Meditation is an age-old practice that includes various techniques to soothe the mind and improve overall mental and physical health.
In recent years, there has been an increase in research investigating the impact of meditation on eating habits and weight loss.
While the findings of recent studies are somewhat inconsistent, several reviews indicate that meditation can positively influence eating habits and may aid in weight loss for specific individuals.
When we think of meditation, we often picture someone sitting cross-legged, eyes closed, attempting to clear their mind while silently repeating a mantra. While this is indeed one form of meditation, the practice has evolved to include various techniques that can reduce stress and enhance overall well-being.
One branch of modern meditation is mindfulness. Research indicates that meditation methods incorporating mindfulness and mindfulness-based eating techniques can improve eating habits and contribute to weight loss. However, it's important to note that the results from existing studies are varied, and some suggest that individuals who benefit the most from meditation in terms of weight loss struggle with eating-related behaviours like binge eating, emotional eating, or restrained eating.
This article will explore meditation, the different meditation practices, and the potential benefits of incorporating meditation into your daily routine. Additionally, we will delve into the effectiveness of meditation for weight loss and whether other mindfulness techniques can support achieving weight loss goals.
Meditation is an ancient practice deeply rooted in Eastern traditions. Its main objectives are to harmonise the body and mind, induce relaxation, and enhance overall well-being. Meditation has become a regular part of their self-care routine for many individuals.
One of the reasons why meditation is so popular is its versatility and accessibility. It encompasses breathing exercises, relaxation methods, and spiritual practices. In Western cultures, people often meditate to cope with stress and anxiety, resolve conflicts, manage impulses, and boost memory and resilience.
Surveys indicate that an increasing number of adults in the United States embrace meditation and mindfulness practices. A survey conducted in 2017 revealed that the percentage of US adults practising some form of meditation had tripled between 2012 and 2017, reaching 14.2%. Meditation and mindfulness programs have also gained popularity in schools, workplaces, and even the military, helping individuals reduce stress and improve their daily lives.
Meditation today comes in several forms. The following are some of the most common types of meditation:
Mantra-based meditation (MBM): This type of meditation focuses on a repeated phrase or mantra. The mantra can be religious or spiritual, but it can also be a non-religious phrase. The purpose of MBM is to use the repetitive sounds of the mantra to override mental chatter and subconscious thoughts that contribute to mental stress. Transcendental meditation is a well-known form of MBM, but there are other variations, such as Benson relaxation, Jyoti meditation, clinically standardised meditation (CSM), and ACEM meditation.
Mindfulness meditation: Mindfulness meditation is a widespread practice that focuses on training your attention, focus, and acceptance. It involves tuning into the present moment and can be done through various techniques. These techniques include focusing on the breath, physical sensations, emotions, and immediate surroundings. The goal is to observe these experiences without judgment or reactivity. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MSBR), cognitive therapy (MBCT), and mindfulness-based eating are examples of mindfulness practices. Mindfulness techniques can also be incorporated into yoga.
Spiritual meditation: This type of meditation incorporates techniques from MBM or mindfulness meditation but with a religious or spiritual aspect. People who practice spiritual meditation may do so individually or as part of a spiritual community.
Meditation and mindfulness have become increasingly popular in recent years outside Eastern cultures. This has sparked a surge in research exploring the advantages of these practices for mental and physical well-being. Numerous studies, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses have indicated that various forms of meditation can benefit certain individuals. These benefits include:
However, it is essential to note that some individuals may experience adverse effects from meditation, such as increased depression or anxiety. A 2020 review found that around 8% of participants experienced adverse effects after practising meditation. These findings highlight the fact that meditation can affect individuals differently. Before beginning a meditation practice, it is crucial to carefully consider the potential benefits and risks for your specific health situation.
Recent studies have explored the impact of mindfulness and meditation on weight management and eating behaviours. While the results are mixed, there are vital points to consider if you're interested in using meditation for weight loss:
More research is needed to establish the effectiveness of meditation for weight loss treatment and maintenance. Nonetheless, existing evidence suggests that meditation and other mindfulness-based practices can assist some individuals in improving their relationship with food, eating habits, and certain metabolic health markers.
Using meditation for weight loss is accessible to anyone. You can initiate your practice at home, either with a meditation app or by setting aside a specific time and space for meditation. To increase the likelihood of sticking with your practice, choose a short daily period, such as before breakfast or after dinner, to devote yourself to meditation.
Whether you opt for a mantra-based meditation or mindfulness techniques like focusing on your breath to anchor your attention to the present moment, starting with small steps, finding a comfortable position, and being patient with the process is essential. You can consult your healthcare provider for more help if you need guidance on beginning.
Suppose you're interested in using mindfulness to improve your relationship with food and eating habits and support weight loss. In that case, you should contact your healthcare provider for additional guidance tailored to your needs.
You can improve your mental and physical health with mindfulness-based techniques in addition to meditation. Some of these techniques can also support weight loss. These techniques include:
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