April 27, 2016
The Causes of Diet Failure Part 2
Continuing from last week, I want to look at some more non-boring causes of dieting failure. Yes, I was thoroughly amused by people posting pictures of fast-food restaurants in the comments but here I’m clearly focusing on some of the rather non-obvious and non-Kindergarten level reasons that I think are often ignored. So moving on.
Fantasy, Reality and Diet Failure
Here’s an interesting one, a weird paper that looked at issues of positive and negative expectations/fantasies and this ties in with what I was talking about last week. Basically you can draw up a 2X2 grid with four options for positive and negative fantasies about each. And without doing so, the worst results were seen the group that had negative expectations about success (i.e. they were expecting to fail or have poor results) but positive fantasies about how easy the process would be.
In contrast, the best results were seen in the people who had positive expectations about their results but, perhaps confusing, negative expectations about what would be involved. So they expected to succeed but were at least realistic about the potential negatives that they would encounter (and as I’ll discuss thoroughly in the book this piece is being taken from, there are strategies that help to not only identify problems but find solutions before they occur).
So think about how many people, either due to past failures or having heard “Nobody keeps weight off” decide to lose weight but basically expect themselves to fail. But who still think that the false expectation of quick, easy and painless weight loss will occur. It’s kind of a confusing combination: thinking you’re going to fail but it will be easy until you do.
Rigid Restraint and Diet Failure
The concept of dietary restraint is a bit oblique and comes along with some other concepts such as disinhibition. You can think of dietary restraint as an overall concern about food intake and bodyweight but it’s not synonymous with dieting per se because it’s not synonymous with actual caloric restriction. It’s just a mental concern with it. I reviewed a paper showing that these people have elevated cortisol (and this is due to the mental stress) and folks with certain types of restraint often show disinhibition. This means that under certain conditions, they lose control over their eating and overeat. Frequently restraint is associated with higher rather than lower body weight levels for this reason.