The study (PDF), which was presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Porto, Portugal, looked at the effects of mindful eating — which includes thinking about the enjoyment of food and nothing else — found that those who ate this way lost far more weight than those who dined while distracted.

A research team from the University of North Carolina looked at data from 80 people who said they wanted to lose weight. The participants were divided into 2 groups, with the first instructed to practice mindful eating (i.e. paying attention to hunger and feelings of fullness, planning meals and snacks, savoring tastes) and the second used as a control group which was given no intervention other than to exercise regularly.

After 15 weeks, those in the mindful group had lost an average of more than 4 pounds each, while those in the control group lost only about a half pound.

“Mindfulness is paying attention to your surroundings, being in the present moment,” said Dr. Carolyn Dunn from North Carolina State University, who worked on the study. “Mindful eating is eating with purpose, eating on purpose, eating with awareness, eating without distraction, when eating only eating, not watching television or playing computer games or having any other distractions, and not eating at our desks.”

Participants were offered no advice on diet or even asked to count calories, and were only encouraged to walk and increase their physical activity.

By the end of 6 months, around 75% of the participants had maintained their weight loss and some had even continued to shed pounds.

While mindfulness has become popular and is of great interest for health improvement generally, little research has been done on whether it could help in weight loss or prevention.

“Results suggest that there is a beneficial association between mindful eating and weight loss,” the researchers concluded. “The current study contributes to the mindfulness literature as there are very few studies that employed rigorous methodology to examine the effectiveness of an intervention on mindful eating.”

Source: The Guardian

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