Reducing sugar use in coffee with mindfulness: a painless way to cut calories

  • R. Lenne
  • T. Chapdelaine
  • T. Mann


Background: Making small changes to everyday eating habits may be a better route to long-term weight loss than strict dieting. One untapped area for change involves removing the sugar people add to their coffee, which could save significant calories. Methods: A preregistered randomized controlled trial (n = 127) tested two interventions (and a control group) to help people consume their coffee sugar-free, without reducing their enjoyment of it. One involved a gradual reduction of sugar over time. The other involved teaching people to drink sugar-free coffee mindfully – to notice and appreciate its sensory properties. Findings: The gradual reduction intervention led to less enjoyment of sugar-free coffee (t(81) = -3.326, p = 0.001). The mindfulness intervention led to an increase in enjoyment of sugar-free coffee (β = 0.071, p < 0.0001), which was no different from the mere exposure control condition (β = 0.007, p = 0.738). However, mindfulness led to greater adherence to sugar-free coffee drinking one-month (t(66) = 2.268, p = .0134) and six-months (t (72) = 1.422, p = .080) later (β = 0.213, p = 0.009). Mindful subjects saved an estimated 60 calories per day in the six-months after the intervention compared to the six-months before (compared to 40 for control and 25 for gradual reduction). Discussion: Reducing sugar in coffee is feasible, and a brief mindfulness training holds promise for helping people sustain these reductions while still enjoying their coffee. Over time, these changes may help reduce risk for Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
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