Many of us live in a state of constant stress and stimulation. Consciously calming the mind through meditation practice can be a lifesaver for finding peace and stillness. But it can also be immensely challenging… especially if your body isn’t functioning at the top of its game.
The human body functions best when it’s in a state of balance, and that starts with a foundation of good nutrition. Without proper nutrition and healthy food, your body simply can’t function at an optimal level. If it’s trying to overcome nutrient deficiencies, it will be much harder to reach that state of Zen you’re looking for in your meditation practice.
Taking the following steps to fuel your meditation practice with proper nutrition will help you gain the mental clarity and stillness you need to be successful.
1. Start With a High-Quality, Organic Multivitamin
Even with the best of intentions, making time for self-care and healthy eating can be a challenge. Between work, your family, and your social obligations, you’re always on the go.
One of the easiest things you can do to take better care of yourself is to start every day with a high-quality, organic multivitamin. Taking a multivitamin every day will prevent any nutrient deficiencies that could impact your meditation practice or spill over into other areas of your life.
Look for brands that focus on organic ingredients and bioavailability to ensure that you’re getting everything you need without the harmful fillers and artificial ingredients that are so common in the supplement industry.
2. Fuel Up on Healthy Fats
Did you know that the human brain is made up mostly of fat? The importance of consuming the right fats for your brain health can’t be overstated! Fueling up on healthy fats is key for boosting your performance, not just in your meditation practice but in all areas of life.
Your brain requires some saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, cholesterol, and omega-3s for optimal function. Some of the most delicious and healthy foods are those that contain healthy fats. Incorporate them into your meals throughout the day.
Some good examples of healthy fats include fatty fish, avocados, olives, coconut oil, olive oil, nuts, grass-fed butter, and ghee. You should also make sure that your daily vitamin includes omega-3 fatty acids, too.
3. Feed Your Gut
The gut and the brain are more connected than you might think. The gut microbiome has a direct impact on cognitive health and moods, so it can play a major role in your ability to focus and clear your mind during meditation practice.
When you have more bad bacteria in your gut than good bacteria, your digestion suffers. Poor digestion can lead to many other issues, including a weakened immune system, poor nutrient absorption, inflammation throughout the body, and more. And when you’re not absorbing nutrients efficiently, your brain struggles to find the nutrients it needs for optimal function and clarity.
One of the best things you can do to support your meditation practice with food is to replenish the good bacteria in your gut by consuming more fermented foods. Fermented foods are rich in probiotics, which are the beneficial bacteria your gut needs for good health.
Some good examples of fermented foods are yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kefir, and kombucha.
4. Cut Back on the Sugar
Consuming a diet that’s high in sugar can be incredibly draining, both mentally and physically. We often equate sweets with comfort foods, which only adds an emotional component to unhealthy eating habits.
When consumed in excess, sugar is a leading cause of hyperactivity, nervousness, mental fatigue, anxiety, and depression. None of those are good for your quality of life, much less your meditation practice.
But even more than that, sugar contributes to a state of imbalance and disharmony in the body. If possible, try to eliminate all refined sugars, including white sugar, corn syrup, and brown sugar, from your diet. Natural sugars like real maple syrup or pure raw honey are fine occasionally.
If you find it difficult to cut the sugar, try drinking green smoothies to satisfy your sweet tooth and energize your body with a variety of trace minerals and other nutrients.
5. Choose Your Pre-Meditation Snack Wisely
Similar to eating before yoga or exercise, what you eat before meditation practice can make a big difference. While it’s true that meditation isn’t a physical exercise, it is a mental one. Fueling your brain is key for success and your brain needs either ketones or glucose for optimal function.
Do you have to eat before you meditate? Not always, especially if you don’t feel hungry enough to be distracted during practice. For example, if you’re meditating right after you wake up, your liver probably already has enough glycogen stores to fuel your brain for a little while. However, you should probably have a glass of water so that you’re not dehydrated.
That being said, most people who aren’t used to fasting will appreciate fueling up with a small meal or snack before meditation practice. Complex carbs are fantastic brain food. Of course, if you’re on a low-carb diet, healthy fats are also a fantastic option. They’ll provide some additional ketones to fuel up your brain.
Here are some fantastic pre-meditation snack ideas:
- Sweet Potatoes: An excellent source of complex carbs and brain-protecting nutrients like beta carotene
- Oily Fish: An excellent source of healthy fats to fuel your brain
- Oatmeal: A great source of complex carbs for brain fuel
- Leafy Green Vegetables: Rich in vital nutrients that protect the brain and reduce stress
- Nuts: Walnuts, almonds, and macadamia nuts provide healthy fats that are good for your brain and your heart.
- Berries: Excellent source of glucose for brain fuel and antioxidants to protect brain health
When choosing your pre-meditation snacks, avoid caffeine because it releases adrenaline which may make it difficult to calm your thoughts. It’s also important to avoid refined carbs and sugar, which can lead to inflammation and impair brain function. And finally, steer clear of trans fats like processed foods and hydrogenated oils, which are bad for your health, including your heart and brain.
Wrapping Things Up
If you’re looking to take your meditation practice to the next level, examining your diet and nutrition is a great place to start. No matter how disciplined or dedicated you are, it will be difficult to achieve your goals if your body and brain aren’t getting the vital nutrition they need.