Given the high stress levels, extended periods of screen time and regular social outings many Americans experience day-to-day in environments where high-calorie foods are readily available, it can be easy to fall into the habit of mindless eating — where we’re too distracted to pay attention to how much, what and why we’re eating. Research suggests that practicing mindfulness — or taking the time to bring awareness to present-moment experiences with an open attitude of curiosity and non-judgment — can be effective in allowing us to make more thoughtful food choices and recognize when we are hungry, satisfied or full. The latest research in this area led by Jennifer Daubenmier, PhD, Assistant Professor at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, suggests that the impact of mindful eating could be even greater.
“Whether eating snacks while watching the game or grazing by the dessert tray at the office event, 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,” explains Dr. Daubenmier. “Our study suggests that mindful eating can go further than making healthy food choices and recognizing when we’re full; it could improve glucose levels and heart health to a greater extent than behavioral weight-loss programs that do not teach mindful eating.”