Being Overly Negative about Certain Foods May Help Avoid Holiday Weight Gain and Pain

Process Called Counteractive Construal Helps Patients Resist Temptations and Maintain Diets, Study Finds

Christmas is a time for gathering and celebration that can sometimes lead to extra weight gain and related pain, with such scenarios possibly avoided by exaggerating the negative consequences of tempting foods, according to a recent study that may help people better approach their holiday and New Year's diets.

As recently detailed in the Journal of Consumer Research, the study suggested that perception as opposed to the reality of how threatening certain food is to weight gain may exert a bigger influence on whether or not people choose to eat such food.

More specifically, the study involved female participants estimating the number of calories in a cookie, with half of them having the option of taking the cookie as a complimentary gift and the other half not presented with this choice.

According to the study’s findings, women with strong dieting goals were more likely to perceive the cookie as threatening and to exaggerate the number of calories, a process that is called counteractive construal. Consequently, these consumers were less likely to take the complementary cookie.

Additionally, the study learned that consumers may engage in counteractive construal as a result of environmental stimuli involving certain images. In this case, consumers who were subjected to posters of models rather than posters of natural scenery were more likely to exaggerate the calories of a tempting drink and consume less of the drink.

Interestingly enough, using the mind to exert more control over certain situations is not just limited to dieting, with psychological techniques often employed by people dealing with chronic pain and/or sleeping problems.

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