Engaging in mindfulness while eating can help those who are looking for a weight loss strategy that works.
Mindfulness, simply put, in being fully present and aware of one's surroundings. It's something that can come to humans naturally, though we get better at it with practice. Mindful eating is thus eating without distractions and with awareness. This entails forgoing TVs, phones, and other distractions while having a meal. People can thus focus on enjoying their food—though this doesn't mean that they have to eat the entire serving.
The idea therefore is that people should focus only on eating their food in order to control their food intake. After all, if you're not glued to the TV or scrolling through Instagram while eating, you're more likely to be able to watch what you eat.
Mindful eating isn't about cutting out certain foods or cutting back on how much you eat. Practicing mindful eating can help you address your relationship with food and the way you eat. A weight loss program called Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less (ESMMWL) has a mindfulness program that helps people focus more on their food while eating. Researchers tested the effects of the mindfulness program to see how it works for its participants.
80 of the study's participants enrolled in a controlled trial of ESMMWL. 42 of the participants were able to enroll in the program immediately, while the remaining 38 were on a wait list. The wait listed participants were the control group.
The 42 participants spent 15 weeks in the weight loss program. Those who were able to complete the program were also able to lose more weight than the people in the control group. They were also able to improve their mindfulness skills.
According to Dr. Carolyn Dunn, lead author of the study, mindful eating isn't just about eating. It also includes the process that leads up to it. It's also about the way people shop for food or select food off a restaurant menu. “Are you letting your emotions drive your eating?” asks Dr. Dunn. “Are you eating out of fear or depression? Are you letting external cues drive your eating because you are in line in the grocery store and that food is being heavily marketed to us?”
The mindful eating program had no diet sheet, no eating guidelines, and no calorie counting portion. Six months after the program, about 75% of participants were able to keep the weight they lost off. Members of the control group exhibited similar results after they were able to join the program.
Mindfulness doesn't just benefit weight loss. It also has a lot of other benefits outside of fitness. It can help you deal with anxiety, boost your memory, and improve emotional control, among many other things. There have been increasing interest in the effects of mindfulness on cognition and emotions, but not as much in weight loss. Now, though, there is a study that shows a correlation between mindfulness and weight management. So if you've been looking for ways to control your eating habits, you might want to look into practicing mindfulness.
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