According to meditation coach Lynne Goldberg, excessive eating often has nothing to do with hunger — it’s entirely mental.
“Perhaps we are triggered unconsciously by the smell of delicious cinnamon buns while we walk through the mall,” said Lynne. “Often, we eat when we are stressed, or sad.” Boredom and other emotional factors can be and often are culprits when it comes to the urge to eat.
So you’re thinking, “Sure, I’m eating for reasons beyond hunger, but how do I actually stop it??” As you may have guessed, it starts with your brain, and gaining control over your mind and emotions comes from mindfulness and meditation.
“Mindfulness helps us to be truly present with our thoughts, feelings, and emotions as we eat,” said Lynne. Start practicing meditation at the beginning of the day to clear your thoughts; you can download a meditation app if you need help getting started.
Additionally, you can start a mindful eating practice, which includes slower chewing and a bit of meditation around mealtime. This can increase satiety and beat cravings.
Making these small changes can lead to other healthier, better changes. “We also learn to pay attention to our body’s cues as well,” said Lynne. You’ll pay more attention to the sensations in your body once you become more connected via meditation and mindfulness, “so rather than automatically going for a second helping, we can learn to take an extra second to notice our sense of fullness or other reasons we may be eating that aren’t simply hunger.”
Another benefit of meditation? It relieves stress, which reduces cortisol, the stress hormone that causes our body to store fat, specifically in our belly (awesome, right?). By eradicating stress from your life through mindfulness, you can let go of the hormones that are causing road blocks in your weight loss. Let go of stress, let go of pounds.
This article originally appeared on popsugar.com.