This is a weird one, isn’t it? However, a recent study suggests that people have a habit of changing what they eat based on what they think rather than how they feel. And this is why dieting can be difficult.
You see, while we generally make plans to diet based on our thinking, our feelings tend to take over while we feel hungry, and this drives us towards different food choices, thereby ditching the plans we so painstakingly made.
That is why people in the fitness industry always tell you to have a little snack before you go out to dinner. If you are hungry, you would be more inclined to order less healthy dishes when the menu is in front of you. This would be the case despite what your intentions originally were. No surprises there, right?
Some psychologists even go as far as to say that this is also why many people can make well-thought-out, meticulous plans to lose weight, but when it comes to actually executing them, all of these simply fall apart if we are not in the right frame of mind and governed by certain emotions.
Let’s explore the experiment itself. Basically, the researchers ran two experiments on around 300 people. They asked the participants to give their thoughts and feelings about eating specific foods as well as specific categories of foods.
They measured the influence of feelings by asking them to rate foods using words that suggest positive or negative feelings, such as “happy” and “sad”. They used a similar question to measure the influence of thoughts. However, the options they gave were changed to reflect thoughts and values, with words such as “beneficial” and “worthless”.
Furthermore, participants were questioned about their current eating habits and whether they planned to make any changes to it. Needless to say, the results showed that factors that guide diet planning differ from those that guide actual diet behaviour.
This is where psychology comes in. One suggestion that has been raised is that those who want to lose weight should learn to associate healthy foods with positive feelings. This is not something that can be done in an instant, but over time it can and will change behaviour.
Another thing people who want to lose weight can do is slow down their decision making process by always being conscious and slow down before ordering food at a restaurant. If you have your goals in mind all the time, you are more likely to be in control. These are all covered in the Winning Psychology Manual.
I hope you enjoyed this article.
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