Well, the holidays are officially upon us once again . . . and so is all of the eating (and eating and eating) that often comes along with celebrating the season.
Frankly, this can be an extra stressful time for people who already struggle with their weight.
But help is available – in the form of mindfulness meditation.
Hugo Alberts, PhD and his colleagues at Maastricht University in The Netherlands wanted to find out whether a mindfulness-based intervention would have an effect on restrained, emotional, and external eating behaviors.
Researchers randomly assigned 26 women with a history of disordered eating habits to either an intervention group or a waitlist control group.
After completing questionnaires to assess their eating behavior, body image, food cravings, and mindfulness skills, participants in the treatment group followed a mindfulness-based eating program for eight weeks.
At the end of the intervention, participants again completed each questionnaire.
Compared to the waitlist control, the treatment group reported lower levels of emotional eating, external eating, and body dissatisfaction after taking part in the mindfulness training.
What’s more, results showed a significant decrease in food cravings in the mindfulness group, suggesting that engaging in mindfulness to deal with food cravings can reduce the cravings.
In other words, the treatment group successfully self-regulated this aspect of their eating behavior.
Now because this study used a waitlist-controlled design, we want to be cautious of viewing mindfulness as the sole cause of these results. It’s valuable research, to be sure, but I’d also be curious to see a similar study done with an active control group.
If you’d like to see the full study, it’s available in Volume 58 of the journal Appetite.
And if you’d like to discover more ways that mindfulness can help you regulate your behavior (and enhance your health), please check out the our latest courses.
Have you (or your patients) ever used mindfulness to regulate an unhealthy behavior? If so, please tell us about your experience in the comments.