. You will be amazed at how it touches you as well as them.

On Thanksgiving, picture your proverbial horn of plenty. What lies inside of it?


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