Current findings on mindfulness, eating behaviours, and obesity

chozenEatingMantzios, M., & Wilson, J. C. (2015). Mindfulness, Eating Behaviours, and Obesity: A Review and Reflection on Current Findings. Current Obesity Reports, 1-6. Full text.

Abstract. Mindfulness and mindful eating have become popular in recent years. In this review, we first explore what mindfulness is in the context of psychological research, and why it offers promise for eating behaviours and weight loss. Second, we review the main empirical findings for weight loss in mindfulness-based intervention programmes. Third, contradictions in the findings are explored in more depth, and suggestions are made regarding why they may be occurring. Fourth, the benefits of adding self-compassion (and compassion) training to mindfulness practise to assist weight loss is discussed. Finally, the limitations of the research literature (and possible solutions) are explored.

Overall, it is concluded that while mindfulness meditations that specifically focus on eating may be extremely helpful in promoting better eating behaviours, and assist in weight regulation, work is still needed to make such interventions appeal to a wider audience.

May encourage healthier weight and eating habits

Jordan, C. H., et al. (2014). Mindful eating: Trait and state mindfulness predict healthier eating behavior. Personality and Individual Differences, 68, 107-111. Abstract.

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.