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Dieting, mindfulness and mindful eating: exploring whether or not diets reinforce mindfulness and mindful eating practices



Research into dieting and mindfulness has primarily focused upon how mindfulness and mindful eating affect dieting. However, the effect is bi-directional, with the process of dieting also impacting on mind-set and eating. We, therefore, aimed to investigate how people on different diets experience mindfulness and mindful eating. The present research aimed to explore whether or not specific weight loss diets are likely to prompt more of the elements described in mindfulness and mindful eating theory. participants and procedure A community sample (N = 312) who were dieting at the time of recruitment were asked to fill in mindfulness and mindful eating measures, where commercial weight loss programmes (CWLP), low carbohydrate (LC), and intermittent fasting (IF) were used as dieting methods, as well as general healthy eating (GHE). Analyses of variance were conducted with the intention of comparing those groups in mindfulness and mindful eating, as well as their corresponding sub-constructs. The questionnaires and demographic information were provided through an online database, as well as other information relating to the diet, duration and history of dieting. results The results showed intermittent fasting dieters to score higher across mindfulness and mindful eating scores, although the differences from the rest of the groups were not significant. Investigating mindful eating further through the subscales revealed that CWLP scores were significantly higher in 'routine' when compared to GHE. Trait mindful-ness subscales displayed no significant differences, except 'describe', which was higher in CWLP over LC dieting. conclusions Specific emphasis is given to future directions, and the potential to identify diets that are theoretically and practically consistent with the theory and practices of mindfulness and mindful eating.
health psychology report · 9
original article
Research into dieting and mindfulness has primarily fo-
cused upon how mindfulness and mindful eating aect
dieting. However, the eect is bi-directional, with the
process of dieting also impacting on mind-set and eating.
We therefore aimed to investigate how people on dier-
ent diets experience mindfulness and mindful eating. The
present research aimed to explore whether or not specific
weight loss diets are likely to prompt more of the elements
described in mindfulness and mindful eating theory.
participants and procedure
A community sample (N= 312) who were dieting at the
time of recruitment were asked to fill in mindfulness and
mindful eating measures, where commercial weight loss
programmes (CWLP), low carbohydrate (LC), and inter-
mient fasting (IF) were used as dieting methods, as well
as general healthy eating (GHE). Analyses of variance were
conducted with the intention of comparing those groups
in mindfulness and mindful eating, as well as their cor-
responding sub-constructs. The questionnaires and de-
mographic information were provided through an online
database, as well as other information relating to the diet,
duration and history of dieting.
The results showed intermient fasting dieters to score
higher across mindfulness and mindful eating scores, al-
though the dierences from the rest of the groups were not
significant. Investigating mindful eating further through
the subscales revealed that CWLP scores were significantly
higher in ‘routine’ when compared to GHE. Trait mindful-
ness subscales displayed no significant dierences, except
‘describe’, which was higher in CWLP over LC dieting.
Specific emphasis is given to future directions, and the po-
tential to identify diets that are theoretically and practi-
cally consistent with the theory and practices of mindful-
ness and mindful eating.
key words
mindfulness; mindful eating; dieting; obesity; intermient
Rajkieren Singh Manku
Helen Egan id
Rebecca Keyte
Misba Hussain
Michail Mantzios id
Dieting, mindfulness and mindful eating:
exploring whether or not diets reinforce
mindfulness and mindful eating practices
 – Birmingham City University, Birmingham, United Kingdom
’  – A: Study design · B: Data collection · C: Statistical analysis · D: Data interpretation ·
E: Manuscript preparation · F: Literature search · G: Funds collection
  – Michail Mantzios, Ph.D., Birmingham City University, The Curzon Building Room C307,
B4 7BD Birmingham, United Kingdom, e-mail:
    – Manku, R. S., Egan, H., Keyte, R., Hussain, M., &Mantzios, M. (2019). Dieting, mindfulness and
mindful eating: exploring whether diets reinforce mindfulness and mindful eating practices. Health Psychology Report.
 09.07.2019 ·  12.08.2019 ·  15.08.2019 ·  18.09.2019
Singh Manku,
Helen Egan,
Rebecca Keyte,
Misba Hussain,
Michail Mantzios
2  
A growing concern in health research is the rising
gures of obesity (World Health Organisation, 2000).
e health problems associated with obesity are also
increasingly problematic (such as diabetes and car-
diovascular disease), and have led many research-
ers to aempt to combine dieting with mindfulness
for greater eectiveness. Dieting used to aid weight
loss, is normative and shows that even people who do
not need to diet are dieting (Foxcro, 2012; Germov
& Williams, 1996). e range of commercial advice
available extends from trademark dietary plans and
food to diets that do not have any empirical support.
is plethora of diets alter the way people engage
with their food and the way that they eat. Notably, the
lack of eective behavioural interventions means that
there is aconstant reuptake of the diet that previously
worked for aperiod of time, and acontinued cycle of
dieting and non-dieting which does lile to help ad-
dress the issue of obesity.
is impasse has further led to research utilising
mindfulness training to aid individuals in regulating
their weight through amore community health based
approach, where everyone can achieve beer health
outcomes through beer eating behaviours (Lillis,
Hayes, Bunting, &Masuda, 2009; Dalen et al., 2010;
Mantzios &Giannou, 2014; Mantzios &Wilson, 2014a;
Mantzios & Wilson, 2015a). Initial results have been
positive, but anumber of questions regarding the pair-
ing of mindfulness and dieting remain.
