Open any magazine, watch any TV show, and you’ll see ads on the “science” of weight loss: what foods to eat, how certain foods affect your metabolism, the right time to eat—and more. While these are indeed important aspects of dropping pounds and getting healthy, studies are now proving that your mind also plays a huge role in your overall health and your ability to lose weight through the brain-gut connection.
One mind-based strategy that could help you reach your weight loss goals is mindfulness, specifically mindful eating.
Focus, Focus, Focus
Research by the Harvard Medical School have shown “that a slower, more thoughtful way of eating could help with weight problems and maybe steer some people away from processed food and unhealthy choices.” One study indicated that mindfulness-based therapy helped binge eaters to enjoy their food more and control their eating with less difficulty.
Mindfulness is keeping a moment-by-moment focus on our thoughts, feelings, and environment while doing something. Mindful eating entails:
- Taking small bites and chewing slowly
- Noticing the flavors, colors, smells and textures of the food you’re eating
- Not watching TV or reading while eating
- Eating with your non-dominant hand
- Putting your fork down between bites
Your Body Gets It
Darya Rose, author, PhD in Neuroscience, and owner of the site Summer Tomato, partnered with NordicTrack to create a great mindful eating infographic that explains just how your body benefits from this practice. Among the proven benefits are:
- Increased immune functions
- An enhanced feeling of fullness so you feel satisfied and don’t over-eat
- Decreased stress levels which can enhance gut health and improve overall mind function
- Improved digestion so your body gets the full nutrient value of the foods you’re eating
The article Better Eating Through Mindfulness notes a study of obese women by Elissa Epel, the founder and director of the Center for Obesity Assessment, Study, and Treatment at the University of California, San Francisco. Initial results showed that “the more mindfulness the women practiced, the greater their anxiety, chronic stress, and deep belly fat decreased. In addition, the women in the mindfulness program maintained their body weight while the women in the control group increased their weight over the same period of time.”
If you’ve been following any type of weight loss program but still struggle with shedding the pounds, remember that it isn’t just what you eat that matters—it’s how you eat it. Consider adding mindful eating to your routine, even if it’s just one meal a day. You may be pleasantly surprised by the results.
For more practical tips and perspectives on how to make your weight loss goal lasting and successful, click here to watch Eliot’s latest free webinar: Let’s Talk Sugar and Water: Get Health Wise with WW Coach Eliot!
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net