Mindful eating may help you stay slim: Scientists

Such "mindful eating" ensures that the mind is in tune with the body, enabling it to "hear" the chemical messages that tell it that we are full, the Daily Mail reported.

Several studies, including some from the Harvard University in the US, have found that dieters who focussed on their food rather than what was going on around them lost an average of half a stone, or over 6.3kg.

Mindful eating, named after the Buddhist principle of focusing on the present, has also been shown to help binge eaters get their splurges under control, with the number of binges cut from eight a fortnight to just three.

According to researchers, digestion involves a complex series of hormonal signals between the gut and the nervous system and it takes about 20 minutes for the brain to register that the body has eaten enough.

This means if someone eats too quickly, the signals will lag behind, leading to over-eating. Distractions also play a role, with a recent British study concluding that eating at your desk could make you fat.

The study said that distractions, such as playing on the computer or checking email, make it harder for us to remember what we have eaten for lunch. This absent-mindedness stops us from feeling full -- and sends us reaching for afternoon snacks, said the Bristol University researchers.

For their study, the researchers gave 42 men and women a multi-course lunch, with half playing the card game Solitaire on a computer as they ate. Half an hour later, they were given chocolate biscuits to eat and asked to recall the various items they'd eaten for lunch, in the correct order.

Not only did the computer-gamers feel less full after eating, they tucked into twice as many biscuits afterwards and struggled with the memory test. It is thought that our memory of what we have eaten plays a key role in dampening appetite. This means that distractions stop us from remembering the detail of what we have eaten -- leaving us feeling hungry, the researchers said.

Megrette Fletcher, co-founder of the Centre for Mindful Eating in the US, said: "Mindful eating is a remarkably simple but powerful tool which can transform not only what we eat but also the way we think about food and how much we enjoy it."

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