Do mental strategies really work for reducing weight? Science shows definite health benefits from mindfulness and meditation. And in this post, I will describe how you can use it to help manage your weight and cravings.
“Meditation” is the practice of connecting the body and mind to become more self-aware and present. It’s often used to calm down, ease stress, and relax. And practicing “mindfulness” is one of the most popular ways to meditate.
Seventy-five to ninety percent of doctor’s visits are due to stress. That’s a staggering number! But what does stress have to do with weight and cravings?
Chronic stress creates chronic inflammation and also increases the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. It can negatively impact sleep as well. And all 3 of these have massive effects on your physical and mental health as well as your weight.
In one study, people who took an 8-week mindfulness program had greater improvement in symptoms according to the “Hamilton Anxiety Scale” than those who took a stress management program that did not include mindfulness.
Other studies show that mindfulness has similar effects as antidepressant medications for some people with mild to moderate symptoms of depression. While mindfulness isn’t always a cure, it can help to improve moods.
In particular, mindfulness can reduce stress-related and emotional overeating. And in a previous post, I’ve described how stress can sabotage your weight loss efforts in other ways as well.
Studies show that people who use mind-body practices, including mindfulness, have a lower BMI (Body Mass Index).
How does this work?
One way it works is due to mindful eating which is…
- a “non-judgmental awareness of physical and emotional sensations associated with eating.”
- a practice of being more aware of food and the eating process.
- listening more deeply to how hungry and full you actually are.
- not allowing yourself to be distracted by other things while you’re eating, like what’s on TV or your smartphone.
People with higher mindfulness scores reported smaller serving sizes of energy-dense foods. In other words, more mindful eating = less junk food consumed.
Mindfulness can also help reduce cravings and binge eating leading to more successful weight management.
Digestion and Gut Health
Recent studies show a link between stress, stress hormones, and changes in the gut microbiome. This means that mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques could be a way to help prevent these negative changes in your gut.
For instance, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is linked to stress and imbalanced gut microbiome. In one study, people with IBS who received mindfulness training showed greater reductions in digestive symptoms than the group who received standard medical care.
What is the link between poor gut bacteria diversity and difficulty with weight loss? Studies have shown that psychological stress creates imbalanced gut bacteria, increasing inflammation which is associated with weight gain. So, theoretically, mindfulness techniques designed to reduce stress can help with weight loss as well.
Science shows amazing health benefits of the ancient practice of mindfulness meditation for weight loss and more.
Do you regularly include it in your life? If so, what benefits have you noticed? If not, would you consider trying it? I have made it fun and easy with my Mindset Challenge.
If you want to be notified when my next Mindset Challenge is being held so that you can join, send me a note here and I will add you to my list!
BONUS Tips – stress reducing support…
Introduction to Emotional Freedom Technique video
Meditate in One Minute or Less Everyday video
Headspace App (free 10-day trial)
Daily Meditation Podcast
Hay House Meditations Podcast