Evaluation of a mindfulness-based stress management and nutrition education program for mothers

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Background: Maternal stress is implicated in obesity and obesity-related chronic disease. This can have consequences for their children’s weight status and disease development. Interventions are needed that target both psychological stress and diet using evidence-based approaches. Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate the perceived impact of the Slow Down intervention on participants’ self-efficacy for practicing mindfulness and the barriers and perceived benefits to adopting intervention target behaviors. The ways that knowledge was brokered and transferred provided guidance on the translation of mindfulness within dietary interventions. Design: This was a qualitative evaluation of a mixed-methods quasi-experimental pilot intervention. A focus group was conducted post-intervention and a follow-up semi-structured individual interview took place 4–6 weeks post-intervention. Results: Self-efficacy for practicing mindfulness skills was generally high or described as mixed by participants. Reported benefits from participating in the intervention included increased social support, improved sleep, and improved reaction to stressors, among others. Participants reported barriers to making changes, including family or partner buy-in. Participants cited several ways that knowledge was gained and transferred throughout the intervention that could improve the translation of mindfulness research into practice. Conclusions: With increasing evidence supporting the use of mindfulness in public health nutrition interventions, there are gaps in describing the benefits of participation in mindfulness interventions and the barriers to making health behavior changes as a result of participation. This study demonstrates the potential for nutrition interventions that include psychological health and provides guidance on how to implement mindfulness practice into public health practice settings.

mindfulness, mothers, psychological stress, dietfood nutrition, public health practice