Dieting and willpower

Stopping liking certain foods may be more important than willpower when it comes to successful dieting, new research has suggested. Carried out at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management, the study revealed satiation can act as a positive mechanism if it makes a person less likely to enjoy unhealthy produce.

Entitled Healthy Satiation: The Role of Decreasing Desire in Effective Self-Control, the report explained many people think of self-control as being willpower, assuming that some individuals have such an attribute when others do not.

Joseph Redden, an Assistant Professor of Marketing at the Carlson School, noted: "In reality, nearly everyone likes these treats. Some people just stop enjoying them faster and for them it's easier to say no."

It was found that individuals with high self-control become satisfied with the experience of eating unhealthy food much quicker than when consuming recommended produce - and eat less as a result.

Chartered Psychologist Professor Jackie Andrade expained: "Redden and Haws' study shows that willpower is intimately related to desire. In a recent paper myself and colleagues argued that to understand willpower we need to recognise that people have multiple goals and sometimes those goals conflict. For example, someone may want to eat a snack right now but also want to stick to a healthy diet. How well that person can resist temptation depends in part on the balance between how much they imagine enjoying that temptation, and how much they imagine the satisfaction of eating healthily.

Willpower is the ability to desire long-term goals and, as Redden and Haws have shown, to be satisfied by small rather than large indulgences."