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Friday, Feb 4, 2011
Mindful Eating and Your Metabolism
Posted by Isaac Eliaz of Amitabha Medical Clinic & Healing Center

Americans are overweight. It’s not just what we eat, but how we eat that contributes to the obesity epidemic.

As you probably know, most Americans were thinner when we sat down to home cooked meals. Now, we barely glance at or taste what we are eating, since we are usually either driving, working at our desks, or in front of the TV. Research suggests that our culture of quick consumption, along with poor food choices, is the reason why our waistlines keep increasing. Chances are, if you sit down at a table, you may not eat the whole burger and fries, but if you do, you’ll most likely eat at a much slower, relaxed pace, allowing your body and brain the time to savor the food and experience the act of eating.  We are all rushed and must strive to gain balance in our lives. Making time for meals is an important, yet often overlooked, aspect of healthy eating.

Eat mindfully. Establishing a mind-body connection while eating will improve your awareness and satisfaction of your meal. Research shows, cultures that take time to sit and eat with others have less obesity. If you look at your food, and take the time to really taste it, you will be more aware of what and how much you are actually eating. We’ve all been there: finished off that whole bag of chips or that pint of ice cream while watching a TV marathon of our favorite show. We were eating, but our mind wasn’t part of the equation. We were consuming mindlessly.

Eating mindfully allows the body and the brain to synchronize, sending messages that you are full. When you are distracted or stressed, you eat quickly, and the stomach doesn’t have time to send the message to the brain that you are full, resulting in overeating. Even if you only have a half-hour lunch break, try to make the time to sit down, away from your desk and all distractions, and really embrace your meal. Be aware of how lucky you are to have this moment to relax and eat. Eating slower and with more consciousness may also improve digestion and relieve any digestive issues such as gas and bloating.

Healthy eating is a lifelong process of nourishing our bodies, minds and spirits. Instead of deprivation and rules, healthy eating should be viewed as the regular consumption of a wide variety of nourishing, whole foods, accompanied by positive attitudes toward eating wholesome meals that together provide us with the ability to rejuvenate and rebuild. However, with all the differing recommendations in today’s popular dietary trends, choosing eating habits to help keep you healthy and energized throughout the year can seem a daunting task riddled with contradictory information.

There is overwhelming evidence that unprocessed foods and organic fruits and vegetables are a means to better health. Due to the high nutritional and antioxidant content of many whole foods, this type of diet is linked with increased antioxidant activity, improved digestion, healthy inflammation response, healthy glucose metabolism, healthier lipid profiles and increased immune activity among other benefits. A whole foods diet can help support your insulin levels and metabolism, as well as support management of metabolic syndrome or diabetes.

Metabolic Syndrome in the United States is estimated to affect 32 percent of the population and is characterized by increased waist circumference, hypertension, elevated fasting glucose levels, and insulin resistance. People with impaired insulin function are at a greater risk of developing life-threatening chronic diseases, including heart disease, which is the number one cause of death in the United States. For more practical information about the importance of controlling your blood glucose levels, download a wellness guide at www.dreliaz.org/metabolic-report.

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