By Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist
Weight loss is top of many people’s minds, especially with the holiday season full of parties, calorie-laden comfort food and abundant alcoholic beverages fast approaching. Typical weight gain this time of year is at least 5 pounds. Sure, we all know that eating a healthy, plant-based diet and exercise can help us maintain a healthy weight. But how you eat and your current state of mind can also have a huge impact on your waistline. Here’s how being mindful may help you lose weight.
Mindfulness is a practice of being present in the moment, being aware of thoughts, emotions, or experiences while maintaining a nonjudgmental state. It’s attention without judgment. Mindfulness is one form of integrative therapies and practices that can offer health and wellness benefits.
Benefits of Mindfulness: Reduced stress, anxiety, depression, promotes happiness, immunity, chronic illness risk reduction, alleviate symptoms like fatigue and pain. These are just a few of mindfulness’ many benefits.
What about applying mindfulness to healthy eating and weight management? The research suggests this could be an extremely helpful component to traditional diet and exercise-based weight loss programs.
One study showed that obese participants randomized to receive mindfulness training during a weight loss intervention, had decreased sweet eating and maintenance of fasting blood sugars.
Women who undergo treatment for breast cancer may be at risk for unwanted weight gain which can increase risk for recurrence as well as heart disease, diabetes and other cancers. In a weight loss study for women post-breast cancer treatment, African American women in the mindful eating group lost more weight than their counterparts.
Women who score higher on mindfulness scales tend to be less likely to be overweight in the first place. In fact, one study showed these more mindful women were 16% less likely to be overweight and 29% less likely to be obese.
Mindfulness, along with cognitive behavioral therapy vs. therapy alone for weight loss, helped to reduce stress-eating and maintain weight loss six months after the study’s intervention ended. Mindfulness meditation may also help to reduce binge eating and emotional eating.
While many studies show positive effects on weight from mindfulness-based practices, a clear mechanism of action remains elusive. In part because research studies do not necessarily use consistent study methods and design may be weak. Nonetheless, benefits in a recent systematic review were found in 13 out of 19 studies.
Here’s more ways to help develop mindful eating practices:
Here are some starter tips for experiencing and integrating mindfulness in your everyday life:
Working on balance can promote:
What are the ways you include mindfulness in your life?