By now we all know that meditating and mindfulness are excellent for your overall health, but a new study conducted at Vanderbilt University has shown even more benefits to this practice.

According to the findings of the study, the brains of obese children function differently than the brains of healthy children. Scientists found an imbalance between the centers in the brain responsible for food-seeking behavior and food-avoiding behavior in obese children. This imbalance is connected to increased impulsivity and decreased inhibitions related to food. These behaviors can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food and may cause the affected kids to eat more than their peers who lack this imbalance.

Look deep into my pepperon-eye ... you cannot resist my cheesiness.

Look deep into my pepperon-eye … you cannot resist my cheesiness.

The study concluded that this brain imbalance may be exacerbated by an already obese child’s increasing obesity. It turns into a vicious cycle of seeking out more and more food as they continue to gain weight and become even more impulsive around food. This behavior may become apparent early on in childhood and should be dealt with as soon as possible. But the usual recommendations of eating better and exercising more may not be enough in some cases.

With a brain imbalance, the only way to truly tackle negative behaviors head on is with re-calibrating the mind. Mindfulness is a useful technique for reversing these types of behaviors and has been proven in other studies to decrease impulsivity in adults.

The basic definition of mindfulness is purposely paying close attention to every action you are performing and making an effort to be fully present in the moment. Eating mindfully would mean slowing down to take the time to savor your food. Eat one bite at a time and enjoy that bite thoroughly before moving on to the next one. This would be the complete opposite of what a lot of us probably do while we’re snacking in front of the TV.

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This technique may help fight off the childhood obesity epidemic if kids are taught to be mindful about their eating before they are able to develop unhealthy eating behaviors. It can also be helpful for adults. Whether you’re worried about your weight or not, a little mindfulness never hurt anybody.