Overall, while the theoretical descriptions of mind-
fulness promote a non-judgmental aitude, mindful
aention of eating and of the food consumed, and
responding to internal cues such as hunger and sati-
ety, the enactments of many diets promote opposing
messages to dieters, advocating ignoring such cues,
and promoting judgmental aitudes towards eating.
is research proposes that certain types of diets may
reect more basic characteristics of mindfulness and
mindful eating in comparison to other diets and sets
out to explore whether some diets are more likely
than others to promote increased levels of mindful-
ness and mindful eating in people who are currently
aempting to lose weight.
Mindfulness is amethod of purposely paying at-
tention to the present moment without judgment
(Kabat-Zinn, 1990), and many researchers and clini-
cians have proposed that mindful eating (i.e., mindful-
ness foundations applied to eating) may be amethod
of regulating eating (e.g., Kristeller &Wolever, 2010).
Mindful eating is dened as the act of responding to
physiological cues such as hunger, taste, and fullness,
while maintaining non-judgmental aention through-
out the duration of eating. Examples include making
specic food choices that are aligned to sensory expe-
riences and being aware of internal cues to eat such as
hunger and satiety, rather than elements in the envi-
ronment that predispose people to eat out of habit or
diverted aention (Kristeller &Wolever, 2010). ere
are several studies that outline the positive outcomes
of mindfulness and mindful eating.
Mindful eating assists in the gradual change of prob-
lematic eating paerns that lead to obesity by promot-
ing healthier eating behaviours (Mantzios & Wilson,
2014b; Mantzios &Wilson, 2015a; Mantzios &Giannou,
2014), including adecrease in external and emotional
eating (Warren, Smith, & Ashwell, 2017; O’Reilly,
Cook, Spruijt-Metz, &Black, 2014), an increased in-
take of fruit and vegetables (Du, Keyte, Egan, Hus-
sain, &Mantzios, 2018; Gilbert &Waltz, 2010), as well
as areduction in the consumption of high-sugar and
energy-dense foods (Mason etal., 2016). Research has
found anegative association between mindfulness and
mindful eating and fat and sugar consumption (Man-
tzios, Egan, Hussain, Keyte, &Bahia, 2018), motivation
to eat palatable foods (Mantzios &Egan, 2018), graz-
ing (Mantzios, Egan, Bahia, Hussain, & Keyte, 2018),
and weight gain (Mantzios, Wilson, Linnell, &Morris,
2015). Overall, mindfulness, and more signicantly,
mindful eating, was found to be more eective in im-
proving eating behaviours (see also Mantzios &Wil-
son, 2015b). Research has indicated that the improve-
ment seen in mindful eating interventions may be due
to enhanced self-regulation around food.
Many researchers have aempted to combine
mindfulness and mindful eating principles with diet-
ing to assist people in regulating their weight (Kristell-
er &Wolever, 2010; Tapper etal., 2009). A recent study
by Hendrickson and Rasmussen (2017) found that par-
ticipants who took part in mindful eating were able
to display more control over their food choices. Dalen
etal. (2010) and Lillis etal. (2009) used mindfulness
and mindful eating principles to aid overweight in-
dividuals and found asignicant reduction in weight
and psychological distress. Mantzios and Wilson
(2014b) developed amindful diary that followed the
principles of mindful eating and showed success in the
loss and maintenance of weight, while Hussein, Egan,
and Mantzios (2017) showed that diaries enhanced lev-
els of mindfulness and self-compassion and lowered
anxiety by simply considering the questions of the di-
ary rather than writing the answers. Overall research
has shown that the mindfulness eating diaries were
eective in reducing weight and in assisting with psy-
chological wellbeing, in line with most research with-
in the literature. e focus of the research to date has
been on whether and how mindfulness may inuence
dieting, rather than the eect of dieting on mindful-
ness and mindful eating, especially when considering
the fundamental dierences that exist between diets.
Dieting is essentially restricting food intake or only
having specic foods to lose weight (Brownell &Ro-
din, 1994). Mintel (2014) found 55% of the UK popula-
tion tries to diet each year, and the three most popu-
lar diets that have been identied are explored next
Dieting reinforcing
mindfulness and
mindful eating
(NHS, 2017). Firstly, there are commercial weight loss
programmes (CWLP) such as Weight Watchers, Slim-
ming World and the Atkins diet. Whilst they all dif-
fer in their way of handling customers, the underlying
principle and benet of CWLP is that of group support
(NHS, 2016; Stinson, 2001). CWLP have proved to be
eective in reducing weight over time (Ahern, Olson,
Aston, &Jebb, 2011; Dixon, Shcherba, &Kipping, 2012)
for example, Heshka etal. (2003) conducted alongitu-
dinal study where they compared CWLP to self-help
and found CWLP to be signicantly more eective
than self-help strategies. However, Tsai and Wadden
(2005) conducted areview and concluded that, with the
exception of Weight Watchers, the benets for CWLP
are less clear. e Atkins diet uses the dietary concept
of ketosis, where the lowering of carbohydrates forces
the body to convert stored fat into energy (NHS, 2016),
and is the second most popular method of dieting.
