Some psychology around self control

In Random Thoughts, Uncategorized on March 10, 2013 at 4:34 am

I am taking a couple of psych classes at our local community college for fun. Tonight I read some interesting research on self-control. According to Baumeister’s ego depletion model of self-regulation, humans have a limited amount of self-control resources and if you tax these resources you have a harder time exerting self-control in subsequent situations. For example, if I resist a brownie successfully but am then offered some ice cream it is way harder for me to resist the ice cream than it was to resist the brownie. Obviously if I am then offered a cookie my self-control reserves are further depleted and it is more likely that I will “finally” break down and have the cookie. So how can I use this nugget of cognitive knowledge to lose some more pregnancy weight?

Research indicates that humans rely on habits (and what is known as automatic processing) to conserve energy for tasks that require greater cognitive work. So this means that if I make a habit of refusing brownies, cookies and ice cream then this behavior will become nearly unconscious and will not tax my limited cognitive resources for self-control. Super interesting, right?

I think this is why I was so successful when I was on that no sugar, flour, wheat food plan. I didn’t have to self moderate, think about portion sizes, think about what else I had eaten that day or planned to eat (in other words, be practicing mindful, self-regulated eating); I just always said no!

Plus, research shows that having too many choices or decisions to make reduces self-control! The food plan I had been on limited my decision making to what kind of veggie and protein was I having, that’s it. The carbs were oatmeal and brown rice and everything had to be weighed and measured out (4oz of this, 1T of that, etc. )

I am not sure exactly how I plan to incorporate these “nuggets” into my weight loss plan right now; I am still holding out hope that I can self-regulate enough to lose the last thirty-eight pounds and not have to go back on that drastic food plan. In fact, I have big dreams of rediscovering that intuitive part of me that knows when I am hungry, knows when I am full, wants to eat things that make me feel good, etc. I have this love-love vision of the relationship between me and food for my future rather than the love-hate one we currently endure. We shall see…


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