(NaturalNews) A new study from Ohio State University found that eating mindfully - consuming food in response to physical cues of hunger and fullness - is as effective as sticking to nutrition-based guidelines to reduce both weight and blood sugar levels in adults with Type II diabetes.
Researchers said that in a comparison study of the effectiveness of those two types of interventions, participants lost similar amounts of weight - an average of between 3.5 and six pounds - as well as lowered their long-term blood sugar levels significantly after three months.
Scientists said one group followed an established diabetes self-management education program, where nutrition was strongly emphasized. The second group, meanwhile, was trained in mindful meditation and a mindful approach to selecting and eating foods. Both interventions, which featured group meetings each week, also recommended physical activity.
'Take a few minutes to assess how hungry you are...'
"The more traditional education program includes general information about diabetes, but with more emphasis on nutrition and food choice: What are different types of carbohydrates and fats and how many am I supposed to have? What should I look for when I read a food label? What are healthy options when dining out? That was the traditional diabetes education program," said Carla Miller, associate professor of human nutrition at Ohio State, as well as lead author of the study.
"We compared it to an intervention where mindful meditation was applied specifically to eating and food choices," Miller said. "This intervention group did not receive specific nutrition goals. We said we want you to really tune into your body before you eat. Take a few minutes to assess how hungry you are and make conscious choices about how much you're eating. Stop eating when you're full."
She said researchers found that "both worked," which "means people with diabetes have choices when it comes to eating a healthy diet."
Miller and her team published their research in the November issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Those who participated in the study were all adults between the age of 35 and 65 who had been diagnosed with Type II diabetes for at least a year. In order to be eligible, participants had to have a body mass index - which is a measure of weight relative to height - of 27 or more, which indicated they were overweight, and a hemoglobin A1c of at least seven percent (A1c is an average measurement of blood sugar levels from the previous two to three months; a normal A1c level is 5.6 percent or below).
Those involved in the study were randomly assigned to a treatment group, researchers said. Of them, 27 completed the mindful eating program, while 25 completed the traditional diabetes self-management program called "Smart Choices." Each intervention cycle involved eight weekly and two bi-weekly 2.5-hour sessions with trainers.
Researchers said mindfulness program trainers encouraged participants to cultivate "inner wisdom," or mindful awareness as it pertained to eating, and "outer wisdom," referring to personal knowledge of optimum nutritional choices for diabetics.
Become aware of the positive nurturing opportunities
Each session included mediation guided towards participants' experiences with food. Participants received CDs to help them with home meditation practice.
"We have so many environmental cues to eat in America that we've tuned out our normal physiological signals to eat," said Miller. "Being mindful means stopping long enough to become aware of these physiological cues. We also tried to generate awareness, staying in the moment, and living and eating in response to hunger instead of habits and unconscious eating."
Mindful eating is a concept that is gaining further attention as a form of therapy to control weight and promote better diets, according to The Center for Mindful Eating in New Hampshire.
The concept allows you "to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner wisdom," the center said.