Enjoying food without caloric cost: The impact of brief mindfulness on laboratory eating outcomes
Behaviour Research and Therapy
Format: Journal Article
Publication Year: 2016
Pages: 23 - 34
Source ID: shanti-sources-108701
Collection: Mindfulness Studies and Undergraduates
Abstract: OBJECTIVE: Mindfulness-based interventions have been increasingly applied to treat eating-related problems ranging from obesity to eating disorders. Yet few studies have empirically examined the mechanisms of a mindful approach to eating. The current studies examine the potential of brief mindfulness instructions to enhance the psychological and behavioral dimensions of eating.METHODS: In three experiments (total N = 319 undergraduates), we examined whether brief mindfulness instructions would enhance the positive sensory experience involved in tasting food as well as healthy eating behaviors. RESULTS: Relative to distraction control instructions, the first two studies demonstrated that brief mindfulness instructions increased the enjoyment of a commonly pleasurable food (chocolate; Study 1), and a food with generally more mixed associations (raisins; Study 2). The third study replicated and extended these findings to show that brief mindfulness instructions also led to lower calorie consumption of unhealthy food relative to distracted or no-instruction control conditions, an effect mediated by greater eating enjoyment. CONCLUSIONS: Findings demonstrated the power of brief mindfulness instructions to positively impact both health-relevant behavior and sensory experience associated with eating food. Implications for both theory and clinical applications of mindfulness are discussed.