How Practicing Yoga Helps You Eat Mindfully

eat mindfully yoga

The study, from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and published in the August issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, consisted of a mindful eating questionnaire given to about 300 people at yoga studios in the Seattle area. Most of the respondents were Caucasian, well-educated women, and the average age was 42.

More than 40 per cent of the participants did yoga for more than 60 minutes each week, 46 per cent walked for at least 90 minutes per week and more than 50 per cent engaged in moderate to strenuous physical activity for more than 90 minutes per week. The average weight of the respondents was in the normal range, probably because they were more active than the average American.

Those who got a higher score on the mindful eating questionnaire were more likely to have a lower body mass index (BMI), which suggests that mindful eating may play a role in weight control.

What is Eating Mindfully?

Mindful eating has a number of components, such as being aware of the taste and texture of food, not eating for emotional reasons, not eating in response to environmental cues, and not being distracted while eating. Experts believe yoga helps people eat mindfully by promoting awareness of the body.
Here are some tips to help you start eating mindfully.

  • Start practicing yoga. As the above mentioned study suggests, yoga helps you become conscious of your body, which in turn helps you understand your emotions and motivations for eating.
  • When you want something to eat, ask yourself if you are really hungry. Often, people mistake thirst for hunger, so a glass of water may satisfy instead of a snack. Others are influenced by their emotions, eating when they're upset, for example, or by a commercial on TV. Understanding why you're eating is the first step, then you can start eating only when you're truly hungry.
  • Don't eat while doing other activities: this means shut off the television and the computer, and don't read the newspaper. It's difficult to pay attention to your food when your mind is distracted with something else.
  • Never eat standing up. If you sit down to consume each meal and snack, it becomes more of an occasion, something to be savored, not wolfed down so you can begin your next task.
  • Chew your food at least 20 times per bite. This forces you to pay attention to the taste and texture of the food as you chew. It's also better for digestion.

Eating mindfully is not a common skill in North America. We tend to be rushed so we eat quickly, and food is available any place, any time, so we eat for a nearly infinite number of reasons. By following these tips, you can reduce your BMI, increase your enjoyment of food and, perhaps, become more mindful in many areas of your life.

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