How Meditation May Help With Eating Disorders

The Global Rise of Eating Disorders

It is estimated that 30 million Americans will suffer from an eating disorder during their lifetime. Anorexia nervosa, one of the most common eating disorders, is associated with the highest rate of death from any mental illness, including a rate of suicide that is 31 times higher than the general population. As the Western ideals of beauty become more prominent, the global rate of eating disorders has also risen. 

The Psychological Component  
The causes of eating disorders have been associated with heredity, environmental factors and mental health problems. Of the factors that we can change, certain personality traits commonly shared by those suffering from eating disorders include perfectionism, neuroticism and harsh self-criticism.

The Research

Meditation is an excellent method to promote feelings of self-compassion and to reduce negative thoughts, and research reviews have demonstrated its success in helping patients suffering from eating disorders. Kristeller and Wolever showed that a mindfulness-based program decreased binging episodes in patients with binge eating disorder, and also increased their self-control and reduced feelings of depression. Taking it one step further, Scolnicket and colleagues noted that eating disorder patients using biofeedback had reduced anxiety levels and found the programs useful.

Using Meditation

As research continues to expand, we can expect to learn even more about the many ways mindfulness meditation, and even biofeedback, can improve our relationship with food and ourselves.