Low carbohydrate (LC) diets are enacted by con-
suming fewer carbohydrates and increasing other nu-
trients such as protein or fats (Last &Wilson, 2006).
Studies have shown that individuals are more likely
to follow an LC diet when compared to other diets
with no adverse eects on health (Bravata etal., 2003;
Last & Wilson, 2006). However, this type of diet has
had adverse outcomes such as headaches, constipa-
tion and increase of fat consumption (Yancy, Olsen,
Guyton, Bakst, &Westman, 2004). Overall, LC diets
have been found to increase psychological wellbeing
compared to low fat diets (Yancy et al., 2004). How-
ever, research has focused on the Atkins diet, rather
than self-help commitment to LC dieting. ird, in-
termient fasting (IF) is adietary concept of having
aregular eating paern for the majority of the week,
while for afew days aweek calorie intake is severely
cut to 25% of normal intake (600 calories for men, 500
calories for women), with 18-24-hour days of fasting
(NHS, 2016). Harvie etal. (2011) in astudy looking at
IF with afemale population over six months found it
enabled weight loss in addition to reducing biological
risk factors such as type II diabetes.
Diets are generally followed by individuals want-
ing to lose weight, and may be problematic, especially
when considered in association with mindfulness.
For example, some LC diets are designed only for
short-term use, as adverse clinical side eects such
as increases in cortisol production and psychologi-
cal stress have been observed (Tomiyama etal., 2010).
Additionally, Wadden, Stunkard, and Smoller (1986)
found that over 50% of participants displayed dete-
rioration in mood while dieting, with other research
indicating an association with anxiety and depression
(Bruinsma &Taren, 2000; Peet, 2004; Tanskanen etal.,
2001). Furthermore, individuals who are dieting oen
develop high self-critical perspectives, where failure
to meet dietary expectation and not losing weight are
oen reiterated through high levels of self-depreca-
tion, especially in overweight populations (Schwartz
&Brownell, 2004). In addition, the use of apoints sys-
tem in diets and counting calories means that the focus
is shiing away from the body, eating and food, and
is invested in external cues such as how much food is
worth in points or calories, leading to ignoring internal
cues of satiety and hunger – an element that is also
very evident in IF. Overall, there is agreat deal of re-
search which suggests that dieting leads some people
to negative outcomes in relation to their wellbeing.
By contrast, mindfulness and mindful eating lit-
erature have been found to be supportive of mental
health and wellbeing (e.g., Gu, Strauss, Bond, &Ca-
vanagh, 2015). Mindful eating practices suggest that
the individual should focus on the present moment, by
aending to the colour, texture, smell and taste of the
food through touch, sound, sight, smell and taste (Ka-
bat-Zinn, 2005; Albers, 2003). ese practices change
the nature of relating to internal cues and food, and
have been found to increase levels of pleasure (Hong,
Lishner, &Han, 2014). Also, the fundamental princi-
ple of mindfulness and mindful eating is the notion
of being aentive and aware of the present moment
(or meal), with anon-judgmental aitude, the laer
aspect being the exact opposite of the way in which
most diets function (e.g., you give yourself ahard time
if you fail to resist the chocolate). Some research has
suggested that healthy eating oers a more exible
approach than dieting, which is more consistent with
mindfulness (Alberts, Mulkens, Smeets, &ewissen,
2010). Other research has also shown that people were
much more comfortable with healthy eating, and the
concept of dieting was eschewed (Egan &Mantzios
2018). On the other hand, IF may be aform of return-
ing to a level of increased awareness around food,
which may represent a more ‘natural’ way of being.
When food is limited, there is achance of returning
our senses to the body and the food, in ways of ob-
serving hunger and satiety, appreciating ameal, slow-
ing down to prolong the pleasure, and reinforcing the
ability to regulate food intake in ways that treat food
as amethod of nourishment and wellbeing. In this re-
search, we measured mindfulness and mindful eating
and compared CWLP, LC diets, IF, and healthy eating.
Based on the limited literature that is available, the ex-
ploratory hypotheses included: (a) the GHE group will
display signicantly higher mindfulness scores than
other dieting groups, and (b) the GHE group will dis-
play signicantly higher mindful eating scores than
other dieting groups.
Partici Pants and Procedure
A sample of 312 individuals residing in the district of
West Midlands of the United Kingdom who were cur-
rently dieting took part in this study. Ninety-seven
Singh Manku,
Helen Egan,
Rebecca Keyte,
Misba Hussain,
Michail Mantzios
4  
participants were omied due to not fully completing
the questionnaire or being on diets that were too low
in number for inclusion in the analysis. e sample
(N=215) was signicantly made up of 60.93% female
and 38.14% male, with amean age of 36 (SD=13.26).
