Behavioral weight management programs often do not include training in mindful eating, but perhaps they should. According to new research findings that show improvements in blood glucose and cholesterol levels by incorporating mindful eating into weight loss intervention.
A study at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California – San Francisco, looked at how mindful eating (brain-training to build awareness of emotions, feelings and sensations during meals) could support a weight loss program. Researchers found that by employing mindful eating, people are more inclined to make healthier food choices, and reduced indulgent eating and overeating.
Assistant Professor Jennifer Daubenmier, who lead the research team, explained that “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.”
For the study, 194 participants, all clinically obese, went on a weight loss program that included diet and exercise. Some participants received additional educational and nutritional information, and others received mindfulness training via a bi-weekly class that included yoga, meditation and mindful eating training.
The average weight loss of the mindfulness group participants after 18 months was slightly better than the control group’s. More significant, though, were the findings of were the mindful eaters’ improvements in two important health outcomes: fasting blood glucose (a type 2 diabetes risk factor), and their ratio of triglycerides to HDL cholesterol (a measurement linked to heart disease), both of which were much better for the mindfulness group than the control group.
If you are in a weight reduction program, ask your coordinator or doctor how mindful eating training can be included. Beyond weight loss, mindful eating can be an important way to a healthier heart and more normal glucose levels. According to the Obesity Society’s Deborah Tate, “This research points to some of the potential benefits of enhancing the mindfulness components of behavioral weight loss.”