Can’t Resist Junk Foods? Pay Attention! - Study Shows How Mindful Eating Helps Resist Craving for Unhealthy Foods

By Lisa Franchi on August 30, 2012

Paying attention on every bite you take could be the single best way to prevent binge eating of junk foods, a new study found.

You just finished working a report that took you five long, agonising hours. It’s time for a break. You’re craving for a piece of chocolate cake, a bag of Oreo cookies, some salty crisps, or a couple of sweets. You took the first bite, and it tastes like heaven. You took the second bite and it’s so very satisfying. Then you took the third, fourth, until the last piece. That was super... but you still want more.

We seldom fall into the habit of “binge eating” when it comes to our favourite treats. For people with strong willpower, saying “no” to junk foods can be very easy. But how about those with poor self control? According to the researchers from the University of Minnesota, you can still resist the desire for junk foods even without utilising much of your willpower. There’s just one trick to do – pay attention!

In an experiment, the researchers asked the participants to simply count the number of times they swallowed. The study, which was published in the Journal of Consumer Research, revealed that those who pay attention while they ate became satisfied more quickly than those who paid little attention, even when confronted with their all-time favourite chocolates and cookies. What’s more surprising is that even those who had low self control are able to resist their craving and even ate less junk food than those with higher willpower.

The Power of Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is not a new concept. Many studies have been conducted to determine its effectiveness on helping people fight their natural tendencies to binge-eat. Similar studies found that those who pay attention while eating end up consuming less food and feeling full faster.

The concept of mindful eating is simple. It involves being aware of what’s happening inside and outside of your body as you eat. You pay attention to the colours, different smells, flavours, temperatures, and even the sounds (like the crunch) of the food. It also includes watching the impulses as you take a bite or sip.

However, mindful eating does have downsides too which are the distractions that usually come into the scene when we eat – TV, cell phone, computer game, phone call, book, etc. These things mess with your mind and take your focus and attention away from eating so you tend to forget that you’re almost full. As a consequence, you eat more. The key is avoiding any possible distraction. Turn off the television, keep your phone on silent mode, and eat in a quiet and comfortable place. Maybe you can eat alone in your desk or in your car.

With mindful eating, you are likely to experience a decline in craving and become more conscious about your food choices.

Happy, healthy eating!

 

Source of this article:

Better monitoring of food quantity makes self-control easier, University of Minnesota

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