Using G* Power, and aiming for amedium eect size
at Power=.8, and α =.05 indicated for four groups
atotal of 180 participants. No incentive or compen-
sation was oered for participation. Table 1 displays
the demographics of participants.
Participant information sheet. Participants were asked
to report their age, gender, height, weight, ethnicity,
and the diet they were currently following. Current
dieting served as the independent variable, while the
questionnaires served as the dependent variables of
this research.
Five Facet Mindfulness estionnaire (FFMQ; Baer,
Smith, Hopkins, Krietemeyer, & Toney, 2006). e
FFMQ is a39-item questionnaire measuring ve main
characteristics of mindfulness. Responses range from
1 (never or rarely true) to 5 (very oen or always true).
Sample items are ‘I nd it dicult to stay focused on
what’s happening in the present moment’ (i.e. acting
with awareness) and ‘usually when I have distressing
thoughts or images I can just notice them without re-
acting’ (i.e. non-reactive), and higher scores indicate
higher levels of mindfulness. e ve measured fac-
ets produced α values as follows: observing (α=.72),
describing (α=.83), acting with awareness (α=.81),
non-judging (α = .83) and non-reactivity (α = .89).
e present study produced an overall Cronbach’s α
of .87 for the overall score.
Mindfulness Eating Scale (MES; Hulbert-Williams,
Nicholls, Joy, &Hulbert-Williams, 2014). e MES is
a28-item scale, and is combined with ve subscales,
with responses ranging from 1 (never) to 4 (usually).
Sample items include ‘I wish I could control my eat-
ing more easily’ (i.e. acceptance) and ‘I notice a-
vours and textures when I’m eating my food’ (i.e.
awareness). Higher scores indicate higher levels of
mindful eating. e ve subscales produced the fol-
lowing α values: acceptance (α = .71), awareness
(α=.75), non-reactivity (α=.67), routine (α=.71),
distractibility (α=.70) and unstructured (α=.63). e
present study produced an overall Cronbach’s α of
.75 for the total score.
e questionnaire was completed online and the
study was advertised in tness and professional
elds. ose who wished to take part were asked to
go to the study link, which led them through the par-
ticipant information to the consent form, and aer
agreeing to take part, transferred participants to the
questionnaires. Aer completing the questionnaires,
they were directed to adebrief form. Ethical approval
was granted through the University Research Ethics
Commiee and adhered to the strict guidelines of the
British Psychological Society.
e analyses utilised aone-way ANOVA between
the dierent diets on mindfulness and mindful eating.
e diet groups were compared on FFMQ and MES
scale scores to determine dierences in mindfulness
and mindful eating. Descriptive statistics are dis-
played in Table 2 for the FFMQ and MES.
Both scales (FFMQ and MES) showed that IF
consistently displayed higher scores. However,
the ANOVA results suggested that the four diets
were not signicantly dierent for both the FFMQ
scale F(3, 206) = .18, p = .913 and the MES scale
F(3,206)=1.30, p=.276.
Further one-way ANOVAs were conducted ex-
ploring the sub-scales of the trait mindfulness (see
Table 3) and mindful eating scales (see Table 4), in-
dicating some signicant ndings. For trait mindful-
Table 1
Demographics of participants
Demographic variable n%
Male 82 38.14
Female 131 60.93
Prefer not to say 2 0.93
White 181 84.19
Dual Heritage 12 5.59
Asian 18 8.37
South American 6 2.79
Black 2 0.93
Unknown 3 1.40
Diet type
General healthy eating 59 27.44
Intermient fasting 47 21.86
Low carbohydrate diet 74 34.42
Commercial weight loss
programme 35 16.28
Dieting reinforcing
mindfulness and
mindful eating
ness, the LC group (M = 3.46, SD = 1.03) obtained
signicantly lower scores in the ‘observe’ sub-
scale in comparison to the CWLP group (M= 4.07,
SD = 0.69). For mindful eating, the CWLP group
(M=4.07, SD=0.69) obtained signicantly higher
scores in the ‘routine’ subscale in comparison to the
GHE group. e rest of the comparisons were not
signicantly dierent.
