Maybe you’ve been eating well and exercising and it has helped. What might not have occurred to you, though, is that meditation might also help! Meditation is the practice of focusing your attention in order to find calm and clarity. It can lower blood pressure, and help manage stress which can sometimes make people want to eat more. “People often put on weight from trying to comfort themselves with food,” says Adam Perlman, MD, executive director of Duke Integrative Medicine.
Meditation helps you become more aware of everything you do, including things related to food. A research review showed that meditation can help with emotional and binge eating. “Any way to become more mindful will guide that process,” Perlman says.
Simple Steps for Meditating:
There are a lot of different ways to meditate — the Center for Disease Control says that most types of meditation have these 4 things in common:
- Quiet location– Find your favorite quiet spot to meditate, whether it’s outside in nature, or perhaps even your favorite chair in the living room.
- Comfortable posture– Standing, walking, lying down or sitting.
- Something to focus on– Maybe your breath, some words you’ve chosen, etc.
- Openness– Try not to become too focused on the intruding thoughts that are normal and you’re likely to have. Let them go and bring your attention back to your breath or whatever it is you’ve chosen to focus on for meditative purposes.
You might want to take a class if you’re a beginner to meditation. Or, choose your own place, time and method.
Become a Witness
“Meditating requires a commitment to stop and look within and around you, even if you have only a few moments”, says Geneen Roth, author of the New York Times best-seller Women Food and God.
“The way I teach meditation and integrate it for myself is to focus on being a witness to your thoughts and not so much how long you need to practice,” Roth says. “You want to learn how to quiet your mind and sometimes avoid the stories you tell yourself, like you need to go eat cookies or that bag of chips.”
Try to let the meditation happen without judgment or expectations attached. “Most people have an inner critic that’s running their lives”, Roth says. She recommends asking yourself, “What’s working?” to reframe your thinking… when you wake up and at the end of the day. “We get so caught up and don’t take the time to look around and notice what’s good,” she says. Roth recommends taking 30 seconds to look around and see what’s in front of you each day, as a way to be present.
“Not only do you need to be present in the moment, but you need to be informed to make the right decisions — what to eat, what to avoid, what [are] the best exercises and lifestyle choices for someone with high blood pressure,” Perlman says. It is what he calls “informed mindfulness.”