I recently started meditating, and I started feeling super hungry during and right after meditation. Is this normal? Should I go eat or continue meditating?
It is not ideal to eat just before meditating as it tends to bring the energy to the digestive system. Meditation is trying to bring this energy up to the spiritual eye. However, hunger during meditation is a distraction.
Eating a big meal just before meditating can interfere quite a bit. It can cause sleepiness in meditation. Also, energy which otherwise can be used in meditation flows to the stomach area to digest the food. It is not such a problem if you have a little to eat, just enough to settle down your hunger. You can have a bigger meal later if you are still hungry after meditation. Experiment a little to see what works for you.
Does meditation make you hungry?
Your feeling hungry can be of two types:
1) Actual hunger due to not eating for a long time. In such situations, have a fruit (a small banana or an apple) or a small quantity of fresh fruit juice before you sit to meditate. Your mind will then accept that you are not hungry and you will be able to have a relaxed meditation session. Mind plays an important role in everything we manifest. Without giving attention to a call of hunger, after minutes that feeling can die away. Since it’s preferable to meditate without a full stomach, sitting in meditation before a meal can appease the system with the promise of food following the practice. One can learn to delay gratification of the hunger impulse.
2) Your ego is making you aware of all bodily discomforts; real or imaginary. In such cases be steadfast in your decision to meditate for the decided time period. Do not budge! Slowly your ego will succumb to your will power and all discomforts will disappear. This is a beautiful way for a meditator to learn the strength of the mind’s willpower over ego. If the hunger is only distracting and not causing any physical problems that indicate there’s a genuine need for food, summon a stronger devotional focus to redirect thoughts of eating to the Divine Provider of spiritual as well as material food.
The great Master of Kriya Yoga Paramhansa Yogananda said that soul likes to meditate but ego does not. Ego wants to keep us bound to this phenomenal world (Maya) through five senses. These are taste, smell, hearing, sight, and touch (mouth, nose, ears, eyes, skin). And eating uses three senses. Quitting meditation early to satisfy hunger’s impulse would just reinforce and perpetuate approaching the hunger as more important to appease than the meditation fervor.
Feeling hungry after meditation
It is also possible that meditating at a different time of day would work better for you. It is important to have a regular, daily meditation practice, so be creative about how to make that happen in your life. Adding meditation to daily routines may well disrupt set patterns and you may need to become accustomed to having meals with different timing.
Meditating before mealtime sets the timing to coincide with sufficient scheduling for taking food. You would then naturally expect to feel hungry after meditation. Carrying the peaceful state into daily activity, mindfully choose healthy foods to nourish the body with the meal that follows meditation. It is important to look after the body temple. And then, mindful eating would be a positive way to continue calmness and the sense of being present that is practiced within meditation.
It is feasible to even feel less hungry after calming with meditation, considering that impulsive eating can be stimulated by extreme emotions. The devotion one generates in meditation also can increase the fervor for God, even replacing thoughts of food for a time.
Feel free to experiment, always paying attention to what helps you go deeper in meditation.
Updated September 2023 by Ananda Communications
Ananda Course in Meditation
A 10-week online course with in-depth instruction in scientific meditation techniques that bring more peace, deeper relaxation, and focused concentration to every area of your life.Learn more