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What is Mindfulness and How to Apply it to Change Your Life

Plus Five Benefits of Mindful Eating

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Photo Credit: iStock.com/EmirMemedovski

Mindfulness is a way of being in which an individual purposely brings their attention to the present moment. This practice revolves around observing the here and now without judgment or attachment to a particular outcome. Mindfulness can increase a body's natural ability to heal itself by activating a state of being wherein emotion regulation is more accessible. Through mindfulness, we can decrease stress hormones, anxiety, and depression, as well as foster deeper intra- and interpersonal connection.

Several physical health benefits to mindfulness have been documented, including increased immune response, cardiovascular benefits, reduction in chronic pain, and improvement in sleep and digestion.

One area wherein mindfulness practices have been applied with success is mindful eating. A vital part of a healthy diet is the relationship one has with food. Mindful eating techniques can help strengthen adherence to healthful eating patterns and have been shown to be an effective addition to the treatment of obesity, eating disorders, emotional eating, and general weight loss and maintenance. This practice encourages listening to our own bodies and becoming more aware of the physiological clues of hunger, satiety, and stress. Mindful eating techniques—such as guided visualizations and scripts—are widely available, simple to use, and budget-friendly. Mindful eating teaches being:

1. Aware when eating

2. Observing your body clues

3. Savoring the food

4. Practicing non-judgment

5. Being in the moment when eating without distractions

Such practices invite you to accept nourishment while appreciating sensorial experiences and respecting your body in a non-judgmental manner.

Photo Credit: iStock.com/M_a_y_a

The combination of mindfulness and nutrition as tools for medical treatment makes up the backbone of naturopathic medicine. Principles of holistic, person-centered care—in conjunction with the healing aspects of nature, such as food—are used to address an individual’s health concerns from a root cause perspective. As such, education on mindful eating practices, among other treatments, can aid in the treatment of stress, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERDS), and other digestive concerns. Naturopathic doctors work to empower individuals in achieving their own health goals.  

Bastyr University Clinic understands that sometimes, a one-size-fits-all approach to health care does not work. That is why, for more than 40 years, we have viewed patients through a different lens. When you see a Bastyr University Clinic provider, you receive an individualized plan uniquely tailored to help you feel your best. Patients leave Bastyr University Clinic feeling heard, understood, and empowered to take ownership of their health. If you are ready for a team care approach, visit us at BastyrClinic.org.

Bastyr University is a nonprofit, private university offering graduate and doctoral degrees, with a multidisciplinary curriculum in science-based natural medicine. Recognized globally for its rigorous curriculum and strong research, the University has two campuses in Kenmore, Washington, and San Diego, California. A pioneer in natural medicine since its inception, Bastyr continues to be at the forefront in developing the model for 21st-century medicine. For more information about our university or degree programs, please visit bastyr.edu.

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