Think Yourself Thin: Hopeful Thoughts Help Dieters’ Self Control

Are you an emotional eater?  Do you feel that your mood directly affects your self control?  Do you crave high fat, salty, unhealthy foods when you are at your emotionally lowest points?  Emotional eating can sabotage any weight loss goals creating a vicious cycle of eating to feel better, feeling bad about eating, and then eating even more.  According to a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, there is help for the emotional eater, and in a matter of speaking, it’s all summed up into one word: “hope.”

The study found a relationship between positive emotions and self control.  They also found that combining positive emotions with a focus on the future helps to increase our self control.  A series of studies focusing on three emotions, hope, happiness, and pride was done.  These emotions are considered positive emotions.  The difference among these emotions is their focus.  Hope focuses on the future, where as happiness and pride focus on the present and/or past.  By positively focusing on the future, hopefulness can increase self control since it is an anticipatory emotion.  This means that hope brings up feelings of uncertainty with possibilities to achieve future goals.  Recalling a happy experience from the past results in indulgent choices, and focusing on pride, or your abilities and achievements, may lead to feeling worthy or deserving of present indulgences.  Both of these lead to decrease in self control.

So what’s the bottom line here? Well basically, there’s hope! Those feelings of possibility, thinking positively about achieving something in the future was the greatest deterrent to indulging in unhealthy snacks and food. For the emotional eater, there is a possibility to take control of your emotions.  This will help control your intake and thus maintain or achieve weight loss goals.  Keep focusing on your weight loss goal and remain hopeful that you can achieve it — and future success is waiting for you.

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