Table 2
Descriptive statistics of FFMQ and MES
M SD SE 95% confidence interval
for mean
Lower bound Upper bound
FFMQ General healthy eating 133.73 18.35 2.43 128.86 138.60
IF 135.93 29.22 4.26 127.35 144.51
LC 132.45 28.18 3.34 125.78 139.12
CWLP 133.91 24.31 4.10 125.56 142.26
MES General healthy eating 77.63 12.75 1.69 74.24 81.01
IF 80.68 13.18 1.92 76.81 84.55
LC 78.96 13.62 1.61 75.73 82.18
CWLP 75.22 11.57 1.95 71.24 79.19
IF – intermient fasting, LC – low carbohydrate, CWLP – commercial weight loss programme
Figure 1. Mean FFMQ scores across the four diet
weight loss
weight loss
Five-Facet Mindfulness estionnaire Mean
Figure 2. Mean MES scores across the four diet
Mindful Eating estionnaire Mean
Table 3
Trait mindfulness subscale analyses of variance across
four dieting groups
df F p
Observe 3, 210 0.32 .812
Describe 3, 210 4.26 .006
Awareness 3, 210 1.05 .370
Non-judge 3, 210 0.32 .815
Non-react 3, 210 1.16 .325
Table 4
Mindful eating subscale analyses of variance across
four dieting groups
df F p
Acceptance 4, 210 1.63 .183
Awareness 4, 210 0.60 .623
Non-reaction 4, 210 2.29 .079
Routine 4, 210 3.23 .023
Distracted Eating 4, 210 1.13 .338
Unstructured Eating 4, 210 1.55 .202
Singh Manku,
Helen Egan,
Rebecca Keyte,
Misba Hussain,
Michail Mantzios
6  
e overall aim was to explore popular diets and po-
tential dierences between them in mindfulness and
mindful eating. e results indicated that there are
statistically non-signicant dierences between the
dierent diet types in mindfulness and mindful eat-
ing. Investigating mindfulness and mindful eating
in more depth revealed some signicant dierences.
For mindful eating, the subscale ‘routine’ scores were
signicantly higher for the CWLP group than for the
GHE group. For trait mindfulness, the subscale ‘de-
scribe’ scores were higher for CWLP than for LC diet-
ing. e results do not agree with previous sugges-
tions in the mindfulness and mindful eating literature,
and were not strong enough in indicating statistical
signicance of IF as suggested in the introduction.
e results may be precursors for future research, es-
pecially when we aempt to explain the results.
IF appears to support mindful eating more than
other diets, but in the present research this was
not statistically adequate to expand the discussion
to agreater extent. e results might have reached
statistical signicance with larger sample sizes, but
it may be the case that there are other elements to
explore simultaneously. For example, depriving one-
self of food for several hours may mean that the next
meal is approached impulsively, while impulsiv-
ity itself has been linked to obesity (Mobbs, Crepin,
iery, Golay, &van der Linden, 2010), which may
form another method of relating to food. Future re-
search needs to explore mindfulness and mindful
eating in dierent diets, and specically for IF, by
incorporating an impulsivity scale to control for po-
tential covariance. Another method could be to invite
dierent dieters to participate in experimental re-
search, and explore the potential of diets reinforcing
or priming mindful eating principles. Closely aligned
are the results for CWLP. Although signicant, the
primary question is whether the mindful eating sub-
scale of routine and the trait mindfulness subscale
of describe are elements that satisfactorily describe
mindful eating and mindfulness. Readymade meals
and point systems draw people away from active
decision making and active engagement with food,
which reinforces amindless routine that is consistent
with the results of this study, but is far from mind-
ful eating. ere are certainly dierent perceptions
of dieting food (Sobal &Cassidy, 1987), and further
research needs to be conducted on dieting foods and
the mindful and mindless properties of consuming
those foods. Similarly, the way people have been
taught to diet relates to being judgmental and critical
of one’s choices and can lead to very negative feel-
ings about dieting (Egan & Mantzios, 2018). ere-
fore, there may be some value as to how people relate
to diet foods and palatable foods (Mantzios &Egan,
2018), and potential associations and dierences be-
tween them, which could dene the mindless and
mindful relationships people have with food.
Another aspect that was briey mentioned in the
introduction was the occurrence of focusing on the
future and judgment reinforcing the aim of dieting.
Regardless of the diet, the potential focus on long-
term goals may go against the principles of mindful-
ness and mindful eating, and the overarching aim to
remain present and meal-focused. e diet at times
may be very dierent from usual restrictive eating,
where people exclude carbohydrates, eating ready-
prepared diet meals, focusing on ‘points’, the value of
which may be prominently displayed on the packag-
ing, all of which may change the dynamics of con-
sumption and mindful consumption of food. It is pos-
sible that in an aempt to stick with the diet, people
try not to think about what they are eating (or not
eating), particularly as dieting is perceived as some-
thing that is undesirable and self-defeating (Mantzios
&Egan, 2018; Egan &Mantzios, 2018).
A few limitations need to be considered. As men-
tioned previously, alarger sample could have high-
lighted the dierences between some groups in this
research. Another limitation is the limited information
about dieting behaviours that was acquired from par-
ticipants. Having more detailed information regard-
ing how active current dieting behaviour is, including
ahistory of dieting aempts and dierent diets used, as
well as noting aempts to follow mindful eating prin-
ciples in current and/or past dieting aempts, would
have enabled amore tightly controlled investigation.
Overall, despite the signicant and non-signi-
cant ndings, this research has opened up another
way of exploring research on mindfulness and eat-
ing. For patients in weight management, and for the
general public who are overweight and obese, mixed
messages about mindful eating reduce the possibil-
ity of achieving and maintaining optimal weight. In
terms of applied research and practice, and the ability
to investigate and redevelop diets that are themselves
reinforcing, mindful eating may be anovel form of
priming or nudging that is easy and eortless for
people who are aiming to regulate their weight. As-
similating and developing the best methods that align
with mindfulness and mindful eating principles may
form another method of enhancing the eciency and
acceptability of mindfulness practices in the eld of
obesity and weight regulation.
