Mediating role of mindfulness on eating pathology

Pepping, C. A., et al. (2015). Individual differences in attachment and eating pathology: The mediating role of mindfulness. Personality and Individual Differences, 75, 24-29. Abstract.

Attachment insecurity is related to many forms of psychopathology, including eating pathology. However, remarkably little is known as to the more specific underlying cognitive and emotional processes that may explain why attachment insecurity places individuals at greater risk of eating pathology.

In the present research, we examined whether mindfulness is one mechanism underlying the relationship between attachment insecurity and greater eating pathology in a sample of undergraduate females (Study 1) and a sample of women seeking treatment for eating pathology (Study 2). In both studies, there were indirect associations of both attachment anxiety and avoidance with increased eating pathology via lower mindfulness.

The findings suggest that attachment insecurity is related to greater eating pathology due to a reduced capacity for mindfulness.

Mindfulness and disgust in colorectal cancer scenarios

Reynolds, L. M., Consedine, N. S., & McCambridge, S. A. (2014). Mindfulness and disgust in colorectal cancer scenarios: Non-judging and non-reacting components predict avoidance when it makes sense. Mindfulness, 1-11.

From the Abstract. Mindfulness facilitates greater tolerance of unpleasant emotion and may thus promote better decision making in health settings where emotional avoidance is common. Disgust’s elicitors are common in colorectal cancer (CRC) contexts and, because disgust evolved to minimise contamination risk through avoidance and withdrawal, decision making when disgusted is important.

The current report investigated whether specific components of dispositional mindfulness predict elicited disgust and avoidance behaviours in scenarios based around CRC screening and treatment. After completing trait mindfulness measures, 80 healthy volunteers were block randomised (by gender) to disgust or control conditions before completing tasks assessing immediate avoidance of a disgust elicitor (stoma bag) and anticipated avoidance of a hypothetical CRC drug with disgusting side effects.

In total, these findings suggest persons with low mindfulness may fail to attend to emotional experience when making decisions while those higher in non-react and non-judge components may use their disgust to inform both current and future behaviour. Mindfulness training may promote more integrated decision-making skills in CRC contexts where disgust is a factor.

Impact on weight management

Mantzios, M., & Giannou, K. (2014). Group vs. Single Mindfulness Meditation: Exploring Avoidance, Impulsivity, and Weight Management in Two Separate Mindfulness Meditation Settings. Applied Psychology: Health and Well‐Being. Abstract. Published online ahead of inclusion in an issue.

Recent research has identified that mindfulness meditation in group settings supports people who are trying to lose weight. The present research investigated mindfulness meditation in group and individual settings, and explored the potential impact on weight loss and other factors (i.e. mindfulness, impulsivity, and avoidance) that may assist or hinder weight loss.

Specifically, the hypotheses tested were that the group setting assisted dieters more than the individual setting by reducing weight, cognitive-behavioral avoidance, and impulsivity and by increasing mindfulness. Participants (n = 170) who were trying to lose weight were randomly assigned to practice meditation for 6 weeks within a group or independently. Measurements in mindfulness, cognitive-behavioral avoidance, impulsivity, and weight occurred twice (pre- and post-intervention).

Results indicated that participants in the group setting lost weight and lowered their levels of cognitive-behavioral avoidance, while impulsivity and mindfulness remained stable. On the other hand, participants in the individual condition lost less weight, while there was an increase in cognitive-behavioral avoidance and mindfulness scores, but a decrease in impulsivity.

Seeing that benefits and limitations observed in group settings are not replicated when people meditate alone, this study concluded that mindfulness meditation in individual settings needs to be used with caution, although there are some potential benefits that could aid future weight loss research.