Mindfulness and self-compassion to assist weight loss

Mantzios, M., & Wilson, J. C. (2013). Making concrete construals mindful: A novel approach for developing mindfulness and self-compassion to assist weight loss. Psychology & Health, (just-accepted), 1-41.

Abstract. Research on the usefulness of mindfulness and self-compassion for dieting has focused on meditative practices. However, meditation can be difficult to maintain, especially while dieting. Thus, the present research attempted to induce mindfulness and self-compassion by using food diaries that required the participant to either focus on concrete (i.e. how they are eating) construals or abstract (i.e. why they are eating) construals.

The concrete construals were expected to increase mindfulness and self-compassion, as well as decrease avoidance and negative thoughts (which would further aid the development of mindfulness and self-compassion). Study 1 found that mindfulness and self-compassion mediated the inverse relationship of avoidance and negative thoughts with weight loss. Study 2 showed that concrete construal diaries increased mindfulness and self-compassion, decreased avoidance and negative thoughts, and supported weight loss significantly more than the abstract construal diaries.

Study 3, then, compared the concrete construal diaries with a mindful self-compassionate meditation programme. There was no difference in weight loss at the end of the intervention, but at a three-month follow-up, the diaries performed better at weight maintenance. Thus, the concrete construal diaries may promote mindfulness and self-compassion and potentially promote long-term weight loss.