Encourages healthier eating behavior

Jordan, C. H., Wang, W., Donatoni, L., & Meier, B. P. (2014). Mindful eating: Trait and state mindfulness predict healthier eating behavior. Personality and Individual Differences, 68, 107-111. Abstract.

Highlights: • Trait mindfulness predicts healthier eating across three distinct measures.  • Manipulated state mindfulness reduces calorie consumption.  • Effects of mindfulness on healthy food choices are mediated by food attitudes.  • Results found in non-clinical samples without specific training in mindful eating.  • Results suggest generic mindfulness training may enhance healthy eating.

Obesity and excess weight are significant societal problems. Mindfulness may encourage healthier weight and eating habits. Across four studies, we found a positive relation between mindfulness and healthier eating. Trait mindfulness was associated with less impulsive eating, reduced calorie consumption, and healthier snack choices. In addition, we found a causal effect of mindfulness on healthier eating.

An experimental manipulation of state mindfulness led participants to consume fewer calories in a spontaneous eating task. We also found preliminary evidence that mindfulness affects eating behavior by encouraging attitudinal preferences for healthier foods. Taken together, these results provide strong evidence that mindfulness encourages healthier eating, even in the absence of specific instruction in mindful eating.

These results suggest that generic mindfulness-based strategies could have ancillary benefits for encouraging healthier eating behavior.