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Mindful Eating Lowers Blood Sugar and Aids Weight Loss

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Mindful Eating Lowers Blood Sugar and Aids Weight Loss

Mindful eating has been shown to help type 2 diabetics control their blood sugar and aid weight loss, just as well as the traditional Smart Choices program.

November is Diabetes Awareness Month. Research has shown that obesity plays a significant role in the development of type 2 diabetes. But what is the best way for people with type 2 diabetes to control their weight—and blood sugar levels?

The study

When researchers at Ohio State University explored this question, they discovered that mindful eating was as effective at promoting weight loss and lowering blood sugar as following nutrition-based guidelines.

Study participants

Participants were between the ages of 35 and 65 and had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes for at least a year.

Traditional diabetes self-management

One group of people were instructed to follow an established diabetes self-management program called the Smart Choices program. This program focuses specifically on providing information about diabetes, such as

  • factors that lead to its diagnosis
  • common complications of the disease
  • the importance of controlling blood sugar
  • what foods to eat when blood sugar levels increase

Participants also learned about portion control and how to balance carbohydrate and fat intake. They were also encouraged to walk for 15 to 20 minutes.

Mindful eating

The mindful eaters were taught to develop their “inner wisdom” when it comes to eating, as well as their “outer wisdom” as it relates to the best nutritional choices for diabetics. They received guided meditation training that helped them deal with their experiences and emotions associated with food.

Similar results

Researchers assessed both groups’ results after three months, and found that

  • Smart Choice participants lost an average of 6 pounds, whereas the mindful eating group lost an average of 3.5 pounds (a difference researchers say was statistically insignificant)
  • both groups reduced their calorie intake and ate less foods that ranked high on the glycemic index
  • HbA1c (blood sugar) levels decreased in both groups by between 0.7 and 0.8 percent

Lead author Carla Miller says, “That was a clinically meaningful reduction in Hba1c, equivalent to what you would get on some diabetes medications. If the reduction were sustained over time, it would mean a dramatic reduction in complications associated with diabetes.”

Mindful eating offers diabetics a simple—and practical—alternative for controlling blood sugar and aiding weight loss.

Check out alive’s November Diabetes issue for more articles on diabetes prevention and management:

Live Well with Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes in Children

Diabetes & Mental Health

You, Exercise, and Diabetes

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