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MU receives national award for using mind-body approach to improve health
Date:4/16/2012

The belief that the mind plays an integral role in physical health dates back to the earliest days of medicine. The Greek physician Hippocrates, often referred to as the founder of medicine, wrote "natural forces within us are the true healers of disease." A University of Missouri team has tapped into the science and practice of this mind-body interaction to develop an innovative and award-winning program.

Called "Taking Care of You: Body-Mind-Spirit," the program was recognized with the 15th annual Jeanne M. Priester Award. The award honors extension groups that develop and expand programs that positively impact health. MU won the award in the county/multi-county category against 28 other nominations from across the nation. Developed at MU, the program teaches approaches to deal with stress and experience healthier ways to eat.

"People struggle with developing healthy lifestyle behaviors, and stress plays a major role in that," said Molly Vetter-Smith, assistant professor and state specialist for health education with MU's School of Medicine and MU Extension. "This program examines health decisions and offers practical research-based strategies to manage stress and explore mind-body interactions, including mindfulness and other strategies from the field of positive psychology. It teaches activities to help participants better manage their stress, which our research shows results in improved health behaviors."

One of the activities involves mindful eating. The practice emphasizes the enjoyment of the eating experience by focusing on aromas, taste and texture of food. If participants slow down and savor all aspects of the eating experience, said Vetter-Smith, they realize they're much more satisfied with smaller portions of food.

"Research shows that normally when you eat a meal, you really pay attention to the taste of your food for the first two bites and the last bite," Vetter-Smith said. "For all those bites in betwee
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Contact: Mike Muin
muinm@health.missouri.edu
573-884-7541
University of Missouri School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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