A new analysis of 50 studies has found that thinking before eating may actually undermine people’s dieting goals.
Jessie De Witt Huberts of Utrecht University says that we are expert rationalizers when it comes to finding a reason to eat more.
He said that people seem to be very creative in coming up with such reasons, asserting that they can justify having the cake on account that it has been a hard day, or that they will exercise tomorrow, that it is a special occasion, or that it is impolite to refuse.
Huberts said that this is when justification processes become a slippery slope – as the reasons are often applied ad hoc, they no longer form strict rules that regulate when you stick to your diet and when you can cut yourself some slack.
A growing body of research has found that such justification can even come from performing well on a task or from doing good for others. In several studies, people who received positive feedback on a task were more likely to choose an unhealthy versus a healthy option.