An increasing number of studies investigate the effects of mindfulness on food intake and weight outcomes, while the underlying mechanisms by which mindfulness exerts its effects have received less attention. We conducted two pre-registered studies to shed light on the frequently proposed yet largely understudied hypothesis that mindfulness improves awareness of bodily signals of satiation and hunger. We assessed the ability to perceive the onset of bodily signals of satiation with the two-step water load test (Study 1) and the ability to perceive the onset of bodily signals of hunger with the preload test (Study 2). A brief mindfulness exercise (body scan) did not impact the perception of satiation but improved the ability to perceive bodily signals of hunger. After the consumption of a standardized preload, participants in the two experimental conditions felt equally satiated; nevertheless, those in the mindfulness condition perceived the onset of hunger 18min earlier than those in the control condition and this effect persisted also in the presence of control variables. These findings together suggest that even a single and short mindfulness exercise can improve perception of hunger signals substantially, while more intensive mindfulness training may be needed to impact perception of satiation signals.
- Body scan
- Water load test