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Lesbian and bisexual women benefit from mindful eating program

Posted 08.23.2016 | by AMRA


Studies show that older lesbian and bisexual women are more likely to be overweight than their heterosexual peers, but there is a dearth of reported interventions specific to this population. Ingraham et al. [Women’s Health Issues] investigated whether mindful eating programs specifically designed for older lesbian and bisexual women can improve their physical and emotional health. The researchers also compared the outcomes of these programs with traditional diet-and-exercise programs that were also tailored for this population.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services funded five different interventions at five separate locations to gain information about the how to best reduce overweight status. Two of the sites adopted slightly different mindful eating approaches, while three sites opted for variations on traditional diet-and-exercise approaches. Each site designed its own program curriculum based on the concerns and beliefs of the organizations hosting the programs at each site. All five sites recruited lesbian and bisexual participants 40 years of age or older with a BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2. Assignment to groups was based on proximity to sites and was not randomized.

The two different mindful eating interventions were both 12-week group programs employing aspects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction along with the Health At Every Size program’s emphasis on acceptance of body size and shape, and the Intuitive Eating program’s emphasis on attending to hunger and satiety cues. The three traditional diet-and-exercise programs met 12-16 times in weekly support groups and employed techniques such as food logs, recipe handouts, gym memberships, pedometers and personal trainers. There were a total of 160 participants in the mindful eating groups, and 106 in the diet-and-exercise groups.

All participants completed assessments immediately before […]

August 23rd, 2016|News|

Mindfulness traits protect women from stress hormone

Posted: 07.29.2014 | by AMRA


We know that stress, anxiety, and worry can take their tole on the body, in part through the activity of stress hormones such as cortisol, which is produced by the adrenal gland. If one is under stress or prone to worry and anxiety, can one’s level of mindfulness reduce the body’s responsiveness to it?

Daubenmier et al. [Psychoneuroendocrinology] explored the degree to which the ability to accept and describe stressful mental events (as measured by the Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills or KIMS) helped protect a cohort of 43 overweight/obese premenopausal women from stress-related increases in cortisol after waking up in the morning.

The women were administered standard measures of perceived stress, negative affect, anxiety, and rumination and had their cortisol awakening response (CAR) assessed over the course of four mornings — CAR is a measure of how steeply cortisol levels rise in one’s saliva during the first 30-45 minutes after awakening. It’s thought that CAR reflects the body’s response to thinking and ruminating about stress upon waking up.

All four measures of psychological distress were significantly positively associated with steeper CARs — the more anxious, worried, or unhappy the research participants were, the faster their waking cortisol levels rose. On the other hand, the participants’ abilities to mindfully describe and accept their negative thoughts and emotions were significantly negatively associated with CAR steepness — the more mindful they were, the less dramatic the rise in their cortisol.

The greater their ability to describe their thoughts and emotions, the greater their protection from the effects of anxiety and negative mood on cortisol. The greater their ability to accept their thoughts and emotions, the greater the […]

July 29th, 2014|News|

MBRP-W for culturally diverse underserved women

Posted: 04.25.2014 | by AMRA


An estimated 40% to 60% of substance abusers relapse following treatment, emphasizing the need for the development of more effective relapse prevention and harm reduction approaches. While mindfulness-based relapse prevention approaches may have considerable theoretical appeal, traditional mindfulness programs may not be completely suitable for underserved populations who have their own unique needs, and may need to be modified accordingly.

Amaro et al. [Subst Use Misuse.] studied the feasibility and benefits of incorporating “Moment-by-Moment in Women’s Recovery: A Mindfulness-Based Approach to Relapse Prevention” (MBRP-W) into existing substance use programs serving a culturally diverse, low-income cohort of women with trauma exposure histories. The 9-week program used a modified MBSR format designed to increase its relevance to women with issues of addiction, relapse, mental illness, low literacy levels, and trauma.

Three hundred and eighteen low-income ethnically-diverse women who were actively attending publicly-funded substance use programs were enrolled additionally in the MBRP-W program. The cohort was 45.3% Hispanic, 34.6% non-Hispanic Black, and 20.1% non-Hispanic White, with 45.6% having been court-mandated to treatment. Based on the difficulties of meeting the logistical demands of residential treatment, 44.3% of the women attended no sessions, 19.8% attended 1-4 sessions, and 35.8% attended 5-9 sessions. Scheduling conflicts with courts, medical providers, child protective services, and dropout from their primary clinic all contributed to attrition and lowered attendance.

Average satisfaction ratings from those who attended the final MBRP-W session were “very good to excellent” on program usefulness, quality, and importance. Participants who attended 5 or more sessions showed significantly greater rates of decline in alcohol addiction over 12 months, and greater declines in drug addiction at 6 and 12 months, than those who never […]

April 25th, 2014|News|

CALM Pregnancy Program Targets Perinatal Anxiety

Posted: 02.07.2014 | by AMRA


Between 10-40% of women develop significant anxiety during pregnancy, an unsurprising fact given the associated physiological, hormonal, and lifestyle changes, and concerns about the impending responsibilities of parenthood. Perinatal anxiety is a risk factor for obstetrical complications and postpartum depression, and pharmacologic interventions are often contra-indicated. This underscores the need for effective behavioral treatments. Goodman et al. [Archives of Women’s Mental Health] designed an MBCT-derived intervention called CALM (Coping with Anxiety through Living Mindfully) Pregnancy to treat perinatal anxiety. A sample of 24 pregnant women with either generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or significant GAD symptoms (as assessed through structured clinical interview) were enrolled in the program. Attendance and compliance were good, with 23 women (96%) successfully completing the 8-week group-based program.

Participants reported large and significant reductions in anxiety, worry and depression, and large and significant increases in self-compassion and dispositional mindfulness (as measured by the MAAS). Of the 16 participants who met the full diagnostic criteria for GAD at baseline, only 1 met the criteria at program completion. Similarly, the two women who met the diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder at baseline no longer met the criteria at program completion. In an open-ended interview about what they had found most helpful, participants mentioned skill building, connection, universality, acceptance and self-kindness, decreased reactivity, cognitive changes, and insight.

This pilot study demonstrates the feasibility, acceptability, and potential effectiveness of the CALM Pregnancy program, at least for a population of mostly Caucasian, middle class, well-educated women. Future studies using randomly assigned controls will be needed to confirm the early promise of these findings in this and more diverse groups of women.


Goodman, J. H., Guarino, A., […]

February 7th, 2014|News|