Eat dessert first? It might help you control your diet

Consumers watching their diet should pay close attention to the amount of unhealthy foods they eat, but can relax when it comes to healthier options, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

"Although self-control is typically viewed as a battle between and desire, can't rely entirely on willpower to control their eating. They also need to create situations that will make them lose interest in food. One way is to keep better track of the quantity of they eat," write authors Joseph P. Redden (University of Minnesota) and Kelly L. Haws (Texas A&M University).

Some consumers are able to exercise great self-control when it comes to their diets while millions of others can't seem to stop overindulging on unhealthy foods such as cookies and candies. Do the former have more willpower? Or are they simply satisfied more quickly?

In a series of studies, the authors found that consumers who successfully control their diets eat fewer unhealthy foods because they are satisfied sooner. They also found that many consumers with poor self-control were able to establish greater control when they paid close attention to the quantities of unhealthy foods they consumed because simply paying attention made them more quickly satisfied.

In one interesting study, a group of consumers were asked to eat either a healthy or an unhealthy snack. Some of the consumers were asked to count how many times they swallowed while eating the snack. Consumers who counted the number of times they swallowed were satisfied more quickly even if they otherwise had a low level of self-control. Monitoring how much they ate made consumers with low self-control behave like those with high self-control.

"Dieters should focus on the quantity of unhealthy foods but not the quantity of healthy foods. Monitoring healthy foods could actually be counterproductive to the goal of eating a healthier . So the secret to success is knowing when to monitor your eating," the authors conclude.

More information: Joseph P. Redden and Kelly L. Haws. "Healthy Satiation: The Role of Decreasing Desire in Effective Self-Control." Journal of Consumer Research: February 2013.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Better monitoring of food quantity makes self-control easier

Aug 22, 2012

(Phys.org) -- New research from the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management suggests learning how to stop enjoying unhealthy food sooner may play a pivotal role in combating America's obesity problem. The research, ...

Eat healthy -- your kids are watching

May 30, 2012

If lower-income mothers want kids with healthy diets, it's best to adopt healthy eating habits themselves and encourage their children to eat good foods rather than use force, rewards or punishments, says a Michigan State ...

Recommended for you

Independent safety investigation needed in the NHS

1 hour ago

The NHS should follow the lead of aviation and other safety-critical industries and establish an independent safety investigation agency, according to a paper published today by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. The au ...

Sexual fantasies: Are you normal?

5 hours ago

Hoping for sex with two women is common but fantasizing about golden showers is not. That's just one of the findings from a research project that scientifically defines sexual deviation for the first time ever. It was undertaken ...

AMA 'Code of Ethics' offers guidance for physicians

11 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The American Medical Association (AMA) Code of Ethics and other articles provide guidance for physicians in relation to public health emergencies, according to a report from the AMA.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.