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Mindful Corner: Mindfulness and Chronic Disease

Practicing mindfulness may improve health and wellbeing. Specifically, mindful eating may be used as tool to improve relationships with food and to manage and prevent chronic diseases [i].

Studies have shown that mindfulness benefits those with cancer, cardiovascular disease, depression, and chronic pain [Praissman, 2008 as cited in reference i]. In a study from 2012 involving prostate cancer survivors, the authors found that “a combination of nutrition information, cooking classes, mindfulness, and mindful eating training led to dietary changes linked to lower risk of prostate cancer recurrence” [Carmody et al., 2012 as cited in reference i]. For example, at 6 months, there was a significant association between meditation habits and increased vegetable intake and decreased animal product intake [Carmody et al., 2012 as cited in reference i].

Another study on mindful eating in restaurants found a decrease in weight, caloric intake, fat intake, and an increase in self-confidence in those who participated in a mindful eating program for 6 weeks [Timmerman & Brown, 2012 as cited in reference i]. In addition, using professor Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) model, doctor Brian Shelley’s Mindful Eating and Living Program showed participants had significant weight loss, as well as improved mood and inflammatory markers, after 6 weeks [Dalen et al., 2010 as cited in reference i].

A few ways to incorporate mindful eating into your lifestyle include asking yourself if you are hungry or if the urge to eat is coming from elsewhere, such as habit or an emotion, rating your hunger on a scale from 0 to 10, and chewing slowly while savoring flavors and textures [i].

Reference

[i] Harris C. (2013). Mindful eating — studies show this concept can help clients lose weight and better manage chronic diseases. Today’s Dietitian, 15(3): 42. Retrieved from https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/030413p42.shtml

Jenna Koroly, MS, RD, CDN

Jenna is a Registered Dietitian with a Master’s of Science in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology from Teachers College, Columbia University. She has been a part of the Savor Health team since October 2016, and gained further clinical knowledge in oncology while performing nutrition assessments at Northern Westchester Hospital and Amsterdam Nursing Home as a dietetic intern. Jenna provides nutrition counseling for patients in Medical Weight Management and Bariatric Surgery settings at Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston. She is passionate about nutrition therapy and exercise for oncology patients.

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