Improve Your Health By Saying Grace Before Meals

Saying grace before meals is not about religion. Research has shown that gratitude improves your health. When I was battling IBS, a wise woman told me to "eat intentionally". She advised me to avoid standing around snacking, or taking bites of lunch as I hurried around. Instead, she suggested I prepare my food, and sit down to eat it, preferably with my family. Then say a blessing, even if you just say "Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude".

"Saying Grace" is a very healthy habit. It becomes a cue to remind your body to stop running around in fight or flight mode and slow down to start a meal. Your body's fight or flight response slows down digestion, diverting blood from the stomach and intestines to the muscles in your arms, legs, and brain that are desperately trying to get you out of another predicament. "Time to eat" means time to put the predicaments aside and focus on food. When you slow down your eating, you will chew each bite more, putting less stress on your digestive system and leading to less flatulence.

dinner table, saying grace before meals, family cartoon

Invite the Family

Recent research as published in Time magazine encourages us to eat together as a family. My own personal experience is backed up by anthropological studies: couples love sharing food, and parents love feeding kids. The people you eat with are the people you are bonded to. More than once, I have seen tension and strain drain away over a calm dinner table. This is especially important for teenagers, who often want to opt out of family dinners. By providing food for your kids, or better yet, preparing food with your kids, you are enriching your relationship. Food speaks volumes and becomes a representation of other things you give the ones you love, like time, attention, and true listening.

Saying grace before meals is a great way to make SURE your family eats together. It's really easy to have some people go ahead and start eating before everyone is seated, especially when you have young kids who don't want to wait. Next thing you know, someone's done before someone else even sat down! Teach your family to wait until everyone is seated and not eat until you say a blessing. That way, you might actually all eat together!

Chose Calming Dinner Conversation

Nothing causes indigestion like an argument over dinner. The table is not the place to discuss controversial topics, whether that be family issues or political issues. Saying grace before meals is a time where everyone is quiet. Use this moment of silence to remind you to keep dinner calm. I like to ask questions at every meal. Breakfast is about "What are we going to do today?" Lunch often breaks into "If your day could be a color, what would it be?" We also often talk about where the food we're eating comes from at lunch. Dinner adds my husband, so we like to catch him up on the day's events, and then ask things like, "What was the funniest thing that happened to you today" When a disagreement comes up, we simply agree to talk about it AFTER dinner. Many issues can be hashed out over the soothing sound of the dishwasher.

dinner table, saying grace before meals, family cartoon

From My Table to Yours

Saying grace before meals is one of my favorite times of day... sometimes, it's the only time my whole family is all in the same room! I would like to share the blessing we say at my table, most often recited by my preschooler: "Dear God, thank You that we have food to eat. Please help it to nourish our bodies. Please be with people who don't have food, and teach us how to help them. Amen." When I focus on the fact that eating is to nourish my body, and that there are lots of people out there that do not have food, I eat a smarter portion or amount of food, make wiser and healthier decisions about seconds, and am less wasteful. I hope I've encouraged you to explore saying grace before your meals. I would love to hear how your family says grace.

Gratitude is not just for dinnertime.

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