How can mindful eating exercises help with diabetes management? We grow up loving food. Food is a natural earthly pleasure. What happens to many of us as we grow up, is unfortunate, many of us start to distrust our bodies and our appetites and start to have unhealthy relationships with food. Some of us, overeat, way past our feelings of pleasure and find ourselves uncomfortable after eating. Then, after years of overeating, you may be at war with the body that has grown out of control with the accompanying health issues. Others of us, are at the other extreme, furiously counting calories, fat grams and stressing out if the gym is closed due to the blizzard conditions. Neither of these extremes are healthy. You may not be at either of these extremes. But, have you forgotten how to enjoy, truly enjoy food?
Mindful eating has been shown to help in many conditions, including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and food cravings. People with diabetes have successfully used mindful eating to manage both weight and A1C levels. Because it can help with mental health as well as these physical aspects, mindful eating is becoming a more common tool in the treatment of diabetes in conjunction with traditional education methods.
Not only can individuals with diabetes benefit from mindful eating, but everyone can use mindful eating exercises to help their mental health!
WATCH our dietitian, Kristin Jenkins, MS, RD, LD demonstrate mindful eating in this video.
Mindful Eating Exercises for Diabetes Control
Challenge Yourself with mindful exercises while eating
Ready for a challenge? Next time that you eat, let yourself experience the taste and pure pleasure of each bite. Turn off the TV, stop reading, simply focus on the food. Pay attention to the taste, the texture, the pleasure of each and every bite. Food is meant to be enjoyed and savored.
Remember what it was like to simply enjoy a cold, crisp apple when you were a child. Grab an apple and give it a try. Give yourself permission to completely enjoy an apple.
Use all your senses as you eat an apple:
- see the vibrant color of the apple,
- touch the texture of the apple,
- smell the apple aroma,
- hear the crunch as you bite into the apple and
- taste the juicy apple goodness.
All food fits and can be fun
Food is fun. So let go of all of the labels of good food/bad food. Allow yourself to simply enjoy what you are eating. Start keying back into your hunger and fullness cues. Eat when you are truly hungry, stomach hunger, not mouth hunger. And stop when you are pleasantly comfortably fed.
Surround yourself with healthy foods and really pay attention to your body, your appetite, and your feelings. Doing this, you will feel empowered to redefine your relationship with food to ultimately be much happier and healthier.
Talk to your registered dietitian nutritionist about fine-tuning these skills to help you develop a healthier relationship with your food and your body.
Also look at this clever placemat for more inspiration.
For workbooks with mindful eating exercises:
Nourished: 10 Ingredients to Happy Healthy Eating
Nourished: 10 Ingredients to Happy, Healthy Eating is our new workbook that is filled with useful nutrition information, tips, and mindful exercises!
Rebecca Bitzer loves to empower Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) and their clients. Co-author of Welcome to the Rebelution: Seven steps to the nutrition counseling practice of your dreams and Taste the Sweet Rebellion: Rebel against dieting.