Sticking to diets requires more than willpower

Sticking to diets requires more than willpower Washington, Jan 12 : It needs more than willpower and dedication for dieting to have the desired results. A much more subtle aspect of the diets themselves -- their perceived complexity -- can also influence how pounds are shed, says a new research.

Cognitive scientists from Indiana University (IU) and the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin compared the dieting behaviour of women following two radically different diet plans.

They found that the more complicated people thought their diet plan was, the sooner they were likely to drop it.

"For people on a more complex diet that involves keeping track of quantities and items eaten, their subjective impression of the difficulty of the diet can lead them to give up on it," said Peter Todd, psychology professor at the IU, who led the study.

Jutta Mata, now psychology professor at Stanford University, said this effect holds even after controlling for the influence of important social-cognitive factors including self-efficacy.

"Even if you believe you can succeed, thinking that the diet is cognitively complex can undermine your efforts," she said.

Dieting is not all in one's head -- environment matters, too, the professors say. The physical environment has to be set up properly, such as putting snack foods out of sight to avoid mindless eating.

But the cognitive environment, they say, must also be appropriately constructed, by choosing diet rules that one finds easy to remember and follow, said an IU release.

"If they find it very difficult, the likelihood that they will prematurely give up the diet is higher and they should try to find a different plan," said Mata.(IANS)

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