“Our participants have told us that mindfulness is one of the most powerful tools we give them,” Dunn notes. “We help them become aware of the eating experience by weaving mindful eating into every eating strategy we cover.”
A simple document titled “12 Mindful Eating Strategies” is among the guides provided to participants. It includes such advice as:
– Make eating an exclusive event — don’t watch TV.
– Appreciate food — acknowledge the gift with gratitude.
– Eat slowly to recognize your hunger and fullness cues. Put your fork down between bites, chew your food well and make each meal last at least 20 minutes.
Independent nutrition researcher Brenda Davy from Virginia Tech says such approaches hold potential for weight management. “Mindful-eating strategies may be helpful when trying to lose or even maintain body weight,” says Davy, who was not associated with any of the reported studies. “Paying attention to how hungry or full you feel, and being aware of situations that may lead to eating in the absence of hunger — such as boredom or other emotions — can help with dietary adherence.”
Eating more slowly may have an especially powerful effect. In BMJ Open, a research team reported on the eating habits of 59,000 mostly obese subjects with Type 2 diabetes. Specifically, the investigators wanted to know what would happen if the subjects changed their eating speed — fast, normal, slow — during the six-year study.
As it turned out, those who moved from the fast to the slow category had a 42 per cent lower rate of obesity than those who continued to eat quickly. Those who moved from fast to normal had a 29 per cent lower rate. The researchers speculated that fast eaters consume calories more quickly than the body can register fullness, while slow eaters will notice “feelings of satiety before an excessive amount of food is ingested.”