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... The EATT intervention also showed significant and lasting results in reducing anxiety levels, and aided participants to create a better relationship with food, where the focus was more on the joy of food than in restriction. These findings are consistent with those of previous research demonstrating the benefits of mindfulness on problematic eating behavior (Aphramor, 2015;Jordan et al., 2014;Manku et al., 2020) and further support the interrelation between higher levels of mindfulness and irregular eating behavior. The present study builds on previous findings and further provides evidence for improvements in bulimia symptoms and oral control consequential of a MBI program in a population with limited experience in such practices. ...
... Mindful eating is important for altering one's relationship with food (Lattimore, 2019; and should be an important part of the nutrition education by promoting lifetime skills (Mantzios & Giannou, 2019;O'Reilly et al., 2014); overall, leading to improved health indicators (Bacon et al., 2005;Schaefer & Magnuson, 2014). Additional research is however needed to determine the impact of mindful eating in sustainable weight management (Manku et al., 2020) and to identify paths through which mindfulness approaches to eating behavior could create a sustainable nutrition change and modification. As Plato states, "Human nature is not a machine to be built after a model, and set to do exactly the work prescribed for it, but a tree, which requires to grow and develop on all sides, according to the tendency of the inward forces which make it a living thing" (Downie et al., 1991). ...
Background Overweight and obesity are important public health priorities. Mindful eating can contribute in preventing automatic eating behavior and emotional dysregulation, both being primary causes of overeating and negative body image. This research outlines an eight-week mindful eating intervention (i.e., project EATT) focusing on people with overweight or obesity in assisting positive behavioral, psychological and physiological change. Methods Fifty-seven people residing in Athens were recruited to participate in this research, where participants were allocated to either an experimental or a waitlist condition. Changes in body weight, and eating attitude, mindfulness, self-compassion, anxiety questionnaires were administered at baseline and post-intervention, and at a 14-month follow-up. Results Results indicated that mindfulness and self-compassion increased significantly, while anxiety symptoms decreased. Significance was also observed in reduction of overeating symptoms and oral control. While a negative relationship was observed between anxiety and mindfulness, and anxiety and self-compassion, self-compassion was negatively associated with overeating episodes. Conclusions The intervention improved participants’ relationship with food and enabled changes towards successful weight regulation.
... Moreover, fat mass, WHtR, WHR, WC and NC were greater in the participants with low MEQ scores than those with high scores (p < 0.05). Recent studies stress the bene ts of mindful eating since with this concept participants focus on the increasing awareness of hunger and satiety cues and self-monitoring [53][54][55]. As a result of an increased level of mindful eating, it is emphasised that the body weights of participants associated with an elevated risk of obesity, may be decreased [56]. ...
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Purpose The aim of the current study was to investigate the relationship between disordered eating behaviours, level of mindful eating and obesity amongst young female adults. Methods Two hundred and twenty-seven female young adults aged 19-35 living in Famagusta in North Cyprus participated in this current study. Mindful Eating Questionnaire (MEQ) and Eating Attitudes Test (EAT)-26 were used for data collecting through face-to-face interviews. Weight and body composition were obtained by body composition analyser and height were obtained by stadiometer. The measurements of neck circumference (NC), waist circumference (WC), hip circumference (HC) were measured by using a non-stretching tape according to standard techniques. Body mass index (BMI), waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) and waist-to-height ratio (WHtR) were calculated. Results The majority of participants (66.5%) had less than 20 points on the EAT-26. Overall, the participants with BMI below 18.5 kg/m² had the highest MEQ scores, while the participants with BMI above 30.0 kg/m² had the lowest MEQ scores (p < 0.05). Similarly, statistical significance was found between the MEQ scores of obese and normal weighted participants (p < 0.05). A significant negative correlation was found between MEQ scores and BMI, fat mass, WHR, WHtR, NC and WC (r=-0.216, p < 0.01; r=-0.234, p < 0.01; r=-172, p < 0.01 and r=-0.244, p < 0.01, r=-0.145, p < 0.05; r=-0.238, p < 0.05, respectively). Conclusion Our findings suggest that there is a negative relationship between the level of mindful eating and BMI. The evidence from this study also suggests a positive relationship between the risk of eating disorders and BMI. Level of Evidence Level V, cross-sectional descriptive study
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The aim of this paper is to identify psychological factors which are culture specific or common predictors for restrictive and bulimic behaviors towards eating for young women raised in different cultures. The study included 661 young women from Poland (n = 233) and Vietnam (n = 428). Subjects filled-in the Eating Disorders Inventory (EDI-3) and the Multidimensional Body-Self Relations Questionnaire-Appearance Scales (MBSRQ-AS), and body measurements were collected to calculate anthropometric indices. Women form Vietnam were less satisfied with their appearance than were their Polish peers, but Vietnamese showed a lower level of preoccupation with being overweight and fear of obesity. Intercultural differences indicate that Vietnamese women show greater intensities for psychological variables, connected with restrictive and bulimic eating behaviors, verified in the research model: low self-esteem, personal alienation, interpersonal insecurity, interpersonal alienation, emotional dysregulation, interoceptive deficits, perfectionism and asceticism, and anxiety.
