Resisting chocolate temptation using a brief mindfulness strategy

Br J Health Psychol. 2014 Sep;19(3):509-22. doi: 10.1111/bjhp.12050. Epub 2013 May 17.


Objectives: We examined the effects of two mindfulness-based strategies on chocolate consumption amongst individuals who were trying to reduce the amount of chocolate they consumed.

Methods: Participants (n = 137) were allocated to one of three conditions and employed either cognitive defusion, acceptance, or relaxation (control) techniques to help them resist chocolate over 5 days. During this period, they carried a bag of chocolates with them and recorded any chocolate or chocolate-related products they consumed. They also completed a questionnaire measure of the extent to which chocolate consumption was automatic, both before and after the 5-day period.

Results: Results showed that compared to controls, those in the cognitive defusion group ate significantly less chocolate from the bag (p = .046) and less chocolate according to the diary measure (p = .053). There was evidence that these changes were brought about by reductions in the extent to which chocolate consumption was automatic. There were no differences in chocolate consumption between the acceptance and control groups.

Conclusions: Our results point to a promising brief intervention strategy and highlight the importance of disentangling the effects of different mindfulness-based techniques.

Statement of contribution: What is already known on this subject? Multicomponent mindfulness interventions have been successfully applied to a range of health behaviours. Low levels of self-control are associated with weight gain and a higher BMI. What does this study add? The results show that a brief mindfulness strategy (defusion) helps individuals resist chocolate over 5 days. The results suggest this may be brought about by reductions in the extent to which eating chocolate is automatic. A second brief mindfulness strategy (acceptance) failed to help individuals resist chocolate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cacao*
  • Female
  • Food Preferences / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior*
  • Male
  • Mindfulness / methods*
  • Relaxation Therapy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult