The Moderating Effects of Mindfulness on Psychological Distress and Emotional Eating Behaviour

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Current evidence and theory suggests that emotional eating resulting from attempts to manage psychological distress, such as anxiety, depression, and stress, is considered to be a major contributor to obesity. Mindfulness has been shown to be related to disordered eating behaviours. Employing a non-clinical sample of 42 males and 115 females, the present study investigated the contribution of mindfulness as a potential moderator between psychological distress and engagement in emotional eating, while controlling for the effects of gender and general nutrition knowledge. Consistent with predictions, psychological distress was positively associated with engagement in emotional eating, while mindfulness was found to share an inverse relationship. Moreover, after controlling for gender and general nutrition knowledge, the interaction between psychological distress and mindfulness was found to significantly predict the tendency to engage in emotional eating over and above the individual effects of these variables. The findings from the current study add to the current literature supporting the use of mindfulness-based interventions for treatment of emotional eating practices in individuals experiencing anxiety, stress, and lower levels of depression.

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