Enjoying food without caloric cost: The impact of brief mindfulness on laboratory eating outcomes

Joanna J. Arch, Kirk Warren Brown, Robert J. Goodman, Matthew D. Della Porta, Laura G. Kiken, Shanna Tillman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-34
Number of pages12
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Calorie consumption
  • Eating
  • Eating disorders
  • Food
  • Mindfulness
  • Weight loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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