More Strategies to Combat Diabetes
According to researchers at Ohio State University, new evidence suggests that for those who suffer from Type II diabetes, mindful eating (eating in response to physical hunger and stopping when feeling physically full) is just as effective as following a specific nutritional plan to control blood sugar levels.
A recent study showed that, in comparing the two methods, people reduced their blood sugar levels by nearly the same amount and lost close to the same amount of weight (an average of between 3.5 to 6 pounds) over the course of a three month period.
‘Mindful Eating’ Study
While one group followed a structured diabetes program with an emphasis on nutrition and a diabetic diet food list; the other group received training focused on meditation and approaching food choices mindfully. Both groups attended weekly group meetings and were encouraged to engage in physical exercise.
Carla Miller, Associate Professor of Human Nutrition at Ohio State, was the study’s lead author and she provides insight on the difference between the two approaches. The more traditional program provided a lot of emphasis on nutrition and food as well as basic information on diabetes. It encouraged participants to consider how many grams of carbohydrates and fats they should have and what kind. It focused on food labels and safe choices for eating in restaurants. That is the traditional approach to treating diabetes.
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The second program applied mindful meditation to eating and food selection. The second group, rather than being specifically told what they should and should not eat, was instead instructed to really listen to their bodies before eating. They were told to first take a few minutes and figure out how hungry they really were, be aware of how much they were eating and to stop when they felt full.
Results of the study
Miller says they found that both approaches work. That means that diabetic patients have options and can choose which approach they prefer. The research was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Participants were all between 35 and 65 years old and had all been diagnosed with Type II diabetes. They all had a body mass index of at least 27, which means that they were overweight, and had hemoglobin levels that were above the healthy range. Participants were randomly assigned to either the mindful eating program or the traditional diabetes program.
Both programs involved regular sessions with trainers. The mindful eating program helped participants to develop their “inner and outer wisdom”. Inner wisdom refers to awareness of how one feels and what one needs. Outer wisdom refers to practical knowledge that can help them make the right food choices.
Awareness of positive nurturing
The sessions involved meditation techniques designed to help participants deal with eating and food choices. Miller explains that in the United States, there are so many external cues that encourage eating that it is hard to tell the difference between natural hunger singles and those external cues.
Being mindful helps us stop and listen to what our bodies really need rather than just reacting to what is going on around us. According to The Center for Mindful Eating, located in New Hampshire, mindful eating helps you to utilize your inner wisdom and eat according to what your body really needs.