The primary objective was to explore the effects of a body scan meditation, a form of mindfulness practice, on reducing negative affect and food cravings in emotional eaters. We also examined if rumination, perceived body boundaries, and spatial frames of reference mediated this effect. Additionally, we investigated whether trait measures of mindfulness, equanimity, interoceptive awareness, and cognitive defusion could moderate these effects.
Emotional eaters were randomly assigned to either a body scan meditation or an active control (listening) task. All participants completed moderator measures before coming into the lab. At the in-person visit, participants engaged in a negative emotion induction, completed measures of mediator and outcome variables, participated in the intervention, and then completed the mediator measures again.
Emotional eaters in the body scan meditation group experienced a significantly greater decrease in negative affect and food cravings post-intervention compared to those in the control group. However, the hypothesized mediation effects of rumination, perceived body boundaries, and spatial frames of reference and moderation effects of trait measures were not found to be significant.
This preliminary study suggests that the body scan meditation effectively reduces negative affect and food cravings in individuals with emotional eating. However, further research is needed to delve deeper into potential mediators and moderators influencing this effect.
The study was registered on https://clinicaltrials.gov:443/ (ID: NCT05223348).