Eating disorders Photo by YogaClicks


About

Yoga, meditation and mindfulness can help people suffering from eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia in a number of ways.

The physical asana practice of yoga can help to build muscle strength, without being a high intensity or energy draining sport.

Most importantly the mental peace that comes from focusing your mind with meditation and/or pranayama (breathing exercises), and yoga’s emphasis on self-acceptance, can increase body satisfaction, recalibrate our attitudes to eating, and create a healthier headspace.

Yoga, meditation and mindfulness practices can also help reduce tension and anxiety, and alleviate depression.


What the clinical studies say

Yoga
  • Fewer disordered eating attitudes
  • Increases body satisfaction
  • Increases in physical activity
  • Lowers self-objectification
  • Reduces anxiety
  • Reduces binge eating
Meditation
  • Alleviates depression
  • Reduces anxiety
  • Reduces binge eating
Mindfulness
  • Alleviates depression
  • Improves self-control
  • Increases mindfulness
  • Reduces binge eating
  • Stress reduction

The clinical studies

An exploratory study of a meditation-based intervention for binge eating disorder
Practice
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness
Abstract

The efficacy of a 6-week meditation-based group intervention for Binge Eating Disorder (BED) was evaluated in 18 obese women, using standard and eating-specific mindfulness meditation exercises. A single-group extended baseline design assessed all variables at 3 weeks pre-and post-, and at 1, 3, and 6 weeks; briefer assessment occurred weekly.

Binges decreased in frequency, from 4.02/week to 1.57/week (p < .001), and in severity. Scores on the Binge Eating Scale (BES) and on the Beck Depression and Anxiety Inventories decreased significantly; sense of control increased. Time using eating related meditations predicted decreases on the BES (r 5 .66, p < .01). Results suggest that meditation training may be an effective component in treating BED.
Citations

483
Authors

Jean L. Kristeller | C. Brendan Hallett
Published

1999
Journal

Journal of Health Psychology
Volume / Issue

4:3
Author's primary institution

Department of Psychology, Indiana State University, Terre Haute, Indiana
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy applied to binge eating: A case study
Practice
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness
Abstract

Binge eating is a common problem associated with distress and dysfunction. Mindfulness-based interventions are attracting increasing attention, and the recent empirical literature suggests that they may be effective for a variety of disorders.

Current theories about the etiology and maintenance of binge eating suggest that mindfulness training may be helpful for this problem. This report describes the use of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT; Segal, Williams, & Teasdale, 2002) in the treatment of a client with sub threshold binge eating disorder.

Post treatment and 6-month follow-up data showed excellent improvements in binge eating symptoms as well as increased levels of mindfulness.
Citations

79
Authors

Ruth A. Baer | Sarah Fischer | Debra B. Huss
Published

2005
Journal

Cognitive and Behavioral Practice
Volume / Issue

12:3
Author's primary institution

Department of Psychology, University of Kentucky
Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Training for Treating Binge Eating Disorder: The Conceptual Foundation
Practice
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness
Abstract

This paper reviews the conceptual foundation of mindfulness-based eating awareness training (MB-EAT). It provides an overview of key therapeutic components as well as a brief review of current research.

MB-EAT is a group intervention that was developed for treatment of binge eating disorder (BED) and related issues. BED is marked by emotional, behavioral and physiological disregulation in relation to food intake and self-identity. MB-EAT involves training in mindfulness meditation and guided mindfulness practices that are designed to address the core issues of BED: controlling responses to varying emotional states; making conscious food choices; developing an awareness of hunger and satiety cues; and cultivating self-acceptance.

Evidence to date supports the value of MB-EAT in decreasing binge episodes, improving one's sense of self-control with regard to eating, and diminishing depressive symptoms.
Citations

98
Authors

Jean L. Kristeller & Ruth Q. Wolever
Published

2010
Journal

Eating Disorders: The Journal of Treatment & Prevention
Volume / Issue

19:1
Author's primary institution

Department of Psychology, Indiana State University, Terre Haute, Indiana
Experiences of Women with Bulimia Nervosa in a Mindfulness-Based Eating Disorder Treatment Group
Practice
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness
Abstract

The experience of 6 college-age women with bulimia nervosa was examined after they participated in an 8-week mindfulness-based eating disorder treatment group.

This phenomenological study used individual interview and pre- and post-treatment self-portraits. Participants described their experience of transformation from emotional and behavioral extremes, disembodiment, and self-loathing to the cultivation of an inner connection with themselves resulting in greater self-awareness, acceptance, and compassion. They reported less emotional distress and improved abilities to manage stress.

This treatment may help the 40% of women who do not improve with current therapies and might be useful to prevent symptoms in younger women.
Citations

61
Authors

Kathryn Proulx
Published

2007
Journal

Eating Disorders: The Journal of Treatment & Prevention
Volume / Issue

16:1
Author's primary institution

University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts, USA
The relationship of yoga, body awareness and body responsiveness to self-objectification and disordered eating
Practice
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness
Abstract

Study 1 tested whether yoga practice is associated with greater awareness of and responsiveness to bodily sensations, lower self-objectification, greater body satisfaction, and fewer disordered eating attitudes.

