We already know mindfulness meditation can help you sleep, deal with stress and relieve pain, but new research suggests the practice may also help you manage your cravings for food, as well as cigarettes and alcohol.
According to a review published in Clinical Psychology Review, cravings may be linked to our behaviors. For example, studies show that food cravings predict weight gain. Therefore, a deeper understanding of cravings and how to manage them can potentially help us live healthier lives.
As the author Katy Tapper, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychology at City, University of London, makes clear, people have been turning to meditation for thousands of years to manage their various cravings. “According to ancient Buddhist texts, craving leads to suffering but can be avoided through mindfulness meditation practice.”
And since we tend to associate cravings with a loss of control, Tapper’s explanation of how mindfulness can help makes perfect sense. Mindfulness strategies, she writes, aim to “promote greater awareness of bodily sensations, to develop an attitude of acceptance toward uncomfortable feelings, or to help individuals see themselves as separate from their thoughts and emotions.”
According to Buddhist-based models used to understand craving, people only pay attention to one thing at a time. Thus, by focusing on “present moment awareness of perceptual stimuli,” you can avoid any subsequent thoughts of craving. And adopting the Buddhist attitude of acceptance can also help you avoid negative thoughts like “self-judgment,” which, when paired with present moment awareness, can “reduce the frequency and duration of craving episodes.”
Furthermore, these techniques may help you gain insight into the cause of your craving, which can then motivate you to avoid acting on those feelings in the future.
Read more about the study here.