Can a little meditation help you lose weight?
Do you ever overeat when you’re stressed? If so, you’re not alone.
Instead of eating to fill their stomachs, many people turn to food to feed their emotions. But instead of feeling relief, emotional eating usually makes the problem worse, while also leading to weight gain.
Fortunately, you don’t have to succumb to emotional overeating. By adding meditation to your life, you can train your mind away from mindless, emotional eating to mindful eating that fulfills a true, physical hunger.
The Stress-Food Connection
Ever wondered why stress leads to emotional eating? It all starts with the release of the stress hormone cortisol. When this is released, the result can be a craving for sweet, salty, and fattening foods that give you quick energy and a few minutes of pleasure.
On top of cortisol, you may seek support from friends when you’re stressed. And when friends get together—especially when it’s time to talk about stressful life events—there is typically food involved.
Additionally, stress may make you fidgety with nervous energy. Mindless eating may help relieve this built up tension. You may also seek comfort or reward from food. For some, this is a habit built up from childhood, as their parents attempt to divert a child’s attention from stressful situations with food. In the event this is your background, your mind may have learned to associate food with comfort.
Lastly, many people turn to food as a distraction from what they’re really feeling. Not like the emotions you’re struggling with? Drown it out with a bowl of ice cream and worry about the consequences later.
If you’re stressed and your first impulse is to eat a bag of potato chips, it’s time to take a step back and reconsider. Remember that you are in control of your eating habits. Beat it by trying meditation. Here’s how.
The first step in learning to redirect your thoughts is to recognize your triggers. What stresses you out and leads you to eat? Has work been too demanding? Are your kids fighting all the time? Is it when you’re in a specific place or in a certain situation? It may help to keep a food diary that tracks when and why you ate and then how you felt afterward.
Once you know what causes you to overeat, learn new ways to relieve your binge-eating stress. Rather than food, try meditation to relax and redirect your thoughts. You may also choose to use meditation as a preventative measure against stress. Less stress equals less emotional eating. Taking a few minutes each day to refocus your thoughts and find a peaceful moment in the business of life will help relieve pent up stress.
Others may find meditation techniques helpful during stressful times when they feel the urge to eat. Before taking a bite, pause for five minutes and refocus your thoughts.
Meditation can help your brain to focus so you can make mindful choices. An awareness of your feelings will help curb compulsive behaviors such as eating when you’re not truly hungry.
When you’re ready to meditate your way to weight loss, find a place to sit without interruptions. Close your eyes and think about the rhythm of your breathing or your heartbeat. Focus on your breathing or heartbeat rather than the millions of other thoughts fighting for your attention.
You may find it helpful to think about a word or place that brings calm associations such as the ocean or quiet stream. Or lie to down and slowly relax each body part, starting with your toes and ending with your head. Prayer is another type of meditation. Redirect your thoughts toward a higher power and look to this being for strength and peace.
By consistently using meditation to relieve stress and refocus your thoughts away from food, you’ll find you no longer need food to help you relax. You will simply be relaxed, courtesy of meditation.
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