The association between types of eating behaviour and dispositional mindfulness in adults with diabetes. Results from Diabetes MILES. The Netherlands

Appetite. 2015 Apr:87:288-95. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2015.01.006. Epub 2015 Jan 13.


Although healthy food choices are important in the management of diabetes, making dietary adaptations is often challenging. Previous research has shown that people with type 2 diabetes are less likely to benefit from dietary advice if they tend to eat in response to emotions or external cues. Since high levels of dispositional mindfulness have been associated with greater awareness of healthy dietary practices in students and in the general population, it is relevant to study the association between dispositional mindfulness and eating behaviour in people with type 1 or 2 diabetes. We analysed data from Diabetes MILES - The Netherlands, a national observational survey in which 634 adults with type 1 or 2 diabetes completed the Dutch Eating Behaviour Questionnaire (to assess restrained, external and emotional eating behaviour) and the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire-Short Form (to assess dispositional mindfulness), in addition to other psychosocial measures. After controlling for potential confounders, including demographics, clinical variables and emotional distress, hierarchical linear regression analyses showed that higher levels of dispositional mindfulness were associated with eating behaviours that were more restrained (β = 0.10) and less external (β = -0.11) and emotional (β = -0.20). The mindfulness subscale 'acting with awareness' was the strongest predictor of both external and emotional eating behaviour, whereas for emotional eating, 'describing' and 'being non-judgemental' were also predictive. These findings suggest that there is an association between dispositional mindfulness and eating behaviour in adults with type 1 or 2 diabetes. Since mindfulness interventions increase levels of dispositional mindfulness, future studies could examine if these interventions are also effective in helping people with diabetes to reduce emotional or external eating behaviour, and to improve the quality of their diet.

Keywords: Emotional eating; External eating; Mindfulness; Restrained eating; Type 1 diabetes; Type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Caloric Restriction / psychology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / psychology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / psychology*
  • Emotions
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mindfulness*
  • Netherlands
  • Surveys and Questionnaires