Mindfulness and binge eating

The mindfulness is a process defined by two central components: the attention focused on the experiences of the present moment and the acceptance and opening towards these. Mindfulness-based interventions therefore aim to develop a focused attention on the present moment that allows the observation of the flow of thoughts, sensations and emotions without trying to modify or judge them.

Lately, mindfulness-based interventions are also used for the treatment of binge eating  disorder ( binge eating disorder).

In a recent review (2015), an attempt was made to systematically evaluate the effectiveness of mindfulness-based interventions to modify dysfunctional eating behaviors related to binge eating disorder.

The results show that developing a mindfulness attitude allows for greater awareness and the ability to distinguish between emotional arousal and physical signs of hunger. These skills allow you to deal with emotional activation by resorting to more functional coping strategies without resorting to binges. Furthermore, being able to maintain a non-judgmental but accepting attitude towards negative feelings, allows you to avoid eating impulsively in order to suppress those emotions.

About 70% of people with binge eating also have obesity, as recurrent binges are not followed by compensatory mechanisms. From the review, it emerges that mindfulness interventions are useful both to reduce body weight, as they decrease the frequency of binges, and to maintain the weight achieved.

Individuals who have developed a mindfulness attitude, in fact, have greater skills that allow them to limit dysfunctional eating behaviors and develop a better relationship with food. Healthier eating styles support both weight loss and weight maintenance.

In conclusion, it is possible to state that of the articles examined by the review, 86% of the studies reported significant improvements in eating behaviors examined using the mindfulness practice .

However, the numerous limitations that the studies examined present must also be considered. For example, only studies published in English in scientific journals were included and most of the researches had as a sample, female or predominantly female subjects (although binge eating disorder is also present in men). Furthermore, in many studies, the methods of assessment of the food problem examined are not clearly reported.

These limitations could compromise the generalizability of the results, so further studies are needed to confirm the efficacy of mindfulness interventions on the treatment of binge eating disorder.


by Abdullah Sam
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