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How practicing mindfulness may prevent you from overeating


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Photo: Ali Inay/Unsplash

Mindfulness can improve your workouts, make you happier, and help treat pain or chronic illnesses. And as if the powerhouse practice isn’t already appealing enough, new research says it can also prevent overeating. Can we get a namast-yay?

Of course, this doesn’t come as a huge surprise. Mindless eating—say, chowing down on your dinner while simultaneously scrolling Instagram on your phone, reading emails on your computer, and half-listening to the Real Housewives in the background—makes it easier to ignore the cues in your body telling you you’re full. So for this series of five studies, researchers decided to look at how embracing mindfulness may make people eat smarter, New York magazine reports.

In one study, for example, students were asking to assess their levels of hunger and were then told to drink a milkshake that was either 215 calories or 534 calories. The researchers then surveyed the students’ levels of mindfulness with prompts about whether they noticed changes in their body, or if their breathing slowed down or sped up. They were then given access to two bowls of chocolate, and were told they could eat as many as they wanted. (Being a study participant sounds fun!)

Among the students who drank the 215-calorie milkshake, the more mindful they were, the more chocolate they ate. But among the students who drank the higher-calorie milkshake, the more mindful they were, the less chocolate they ate. What does it all mean? According to the researchers, it suggests that mindfulness helps us better understand how full we are and how many calories we’ve consumed.

So the next time you reach for a spoon and late-night helping of chia pudding, have a quiet seat for a few minutes first and do some deep breathing. Then, the chia’s all yours. (And uh, keep the phone, computer, and TV turned off.)

Where to start? This healthy eating expert shares the “nine minutes of nourishment” she recommends to clients, and Padma Lakshmi offers up her kitchen meditation secrets.