The idea of reaching for a stick of celery when all you really want is a big slice of chocolate cake, would probably make most people a little grumpy.
And, according to results published in the Journal of Consumer Research, exerting self-control while dieting can in fact make people feel angry and irritable.
Research has shown that exerting self-control makes people more likely to behave aggressively toward others, and people on diets are known to be irritable and quick to anger. Source
The researchers set up four experiments to compare the attitudes of volunteers who were on a diet, with those who ate what they wanted. They found that:
- Participants who choose an apple over a bar of chocolate were more likely to choose movies which had angry, revenge-filled plots.
- Those who choose a gift certificate for groceries rather than one for a spa service, showed more interest in looking at angry faces as opposed to more fearful ones.
- And, in an other experiment, people who chose a healthy snack instead of a less healthy one were more irritated by a public service advert promoting exercise.
Interestingly, the researchers have linked these feelings of irritation, stress, and anger to the act of exerting self-control while dieting, rather than the “dieting” itself.
The researchers point out that public policy makers should be more aware of the potential negative emotions, which can result when the public are encouraged to exert more self control over their daily choices.
What about you — does being on a diet make you feel more irritated or angry? How do you make healthy food choices without feeling like you’re denying yourself?
Image source: Kreutziana