Scientists have proven what most of us know, it’s harder to resist temptation when it’s all around you. Move away from the cup cakes/chips/fudge sundaes and the environments containing them and you’re less likely to indulge
I have been attending Slimming World for the last 12 months and have as a result, have lost almost two stone in weight. We often discuss in group how overeating is a kind of addiction, which not a lot of people understand. My SW consultant Lisa reflected recently on how for years, when describing her relationship with food to others, they’d simply say ‘Well, just stop eating junk’, as if it was a feeling she could switch on and off. ‘If we could do that,’ said Lisa to our group, ‘don’t you think I would’ve done it already?’ Now, a new neuro-imaging study is backing up this theory about dieter’s behaviour.
The journal Psychological Science has recently published findings from Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, that suggest a chronic dieter will ‘have more success if they avoid situations that challenge their self-control.’
This may sound obvious, but as someone whose main downfall comes when influenced by what my fellow diners order, I’m pleased to hear it has scientific support. I can easily go a day without having dirty, sugary thoughts, but as soon as the idea is popped into my head, or I accidently walk down the biscuit aisle, it takes a hell of a lot of willpower and self-motivation to get myself back on track.
31 female chronic dieters took part in the study, some of which had their self-control tested by being shown images of appetizing, high-calorie food. When seeing these, the group proved to have a greater activity in the orbitofrontal cortex, which is the area of the brain that links to food rewards, but a reduced connectivity between the orbitofrontal cortex and the inferior frontal gyrus, a region implicated in self-control. In human-speaking terms, being shown a temptation weakened the connection between reward and restraint, and therefore their ability to resist.
These results are not only true of those who overeat or are obese, but also include substance abuse and other impulsive health problems. The next step for the Dartmouth researchers is to see whether self-control can be strengthened over time.
The message in the research: if you’re trying to lose weight, avoid the situations that tempt you such as well, the biscuit aisle or that cafe where you know you just can’t resist the triple sponge. Keep treats and sugary snacks out of sight and they’re more likely to not only stay out of mind, but out of your mouth.
Lydia Jones blogs at abitofwhatifancy.blogspot.co.uk
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