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Calgary, AB / 587-437-3197 / jenna@simplynurtured.ca

2016 by Jenna Lessner 

  • Jenna Lessner, BSc, CHNC

5 Ways Meditation Can Improve Emotional Eating

Updated: Feb 12


You may have you heard of this little thing called…. Meditation. But, have you made it a daily practice? Yogis have been meditating for years and I love that science has taught on to the many benefits of meditation.


Can you still your mind? Most people I ask this, tell me ‘no’. That they aren’t good at meditating and because of that they aren’t willing to try… Let’s digest that for a moment. If you didn’t try to do anything that you weren’t already good at, what would you accomplish? Um.. nothing. Think about a child who is learning to walk. Do they give up completely because they fell over on their first try? Nope! They get up and try again and again. Which, is the same way I approach meditation. While I started my meditation practice as a way to calm my anxiety it has become something more than that and I believe it has been a key player in helping me overcome emotional eating.

“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day - unless you're too busy; then you should sit for an hour.” – Dr. Sukhraj Dhillon

As I fall deeper into meditation, I find it fascinating that science has actually proved meditation can effectively decrease binge eating and emotional eating.

Here are five ways meditation can reduce emotional eating:

  1. Reduce Stress! Researchers have found that a meditation program reduces the negative dimensions of psychological stress. A study of nearly 1300 people found that meditation decreased levels of stress, especially in those with the highest levels of stress. If you’re turning to food to cope with your stressful life, meditation can be a game-changer. As you reduce stress levels, you reduce the desire to cope with food.

  2. Improve Sleep! So many people have racing thoughts as soon as their head hits the pillow and the lists of never-ending to-do lists start scrolling through their heads (I’m speaking from experience). Meditation can help! One study found that participants who meditated fell asleep sooner and stayed asleep longer, compared to those who didn’t meditate at all. Sleep is so important when it comes to emotional eating. When you have a lack of sleep, your brain produces more ghrelin, your hunger hormone, and less leptin, your satiety hormone. Research has also shown that a lack of sleep can predispose us to emotional eating. When you are sleep deprived, you react more emotionally to a situation rather than choosing a deliberate response.

  3. Improve Self-Esteem! A meditation practice promotes a non-judgmental view of self and reality. It can also allow you to embrace a variety of emotions, including negative feelings, without trying to suppress them with food.

  4. Calm Anxiety! I can personally attest to the benefits of even a short meditation bringing me back to a calm state after an extreme anxiety attack. Scientists have also found that ongoing meditative practices can have long-term benefits in the treatment of those diagnosed with anxiety disorders. Participants in one study noted that managing mental health concerns helped to reduce emotional eating.

  5. Improve Willpower! Meditation strengthens the functions of our willpower house, the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is engaged when you resist urges that arise with emotional eating. By strengthening the prefrontal cortex, one can improve observing impulses without acting on them.

With all these benefits, are you ready to give meditation a try?

Download your free guided meditation here.




Goyal, M., et al. Meditation programs for psychological stress and well-being: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Intern. Med. 2014; 174(3): 357-368.

Katterman, S.N., Kleinman, B.M., Hood, M.M., Nackers, L.M. and Corsica, J.A. Mindfulness meditation as an intervention for binge eating, emotional eating, and weight loss: a systematic review. Eat Behav. 2014; 15(2): 197-204.

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McGonigal, Kelly. The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do To Get More of It. Avery. 2012.

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