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In a stressed out mindset lately that’s transitioned to your dinner plate? Meditation is a great tool to get your mind and body back on track, and that can include a weight loss journey.

When you’re under a lot of stress, it’s easy to develop less than ideal eating habits and an unhealthy relationship with food. Through meditation, you can find balance with food and help put 2020 behind you. Here’s how.

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Meditation is basically a relaxing process to calm and redirect your thoughts. It’s also a way to bring awareness to yourself and your surroundings. Mindfulness is a form of meditation that helps you understand your emotions and physical sensations.

Since meditation is a way to create mindfulness, it can be applied to help stress or emotional eating. This can be in the form of mindful eating.

Have you ever had such an amazing looking meal, but you thought you were so hungry that you scarfed it down without truly enjoying it? In this case, you weren’t being mindful about your meal.

Mindful eating is using mindfulness to be aware of the full experience when eating. The basics of mindful eating include noting:

  • what you’re eating
  • how fast you’re eating
  • how certain foods make you feel
  • using your senses to experience the color, smell, flavor, and textures of food
  • why you’re eating (are you eating out of hunger, stress, or emotion?)
  • your cravings and what triggers them
  • your cues that tell you you’re full
  • how to approach guilt and anxiety related to food
  • how you’re eating for health

To incorporate mindful eating, start out focusing on one meal a day and keep these tips in mind:

  • Eat slowly and enjoy your food. Don’t rush!
  • Chew thoroughly. Don’t take two bites and swallow, actually taste the flavor.
  • Get rid of distractions like your cell phone or television.
  • Try eating in silence.
  • Focus on what you’re eating and how it makes you feel.
  • Stop eating when you are full.
  • Ask yourself why you are eating. Are you physically hungry or emotionally hungry?

What about intuitive eating?

A form of mindful eating, intuitive eating is essentially an anti-diet that teaches you to trust your body’s hunger cues. You are the deciding factor and expert when it comes to your body and what you will eat. And, only you know your hunger signals.

As an intuitive eater you weigh the reasons behind eating. Are you fatigued, irritable, and need to replenish your nutrients? Or are you sad, lonely, and crave food to comfort your emotions?

Meditation and mindful eating can help you enjoy the journey of your food and appreciate it, which in turn can have great benefits for weight loss. Here are some ways meditation may help you lose weight.

Sustainable weight loss

In a 2017 review of previous mindfulness meditation studies, meditation was found to help change eating habits and be a proven method for weight loss. Those who used mindfulness meditation were also more likely to keep the weight off.

To help sustain weight loss, mindfulness meditation can be broken down into three parts:

  1. where you are
  2. what you’re putting into your body
  3. how you feel at the moment

Reduce and manage stress

A 2011 study found that mindful eating can help change eating behaviors and reduce stress, resulting in weight loss. When we are stressed, we make less time for healthy activities and choices.

Stress makes it harder to lose weight and produces the hormone cortisol, which has been linked to triggering those cravings for comfort foods. Stress also increases insulin levels, which makes it harder for the body to burn off that food.

Help avoid binge and emotional overeating

Mindful eating can help you lose weight and reduce stress by changing your eating behaviors. This can help you avoid reaching for desserts whenever something bad happens or binge eating a pizza.

Changing how you feel about food is a major factor for weight loss. You have to put those negative thoughts about food behind and become fully conscious of the positive emotions to help create self-control with food.

When you leave those negative eating behaviors in the past, the success of your long-term weight loss increases.

Get more sleep

Practicing meditation can help you learn to redirect the racing thoughts that keep you up at night. Studies have shown that in randomized testing, those who were tested using mindfulness meditation fell asleep sooner and slept longer than those who did not.

Have less guilt with food

Guilt and shame have no place when it comes to food.

The worst thing you can do is be judgmental of yourself in the moment. Recognize your feelings and behavioral patterns. You also have to forgive yourself for the little mishaps along the way. Once you forgive yourself, you won’t fall back into the spiral over and over. But if it does… pause, and forgive again.

Take it one step at a time with mindfulness meditation to recognize these behaviors.

Now that you know how meditation can help your weight loss journey, how the heck do you get started?

Give yourself just 10 minutes a day to focus on meditating when you start out. You’ll have to make the decision to realign your elements to focus on yourself.

The same goes for a healthy relationship with food. With kindness, work on releasing any guilt you may have about food and practice awareness of what you put into your body and why.

Find a quiet place without any distractions. You can lie down or be sitting (whatever is more comfortable). If you’re sitting, make sure your back is straight, hands on lap, neck is relaxed, and your is chin slightly tucked in.

Here are some steps to start meditating:

  1. Take a deep breath in, hold for a few moments, and then slowly exhale.
  2. Repeat for about 20 seconds, making sure your gaze is soft or eyes closed, and you’re breathing in through the nose and out through mouth.
  3. Continue to breathe naturally.
  4. Observeyour posture, scan your body, and acknowledge your senses.
  5. Focus on your breath for 5 to 10 minutes.
  6. Think about why you’re here and observe your breath.
  7. Allow your body to be free.
  8. Become aware of where you are and what you will do next.

Need help with guided meditation? Here are some apps that can help guide you. All of these apps are free and offer paid premium content.

The Mindfulness App

This app has guided meditations and information on how to get started. You can use both silent and timed meditations from 3 to 30 minutes. It also has personalized options to fit any lifestyle, including a meditation journal, and reminders.

Headspace

Headspace is an app for all things calm. With guided meditation and mindfulness techniques, it’s great for daytime and also nighttime with its sleep music tracks and nature soundscapes. This app will help you learn to build your own meditation.

Calm

The Calm app is known for several techniques like breathing exercises, mindful walking meditation, and calming exercises. It also has Sleep Stories sections with prominent actors reading you bedtime stories.

Meditation and Relaxation Pro

This easy-to-follow app is designed to keep meditation simple, but effective. You can find meditations to relieve stress, sleep better, and boost your self-esteem.

Meditation can be used in several forms. It is a way to become aware of your wants and goals and to ultimately become mindful of what you put into your body. It can teach you how to develop mindful eating habits as well has guide you on your weight loss journey.