When embarking on a diet, the focus is usually on healthy eating and exercise. Learning to manage emotions is rarely part of the regime, but growing research suggests it should be, as learning to breathe, focus, tune into the body, and avoid comfort eating during periods of emotional turmoil can help keep weight stable. Here's a look at some of the recent scientific studies that have found meditation beneficial to maintaining a healthy weight.
Mindfulness to prevent and treat childhood obesity
Researchers from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, USA, recently found mindfulness meditation beneficial to the prevention and treatment of obesity in children. Meditation was found to reduce stimulation in the part of the brain linked to impulsiveness.
Regular relaxation or meditation halves the risk of obesity
A French NutriNet-Santé study from December 2015 revealed that regular meditation could reduce the risk of obesity by 50 percent. Practicing at least one activity that focuses on mind and body — such as meditation, yoga, sophrology, qigong or tai chi — was linked to a lower risk of being overweight and an even lower risk of obesity compared to people who never took part in this kind of activity.
Psychological well-being, the key to successful weight loss
A national survey of 1,000 participants conducted by Orlando Health (US) in December 2015 found that successful weight loss was dependent on the management of emotions and psychological well-being. However, 90 percent of those surveyed weren't aware that addressing emotional issues was an essential component of successful weight loss, leading them to regain weight at the end of a diet.
The secrets of the effortlessly slim
American researchers from Cornell University investigated why some people manage to stay slim all their lives without dieting and with no apparent effort. The study, published in February 2016, found that key criteria were the ability to listen to the body's own internal cues, as well as taking pleasure in food and enjoying eating without feeling guilty.
Stay mindful to cut belly fat
People who pay more attention to their thoughts and feelings in the present moment had lower levels of abdominal fat and were less likely to become obese, according to an American study published in October 2015.
A team of researchers from Brown University Public School of Health discovered that not staying mindful of the present could have a negative effect on the body, particularly on belly fat levels. Among the study's 394 participants, those with a low level of mindfulness were 34 percent more likely to be obese than those who were more aware of the present.