Making individuals more aware of their eating behaviour (mindfulness) can lead to healthier choices and help prevent emotional eating.
This is the finding of a study by Ioanna Koptsi, an MSc student from the University of East London, to be presented at a poster session the British Psychological Society annual conference today, Thursday 8 May 2014, at the Birmingham International Convention Centre.
Ioanna Koptsi said: "The link between food consumption and psychological wellbeing seems more complex than the direct relationship of hunger and eating. This study focused on understanding the role mindfulness plays in general eating behavior and in individual's Body Mass Index (BMI)"
Some eight-six participants (42 women and 33 men) completed three questionnaires focusing on eating habits and patterns as well as their ability to mindfully reflect on their eating practice.
The BMI of the participants was self-reported as: seven per cent were underweight 63 per cent normal weight, 28 per cent were overweight and one per cent was obese.
The results showed that when individuals were more aware of their eating behaviour, they tended to respond less to emotional cues, and seem more mindful, regarding both food consumption and maintenance of healthier BMI.
Ioanna explained: "Eating behaviour undoubtedly represents a challenge in modern life and both current and previous studies acknowledge the complexity of research on this topic. Emotional cues such as aggression, depression and anxiety can cause people to be less mindful of their eating habits.
The principles of mindful eating can be easily learned and these should be incorporated in to current clinical and research practices."
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