Does Meditation Make You Less Hungry?

There isn’t any right or wrong reason when getting started with meditation, but the reason you chose to get into meditation may determine whether you stick with it for the long haul or abandon it completely. 

Your motivations when you started could change as you meditate over time. However, with the discipline we learn from meditation, would it be valid to say that it can reduce your hunger? 

Photo by Naman Pandey on Unsplash

No. Meditation can’t reduce your hunger, but can indirectly help you, which translates into reduced food cravings and better control over what you eat

Now, there are certain ways how we should approach food in relation to meditation. For instance, we shouldn’t meditate after eating, as that can divert the focus of our attention on digestion and mindful breathing. 

Meditation Works Best on an Empty Stomach

If you’re gonna meditate, it helps to be in a fasting state, or at the very least, wait a few hours after your meal. However, meditating on an empty stomach before eating can provide you with a greater sense of self-control, which in turn can translate over the long term that you’re less hungry. 

Many eat for the wrong reasons, for instance, the food tastes good or because they want to fill a void. 

Now, it’s not ideal to feel hungry while meditating, because your mind might gravitate to wanting food while you’re meditating. 

Hunger would provide the mind the perfect excuse to wander to other places, because at this point, you’re not only fighting the mind in a psychological sense but in a physical sense.

Getting the mind to stay on track with meditation can already be hard enough, when you add to that the fact that you’re hungry, the difficulty intensifies. 

But there’s a difference between merely meditating on an empty stomach and meditating while you’re hungry. When you meditate on an empty stomach, you can be in a fasting state, and there are benefits to fasting and a correlation between increased focus and fasting. Of course, fasting isn’t for everyone and everyone has their circumstances where it may not even be convenient to fast. But when you’re fasting, assuming you had proper food and you’re meditating in the morning, you could be doing the practice at peak performance. 

Starting off the day with meditation, before eating anything can translate into more mindful eating, which in turn, can make you more aware of what you put in your mouth. 

Training one area of self-control, such as with meditation, often creates a domino effect that reflects on your other habits throughout the day, since how you do one thing is many times an indication of how you do other things. 

Watching What You Consume

By default, if you start living in the present, you’ll take notice of the small details of your daily habits, such as what you eat. Which can help you make better decisions on what you eat. Meditation as a whole helps you make better decisions, and this is one example where it’s applied. 

What you choose to eat can dictate whether you’ll be hungry or not later down the line. If you meditate consistently, the way that would translate in your eating habits could be you choosing to opt for cooked food rather than processed food. 

Processed foods are what often provide these feel-good chemicals that don’t last very long, but make you feel good just for the moment. Meditation teaches you to let go of that and take a glance into the long term, while living in the present moment at the same time. 

Most tend to operate on the complete opposite principle, so if you feel like things have been going downhill, you may just be a few tweaks from changing that indirectly, by meditating, which in turn, is likely to get you going with mindful eating. 

Most would overlook this aspect, but what you eat can dictate how your meditation is going to be. Eating lots of processed foods where you feel tired the next day is gonna affect your focus. Good eating goes hand in hand with meditation, and If you don’t feel full from a food, it can reflect on your meditation. 

Think of it, a bad input when it comes to food isn’t magically solved by meditation. A bad input equals a bad output. To meditate properly you need focus. 

If you’re lacking focus as a result of poor diet choices, the practice is gonna be, while not impossible, significantly harder. Just like good food goes hand in hand with meditation, so does exercise. Lastly, how much you eat can also impact the practice.

Controlling Food Cravings Through Meditation

Rather than focusing on an abstract idea as to how to actually reduce food cravings with meditation, even if it sounds all good, your environment does play a role. 

You can have the best willpower on the planet, but if your present environment doesn’t favor your goals, you’ll want to look into it. When we apply this principle to eating, it can be done by eating on a smaller plate, that way, you’ll be less likely to overeat and feel full. 

Don’t give your body more than what it can handle and observe what you eat. Meditation teaches you patience, which in turn, can help you to chug slower and genuinely enjoy the food. In turn, that translates into better digestion and better health. 

This is how you can change your environment when it comes to the relationship between eating and meditation, it doesn’t take anything fancy. 

Now, eating slower sounds easy, but to make it more actionable, you can engage in mindful eating, where you taste the flavor of the food thoroughly, which aside from being better for you, is also more likely to make you enjoy the food. 

To some, this may sound like common sense, but in a quest for peace for someone with a stressed day-to-day life, we forget about the basics and resort to lazy, autopilot habits in our day-to-day life that we don’t realize how they’re affecting us until we take a step back. 

Meditation, in a way, you could say it’s a way to start living. Letting things run on autopilot is merely letting life happen, surrendering our control to the mind or whichever shiny object that captures our mind’s attention. 

Emotional Hunger vs Real Hunger

I like to define hunger in two categories, one is emotional hunger where we eat because we want to feel better at the time. Also known as cravings. Another one is when we’re genuinely hungry. 

Meditation allows you to draw the line between the two, and because you’re more aware of what you’re doing in your day to day, you’re less likely to give in to the desire of emotional hunger. As I often say, meditation is more about letting go than having something to gain. 

If you’re genuinely hungry though, eat. As great as meditation is, it can never replace the need for food. If you merely want to eat because the food tastes good or because it provides some kind of pleasure, you’ll want to rethink whether it’s worth it. 

Simply put, emotional eating is living to eat whereas real hunger is eating to live. It being pleasing should only be a side effect, which on its own can be enjoyed to a greater extent when eating mindfully. That’s a good principle to go from when observing the correlation between meditation and hunger. 

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