Cognitive defusion and guided imagery tasks reduce naturalistic food cravings and consumption: A field study

Sophie Schumacher, Eva Kemps, Marika Tiggemann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


The present study investigated the effect of two craving reduction techniques, namely, cognitive defusion and guided imagery, on naturalistic food cravings. These techniques targeted the intrusion and elaboration stages of the craving process, respectively (Kavanagh, Andrade, & May, 2005). Participants underwent a seven-day baseline period followed by a seven-day intervention period, during which they recorded their food cravings as they occurred using online diaries accessed via smartphone. In the intervention period, participants were randomly assigned to one of cognitive defusion, guided imagery or control conditions. Participants in the cognitive defusion and guided imagery conditions listened to three-minute audio clips containing their respective instructions every time they experienced a food craving, and rated their craving intensity before and after the intervention, while the control participants recorded their cravings as they did in the baseline week. Results showed that both cognitive defusion and guided imagery techniques reduced craving frequency, intensity, the likelihood of consumption following cravings, and craving-related calorie intake, consistent with predictions. These findings show that cognitive defusion and guided imagery are useful for dealing with naturally occurring cravings across a range of foods, and can reduce craving-related consumption in everyday life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)393-399
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • Food cravings
  • Consumption
  • Cognitive defusion
  • Decentering
  • Guided imagery
  • Elaborated-intrusion theory
  • Online diary


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