UMMS Affiliation

Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society, Division of Mindfulness; Department of Quantitative Health Sciences; Department of Family Medicine and Community Health; Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

Publication Date

2018-09-10

Document Type

Article

Disciplines

Alternative and Complementary Medicine | Dietetics and Clinical Nutrition | Health Psychology | Nutritional and Metabolic Diseases | Psychiatry and Psychology | Psychological Phenomena and Processes

Abstract

Emotional and other maladaptive eating behaviors develop in response to a diversity of triggers, from psychological stress to the endless external cues in our modern food environment. While the standard approach to food- and weight-related concerns has been weight-loss through dietary restriction, these interventions have produced little long-term benefit, and may be counterproductive. A growing understanding of the behavioral and neurobiological mechanisms that underpin habit formation may explain why this approach has largely failed, and pave the way for a new generation of non-pharmacologic interventions. Here, we first review how modern food environments interact with human biology to promote reward-related eating through associative learning, i.e., operant conditioning. We also review how operant conditioning (positive and negative reinforcement) cultivates habit-based reward-related eating, and how current diet paradigms may not directly target such eating. Further, we describe how mindfulness training that targets reward-based learning may constitute an appropriate intervention to rewire the learning process around eating. We conclude with examples that illustrate how teaching patients to tap into and act on intrinsic (e.g., enjoying healthy eating, not overeating, and self-compassion) rather than extrinsic reward mechanisms (e.g., weighing oneself), is a promising new direction in improving individuals' relationship with food.

Keywords

craving, disordered eating, maladaptive eating behaviors, mindful eating, mindfulness, obesity, operant conditioning, reward

Rights and Permissions

Copyright © 2018 Brewer, Ruf, Beccia, Essien, Finn, van Lutterveld and Mason. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

DOI of Published Version

10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01418

Source

Front Psychol. 2018 Sep 10;9:1418. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01418. eCollection 2018. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Frontiers in psychology

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID

30250438

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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