The holiday season is filled with emotion for most people. While this emotion is often happy, positive and loving, for many people it can be very unhappy and even depressing. Holiday music can trigger emotional associations with the absence of a loved one or unhappy memories from the past. The gap between the smiling faces of holiday ads and one’s unhappy emotional experience can actually lead to a deepening of the emotional darkness that often accompanies this season of lights.
As you approach the new year, you may be making resolutions for positive health behavior changes. Birthdays and other anniversaries also prompt us to take stock and vow to adopt healthy lifestyle habits. Two of the most common promises we make to ourselves are to increase our physical activity level and our stress management skills. Research is now showing that combining mindfulness meditation and physical activity can dramatically improve physical and emotional health.
In addition to cold weather, winter sometimes brings sadness and depression. Some people experience depression only during the winter. Others with year-
The Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) is the world’s premier nutrition education resource. Harvard Medical School and the Department of Nutrition at HSPH developed the Healthy Eating Plate to provide the general public with up-
Both my parents experienced the sudden change in life’s priorities associated with the diagnosis of inoperable cancer. Suddenly, things that have occupied our mind, time and energy are reappraised in light of a stark reminder of life’s uncertainty and our mortality. Hope is kept alive by modern medicine’s remarkable results with conventional treatments and the fact that some individuals do much better than expected, even with serious and advanced cancer.
Most people say the gift of sight is their most valuable sense perception – and almost everyone experiences decline in visual function with aging. B One of the most common symptoms of aging is the decline in accommodation, the process by which the eye changes (accommodates) focus to maintain a clear image of objects at different distances. This decline often begins before age 50 years. Accommodation acts like an automatic reflex, but it can also be consciously controlled.
Where is your attention when you eat? Do you love the pleasure of eating so much that you overeat from sheer enjoyment rather than from physiologic hunger cues? Do you overeat as a self-
Being disconnected from or being self-
Anger can be a healthy emotional response or a serious health risk. Managing anger appropriately does not require that we deny it, repress it or get completely rid of it. Brief, mild-
The three primary domains of your overall fitness are physical activity, healthy eating and emotional well-
Surely one of the best things about modern science is the discovery that chocolate can actually be good medicine! Chocolate As Preventive Medicine? Cocoa contains phytonutrients (plant chemicals) called flavanols that may help protect you against coronary heart disease (heart attacks). Compared to milk chocolate, dark chocolate contains two to three times the amount of these beneficial plant chemicals. A possible mechanism by which flavanols protect the heart may be enhancing.....
Yoga can be fun and healthy for you and your kids – physically, mentally and emotionally.What is yoga? The word “yoga” means to yoke, unite, connect or join together. Yoga helps connect the body, mind, heart and emotions. It can also help connect you to other people, animals, trees and all of nature. We tend to think of physical movements and body postures when we think of yoga. Yoga looks like exercise, but its intent is very different. Physical hatha yoga is traditionally performed as a means of .....
Is it necessary, or even safe, to take an antibiotic for your next illness? This question is becoming a routine part of conversations between consumers and health providers. The way we answer this question has serious implications. Consumers and health care providers are both being urged to help achieve the goals of good medicine and public health: making a correct diagnosis, using antibiotics only if the diagnosis war-
I will never forget my patient who developed Type 1, insulin-
For many people, there is a relationship between stress and oral health. The presence of oral disease and dental disorders can cause stress from low self-
What to Eat? The world’s leading nutrition researchers are sending a very clear public health message based on the best scientific evidence available: To promote health, prevent disease and extend life, half your food servings should come from fruits and vegetables. For more than 70 years, the Department of Nutrition of the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) has conducted rigorous scientific research on the relationship between food and health.
A cancer survivor is anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer, from the time of diagnosis through the rest of his or her life. Modern medical, radiation and surgical treatments have led to a growing population of cancer survivors, who now number over 12 million, or one in 25 Americans. Lifestyle choices such as health-
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Where is your attention when you eat?
Do you love the pleasure of eating so much that you overeat from sheer enjoyment rather than from physiologic hunger cues? Do you overeat as a self-
Or do you consider eating a necessary but boring interruption in your busy day at home and work and overeat while reading, watching TV, driving or talking?
If any of these eating patterns describes you, the power of your attention is being used unskillfully. Your health could suffer simply because of misplaced attention.
Whether you are pleasantly engrossed and joyfully overeating or unpleasantly distracted and emotionally upset while you eat, you may consume excess calories, leading to overweight and obesity.
Simply changing how you eat can transform your relationship with your weight. Mindful practices can help you manage the stress that may con-
You may be able to lose weight without actually “dieting. ” Mindfulness is defined as paying attention to present-
When researchers measured people’s mindfulness scores with questionnaires, they found people who were more mindful and paid more attention to body sensations and hunger cues experienced fewer weight fluctuations over time, compared to those who were less mindful. Research has also shown the regular practice of body scan meditation is associated with more mindful eating, accurate assessment of hunger cues and successful weight management.
Mindfulness can also help control cravings and food addictions. Based on your previous experiences, the sights, smells, thoughts and images of certain foods activate areas in the brain as if you were actually eating that food.
Mindfulness can disrupt that automatic neural network firing. With practice, you
can train yourself to experience your desires and cravings as nothing more than thoughts and allow them to simply come and go like any other thoughts.
Seven Kinds of Hunger
Mindfulness is the world’s leading behavioral, mind-
Mindful eating and food preparation can be important ingredients in your overall practice of mindful living and will enhance your overall relationship with food – its production, distribution, preparation and consumption.
Those with eating-
A useful review of the various ways to conceive of hunger is offered by Jan Chozen Bays in her book, “Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food.”
Based on her work as a pediatrician and mindfulness meditation teacher, Chozen helps patients and families reconnect with health-
Bays describes seven types of hunger:
Practical, ancient meditation practices and modern scientific research can be combined to help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight through mindful eating.
Sources and Resources
A detailed description of Mindful Eating Instructions can be found on my Website
Body Scan Meditation recordings (5-
Dr. John Patterson is past president of the Kentucky Academy of Family Physicians and is board certified in family medicine and integrative holistic medicine. He is on the family practice faculty at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and the University of Louisville School of Medicine, Saybrook University’s School of Mind Body Medicine (San Francisco) and the Center for Mind Body Medicine (Washington, D.C.). He operates the Mind Body Studio in Lexington, where he offers integrative medicine consultations