Three samples of women (43 yoga, 45 aerobic, and 51 nonyoga/nonaerobic practitioners) completed questionnaire measures. As predicted, yoga practitioners reported more favorably on all measures. Body responsiveness, and, to some extent, body awareness significantly explained group differences in self-objectification, body satisfaction, and disordered eating attitudes. The mediating role of body awareness, in addition to body responsiveness, between self-objectification and disordered eating attitudes was also tested as proposed in objectification theory (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997).

Body responsiveness, but not awareness, mediated the relationship between self-objectification and disordered eating attitudes. This finding was replicated in Study 2 in a sample of female undergraduate students.

It is concluded that body responsiveness and, to some extent, body awareness are related to self-objectification and its consequences.
Citations

165
Authors

Jennifer J. Daubenmier
Published

2005
Journal

Psychology of Women quarterly
Volume / Issue

29:2
Author's primary institution

Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley
Innovative interventions for disordered eating: Evaluating dissonance-based and yoga interventions
Practice
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness
Abstract

Objective:

Eating-disordered behavior is prevalent among college women. Few interventions have successfully reduced risk factors for these behaviors, however. The most promising interventions are both selective and interactive. This study compared two newer types of interventions that meet these criteria: cognitive dissonance and yoga programs.

Method:

This study advertised programs for women who were dissatisfied with their bodies. Participants (N = 93) were randomly assigned to dissonance, yoga, or control groups.

Results:

Hierarchical regression analyses revealed that there were no significant post-intervention differences between the yoga and control groups. Dissonance group participants had significantly lower scores than the scores of both other groups on measures of disordered eating, drive for thinness, body dissatisfaction, alexithymia, and anxiety.

Conclusion:

These findings have important implications for interventions on college campuses. In particular, dissonance interventions appear to be an efficient and inexpensive approach to reducing eating disorder risk factors. Additional research regarding the value of yoga interventions is needed.
Citations

107
Authors

Karen S. Mitchell | Suzanne E. Mazzeo | Sarah M. Rausch | Kathryn L. Cooke
Published

2006
Journal

International Journal of Eating Disorders
Volume / Issue

40:2
Author's primary institution

Department of Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial of Yoga in the Treatment of Eating Disorders
Practice
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness
Abstract

Purpose:

This was a pilot project designed to assess the effect of individualized yoga treatment on eating disorder outcomes among adolescents receiving outpatient care for diagnosed eating disorders (anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, eating disorder not otherwise specified).

Methods:

A total of 50 girls and 4 boys aged 11–21 years were randomized to an 8-week trial of standard care vs. individualized yoga plus standard care. Of these, 27 were randomized to standard care and 26 to yoga plus standard care (attrition: n = 4). Standard care (every other week physician and/or dietician appointments) was required to meet ethical guidelines. The No Yoga group was offered yoga after study completion as an incentive to maintain participation. Outcomes evaluated at baseline, end of trial, and 1-month follow-up included Eating Disorder Examination (EDE), Body Mass Index (BMI), Beck Depression Inventory, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, and Food Preoccupation questionnaire.

Results:

The Yoga group demonstrated greater decreases in eating disorder symptoms. Specifically, the EDE scores decreased over time in the Yoga group, whereas the No Yoga group showed some initial decline but then returned to baseline EDE levels at week 12. Food preoccupation was measured before and after each yoga session, and decreased significantly after all sessions. Both groups maintained current BMI levels and decreased in anxiety and depression over time.

Conclusions:

Individualized yoga treatment decreased EDE scores at 12 weeks, and significantly reduced food preoccupation immediately after yoga sessions. Yoga treatment did not have a negative effect on BMI. Results suggest that individualized yoga therapy holds promise as adjunctive therapy to standard care.
Citations

78
Authors

T. Rain Carei | Amber L Fyfe-Johnson | Cora C Breuner | Margaret A. Brown
Published

2010
Journal

Journal of adolescent health
Volume / Issue

46:4
Author's primary institution

Department of Adolescent Medicine, Seattle Children's Hospital, Seattle, Washington
Yoga as a treatment for binge eating disorder: A preliminary study
Practice
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness
Abstract

Objective:

To examine the efficacy of a 12-week yoga program aimed at reducing binge eating severity. Design:

A randomised trial was undertaken assigning participants to yoga (n = 45) or wait-list control (n = 45) groups. Of these, 25 in each group were analysed.

Participants:

A community-based sample of women between 25 and 63 years of age who identified with diagnostic criteria for binge eating disorder (BED) and a BMI > 25 were recruited for the study.

Main outcome measures:

Primary outcomes included the Binge Eating Scale (BES) and International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ). Secondary outcomes comprised measures for BMI, hips and waist.

Results:

For the yoga group, self-reported reductions in binge eating and increases in physical activity were statistically significant. Small yet statistically significant reductions for BMI, hips and waist measurement were obtained. The wait-list control group did not improve significantly on any measures.

Conclusion:

In conjunction with formal weekly sessions, home-based yoga programs are potentially efficacious for the treatment of binge eating.
Citations

39
Authors

Shane McIver | Paul O'Halloran | Michael McGartland
Published

2009
Journal

Complementary Therapies in Medicine
Volume / Issue

17:4
Author's primary institution

School of Health and Social Development, Faculty of Health, Medicine, Nursing and Behavioural Sciences, Deakin University, 

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