By Dr. Gia Marson
What is your unique, ideal vision of the Thanksgiving holiday? We have some tips to help you enhance that experience and maintain the positive impact. The latest in neuroscience shows that when you intentionally notice, take in and hold onto good moments, you expand your brain’s wiring for happiness (1). Therefore, we encourage you to focus on your values as you encounter the unbounded potential pleasures of this Thanksgiving holiday. Which are most important to you -- gratitude, emotion, giving, meditating, playing, thinking, reading, quiet time, noisy time, compassion, learning, art, working, music, creativity, spirituality, movement, connections with friends, family, nature, animals? Take a few minutes to choose the values you rank as most important in your life at this time. Then, purposefully plan to revel in them & hold onto the happy memories. Not only is it satisfying to engage in cherished activities, but now we know that doing so is actually good for you, leading to a greater capacity for happiness.
Thanksgiving, of course, is also about the pleasure of food. But with an endless bombardment of myths, diets, and cleanses, you might wonder -- what is normal, healthy eating? We want to share one of our favorite descriptions. “Normal eating is going to the table hungry and eating until you are satisfied. It is being able to choose food you like and eat it and truly get enough of it - not just stop eating because you think you should. Normal eating is being able to give some thought to your food selection so you get nutritious food, but not being so wary and restrictive that you miss out on enjoyable food. Normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat sometimes because you are happy, sad or bored, or just because it feels good. Normal eating is mostly three meals a day, or four or five, or it can be choosing to munch along the way. It is leaving some cookies on the plate because you know you can have some again tomorrow, or it is eating more now because they taste so wonderful. Normal eating is overeating at times, feeling stuffed and uncomfortable. And it can be undereating at times and wishing you had more. Normal eating is trusting your body to make up for your mistakes in eating. Normal eating takes up some of your time and attention, but keeps its place as only one important area of your life. In short, normal eating is flexible. It varies in response to your hunger, your schedule, your proximity to food and your feelings.” (2)
If you are interested in learning more about values, here is a free online version of the Personal Values Questionnaire. Have a happy Thanksgiving. We hope you relish the happy moments.
 Hanson, Rick (2013), Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence.
 For more about eating competence (and for research backing up this advice), see Ellyn Satter's Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family: How to Eat, How to Raise Good Eaters, How to Cook, Kelcy Press, 2008. ©2016 by Ellyn Satter published at www.EllynSatterInstitute.org. You may reproduce this article if you don't charge for it or change it in any way and if you do include the for more about and copyright statements.