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A comparison of cognitive restructuring and cognitive defusion as strategies for resisting a craved food

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The present study investigated the effectiveness of two cognitive strategies for resisting a craved food. One-hundred-and-ten self-identified chocolate cravers were randomised to a waiting list control condition or to receive a 60-minute standardised group intervention on cognitive restructuring (CR) or cognitive defusion (CD). All participants were provided with a bag of chocolates which they were instructed to carry with them for seven days and try to resist eating; uneaten chocolates were returned at the end of the study period. Measures included chocolate consumption and other behavioural, cognitive and evaluative self-reported outcomes. Overall, the odds of abstinence from chocolate were 3.26 times higher for participants in the CD than the CR condition. The effect of the interventions depended on baseline cognitive distress levels; for individuals at high levels of cognitive distress the CD condition led to significantly more restraint from chocolate than both the CR and control conditions. In addition, CD led to greater self-reported improvements in eating behaviours during the study period and was rated significantly easier to use and apply than CR. CD is discussed as a simple and efficient approach to manage food cravings and, potentially, other behavioural contributors to obesity.
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Keywords: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT); Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT); cognitive defusion; cognitive restructuring; eating behaviour; food cravings

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation,Food and Nutritional Sciences, Adelaide BC, Australia

Publication date: October 1, 2012

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