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Study: Why Your Diet is Not Working

Jul 14, 2016 05:55 AM EDT

A new study revealed that dieters who tend to forego their favorite foods and replace them with less-desirable options are less likely to succeed in losing weight compared to people who add healthy foods they actually like in their diets.

The study, published in the journal Psychology and Marketing, examines the differential effectiveness of approach- and avoidance-based strategies across levels of self-control, highlighting differences in food choices.

"Dieters who restrict themselves from consuming the foods they love most may be setting themselves up for failure. Instead, they may be better off by allowing occasional 'treats' and focusing attention on healthy foods that they enjoy and making it a point to include those tasty, but healthy foods in their diet," explained Meredith David, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing at Baylor and lead author of the study, in a statement.

For the study, the researchers conducted recruited a total of 542 participants. The researchers then asked each participant about their specific rule that guides them in their food consumption. Most participants listed rules involving restriction and avoidance of certain foods, which is more profound in individuals with low self-control. However, participants with high self-control tend to list rules involving things they should approach and/or consume.

Furthermore, the researchers noted that participants with low self-control often think that their favorite snacks and most tempting foods should be avoided in their diets, while individuals with high self-control avoids food that they like but could be reasonably forgo.

Also, people with low self-control list food that they don't particularly like or less appealing foods as part of their healthy diet, while participants with high self-control add healthy foods they actually enjoy in their diet.

With their findings, researchers recommend people who wished to lose some weight to incorporate healthy foods they actually enjoy in their diet, instead of just letting go of food they like and opting to healthy foods that are less appealing to their taste.

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