If you’ve ever felt called to meditation but aren’t quite convinced it’s time to start, consider this extra motivation—it turns out the practice can help curb food cravings. How so, you ask? The power of thought and mindfulness can aid in getting to the root of feelings masked as hunger, whether anxiety, boredom or something of the like. We tapped Lynne Goldberg, co-founder of the OMG. I Can Meditate! app and certified meditation coach, to share some helpful pointers and questions to ask yourself to determine if you’re truly hungry (because in that case, by all means eat!). However, for many of us who are tempted to idly snack or use food to self-medicate, these tips could be game-changers.
Meditation For Mindful Eating
"Meditation can help you become aware of your physical body as well as your emotional state, so that you can bring your mind and body into balance. Meditation allows you to see cravings for what they really are, emotionally charged thoughts. Just like we can learn to watch our thoughts and let them go when we meditate, we also can learn to bring awareness to cravings. We simply notice them, knowing they will eventually pass."
"Very often we eat because it's mealtime, not because we are paying attention to our body's cues. Before you start to eat, notice how you feel physically. Rate the sensation from 1 to 10—1 being as if you hadn't eaten in two days, and 10 being as full as if you'd just finished Thanksgiving dinner. With this scale in mind, try not to eat past a 7."
"Are you feeling anxious, angry, bored? There are many reasons we eat, but most have nothing to do with being hungry. When we are feeling anxious, we may be releasing cortisol that can increase our appetite. It can also affect our food preferences, causing us to crave fat- and sugar-filled options. Keeping our stress levels under control by meditating can help us counterbalance our stress response."
"So maybe three o'clock rolls around and you automatically reach for that Snickers bar. Or you've gotten so used to a late-night snack or glass of wine before bed that you're not even making a conscious choice anymore. Noticing your habitual patterns is the first step toward creating new ones. Meditation helps us become more aware of our thoughts and feelings at the source."
"Did you know that your olfactory bulb is one of the most ancient parts of your brain? We are often triggered to react by our sense of smell because of its original function to keep us safe from danger. Just think about your reaction to the smell of sour milk or a rotten egg. Our sense of smell can also be a trigger for cravings. Think about walking through a mall and smelling cinnamon rolls. When we are conscious of our reaction to our sense of smell, we can make better choices."
"Eating mindfully helps us bring our mind and our body into the same place. It also helps us avoid unconscious eating that leaves us wondering where the whole bag of popcorn went, and feeling stuffed."
Tips For Eating Mindfully:
- Take a couple of deep, conscious breaths before you start to eat.
- Pay attention to all five senses.
- Take the time to notice the color of your food. If it's a strawberry, is it bright red? What color are its seeds?
- Notice the aroma. Does it smell ripe?
- What is the texture? Is it crunchy, soft, chewy? Do the seeds pop in your mouth?
- How does it taste? Sweet, tart? Avoid judging food as good or bad. Simply observe the flavor.
- How does it sound in your mouth as you bite it, as you chew it?