You don’t have to go on a full-fledged diet to change your eating habits. Some restraint — eating a little of this, skipping a little of that — can help you cut back on the calories.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota studied nearly 100 female college students. Some were overweight and on a diet. Others were neither overweight nor dieting, but they had scored high on a psychological test that measured their ability to stop eating when they wanted to.
They were all monitored during lunch to see how many calories they consumed. Ironically, the women who thought they were dieting ended up eating more calories than the non-dieters who showed restraint.
A little restraint also helps after you’ve lost weight. Self-restrained people regained fewer pounds after successfully losing weight, says another team of researchers. They asked a group of 98 men and 207 women to complete a Restrained Eating Questionnaire at the beginning of their diet.
Two-and-a-half years later, researchers retested them and found that nearly 75 percent of those who had scored high in restraint the first time around still did, while 25 percent did not. Those whose restraint scores remained high had regained less weight than those whose restraint had dropped.