Researchers have revealed new research that shows the benefits of mindfulness meditation for obesity. In this guide we will share everything you need to know.
The Researchers, a group of psychologists from Birmingham University, have developed a suite of tools that look into the effect of mindfulness meditation for obesity and how meditation can help get your weight back in control of your diet and your health.
The researchers wanted to see if mindfulness could help to lower the rising levels of obesity in the UK (according to the NHS, w6% of men and 29% of women in the UK are obese). You’ll be impressed by the results of the research.
Benefits of Mindfulness Mediation For Obesity
The researchers wanted to discover how beneficial it would be to use a mindfulness intervention to reduce obesity.
Mindfulness is the practice of focusing the mind on the present moment in a non-judgmental fashion (READ: Getting Started With Mindfulness).
As a meditation teacher I have personally helped many people to lose weight by meditating. Meditation can help because it relaxes the mind to reduce the influence of cravings, and also makes us more aware of our behaviour, so that when we grab a chocolate bar we actually stop for long enough to consider whether we truly want to eat it. If you consider the amount of times you eat impulsively, or because you’re feeling blue, you may be surprised by how much your emotions contribute to your diet. Thankfully, mindfulness can help.
The researchers, Dr. Michael Mantzios and Dr. Helen Egan, have create a suite of tools that are all designed to help people to overcome obesity with mindfulness. The tools include practices like Mindful Chocolate Practice (read: Mindful Eating) and a Mindful Construal Diary.
I didn’t actually know what a “Mindful Construal Diary” was at the time of writing this article, so I researched. Apparently, it is a diary that encourages mindful eating practices. Previous research has shown that mindfulness construal diaries can help when attempting to lose weight, and that the average individual successfully reduces calories while on this mindfulness-based intervention.
Mindful Eating is all about eating slowly and being conscious of what we are eating. Essentially, it is slowing down, focusing on what we are eating, and also being aware of thoughts and emotions that could be negatively affecting our diets.
The Mindful Chocolate Exercise is one of the most popular mindful eating exercises. Essentially, it is the practice of slowly and mindfully eating a chocolate bar while observing mental phenomena such as thoughts and feelings (and labeling those phenomena, similar to in Vipassana). The results of the research show that people eat less chocolate following the Mindful Chocolate exercise.
Birmingham City University invites the public to access the tools and to help with the survey to determine how effective mindfulness meditation is for obesity.
Dr. Michael Mantzios [reader, Birmingham City University] says, “The research aims to assist a natural return to the habitual tendency to eat when our bodies are in need for food…” This is largely achieved by reducing reactivity to cravings, because when we are mindful of cravings we are less likely to give in to them. “…so, responding to physiological signals of hunger, and to create a mindful and pleasurable experience of every meal and snack that we consume.”
I find the last part of his quote interesting. You would think that most people who eat unhealthy foods at least tend to enjoy them. But in actual fact, many people eat unconsciously, grabbing a chocolate bar or candy because they momentarily feel like it, and not really taking the time to enjoy the experience. When we eat mindfully, on the other hand, we slow down and take the time to appreciate food. That’s why mindful eating makes food more enjoyable.
Mantzios states that one of the primary reasons people become obese is due to emotional complications that lead to impulsive eating and comfort eating. Mindfulness can help. “[With Mindful Eating], we are enabling people to regulate the amount and quality of the food they consume, and assist in overcoming typical pitfalls that are leading to obesity such as emotional or environmentally-induced (over)eating,” says Mantzios.
If you want to start using mindfulness meditation for obesity, and want to get back in shape and control your diet, take a look at the two guides I linked to above (Meditation for Weight Loss, and Mindful Eating). In those guides you’ll find various meditation techniques and mindfulness exercises that will help you to control your diet and get back to the healthy life.