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Int J Eat Disord. 2013 Sep;46(6):582-5. doi: 10.1002/eat.22152. Epub 2013 Jun 5.

Targeting premeal anxiety in eating disordered clients and normal controls: a preliminary investigation into the use of mindful eating vs. distraction during food exposure.

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Department of Psyhcology, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio.



Studies have demonstrated that negative affect increases prior to food intake in individuals diagnosed with an eating disorder. Mindfulness has been supported empirically to treat experiential avoidance stemming from anxiety. Thus, the current objective in this study is to empirically compare mindfulness vs. thought suppression invention during a food exposure in both clinical and nonclinical samples.


In a 2 (Group: clinical vs. nonclinical) × 2 (INTERVENTION: mindfulness vs. distraction) counterbalanced within treatment design, the current investigation sought to determine the differential effectiveness of a brief mindfulness intervention vs. a brief distraction intervention in women diagnosed with AN and BN in a clinical and nonclinical sample during a food exposure.


Results indicated that the eating disorder group reported a significant increase in negative affect after the mindfulness intervention as compared to the distraction intervention, whereas the nonclinical group reported a significant decrease in negative affect after the mindfulness intervention as compared to the distraction intervention.


Preliminary findings suggest that clinicians may want to proceed cautiously when using mindful eating in those with severe eating disorders during the early stages of food exposure. Limitations and future directions are discussed.


Keywords mindfulness; anxiety; eating disorders; food exposure; treatment

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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