New Study Finds Most Parents Believe Children Today Aren’t Grateful Enough

A surprising new poll conducted by the University of Michigan Health found that four out of five parents that responded didn’t think children today are grateful enough.

Those participants responding to the poll claim the are teaching their children to say “please” and “thank you.”  Researchers conducting the poll think that when it comes to actions rather than words both children and parents could be falling short.

Nearly all polled parents said it is possible to teach children to be grateful. 75% of parents responded that they consider teaching children gratitude is a priority. The most common gratitude teaching tools are teaching children to say “please” and “thank you,” followed closely by enforcing children to do chores. About 33% of parents used strategies like having their children donate toys and clothes or saying a thankfulness prayer.

The study authors said their goal was to inspire some self-analysis among parents and ask themselves how purposeful they were being in teaching gratitude.

The nation-wide study surveyed parents with children 4-10 years old. The poll was conducted by the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan. The hospital conducts such studies monthly. This particular study chose not to define “gratitude” for participants, instead it let parents bring their own interpretation of the concept.

The final results of the poll also suggested five gratitude teaching strategies that can be summarized as saying “please/thank you,” discussing gratitude, volunteering, donating and helping with household chores.




How to Build a Habit

Cultivating a new, healthy habit can be difficult. However, these five steps or ideas may help make it easier to ingratiate a healthy habit into your life.

First, state or better yet write down a specific goal. A very specific goal. Don’t just say, “I’ll take a walk as often as I can.” Instead, one should say “I’ll take a 20 minute walk every day.”  Studies have shown that the more abstract the goal, the less likely one is to reach it. Also, starting with a bite-sized goal will make progress easier to achieve—as we are creatures of habit, making major changes all at once will be uncomfortable. Make change in small, achievable steps. Don’t give in to instant gratification.

Creating a cue-based goal answering where, when, how, who can be very useful. So, going beyond even “I’ll take a 20 minute walk every day.” You might want to further define the goal to “After my afternoon meetings I will take a 20-minute walk with my dog at the dog park.” All of these details will help trigger your brain to remember to complete the goal.

Making the new habit fun or desirable is another way to help solidify a new habit. Instead of going overboard and “grinding it out” make it enjoyable. Maybe that means meeting with a friend to walk your dogs at the dog park. Build temptation—”I can only watch my favorite show while on the treadmill.”

Be flexible. Especially in the beginning. If you miss your afternoon dog walk, give it a shot after dinner. In fact, when first establishing a new habit it is a good idea to try it in different contexts. One never knows when making a lifestyle change might work for them.

Finally, look for social support. Find others you can discuss you progress with or others who might be interested in making it a group activity. We are social critters. We like to mimic the behavior of those around us. Find some friends and join a dog walking group that meets at the dog park several times a week.



All About Cheese

Cheese is a beloved food all over the world. And between Thanksgiving and the new year, many snack trays presented to us will include cheese.

The USDA reported that in 2020 Americans ate a whopping 38 pounds of cheese per capita.

But how healthy is all this cheese eating?

While cheese is high in protein, vitamins, calcium, and amino acids it also is calorie-dense and is sometimes high in fats and sodium.

Many dieticians believe it can be a good source of both calcium and protein but that we should watch not to go overboard as the calories add up quickly when it comes to cheese. The protein in cheese is a good alternative to eating meat (attention: vegetarians) because it is still of animal origin and contains those same essential amino acids as meat that our body needs but cannot make on its own.

This makes cheese a so-called “complete protein.”

As with any food how much one consumes should be considered in the context of what else one is eating. Totally eschewing or eating tons of one kind of food or macronutrient is rarely healthy.

However, rest assured, consuming cheese in moderation can be a regular part of a healthy lifestyle.

Urban Myth’s About Tryptophan

Thanksgiving is a time for many things, some of those or myths and theories about tryptophan.

The classic myth is that eating a lot of turkey is supposed to make people feel tired because turkey contains the amino acid know as tryptophan. This then travels to the brain where in the brain turns it into the neurotransmitter know as serotonin. Serotonin is changed into a hormone melatonin which makes us sleepy.

However, in a perhaps rare occurrence science and the internet agree that its not the turkey to blame for an after-thanksgiving nap. All protein sources have tryptophan, in fact even some veggies do! Turkey isn’t all that unique in this regard.

While the nap-inducing effects of turkey may be falling by the wayside, other urban legends about tryptophan have popped up to replace it. Because tryptophan can be converted to serotonin some are looking to tryptophan supplements as a possible depression treatment. While others are curious about how diet high or low in tryptophan could influence one’s mood. Some scientists have been looking into how gut bacteria may change emotion based on how it produces or breaks down tryptophan.

The connection between the myth-laden tryptophan and mood is being researched but it is currently unclear whether or not the connection is real or not.

One twenty year old study did find that when participants consumed an isolated tryptophan laden protein they experienced less stress while completing math problems.

Unfortunately no placebo-controlled clinical studies have shown much of a connection between tryptophan  and mood.





Even More Thoughts About the Benefits of “Just Walking”

The benefits of simply walking for health, exercise and mental wellness have been endlessly documented. And walking for the benefits has seen a renaissance of sorts with all the new fitness monitoring devices that tell us how many steps and some even how many calories we are burning.

However, in one study of these kinds of devices it was found that the devices were actually under reporting the number of calories people were burning by walking. Printed in the Journal of Applied Physiology the study stated that under-reporting calories was found in 97% percent of cases.

So, how do we get the most out of walking? It is not a high intensity exercise where a lot of calories are burned in a short amount of time like High Intensity Interval Training. Keeping up a consistent heart rate, then, would seem like the solution to getting the most out of walking for health and weight loss.

This may not be the case, however.

A 2015 study from Biology Letters found that changing one’s pace and thereby their varying their heart rate could increase their metabolic rate 6% to 20%.

Furthermore, the National Institute of Health has reported that just getting in those steps matters more than the manner of their intensity when it comes to increasing longevity or improving general health.