The benefits of meditation are well known. The calming practice has been shown to help with everything from stress levels to high blood pressure and seemingly just about everything in between (insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, even pain).
And the perks don’t stop there. “There’s a lot of research on the benefits of meditation, and it only makes sense it could be applied to food, too,” explains Marjorie Cohn, RD, who says she often uses mindfulness and meditation-based strategies when working with clients to establish healthier eating habits. “A meditation practice focused on healthy eating can be grounding, which can help you make the best decisions for you.”
Here, how a healthy eating meditation practice can help you eat healthier, feel better about meal times and find mindfulness at the dinner table, plus a few options to choose from:
THE BENEFITS OF HEALTHY EATING MEDITATION
“There are so many distractions and judgments in our society about the foods we eat, which sets us up to be disconnected from our food intake, body sensations and emotional experiences with food,” says Cohn. “When disconnected, we are much more likely to make poor choices or eat an amount that is not ideal — be it too much or too little.”
Say you’re stressed or focused on what’s on your phone, for example. You might grab food, throw it in your mouth without thinking about it and unconsciously eat. “That manifests as overeating or stress eating,” says Suze Yalof Schwartz, Los Angeles-based founder of Unplug Meditation.
“When you eat mindfully, you’re conscious of what’s going into your mouth and you actually slow down your breath as you would in meditation, which slows down your bites.” Slowing down while you eat is a practice that’s been linked to weight loss, a lower body mass index (BMI) and a smaller waist circumference, finds research published in The BMJ.
Ultimately, the goal of healthy eating meditations is to learn how to consciously eat so you know what foods feel good for you and then you want to choose those foods. “You become the master of choice,” says Yalof Schwartz.
3 HEALTHY EATING MEDITATIONS TO TRY
Healthy Eating Guided Visualization: This meditation asks you to visualize everything you ate that day inside a picnic basket, forcing you to look at the healthy options as well as the less healthy ones. It makes you ask yourself: How can I make changes moving forward? This can change your mindset surrounding food, says Yalof Schwartz. “Moving forward, you start thinking before you take the bite, what do I want in my picnic basket?”
Before You Overeat: If you struggle with binge eating, this healthy eating meditation asks you to dig into why you want to overeat. It’s perfect for those sensitive times of the day (like late afternoon when cravings hit) or whenever cravings may strike.
Hypnosis For Weight Loss: This meditation takes you into the ‘control room’ of your mind where you literally visualize buttons for different kinds of foods — carbs, salty snacks — and you can turn off or on certain buttons. This helps show you you’re in control, says Yalof Schwartz, which can help you make deliberate, healthy choices.
Find these meditations in the Unplug Meditation app. Use the code MYFITNESSPAL and you’ll get one month of free access. You can also find other healthy eating meditations under the topic healthy eating.