Mindful eating practices may help clients with a variety of health conditions to improve their nutrition habits. For people with type 2 diabetes, training in mindful eating was as effective in managing weight and blood sugar levels as conventional diabetes self-management education, reported a pilot study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (2012; 112 , 1835–42; doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2012.07.036).
Ohio State University researchers conducted the study to determine whether an alternative approach to traditional nutrition and food choice information would be accepted and implemented by patients. Lead study author Carla Miller, PhD, associate professor of human nutrition at Ohio State University, said in a press release, “The fact that both interventions were equally effective suggests that we should let people choose. If mindful meditation is appealing and people think that approach is effective, then it very well could be the best choice for them.”
Participants in the mindful eating group did not receive specific nutrition goals. Instead, trainers encouraged a combination of “inner wisdom” (mindful awareness related to eating) and “outer wisdom” (personal knowledge of optimal nutrition choices for people with diabetes).
“We have so many environmental cues to eat in America that we’ve tuned out our normal physiological signals to eat. Being mindful means stopping long enough to become aware of these physiological cues,” added Miller. “In this study, we tried to generate awareness, staying in the moment, and living and eating in response to hunger instead of habits and unconscious eating.”
To learn more about the study, go to http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/mindfuleat.htm.