Does this sound familiar? You're at your computer, facing a wall of e-mails. Before you know it, you've finished lunch without even noticing it. A small yet growing body of research suggests that a slower, more thoughtful way of eating could help with weight problems and maybe steer some people away from less-healthful choices, reports the February 2011 issue of the Harvard Health Letter.
Applied to eating, mindfulness includes noticing the colors, smells, flavors, and textures of your food; chewing slowly; and getting rid of distractions like watching TV or reading. If you eat too quickly, your body's signals of satiety (fullness) may occur after you have overeaten instead of providing a signal to stop eating.
Several studies have shown that mindful eating strategies might help treat eating disorders and possibly help with weight loss. One study included 150 binge eaters and compared a mindfulness-based therapy to a standard psychoeducational treatment. Both active treatments produced declines in bingeing and depression, but the mindfulness-based therapy seemed to help people enjoy their food more and have less sense of struggle about controlling their eating.
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