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Mind Over Matter

How behavior affects the success of dieting

(HealthDayNews) -- Imagine you've been dieting diligently. You get on the scale, and it says you've lost five pounds more than you thought. Then you go to a buffet. Do you continue watching your diet, or do you celebrate and eat as much as you like?

Now try the reverse. You've been good, but the scale says you've gained five pounds. Same buffet: Do you diet, or give up and eat your fill?

The department of psychology at the University of Toronto was actually mean enough to play this mind game with a group of diligent dieters.

As reported in The Journal of Abnormal Psychology, the people who were told they had lost an additional five pounds maintained their self-restraint at the buffet. But those who thought they'd gained five pounds "reported lower self-esteem, less positive moods, and more negative moods." Led to the buffet, they ate as if dieting just didn't matter anymore.

Consumer News