For a long time, I told myself I wasn’t a meditator. I had countless attempts at meditating only to find quieting my mind to be so difficult. Sure, I had heard why it was useful for you but it wasn’t until I worked with my first meditation teachers that it became a habit for me. I realized it was a mix of technique & accountability that helped me to finally make it a habit.
One of the interesting “side effects” of meditating more for me was improving my eating habits, actually. I found that meditation helped me to feel more calm and centered, making wiser more centered choices rather than to be compulsive and emotional with choices (hello emotional eating). It took some time and practice to become a habit but each time I practiced it became easier and easier.
I often use mindfulness as a tool these days to help my clients overcome binge eating, overeating, emotional eating, and more. As shared in my last post, mindfulness has a vast array of benefits including but not limited to: a greater sense of peace and calm, the ability to weather strong emotions, and the ability to make wiser, more rational choices.
When I first started, I could feel a visceral difference when I got centered and meditated in simply how I felt. Later on, I learned more about the neuroscience which helped me to buy even more into the habit of meditation.
As discussed in a previous blog post, we can think of two separate brains when it comes to retraining binge eating and compulsive overeating. First, we have our animal brains (i.e. limbic system) which is our emotional brain, the seat of our habits loops. Second, we have our sane brains (i.e. prefrontal cortex) where we make wiser choices, plan for the future, and so on. When we meditate and focus our attention, we actually are strengthening the pre-frontal cortex, associated with these wiser decisions. Like a muscle, what we use, we strength and what we don’t use, we lose. Over time, we can strengthen our ability to stay centered and calm even in stressful events and times where we normally would act compulsively and emotionally from the animal brain, which might look like stuffing our face with fries.
One of the main tools I use with my clients is mindfulness because it actually strengthens our ability to make wiser choices. Research has shown that mindfulness has been proven to dramatically decrease instances of binge eating and compulsive eating.
So how do you start developing a practice of mindfulness? In my work, I usually start my clients with developing a basic meditation practice. There are plenty of free resources out there or you can consider looking for a meditation teacher or group. In my work, combining mindfulness with coaching, nutrition, etc. have been the keys to help my clients stop binge eating for good.