In case we need even more reasons to get our asanas in every day, research conducted by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center indicates that regular yoga practice is associated with mindful eating. This can have a host of benefits including weight loss or preventing weight gain.
The research was conducted by Dr. Alan Kristol, an esteemed epidemiologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center. Dr. Kristol, who was also a yoga enthusiast himself, and his colleagues, followed over 300 participants in the Seattle area that frequented yoga studios and other fitness facilities. Each participant was given a questionnaire to measure their exercise and eating habits. It was concluded that the participants who practiced regular yoga also tended to practice more mindful eating and have a lower BMI (Body Mass Index).
While participants included other forms of routine exercise, such as walking or jogging, it was those that practiced yoga specifically that scored the highest on mindful eating. Dr. Kristol stated that the findings “fit with our hypothesis that yoga increases mindfulness in eating and leads to less weight gain over time, independent of the physical activity aspect of yoga practice.”
This research helped confirm an earlier study, also led by Dr. Kristol, that found that middle-aged people who practiced yoga regularly gained less weight over a 10-year period than those who did not. Dr. Kristol also attributed this to the potential association of yoga with mindful eating.
What is mindful eating?
Eating mindfully includes listening to your internal hunger cues and being fully present in the moment while you are preparing and eating your food. This means not only being aware of what’s on your plate –the tastes, textures, and aromas, but also, your physical surroundings and internal feelings. The practice of mindful eating can help create a healthier, more enjoyable dining experience. It also promotes a more positive relationship with food.
Tips for incorporating more mindful eating:
- Listen to your body – pay attention to your internal hunger cues and feelings, when reaching for a snack, think about whether you are truly hungry or you are stressed.
- Slow down – sit down to eat, savor your meals, and create a lasting, enjoyable dining experience.
- Remove distractions – put down the phone, step away from the television, and don’t eat at your desk.
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