Mindfulness ‘has huge potential’ as a weight loss strategy

Monitoring, Jan 1 (INP) – As the holiday season draws to a close, many of us may be struggling with the extra weight we put on during extensive, food-filled celebrations with family and friends. Can mindfulness techniques come to our aid in getting rid of those extra pounds?

New evidence confirms that eating mindfully can help with maintaining a healthy weight.

According to anecdotal evidence and some existing research, mindfulness techniques can help a person maintain or improve their physical and mental well-being.

For example, mindfulness can reduce symptoms of anxiety and enhance cognitive functioning, and it may even improve a person’s immune response.

The principle behind mindfulness is very simple: One has to be fully present in the moment, focusing attention on external stimuli and their effects on the body and mind, learning to concomitantly acknowledge and dismiss unnecessary thoughts.

Thus, learning mindfulness techniques can help us tone down the effects of stress and regain more enjoyment in present experiences. Recently, researchers have suggested that mindfulness can also aid a person in their weight loss efforts.

A new study from the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire National Health Services Trust in the United Kingdom — in collaboration with other clinical and research institutions — confirms these and similar findings.

“This research is significant, as we have shown that problematic eating behavior can be improved with mindfulness application,” says the study’s first author, Petra Hanson, a research fellow and doctoral student at the Warwickshire Institute for the Study of Diabetes Endocrinology and Metabolism at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire.

Hanson and the team report their findings in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, which is an Endocrine Society publication.

‘Enabling appropriate lifestyle decisions’

The research team worked with 53 individuals participating in a dedicated weight management program at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire National Health Services Trust.

Of the participants, 33 took part in at least three of four mindfulness training sessions, which taught them to practice mindfulness while eating.

Over the next 6 months, the participants who had attended three or four mindfulness sessions lost, on average, 3 kilograms (about 6.6 pounds), while those who had only attended one or two mindfulness sessions lost an average of 0.9 kilograms (around 2 pounds).

Inp/khan