Objective: The current study aims to improve understanding of events leading to lapses of dietary restraint, and to identify pathways to perseverance or abandonment of weight loss efforts in response to lapses. In addition, Behaviour Sequence Analysis (BSA) was also evaluated as an analytical tool in dietary behaviour. Design: A sample of 176 adults who were engaging in self-imposed dietary restraint for weight loss were recruited to participate. Main Outcome Measures: Participants were instructed to provide a detailed written timeline of an episode where they lapsed in their dietary restraint plan. They were instructed to report their preceding behaviours and internal states, and social and environmental contexts, leading up to and after their lapse in dietary restraint. Results: Lapses in dietary restraint were precipitated by negative internal states in the presence of cues for highly palatable foods. In addition, abandonment of weight loss efforts after lapsing was preceded by dichotomous thinking, whereas perseverance was preceded by a more neutral, flexible interpretation of the lapse in self-control. Conclusion: BSA has identified that neutral evaluation of inevitable lapses in dietary restraint are predictive of continuation with weight loss efforts, highlighting the importance of individual tolerance of lapses in self-regulation.
- dietary restraint;
- dichotomous thinking