By Lara Evans Bracciante
Originally published in Massage & Bodywork magazine, December/January 2005.
Mindfulness meditation can help control eating binges and may help reduce obesity, according to recent studies conducted by researchers at Indiana State University (ISU). In a pilot study five years ago, Jean Kristeller, professor of psychology and director of ISU’s Center for the Study of Health, Religion, and Spirituality, observed 18 women who regularly overate. After incorporating meditation techniques, weekly binges were reduced from four to one-and-a-half. These findings were corroborated recently in another Kristeller study of 100 obese men and women.
Kristeller believes that mindfulness meditation helps people become more in tune with their internal wisdom surrounding food. She says, “These eating-focused meditation techniques help obese individuals with binge eating problems to normalize their eating behaviors and to increase internal control over their disorders… Not only do they learn better to control their eating habits, but they don’t have to struggle with it as much. They don’t have the temptations that usually exist because they simply don’t want to overeat.”
In September, Kristeller was awarded a $1.8 million grant over four years from the National Institutes of Health to expand her research to include the effect of mindfulness meditation on long-term weight loss in obese subjects.