Meditation and Healthy Eating: Fostering the Mind-Body Connection
While exercise and following a nutrition plan are keys to healthy weight loss, it’s possible that the answer to sticking to the straight and narrow could be in your mind. Researchers at Harvard have found that people who meditate exhibit a greater sense of control over their eating. They also find it easier to say no to foods that don’t help them make progress toward their goals. While the idea of meditation brings up images of sitting cross-legged in a dark room filled with the aroma of burning incense, it doesn’t have to be quite so involved. Check out these tips to use meditation to help you make healthy eating choices day in and day out.
Use An App
When it comes to meditation, it can be hard to know exactly where to start. Surprise- there’s an app for that. Meditation apps like Headspace and Calm are on the rise. An app can guide you through meditation sequences, helping to focus your mind if it tends to wander. Apps also have the ability to give you reminders that it’s time to meditate. Don’t want to pay for an app? No problem- most meditation apps offer both free and paid versions.
Carve Out The Time
Let’s be real- most of us are busy, rushing from one thing to the next. It can be hard to find time in your schedule to meditate- especially when it feels like you’re sitting there, doing nothing. Setting a specific time of day to meditate can be helpful in creating the habit. Choose a time when you’re alert, but not stressed. Many find that a 10 minute meditation on their lunch break is helpful. It breaks up the day and increases focus for the tasks ahead. If you feel guilty about taking time to step back from your to do list, don’t. Top CEOs agree that meditation in the middle of the work day leads to increased productivity. Meditating before a meal makes you less likely to overeat and more likely to choose foods that energize you. It’s a win win for afternoon success.
Don’t have time in the middle of your work day? No worries. Meditation is effective at any time of day. The goal is to start a consistent habit that you’ll be able to maintain over time. That might mean taking ten minutes to meditate as soon as you walk in the door from work, or a half hour as you begin to wind down before bed. Communicate your meditation schedule with your family. They’ll be on board when you explain that it will lead to a healthier and happier you.
Set An Intention
The end goal of meditation is to have a completely clear mind, but that can be tough, at least in the beginning. When using meditation to improve your eating habits, it’s a great idea to meditate before (and even during) meals. Focus on a specific thought that moves you closer to your health goals.
• I am completely satisfied by healthy food.
• I choose foods that nourish my body and mind.
• I eat when I’m hungry, and stop when I’m full.
Choose an intention that’s specific to your personal needs. It’s likely that this will change over time as you begin to gain greater control over your eating habits.
Track Your Progress
You’ll want to see evidence that meditation is working. Have a way to check your progress once every week or two. This doesn’t mean that you have to hop on the scale. You may want to time yourself running a mile to see how your nutrition is affecting your fitness. It might make more sense for you to pull on an old pair of pants to see how they fit. The positive feedback your body will give you after you incorporate meditation into your life will be an incentive for you to keep up with the practice.
Try Mindful Eating
Proven to alleviate a variety of digestive issues, mindful eating is a key component of getting the most out of your food. Eating mindfully is a form of meditation in and of itself. Try these tips to incorporate mindful eating into your life.
• Put down the cell phone, and get away from your desk. Mindful eating means that your focus is on food, not on screens.
• Every so often, take the time to eat by yourself, focusing on your food, instead of focusing on the people around you.
• Before you eat, take a look at your food. Notice the different colors and textures. Take a deep breath so that you can smell what you’re about to eat. Not only will this make you enjoy your food more, but you’re also giving your body a chance to prepare for efficient digestion.
• Thoroughly chew each bite, taking time to taste the different flavor profiles within your food. While you’re chewing, think about the path it took for your food to get to your plate- from a farmer’s field, to a harvester, to the store or market, to you. Appreciate each living thing that played a role in the food you’re enjoying.
Give Yourself Grace
When we try something new, it’s easy to get frustrated when we don’t get the hang of it right away. Your meditation practice is going to take time to feel natural. It’s not going to be perfect. Don’t beat yourself up while you start to figure this thing out- instead, give yourself grace to learn. If meditation causes more stress in your life, you aren’t doing it right. If you miss a day, don’t worry- simply jump back in as soon as you’re ready. Your mind, body, and soul will love you for it.