Every day it seems, more research comes out about the widespread benefits of meditation, from helping to manage chronic pain to its ability to help us naturally deal with and reduce stress. Much as meditation helps you calm your mind to promote tranquility and peace, it can also be used to help you combat cravings and focus on your weight loss goals. If you’ve tried everything and you still have stubborn weight that refuses to drop off — or you want an all-natural and safe approach with absolutely no risk of side effects or interactions — it may be time to consider meditation.
Woman Doing Yoga
How It Works
By practicing daily meditation, you can enjoy a greater sense of individual, inner focus and help both your mind and body recover from the constant stress of daily life. Meditation will most likely be effective for you if you’re an emotional eater, who eats not out of hunger but boredom, anxiety, stress, anger or just to fill some type of void. This void could be from fear, an argument you had with someone you love, disappointment or bad news or just about anything that brings out powerful emotions.
What Science Has to Say
A number of studies into the effects of meditation on weight loss efforts have been conducted, some very recently. If you’re the type of person to hold back until you’re sure something is real and proven, here’s what you need to know:
A team of researchers from UC San Francisco found that meditation can help people control dietary habits to lose weight. This small-scale study took a group of overweight women and put them into two groups: both groups received basic diet and exercise education but neither group was assigned to a diet. The experimental group of women receives meditation and mindful eating sessions once a week, which taught them to experience the sensory experience of eating during each moment. The results of this study were successful, showing that these women actually maintained their weight and experienced reductions in cortisol levels, compared to the control group, which gained weight.
A study conducted at Indiana State University discovered that meditation can also help combat binge eating. People in this study who used meditation were better at moderating their emotions under stress to eat less.
Past studies on brain scans show that meditation actually produces changes in the brain associated with bodily sensations, particularly those related to cravings and hunger.
How to Use Meditation for Weight Loss
There are a number of ways you can easily incorporate a meditative practice into your weight loss efforts.
One option is simply going through a quick breathing exercise whenever you’re about to snack. Clear your head by counting your breaths to five, then ask yourself, “Am I really hungry or is there some other reason I’m about to eat?” This will help you build good habits and eventually eating will become a conscious choice instead of some thoughtless habit you turn to.
Guided meditation is another option that has helped many people tap into their natural inner resources to overcome bad habits. A guided meditation for weight loss program may include not only a guided meditation — which can be thought of like meditation with a guide — but affirmations, subliminal affirmations, and instructions.
Finally, another technique you can try is mindful eating, which was described briefly in terms of the study mentioned above. Mindful eating training teaches you to focus on every moment of the experience of eating and often includes instructions to stop eating as soon as the food stops tasting fantastic. This mindful eating can help you prevent overeating and combat comfort eating by letting you notice the moment you are actually full and learn to pay attention to how you feel while you eat.
While meditation won’t work for everyone — after all, what can? — it may be a good option for you if you find you succumb to emotional eating, binge eating or overeating when your emotions run high. Meditation has absolutely no side effects or drug interactions to worry about, which can’t be said of herbal supplements or prescription medications, and it’s safe and easy to use for people of all ages. If you want to boost your weight loss efforts, try using one of these techniques today.