Managing Type 2 Diabetes with Mindful Eating

by Marsha Hudnall MS, RDN, CD

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Mindful eating improves Type 2 diabetes management | A non-diet approach

Most people might think that if anyone needs a strict eating plan, it’s a person with Type 2 diabetes. After all, eating to manage diabetes is simple if we understand food exchanges and count carbohydrates, right?

Not so fast. If that were true, there probably wouldn’t be so many people who struggle to keep their blood sugars in a healthy range even though they’re pretty clear on what they’re “supposed” to eat.


Mindful Eating Makes Eating to Manage Diabetes Easier

The practice of mindful eating may yield far greater results than “book knowledge.” That’s because we’re listening to the true expert on our bodies – ourselves!


What is mindful eating?

In a nutshell it’s paying attention to what your body tells you when you’re thinking about eating, when you’re actually doing it, and after you’ve eaten, too.

  • You focus on eating when you’re physically hungry and not eating when you’re not, at least most of the time.
  • You pay attention while you eat to enjoy and determine when you’ve had enough.
  • You consider how your body feels in response to certain foods, certain quantities, timing of meals, etc., and use that information to drive future food choices.


Benefits of Mindful Eating for Diabetes

How can this be useful for managing type 2 diabetes? Paying more attention to what your body is telling you about your need for food and your reaction to food offers tremendous benefits.


Here are just a few.

  • Reduced amount of non-hunger eating.
  • Fewer blood sugar highs and lows as a result of paying attention to how certain foods or eating patterns affect sugar levels.
  • Feeling physically better after identifying foods that don’t make you feel well. Example: Realizing that eating sugary snacks mid-afternoon causes fatigue that interferes with being active in the evening.
  • Becoming more particular about what you eat, which can affect how much you eat. Example: After mindfully eating fast food, you might realize that you don’t really like fast food hamburgers, both the taste and how they make you feel. You find yourself less drawn to the drive-thru as a result.
  • Enjoying food more as a result of paying attention while eating, which often means you find you are satisfied with less.
  • Eating less because you’ve taken feelings of deprivation out of the equation. Practicing the mindful eating principle “eat what you want” may actually reduce intake of certain foods once feelings of guilt, deprivation, restriction, or rebellion no longer factor into your decision to eat something or not.
  • Learning to eat for activity. Being active is one of the best strategies for blood sugar management. Fear of low blood sugars or fatigue from highs can prevent a person from being active. Mindful eating offers a better understanding of how your body responds to food and activity, increasing your likelihood of being active.

To learn more about mindful eating and Green Mountain at Fox Run’s approach, read our previously published FitBriefing –  Mindful Eating: When Are We Really Hungry for Food?