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Background Academic stress is associated with (a) increased food intake and (b) choosing calorie-dense food choices in higher education students. In this research, mindfulness was used to alleviate academic stress and, in effect, promote healthier eating behaviours and decision-making. Participants and procedure Ninety students were randomly allocated to either a mindfulness or a control condition. Both conditions exposed students to a stress-inducing task and levels of anxiety were recorded three times (i.e., prior to and after stress induction, and post-intervention) during the experiment. Chocolate and grapes were available to participants after the experiment as a token of appreciation. Results Intention-to-treat analyses revealed that mindfulness had a non-significant effect on increasing consumption of healthy food, but assisted the decrease in consuming unhealthy food when compared to the control group. The main analyses revealed that when mindfulness alleviated stress (i.e., by using the anxiety measurements as a manipulation check), students consumed more healthy food and less unhealthy food. Conclusions Mindfulness appears to enable better decision making as regards healthy and unhealthy foods when mindfulness meditation actually works. While the results appear positive, non-engagement with mindfulness meditation may necessitate the availability of other practices to reduce anxiety and stress. Clinical implications and the integration of health and wellbeing initiatives into universities are discussed.
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While much research has focused on overeating when exploring constructs of mindfulness, mindful eating, and self-compassion, there is limited research on the specific relationship of these constructs with consumption of energy-dense foods that have a large impact on weight regulation. In a cross-sectional study, university students (n = 546) were recruited to explore the relationship between mindfulness, mindful eating, self-compassion, and fat and/or sugar consumption. Results indicated that all constructs were negatively related to fat and sugar consumption, but self-compassion did not do so in a univariate fashion. When investigating subscales, negative aspects such as isolation and over-identification show a significant positive relationship to fat and sugar consumption. Possible explanations and future directions are discussed further with an emphasis on the need for more empirical work. Level of Evidence: Level V, cross-sectional descriptive study.
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Background: Caring for oneself through mindfulness and compassion to improve or enhance health behaviors, and specifically eating behaviors has come to the forefront of scientific inquiry. The experiences and challenges for people in decision making around food within the context of self-kindness for body and mind care have not been previously explored. Aims: This study explored the experiences of eating behaviors in a community sample and examined the understanding of self-kindness and its relationship to eating behaviors and wellbeing of body and mind. Methods: A phenomenological theoretical position was taken; data were collected using individual semi-structured interviews. The sample was twenty-five members of the wider community in the West Midlands in England. The data were analyzed using Braun and Clarke’s (2006) procedural steps for thematic analysis. Results: Two overarching themes were inductively formulated: ‘Thinking about eating’ and ‘Caring for body and mind’. Five themes were constructed: (a) Treat food is exceptional eating, (b) The proof of the pudding is in the planning, (c) Dieting is a dirty word, which are subsumed under Thinking about eating, and (d) Self-kindness is a disavowed abstract noun, and (e) Self-kindness: A rose by any other name; under Caring for body and mind. Participants described a number of ways of treating themselves both with food and with other activities and pleasure in eating was discussed in terms of social aspects of eating rather than food. Two clear contradictions within narratives around eating and health behaviors were shown. Participants largely eschewed the concept of dieting, but described engaging in highly regulated and restrained eating. There was a lack of connection with the notion of self-kindness; although positive eating and exercise health behaviors were undertaken, they were described as necessary self-regulation, not construed as acts of self-kindness. Conclusion: The results suggests a lack of ease in the interpretation of being kind to oneself as a means of improving mental wellbeing, and an inability to relate self-kindness to physical health behaviors. The association of self-kindness with self-indulgence, and the described disconnect between hunger, satiety and pleasure in eating has implications for interpretation of mindful eating scales, practices and interventions.
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Contemporary research investigating obesity has focused on grazing (i.e. an uncontrolled and repetitive consumption of small amounts of food). Meanwhile, constructs such as mindfulness, mindful eating and self-compassion have received much attention in assisting individuals with eating behaviours and weight regulation. The association between those constructs and grazing, however, has not been explored. In a cross-sectional study, university students (n = 261) were recruited to explore the relationship of mindfulness, mindful eating and self-compassion with current weight and grazing. Results indicated that all constructs were negatively related to grazing, but only mindful eating related negatively to current weight. In addition, mindful eating mediated the relationship between grazing and current weight. Possible explanations and future directions are discussed further with an emphasis on the need for more empirical work.
