Mindful eating is an important tool for taking control of overeating and emotional eating. When we are mindful, we can tune in to the things we need and crave that we might be trying to replace with food. Mindfulness encourages us to notice and attend to signals of fullness and to not eat if we aren’t really hungry. Mindfulness is not always so easy to come by—especially in the midst of a hectic or chaotic life. New research now suggests that yoga can help.
Regular yoga practice is associated with mindful eating and people who eat mindfully are less likely to be obese according to a study conducted by researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA. The study was published in the August, 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
In an earlier study, these researchers found that middle-age people who practice yoga for as little as 30 minutes a week gained less weight over a 10-year period than those who did not. This finding was independent of physical activity and dietary patterns. The current study supports the researchers’ initial theory that mindfulness is learned either directly or indirectly through yoga practice and that mindfulness affects eating behavior.
In the most recent study, Researchers administered a specially designed Mindful Eating Questionnaire to more than 300 people. Eighty percent were women and the average age was 42. Participants also provided information on a number of variables including exercise, weight and height.
The researchers found a strong association between yoga practice and mindful eating but found no association between other types of physical activity, such as walking or running, and mindful eating. Participants who ate mindfully – those who were aware of why they ate and stopped eating when full – weighed less than those who ate mindlessly, who ate when not hungry or in response to anxiety or depression.
Sun salutation anyone?