Eating mindfully has been shown to be an effective method to lose and manage weight. A growing body of research has shown that this practical application of the ancient Buddhist philosophy can help you take off the pounds and keep them off.
Mindfulness Meditation has gone mainstream.
Within the United States, the concept of mindfulness meditation has gone mainstream, largely thanks to the efforts of Jon Kabat-Zinn from the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Back in the ‘70s, Kabat-Zinn, who meditated in the style of Zen Buddhism, recognized its value and widespread appeal to a harried Western world.
Once considered part of a culture associated with monks and hippies, mindfulness meditation is now used by professional athletes, high-level achievers and everyday people who want to manage stress, reduce chronic pain, enhance performance and achieve overall wellness. Corporations, government, the medical community, academic institutions, and individuals recognize the benefits of taking time to be present in the moment.
As it relates to food, research shows that mindful thinking can help you curb your appetite, lose weight and retrain your brain to develop ways to eat in a healthier way.
In a study by Alberts and colleagues, the researchers found that among adults mindfulness-based strategies can effectively reduce food cravings. Participants were taught acceptance-based strategies, where you recognize the food craving in a non-judgmental way. Recognition of the emotion helped participants manage the food craving without succumbing to an eating binge.
Eating Mindfully in The Mind Your Health trial.
Results of the Mind Your Health trial shows promise for a new therapeutic approach to weight loss that emphasizes mindfulness. Known as Acceptance-based Behavioral Treatment the study showed that it helped people shed the pounds as well as maintain the lower weight longer than the traditional Standard Behavioral Treatment.
According to the study’s lead author Evan Forman, PhD, FTOS:
Standard Behavioral Treatments (SBT), which emphasize the importance of decreased caloric intake and increased physical activity, can help individuals lose weight for a period of time, but the strategies taught in such a program are difficult to maintain long-term…The Acceptance-Based Behavioral Treatment (ABT) method teaches highly specialized self-regulation skills so individuals trying to lose weight can continue making healthful choices long after the program ends. These skills include mindful decision making, identifying and committing to big-picture life values and a willingness to accept discomfort and reduced pleasure for the sake of those values.
ABT builds upon the typical SBT treatment plan by incorporating core values, goal-setting and mindfulness. The effectiveness of ABT represents a significant breakthrough. Forman explains:
We’re excited to share this new proven therapy with the weight-loss community, and in fact this is one of the first rigorous, randomized clinical trials to show that an alternative treatment results in greater weight loss than the gold standard, traditional form of behavioral treatment.
Eating Mindfully: Staying Present & Focused On Your Goals.
Like any new exercise, eating mindfully takes practice and repetition. Find ways to stay mindful throughout the day and be present in the moment. As you go about your daily routine, stay aware of how you feel and the sensations that surround you. Pause and take a moment to focus on the here and now.
Express yourself creatively and pay attention to the process. Give yourself a break from whatever stresses you. Turn your attention to what you enjoy and value. Sit down for your meals without distraction. Savor the taste and appreciate the aroma. Recognize when you feel satiated.
Make achieving and maintaining your healthy weight one of your wellness goals. Consider eating mindfully each day and using an app like CraveMate to help achieve that goal and change your eating habits for the better.