Maintaining Diabetes Blood Glucose & Controlling Weight via Mindful Eating Habits
Today, I took the time to be present with eating my lunch. Slowing down the pace, I gave myself completely to chewing, to the explosion of delicate flavors in my mouth, and to the aroma of the food. I was fully engaged in the exquisite experience of each bite.
The sweetness of the broccoli, the creamy texture of the avocado, the crunchiness and the nutty flavor of the chia seeds brought about a delightful experience. I became so present that I was aware of the very moment that the feeling of satiation arrived. I noticed my body and listened to it when it said, "Stop." I had eaten half of what was on my plate and put the rest in a storage container. Mindful awareness offered me a meal that was totally satisfying without overeating.
Overeating greatly increases diabetes-related problems. Maintaining a normal weight is essential for normal blood glucose levels. It is also essential for maintaining good general health and especially for preventing heart disease. Mindful eating, similar to what I previously described, is a great tool not only for enhancing satisfaction, but also for working through the destructive compulsivity that often surrounds overeating.
There is research to support the therapeutic effects of mindful eating. Jean Kristellar, Ph.D., did a study on mindfulness and binge eating disorder and found that the strongest predictor of improvement in eating control was the amount of time participants reported engaging in eating-related mindfulness meditation (Mindfulness-Based Treatment Approaches, Ruth A. Baer (editor), Academic Press, 2005, pp. 83-84).
Slowing the pace of eating has been shown to be effective in regard to the feeling of satiation. Eating a meal quickly, as compared to slowly, curtails the release of hormones in the gut that induce feelings of being full, according to a new study, "Eating Slowly Increases the Postprandial Response of the Anorexigenic Gut Hormones, Peptide YY and Glucagon-Like Peptide-1,"in the January 2010 issue of the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM). The decreased release of these hormones can often lead to overeating.
Slowing down your eating has benefits, although it may trigger impatience and the driven feeling that leads to gobbling your food. This need not be considered a negative experience. It can be a great opportunity if mindfulness practice interests you. If you become mindful, that is extraordinarily attentive to the uncomfortable compulsive feelings in your body and at the same time you open up to them, you can release the uncomfortable driven quality that leads to overeating.
By working this way, you will be tapping into the pool of compulsivity that has negative effects on other areas of your life. If you consider your life, you will notice that you may also be driven towards negative behaviors such as compulsive shopping, drinking too much, over-working, TV addiction, and computer addiction. For these issues, you would apply the mindfulness technique the same as you would for food-related compulsive feelings.
Doing eating meditation is simple and fun. Thich Nhat Hanh, a well-known and well-loved Vietnamese Buddhist teacher, provides a beautiful description of eating a carrot in a mindful way:
"When you chew it, you are aware that you are chewing a piece of carrot," he says. "Don't put anything else into your mouth, like your projects, your worries, your fear...just put the carrot in. And when you chew, chew only the carrot, not your projects or your ideas."
Thich Nhat Hanh cleverly expresses the typical mindless eating behavior of most people. How often, if ever, do you "just eat" rather than crowd out the present moment of eating as you are dragged along by preoccupations with the past and future.
Mindful eating is a wonderful segue into the peace and satisfaction that comes from a life that is focused on living in the moment. Approaching food in this way can brighten up the process of weight loss and dietary restriction that comes with diabetes. It can help you to make the most out of the eating experience while practicing skills that will enhance all aspects of your life.