The Food 411: Can you Think your way into good health?

Could a simple attitude adjustment be all you need to improve your health and lose a few extra pounds? It turns out the way you think about the food you eat is just as important as what you actually eat.

A study from the 2012 Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that eating mindfully is just as effective as following a diet when it comes to reducing blood sugar levels in adults with Type 2 diabetes.

Mindful eating involves paying attention to your body’s cues of hunger and fullness while slowing down to experience the texture, flavor, color, and aroma of your meal. For example, in common mindfulness training, a student is given a few raisins or a piece of fruit and spends anywhere from 10 or 20 minutes looking at, thinking about, and patiently chewing the food.

The study compared the effectiveness of meditating and a mindful approach to food to the effectiveness of only making dietary changes. After 3 months, researchers found that both strategies resulted in an average weight loss of between 3 1/2 and 6 pounds and lowered their long-term blood sugar levels significantly.

So can just thinking about exercise have the same effect?

In 2010, psychology professor Ellen J. Langer at Harvard University asked the same question. The CDC’s recommendations for an active lifestyle is at least 30 minutes of physical exercise per day. In her study, she took 84 female housekeepers from 7 different hotels and split them into 2 groups. The first group was educated on how their daily working activities met the CDC recommendations. For instance:

  • Changing linens for 15 minutes burned 40 calories
  • Vacuuming for 15 minutes burned 50 calories
  • Cleaning bathrooms for 15 minutes burned 60 calories

The control group received information on the benefits of exercise and was only given the general CDC overall recommendations without any specifics on how it applied to their job.

The results of the study shocked the researchers. Even though the actual behavior from both groups did not change, 4 weeks after the intervention, the better-informed group had a decrease in weight, blood pressure, body fat, waist-to-hip ratio, and body mass index in comparison to the control group.

Just to cover your bases, you might want supersize your meals and daily exercise with some positive thoughts!

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