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Diabetes and Mindful Eating

By Nancy Geib, RDT, Wentworth-Douglass Hospital Diabetes Services

November is Diabetes Awareness Month. Chances are you know someone who has diabetes, or you, yourself, have diabetes. More than 26 million people in the United States have diabetes, and its frequency as a diagnosis is continuing to increase. Choosing a month to highlight awareness of diabetes, as we do with Breast Cancer in October, allows us a “benchmark” to look back at progress over the year and a time period to set goals for ourselves.

We want to do our part by providing you with more tools on managing this condition to be your best possible self. Learning to manage diabetes is an important part of living a healthy lifestyle. An essential part of self-management is to include mindful eating in your thought process. What is this mindful eating? A simple and practical way to think about mindful eating is to ask yourself; are you eating with Intention? Eating with the intention of caring for you is a good way to think about this. Intention involves planning and forethought. In today’s fast-paced lifestyle of convenience and prepared foods, mindful eating is worth every minute in your effort to stay healthy with diabetes.

Try this exercise the next time you are eating something. Ask yourself “Am I Hungry?". It seems like an easy question but many times it is not easy to tell if we are really hungry. There are so many things that can seem like true hunger but, when really thinking about them, can appear very different. What prompts you to eat? Before you take a bite, rattle off some questions in your mind of possible reasons you might be taking a bite of something, something other than taking care of a rumbling stomach.

  • Do you want to eat this just because you see it?
  • Do you want to eat this because it looks yummy?
  • Do you want it because it smells good?
  • Are you replacing some behavior with eating? Anxiety, stress?
  • Do you want to eat something because your friend, or family member is having some?
  • Are you eating because you are putting off something you should be doing? Like paying bills?
  • Are you eating this because this is when you always eat, regardless of you being hungry?

Listen to your body to identify the cues that tell you when you are hungry. Your stomach rumbling or having low energy are clear signs. Mindful eating is not the latest “fad diet”, it is about making the commitment and dedication to improving your health and wellbeing. It is a lifestyle that says you want to feel better by using your senses in choosing to eat food that is both satisfying to you and nourishing to your body. In fact, everyone – with or without diabetes – can find benefit from mindful eating.

With the upcoming holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, our schedules become full with spending time with family and friends and life tends to go into overdrive. Food choices during the holiday season will be very important. Before you eat anything, think of how this food or choice will help you! Remember to be mindful. Remember to eat with intention. The intention is to be our best self in being healthy, and staying healthy.

Wentworth-Douglass Hospita's Diabetes Services provides individualized diabetes education and self-management training for children and adults, in private and small group sessions. They also provide a variety of educational classes and support groups. Call (603) 740-2887 to learn more. 

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