fbpx

MINDFUL EATING

The Need For Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the foundation of Prime Meridian’s Advanced Preventative Care (APC) Program because its benefits extend into every component of life. Being present, fully aware of your sensory experiences and what is happening around you, and abstaining from being overly reactive is not just for meditation. Mindfulness can increase the effectiveness of your exercise efforts, improve your relationships, and even set the groundwork for eating habits that promote weight management and overall health. Mindful eating is becoming a more popular dietary intervention because research has shown that it works, and Prime Meridian can show you how.

What is Mindful Eating?

Our lives are so busy that eating has essentially become mindless. We eat because we’re bored, because we’re stressed, because we’re watching TV; all reasons totally disconnected from the real purpose of eating. Mindful eating practices involve techniques that help an individual gain control over their eating habits, so that eating patterns are not altered by outside factors such as emotions. Like all mindful practices, mindful eating revolves around being aware of the present so that eating patterns are based solely off physiological cues. With mindful eating, food becomes a way to improve health, not a senseless accompaniment to other activities or a means of mitigating our stress. Mindful eating primarily revolves around four fundamental concepts:

EATING ON A SCHEDULE

While there is no eating pattern that is ideal for everyone, research has shown that etching out a regular eating schedule in your busy life may have a number of health benefits (1). Make eating a routine reduces unnecessary consumption.

EATING DELIBERATELY

While technically referring to eating with a purpose, eating deliberately primarily entails slowing down the process of eating. This means taking time in-between bites, chewing thoroughly, and giving your body time to respond to its normal hunger cues.

RECOGNIZING PHYSIOLOGICAL HUNGER CUES

People often eat so fast and at unnecessary times so often that we have become unable to recognize that our body naturally tells us when we need to eat and how much. As research has shown, becoming more in-tune with our internal hunger and satiety cues is associated with better dietary habits (3).

MINIMIZING EMOTIONAL EATING

Wating as a response to stress is one of the most prevalent causes of eating disorders and is also associated with increased risk of obesity and metabolic dysfunction (2). With mindful eating, you eat with a purpose, and not for other reasons.

The Benefits of Mindful Eating

In clinical research, mindful eating interventions have been shown to have a host of benefits, especially in promoting weight management and metabolic health. In randomized, controlled trials, mindfulness-based interventions were more effective for weight loss and improvement in biomarkers of blood glucose regulation than self-managed education (4, 5). In another clinical trial, when combined with an exercise program, the metabolic health benefits were even more profound (6). Multiple studies have shown that eating speed was significantly correlated with incidence of metabolic syndrome and comorbidities, and follow-up related studies found that focusing on decreasing eating speed may decrease food intake (3,7-9). More recent research has shown that mindfulness-based therapy may be

effective in treating various eating disorders, especially binge-eating (10, 11). While the effects of mindfulness are habit-based, researchers are beginning to explore how the fundamentals of mindful eating may influence the physiological pathways that promote metabolic dysfunction (1).

Strategies for Mindful Eating

The ultimate goal of mindful eating is to be totally conscious of all your eating behaviors so that you make better, healthier choices. While there aren’t clearly defined rules, there a few important strategies to keep in mind:

Become in-tune with your physical hunger cues so you eat only enough to satiate yourself and eat on a regular schedule.

Eat slowly, with purpose and without distraction. Don’t eat while doing other activities; turn off the TV and put away the phone.

Increase awareness of the organoleptic properties of food: properties you can see, smell, touch, hear, and taste. Take time to smell and thoroughly chew your food.

Increase awareness of how food influences your emotions and learn to cope with emotions associated with food.

Learn to appreciate food. Express gratitude for the nourishment it provides, before or after eating.

With mindfulness, you can gain control over every component of your life, even your eating habits. Talk to your Prime Meridian Healthcare provider about how you can get involved in the APC program where you can learn to use mindfulness-based strategies to take control of your health.

References

1

Repeated Hunger Leads to Visceral Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome

Han J., et al.

4

Mindfulness-Based Weight Loss

Daubenmeier J., et al.

7

Eating Speed and Metabolic Syndrome

Zhu B., et al.

10

Mindfulness-Based Emotional Eating Awareness Training

Lattimore P.

2

Are Stress Eaters at Risk for Metabolic Syndrome?

Epel E., et al.

5

Mindful Eating Intervention Among Adults with Type 2 Diabetes

Miller C., et al.

8

Self-Reported Eating Speed and Metabolic Syndrome

Tao L., et al.

11

Mindfulness Meditation for Binge Eating

Katterman S., et al.

3

Speed of Eating and 7-year Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

Sakurai M., et al.

6

Can Mindfulness Improve Weight Loss Outcomes?

Williamson M. and Mateo K.

9

Normalizing Eating Behavior Reduces Body Weight

Galhardo J., et al.