place settingMost of the time when we eat, we’re on automatic – not thinking, simply refueling.

The exception to the rule comes when we sit down to a fancy meal in a restaurant or a holiday feast like Thanksgiving dinner. Such meals can seem so much more fulfilling – physically, mentally, and spiritually – not just because of the quality of food but because we slow down to savor it. We really see what we’re eating. We really taste what we’re tasting.

That kind of attentiveness is the beginning of mindful eating.

And according to research published earlier this year in the journal Obesity, it may help lower your risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

For the study, nearly 200 obese adults were randomly assigned to either a mindfulness group or a control group. All followed the same diet and exercise guidelines. After 18 months, those in the mindfulness group had lower blood glucose levels and a better triglyceride to HDL ratio than those in the control group – both measures associated with diabetes and heart disease.

Members of the mindfulness group also lost more weight than the control group – but not enough to be statistically significant.

Said lead author Jennifer Daubenmier,

Whether eating snacks while watching the game or grazing by the dessert tray at the office event, we often find ourselves overeating not because we’re hungry, but because the food looks delicious, we’re distracted, or we wish to soothe away unpleasant feelings. Our study suggests that mindful eating can go further than making healthy food choices and recognizing when we’re full; it could improve glucose levels and heart health to a greater extent than behavioral weight-loss programs that do not teach mindful eating.

So just what is mindful eating all about? This video gives a good overview:


And if you want to learn more…

Image by Ben Stassen, via Flickr

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