Associations Among Self-Compassion, Eating Behaviors, and Stress in College Freshmen Pages 92-97

Associations Among Self-Compassion, Eating Behaviors, and Stress in College Freshmen
Pages 92-97
Dara James, Ann Sebren, Cheryl DerAnanian, Meg Bruening, Laura Rooney, Teresa Araas and Pamela D. Swan

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.6000/1927-5129.2016.12.14

Published: 10 February 2016

Abstract:  Purpose: Few studies have investigated the potential relationship between self-compassion and eating behaviors. Self-compassion has been shown to improve one’s ability to respond more effectively to various situations and stressors by embracing the constructs of self-kindness, common humanity and mindfulness. This study examined correlations between self-compassion, eating behaviors and stress in first-time college freshmen.

Methods: First-time freshmen (N=1477), ages 18-22 years (63% female), self-reported measures of Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire (TFEQ), and Self-Compassion Scale (SCS). Associations among PSS, SCS and TFEQ scores were examined with Pearson correlations by gender. Differences by gender were explored with t-tests.

Results: There were significant (< 0.01) correlations between disinhibition and negative SCS constructs (self-judgment, = 0.29; isolation, = 0.23; over-identification, = 0.28) and restraint and self-judgment in females (= 0.26). Females scored significantly higher than males on PSS and negative SCS subscales (< 0.05).

Conclusion: Interventions increasing self-compassion and reducing stress may optimally support psychological and behavioral wellbeing as students transition into college. Future research needs to understand how self-compassion interventions may attenuate the inimical cycle of dietary restraint and disinhibition in university students.

Keywords: Mindfulness,self-kindness, freshmen transition, dietaryrestraint, dietary disinhibition,hunger,perceived stress, behavioralwellbeing.