We all have moments where the only thing that can comfort us is food, and a lot of it. However, such behavior can very quickly develop into a bad habit when done too frequently and cause a range of other conditions, such as obesity, cancer, and diabetes.
According to an article published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions, a digital app developed by Sharecare may help people correct these behaviors and engage in more positive eating habits.
The app, Eat Right Now, is a mindfulness training tool designed to help people with “bad” eating habits correct them. The app includes a range of multimedia resources to help users address their eating habits, including video lessons that teach coping strategies, interactive journals and daily logs to help people track their progress towards new habits, and a supportive community of peers and coaches, among other features. It also includes a feature called the “Want-O-Meter” that helps users identify the source of cravings and identify ways to address these cravings productively.
The article reviewed 2 previously completed research studies examining how participant use of the app affected eating habits. The goal was to explore whether mindfulness-based interventions, versus more traditional cognitive-based therapeutic strategies, helped people correct bad eating habits. Researchers argued that “mindfulness-based interventions hold promise in more effectively targeting maladaptive habitual eating, as they have been proposed to influence addictive behaviors by altering the lower-level reinforcement learning mechanisms responsible for instilling these behaviors in the first place.”
During the studies, participants engaged with Eat Right Now for 8 weeks and completed training modules and other exercises to help regulate their eating. Results found that users reported a reduction in bad eating habits overall. It also found that unique features of the app, such as the Want-O-Meter, reduced the rewarding feeling of eating and reduced food intake by users.
The article highlights that in the future, neuroimaging research could be used to provide a more comprehensive understanding of behavioral changes, as well as more long-term studies to explore the effects of mindfulness-based interventions.