London: Struggling to prevent those extra
flab? Well, the secret of staying slim lies in concentrating
on the food as you eat, scientists say.
A wealth of research suggests that freeing yourself
from distractions and concentrating completely on the food in
front of you, can help you stay in shape.
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
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."