Yoga a key to mindful eating habits, study shows

By Michelle Anderson • Published: December 31st, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

If you’ve tried everything from diets to heavy exercise in your quest to maintain a healthy weight, here’s something new to try: Yoga.

In a study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, researchers at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that regular yoga practice is associated with something called “mindful eating.”

Mindful eaters are more in tune with their bodies… more aware of feelings of hunger and fullness and conscious about why they eat.

These mindful eaters tended to be less likely to be obese, the researchers found, as opposed to those who ate regardless of hunger, to quell anxiety or depression, or because they were distracted.

About half the study’s participants also did at least ninety minutes of walking or moderate to strenuous exercise, but only regular yoga was linked to mindful eating.

The findings support an earlier study by the same researchers, who learned that regular yoga helped middle-aged people gain less weight over a ten-year period than those who didn’t do yoga… regardless of other physical activity or eating habits.

The more recent study analyzed the findings from a questionnaire completed by more than three-hundred people at Seattle-area yoga, fitness and weight-loss facilities. Though the average weight for those in the study fell within normal ranges, the yoga-exercisers had a lower body-mass index compared to the other groups.

So pull up a mat, breathe deeply, and sometime between the warrior and the lotus, you may just stretch your way to a leaner shape… and a healthier relationship with food.