Here’s a short little article from brain expert Mark Waldman at NeuroWisdom.com. With Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday eating season upon us, his tips for eating mindfully may mean the difference between experiencing over-indulgence/adding a few extra pounds and going through the holidays and coming out healthier….
Mindful Eating Changes Your Brain!
Mark Waldman here. As we enter the holiday season, our brain will be enticed by the promise of dopamine-generated pleasure, all designed to make us “eat more now, suffer later!” But there’s a simple mindfulness-based trick you can use to turn off the addiction centers in your brain: savor tiny bites of everything you crave.
Let me explain how it works and how our neuroscience research illuminated this dietary trick.
Several years ago Andy Newberg and I did the first brain scan study to show how eating food slowly and mindfully would affect the brain. In our preliminary experiment, two experienced mindful eaters (who learned mindful eating from different experiential teaching environments) were first told to eat 4 ounces of trail mix while listening to a lecture on tombstones. Why tombstones? We were looking for a mildly stimulating lecture, where the participant could easily choose to tune in or tune out to the speaker. After 3 minutes of listening and eating, a neurological tracer was injected through an IV tube, and the participants continued to “mindlessly” eat for another four minutes. Then they were SPECT scanned.
On the following day, the lecture was played again. But this time, the participants were instructed to eat mindfully, paying close attention to the textures, shapes, and flavors of trail mix, along with other dimensions that are commonly found in various mindfulness-based meditation programs. The same injection procedure was followed, and the participants were scanned again.
Here’s what we discovered. Eating slowly and savoring each bite for 20 seconds satiates the reward centers in your brain and it also stimulates a circuit involving the prefrontal lobes, thalamus, and caudate. This gives you more conscious control over what you choose to eat! Mindful eating clearly has a different neurological effect than eating the way we normally do (indeed, most of the time we’re eating our memories and not really experiencing what is in our mouth!).
And because super-slow savoring of tiny bites of food stimulates the satiation and fullness centers in both your gut and brain, you end up eating less and enjoying it more. We also found evidence to suggest that mindful eating may help regulate glucose metabolism in the brain, so you won’t crave sweets as much.[i] As you become more conscious of food, you can begin to feel the after-effects of what you eat.
Mindless eating is normal: you simply aren’t paying attention to how your food tastes. But to have that level of awareness, you literally have to hold a morsel of food in your mouth for 20 seconds – that’s how long it takes your brain to register the nutrients you are taking in.
There’s another benefit for eating mindfully. Studies show that it can reduce anxiety, worry, depression, and irritability- the exact same feelings that cause many people to mindlessly overeat. And here’s the biggest discovery that the newest research shows: mindful eating can stop you from binging! So slow down and tune in to every bite you take, for you might literally eat your way to enlightenment!
Spend 30 seconds looking at your plate of food before you take a single bite. Choose one item on your plate to meditate on. Gaze at it, smell it, rub a small piece across your lips and savor the sensations. Then hold it on your tongue for 30 seconds to discover many flavors you never noticed before. Then mindfully swallow. I’ll bet you’ll feel more satisfied and more full!
PS: TRY MINDFUL SWALLOWING. Before you take any pill or supplement, hold the pill in your hand and visualize the benefits you’ll receive. Then swallow mindfully and visualize your body and mind becoming healthier and healthier. Hundreds of studies have shown that this will make any pill you take more effective! That’s the power of optimism and belief…but you must apply it consciously, mindfully, and then savor the benefits you expect!
And speaking of changing your brain, check out this upcoming free series and the e-books being given away……
Brain diseases and disorders start 15-40 years before they’re diagnosed. This series will teach you the best ways to prevent these disorders by upgrading your brain to SUPERhuman. Plus, you’ll gain increased energy, mental clarity and heal rapidly by leveraging existing technology, nutrition and advanced solutions for next-level brain performance.
When you join this FREE MASTERCLASS series you’ll learn the Superhuman Brain proprietary methodology, a world-class education with simple checklists, step-by-step solutions and little-known protocols that invite healing, brain upgrades and next-level performance.
- Excel with enhanced brain function
- Find natural solutions to help heal brain diseases
- Eliminate brain fog and ADHD
- Protect / reverse effects of an aging brain
- Rapidly recover from concussion, brain injury and trauma
- Prevent and reverse depression and anxiety
- Identify foods that DESTROY your brain (and fix it instead!)
- Use technology, nootropics and lifestyle strategies to achieve
- And more!
You can sign up for the series and access the free e-books at the following links:
How To Avoid & Heal Toxic Brain free e-book
Upgrade Your Brain free e-book
Related Self-help Health posts:
Over-indulged On Thanksgiving? Try This Yoga Routine & Ginger Tea
Make Every Day Thanksgiving Day!
Let’s Make This A Less “Trashy” Holiday Season
Grain-free, Dairy-free Pumpkin Pie Recipe
p.s. Be sure to subscribe to Self-help Health so you don’t miss any future posts, and tell your friends to do the same. Also check out my website’s To Your Health page and Evolution Made Easier blog for more helpful health tips, tools and information.
Disclaimer: Please note that any information here is provided as a guideline only, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained health care practitioner, and/or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.