Jon Kabat-Zinn, who established the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, once wrote: "It is only when the mind is open and receptive that learning and seeing and change can occur."
That's a pretty concise explanation of why a study out of Brown University found that people who practice mindfulness, a form of meditation, can more easily make — and stick with — healthier food choices.
Researchers assigned people with blood pressure of 120/80 or higher to either a control group or a group that practiced mindfulness for 45 minutes, six days a week. Both groups were instructed to follow the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, which is proven to lower blood pressure.
Unchecked blood pressure is at least partially responsible for 69% of first heart attacks and 77% of first strokes.
Getting people to stick with the DASH diet can be difficult. However, over six months people in the meditation group saw their adherence to the DASH diet improve significantly, and they became more tuned in to how their body feels when they treat it well — and when they don't.
The researchers suggest that improvements happen because mindful meditation increases emotional self-regulation and awareness of eating behaviors.
If you're interested in sticking to a healthier diet and/or lowering your blood pressure by practicing mindful meditation, check out LongevityPlaybook.com and Mindful.org where Kabat-Zinn can help guide you through the steps to achieve mindfulness.