How Gratitude and Family Mealtime Help Fend Off Food Triggers

 Image Dan Gold

Image Dan Gold

What you probably don’t know is that you are fighting off food triggers all day long. We no longer live in a culture where we only eat at meal times and only at the family table. You may eat breakfast in your car, lunch at your desk, snacks at the movies, game, PTA meeting or book club, and dinner on the couch. Nearly every situation has become a cue to eat… for you and your kids.

And that doesn’t even include the green mermaid, purple bell, yellow arches, and dozens of other logos lining our highways. As a brain and cognitive scientist, specializing in the Psychology of Eating I can tell you, all the cues are triggering you subliminally all the time.

So what can we do about it? Enter family mealtime and gratitude!

When incorporated into the scaffolding of your life, giving thanks before EVERY meal has immeasurable health and weight control benefits, for the following reasons:

It reinforces the routine of eating meals with family on a regular schedule

Eating regular meals at consistent times is crucial in that it lengthens the body’s fasting window, which increases fat loss and strengthens the process by which cells recycle and repair. It also improves insulin sensitivity and lowers cholesterol.

It takes the burden off willpower

Willpower depletion is a very real phenomenon. In fact, research shows we may have as little as 15 minutes of willpower at our disposal before it runs dry. However, research also shows that something as simple as making a gratitude list can replenish its stores. Hence, practicing an “attitude of gratitude” is one of the best ways to harness the brain’s ability to resist unwanted and unneeded extra food.


Turning thoughts toward gratitude eases temptations themselves.

No matter where you are in the world, no matter what party or occasion, no matter what restaurant, you can always turn your mind toward gratitude. Doing so shifts the focus from what you want, or crave, to what you have. It also supports mindfulness, helping sharpen awareness of your actions and lead to better choices.

And what better way to give thanks than at the dinner table with family. Eating only three meals a day at the dining table with my family, I have three kids, retrained by brain from seeing every situation as a cue to eat and I lost 60 pounds and have kept it off for 15 years.

Gradually you will take control back from the food marketers and you will be the only one deciding when and what you eat… and be a good example for your family at the same time.

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