Author: Jamie Lopez, MS, RDN, CDN
Is it possible to still eat what you enjoy with a serious medical condition?
Mindful eating is a food philosophy that helps you become more aware of your eating behaviors. Rooted in the Buddhist practice of mindfulness, mindful eating teaches you how to cultivate self-awareness while eating and tune into your body’s cues of hunger and fullness to dictate what, when and how much you eat.
Learn About your Diagnosis
Practicing mindfulness towards your body means learning how you take care of it and paying attention to your body’s specific needs. Read books and publications written by medical professionals regarding your specific diagnosis. The more you understand how your body is currently functioning, the better you will be at making conscious food decisions that align with your needs.
Disassociate from Dieting Diets and restrictive food rules lead to distorted thoughts about food and can exacerbate medical conditions. Diets have been shown to increase stress levels and cause weight cycling which has been linked to chronic inflammation. Pursuing weight loss dieting also increases the risk of muscle loss, food, and body obsession, disordered eating behaviors, or developing a diagnosable eating disorder. Strictly following external food rules disconnects you from your internal wisdom or mindful self-awareness. Start observing your thoughts and behavior around food. Learn to identify early hunger cues and bring your attention to the food on your plate. Tap into your senses as you take each bite and notice fullness arises. It’s possible certain medications or medical conditions can make it difficult to tune into hunger and fullness. If that’s the case for you, practice scheduling meals every 3-4 hours. Find your Balance Regardless of your health status, consuming a balance of nutrients is still essential to maintaining proper body function. People with diabetes still need to eat carbohydrate foods, just as people living with heart disease still need to consume fat and salt in their diets. Managing your medical condition is learning how to balance these essential nutrients, rather than complete elimination. Those with diabetes can be mindful of their carb intake because they know their bodies digest sugar differently than those without diabetes. And people who have heart disease can be mindful of their salt intake because they know their body is more sensitive to salt than others. Instead of focusing on what you can’t have, focus on how to incorporate more variety of foods onto your plate. Maintaining routine blood work as recommended by your doctor can help you ensure you’re balancing your food intake adequately. Working with a dietitian can also help empower you to make balanced meals a part of your daily life.
- Four Factors of Diabetes Care by Megrette Fletcher
- Diabetes and Mindful Eating: Exploring Hunger & Blood Sugar with your Clients Buy this
- by Megrette Fletcher
- How Mindful Eating can help you prevent Diabetes by Megrette Fletcher
- Mindful Eating and Diabetes: Effects of Awareness on Blood Glucose Control by Megrette Fletcher
If you are a TCME member, you can access all these resources as part of your membership.
About the Author
Jamie Lopez is an NYC/NJ-based registered dietitian nutritionist and nutrition therapist passionate about food, science, and mental health. Jamie blends mindful eating with a non-diet, weight-inclusive approach into her virtual private practice. Her Mindful Meal Planning membership program offers one-on-on meal planning support and weekly mindful eating skill-building exercises for those healing their relationship with food and seeking personalized care to break out of the diet cycle. Jamie received her Master of Science degree in Nutrition and Food Studies at New York University. You can follow Jamie on Instagram - @jamielop_rd.
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