Integrating Art Therapy and Mindfulness through Mindful Eating to Assist in Eating Behavior Changes with Weight Management Populations: Developing a More Aware Relationship with Food and Self

There are many factors, which impact being overweight or obese and many risks associated with these conditions. Eating behaviors largely impact an individual‘s ability to lose weight, therefore, finding a strategy, which helps with the process of understanding, and adjusting these habits is essential. This paper examines the potential for art therapy, mindfulness, and mindful eating to support overweight individuals in making changes in healthy eating habits. An examination of the literature shows that both art therapy and mindfulness are be mind-body approaches which can help with the process of transformation or healing through increased self-awareness, increased self efficacy, and self regulation. Mindful eating provides an avenue to connect these benefits to the process of eating. An intervention was developed to see how this may impact eating behaviors. This paper outlines the heuristic case study of participation in an eight week mindful eating art journal and self-portraits created during the process. The participant reflects and expresses their qualitative experience, data collected and observed from the process, and the artwork is also examined. The participant results show that while participating in the art process of the mindful eating journal one was more aware of food choices and motivations. Over an eight-week period, the participant lost 8.5 pounds. This is believed to be a result of the mindful eating process that increased self-awareness, personal understanding, and present moment conscious choices of eating behaviors. That being said, remaining consistent was a challenge (and the intervention did not necessarily lead to more permanent change). Further research would need to be done to confirm these findings.

Michelle L. Hovey Swerin
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