Cognitive restructuring vs. defusion: Impact on craving, healthy and unhealthy food intake

April 1, 2020


Coping with food cravings is crucial for weight management. Individuals tend to use avoidance strategies to resist food cravings and prevent overeating, but such strategies may not result in the benefits sought. This study compared the effects of two cognitive techniques (Restructuring vs. Defusion) for dealing with food cravings in terms of their impact on healthy vs. unhealthy eating behavior (i.e., consumption of chocolate and/or carrots following the intervention). Sixty-five participants (Mage = 19.65 years) received either a 30-minute face-to-face instruction on cognitive restructuring (CR) or cognitive defusion (CD) along with 15 min of practice, or 45 min of obesity education and discussion (control). To examine craving and eating choices following the intervention, participants received bags of chocolate and carrots and were asked to carry these with them at all times over the next week, exchanging the bags every 2 days. Participants in the CD group ate fewer chocolates (M = 11.74) compared to CR (M = 17.06) and Control groups (M = 29.18) during the experimental week. The groups did not differ in number of carrot pieces eaten, though the CD group ate more carrots than chocolates. CD resulted in fewer self-reported cravings compared to CR and CO groups. At a final taste test, both CD and CR groups ate significantly fewer chocolates compared to the CO group. CD appears to be an effective technique in managing food craving and to present some advantages over CR.

  title = {Cognitive restructuring vs. defusion: Impact on craving, healthy and unhealthy food intake},
  author = {Maria Karekla and Natasa Georgiou and Georgia Panayiotou and Emily K. Sandoz and Marios Constantinou},
  journal = {Eating Behaviors},
  year = 2020,
  volume = 37,
  page = 101385,
  doi = {}
Posted on:
April 1, 2020
2 minute read, 287 words
chocolate cravings cognitive defusion cognitive restructuring
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