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Background Preliminary findings suggest that mindfulness and self-compassion training are associated with enhanced weight regulation. However, the associations between these traits and body mass index (BMI) are mixed. Participants and Procedure In a cross-sectional investigation, university students (n = 183) were asked to fill in questionnaires on mindfulness, self-compassion, mindful eating, and motivations to eat palatable foods. Results The results suggest that mindfulness, self-compassion and mindful eating related negatively to motivations to eat palatable foods. Mindful eating displayed the most significant relationship. Further investigations showed that some subscales of self-compassion, mindfulness and mindful eating related to motivations to eat palatable foods and BMI more significantly. The ability to draw more and better conclusions by investigating the relationship of subscales to health behaviors and outcomes, especially with self-compassion, has been noted in previous rationales and theories. The notable relationships were (a) the enhancement subscale of the motivations to eat palatable foods, which appeared to relate positively to self-judgment, isolation, and over-identification, while (b) the coping subscale related to all subscales within the self-compassion scale. Conclusions The current findings support different lines of research that suggest that mindful eating, mindfulness and/or self-compassion support weight regulation. Mindfulness practices could potentially add the right motives to eat palatable foods (such as being motivated to eat when people are hungry), and potentially eat less of the foods that lead to weight dysregulation. The findings are discussed and suggested paths for further research are recommended.
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The role of mindfulness, mindful eating and a newer concept of intuitive eating in modulating eating habits is an area of increasing interest. In this structured literature review, a summary of the current evidence is presented, together with details of interventions undertaken and the tools to measure outcomes. It is broad in scope given the emerging evidence base in this area. The review yielded sixty-eight publications: twenty-three interventions in obese/overweight populations; twenty-nine interventions in normal-weight populations; sixteen observational studies, three of which were carried out in overweight/obese populations. Mindfulness-based approaches appear most effective in addressing binge eating, emotional eating and eating in response to external cues. There is a lack of compelling evidence for the effectiveness of mindfulness and mindful eating in weight management. Mindfulness-based approaches may prevent weight gain. Reduced food intake was seen in some of the studies in overweight and obese populations, but this was less apparent in the studies in normal-weight populations. The evidence base for intuitive eating is limited to date and further research is needed to examine its potential in altering eating behaviours. Mindfulness appears to work by an increased awareness of internal, rather than external, cues to eat. Mindfulness and mindful eating have the potential to address problematic eating behaviours and the challenges many face with controlling their food intake. Encouraging a mindful eating approach would seem to be a positive message to be included in general weight management advice to the public.
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Mindful construal diaries were found to assist in weight regulation during a long-term intervention. The current study attempted to expand previous findings by testing the consideration (or priming) of questions within the diary (instead of filling in the answers), and investigated levels of state mindfulness, state self-compassion, and state anxiety in an observational trial of pre- to postintervention. Forty-five participants completed State Mindfulness, State Self-Compassion, and State Anxiety scales before and after their meal and were asked to read and consider the mindful concrete construal diary questions. The results illustrate that state mindfulness, state self-compassion, and state anxiety levels were significantly improved (i.e., increased mindfulness and self-compassion, and decreased anxiety) after participation. Findings provide further evidence as to why the diaries might work in supporting weight regulation, and suggest another method of making eating more mindful. Current findings, limitations, and recommendations for future research are discussed.
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We evaluated changes in mindful eating as a potential mechanism underlying the effects of a mindfulness-based intervention for weight loss on eating of sweet foods and fasting glucose levels. We randomized 194 obese individuals (M age = 47.0 ± 12.7 years; BMI = 35.5 ± 3.6; 78 % women) to a 5.5-month diet-exercise program with or without mindfulness training. The mindfulness group, relative to the active control group, evidenced increases in mindful eating and maintenance of fasting glucose from baseline to 12-month assessment. Increases in mindful eating were associated with decreased eating of sweets and fasting glucose levels among mindfulness group participants, but this association was not statistically significant among active control group participants. Twelve-month increases in mindful eating partially mediated the effect of intervention arm on changes in fasting glucose levels from baseline to 12-month assessment. Increases in mindful eating may contribute to the effects of mindfulness-based weight loss interventions on eating of sweets and fasting glucose levels.
Objective: The present study tested the extent to which age and obesity predicted impulsive choices for food and monetary outcomes and tested how a brief mindful-eating training would alter delay discounting for food and money choices compared with control groups. Method: First, 172 adolescents (Mage = 13.13 years) and 176 (Mage = 23.33 years) adults completed the Food Choice Questionnaire (FCQ) and Monetary Choice Questionnaire (MCQ) as measures of food and money delay discounting, respectively. Then, participants returned to the lab and were randomly assigned to complete a brief mindful-eating training, watch a DVD on nutrition, or serve as a control. Participants completed the FCQ and MCQ again as a postmanipulation measure. Results: Participants with high percent body fat (PBF) were more impulsive for food than those with low PBF. Adults with high PBF were also more impulsive for money compared with adults with low PBF; no PBF-related differences were found for adolescents. Participants in the mindful-eating group exhibited more self-controlled choices for food, but not for money. The control conditions did not exhibit changes. Conclusion: The study suggests that individuals with high PBF make more impulsive food choices relative to those with low PBF, which could increase the risk of obesity over time. It also is the first to demonstrate shifts in choice patterns for food and money using a brief mindful-eating training with adolescents. Mindful eating is a beneficial strategy to reduce impulsive food choice, at least temporarily, that may impede weight gain. (PsycINFO Database Record