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Mindful construal diaries and healthy eating

When forced between picking healthy and unhealthy foods, we often make the wrong choice. This project assesses whether a mindful construal diary (MCD) will make a positive difference.

A selection of healthy eating options on a table

Researchers

Research background

Obesity is considered to be a major public health concern (Arroyo-Johnson & Mincey, 2016), and most research has concluded that the main contributors towards this evolving epidemic is the supply of energy dense foods and excessive calorie intake (e.g., Romieu et al., 2017).

Research aims

Regularly choosing unhealthy energy-dense foods can have negative health consequences. The present study tested whether a mindful eating-specific tool, namely Mindful Construal Diaries (MCD) would promote healthier eating behaviours.

How was the research carried out?

Eighty-five university students were randomly assigned to either a mindfulness or control condition, and were served M&Ms and grapes as an unhealthy and healthy option respectively.

Results

Participants in the mindfulness condition consumed significantly less M&Ms (p=.02) than participants allocated to the control condition but no significant differences were found in the consumption of grapes between the two conditions (p=.22). When exploring hunger within the conditions, control participants ate significantly more M&Ms when hungry, whilst the same was not true for participants in the mindfulness condition (p=.01).

After conducting a sensitivity analysis, the findings suggested that those who were engaged with the MCD consumed significantly more grapes (p=.02) than participants in the control condition. Together, these result suggest that the MCD may be effective in promoting healthier eating. However, future research is warranted in developing the tool to be engagement friendly and effortless to a greater extent.