Weight Management

Mindful Eating – A Healthy Weight Management Program

Mindful eating enhances a healthy approach to weight management in multiple ways. As described in this section and How It Works, mindfulness is a powerful method for effective, long-term weight management because it:

  • Reduces your stress
  • Gets you back in touch with your body’s real needs
  • Helps you appreciate food more, so you eat less
  • Disrupts the emotional eating habit
  • Interrupts the relationship between thoughts and the automatic behaviors based on those thoughts
  • Increases your motivation to exercise
  • Disrupts a mindless relationship to the media
  • Undercuts common states of mind that lead to eating

For specific research on mindfulness and healthy weight management, see below.

Mindfulness and Weight Management – Exploring the Research

In 2008, it was reported that a 5-year study of an obese individual that included physical exercise, a food awareness program, mindful eating, and a mindfulness procedure as a self-control strategy, helped that individual to reduce his weight from 315 pounds to 171 pounds, increased his physical activity, helped him to eat healthy foods and stop eating rapidly, and substantially reduced his serious medical risk factors.1

A 2009 study on mindfulness and weight loss showed that, particularly in those who applied the principles and practices of mindfulness consistently, there were greater increases in physical activity and significantly greater reductions in Body Mass Index.2

Another study reported that mindfulness is helpful for weight management and that “a growing body of literature … suggests mind-body strategies support and enhance a multi-modal weight loss program that focuses on lifestyle changes of diet, exercise, reduced stress, and mindful living.”3

A 2009 study reported that mindfulness may improve the quality of life of obese individuals while simultaneously augmenting their weight control efforts.4

Mindfulness-based strategies can effectively reduce food cravings in an overweight and obese adult population. This may be due to “prevention of goal frustration, disengagement of obsessive thinking and reduction of automatic relations between urge and reaction.”5

1Singh N.N., et al. (2008) A mindfulness-based health wellness program for managing morbid obesity. Clinical Case Studies, 7:4, 327-339.
2Tapper, K., et al. (2009). Exploratory randomised controlled trial of a mindfulness-based weight loss intervention for women. Appetite, 52:2, 396-404.
3Koithan, M. (2009) Mind-body solutions for obesity. Journal of Nursing Practice, 5:7, 536–537.
4Lillis, J., et al. (2009) Teaching acceptance and mindfulness to improve the lives of the obese: a preliminary test of a theoretical model. Ann. Behavioral Medicine, 37, 58-69.
5Hugo, J.E.M., et al. (2010). Coping with food cravings. Investigating the potential of a mindfulness-based intervention. Appetite, 55:1, 160-163.