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Table 1 Activities, assignments, and actions to enhance participants’ sense of autonomy, competence, and relatedness

From: Nutrition-focused group intervention with a strength-based counseling approach for people with clinical depression: a study protocol for the Food for Mind randomized controlled trial

Meeting topics and learning objectives (LO) Activities Home (HA) and WhatsApp (WA) assignments Sample actions to enhance the sense of autonomy, competence, and relatedness
1. Getting to know each other:
- Grouping
- Finding strengths
LO: “We’ll get to know each other, and I feel like I’m an important part of the group.”
1. Finding personal strengths
2. Sharing thoughts of personal motives to participate in the FM group
Group discussion: nutrition and depression—how eating affects your mood
HA: keeping a record of health-promoting eating habits during good and bad days
WA: sharing a photograph of one personally meaningful thing
Autonomy: finding out the participants’ important/meaningful reasons/motives for participating
Competence: identifying existing knowledge of the topic
Relatedness: noticing and respecting individual experiences, giving and receiving social support
2. Diet quality and meal frequency:
- Identifying health-promoting characteristics in diet
- Setting realistic goals
LO: “I’ll understand the meaning of meal rhythm and diet quality to my wellbeing.”
1. Experiences of differences in diet and eating between good days and bad days
2. Goal setting
HA: focusing on meal frequency for a week
HA: evaluation of ones’ own eating patterns
WA: sharing favorite starter, main dish, and dessert chosen from the Food for Mind—recipe booklet
Autonomy: encouraging/helping participants to choose and set realistic and meaningful goals of their own and to plan actions that they will be committed to in achieving them.
Competence: noticing and strengthening what is already good in the participants’ current habits and helping them plan concrete actions leading them to achieve their goals
Relatedness: respecting differences in the participants’ habits and experiences, making use of this diversity when promoting change, giving and receiving social support
3. Nutrition and depression—evidence-based knowledge:
- Identifying existing positive characteristics in meal frequency and eating habits
LO: “I’ll understand evidence-based knowledge about the association between depression and diet/nutrition.”
1. Experiences and findings about meal frequency and its effects on good mood—discussion in pairs and in group
Group discussion: nutrition and depression utilizing evaluations of participants’ own eating patterns
HA: adding one food item known to affect depression positively to your diet
HA: getting familiar with mindful eating
WA: participants sharing a picture of a food item or a dining experience, which has made them feel good
Autonomy: introducing several options of food items with a positive effect on depression and offering the participants freedom of choice
Competence: noticing and strengthening the factors already good in the participants’ current habits and helping them make sustainable choices for new habits
Relatedness. utilizing team/groupwork to enhance team spirit and to give and receive social support
4. Food for Mind in practice:
- Practicing mind-friendly cooking
- Familiarization with mindful eating
LO: “I’ll learn to prepare easy and mind-friendly food.”
1. Group exercise about mindful eating and different hunger types using a mind map
2. Cooking, utilizing mindfulness
3. Eating together applying mindful eating
HA: existing food choices in the participants’ diet
WA: sharing a photograph of a situation, in which a participant has utilized or could utilize mindfulness in the future
Autonomy: creating an atmosphere that supports participants’ sense of autonomy
Competence: training on new skills (new cooking skills), strengthening existing (cooking) skills
Relatedness: utilizing team/groupwork to enhance team spirit and to give and receive social support
5. Food for Mind food items in a grocery store—navigation:
- Getting familiar with a mind-friendly food selection
LO: “I’ll get new tips to my food choices.”
1. The participants’ experiences and observations of their own food choices
2. Getting familiar with the selection of Food for Mind food items available in the grocery store
HA: focusing on meal frequency for a week
WA: sharing a photograph of one mind-friendly food item each participant has adopted in diet
Autonomy: learning to read labels to make personally relevant and acceptable choices
Competence: giving positive feedback about what is already good in the participants’ current food choices, learning to read and understand labels, and using this knowledge in one’s daily life
Relatedness: utilizing pair/team/groupwork to enhance team spirit and to give and receive social support
6. Tools for the future:
- Discovering and ensuring to the tools the participants have for putting the dietary goals into action and successfully maintaining them
LO: “I’ll notice my success and I’ll find ways to enhance my mood.”
1. A gallery walk-through method for group success, benefits, support, and future prospects with group discussion
2. Group discussion: hopefulness and gratefulness
Future exercises
- Gratefulness exercise
- Letter for the future exercise
Autonomy: highlighting the active and autonomous role participants have played in selecting and making lifestyle choices that have improved their health and well-being
Competence: positive feedback on personal and group success
Relatedness: giving and receiving social support