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Psychol Sci. 2009 Oct;20(10):1275-81. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02436.x. Epub 2009 Sep 2.

Consumption after a diet violation: disinhibition or compensation?

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  • 1University of California, Los Angeles, USA.


Previous research, restricted to the laboratory, has found that restrained eaters overeat after they violate their diet. However, there has been no evidence showing that this same process occurs outside the lab. We hypothesized that outside of this artificial setting, restrained eaters would be able to control their eating. In Study 1, 127 participants reported hourly on their diet violations and eating over 2 days. In Study 2, 89 participants tracked their intake for 8 days, and 50 of these participants consumed a milk shake (a diet violation) on Day 7, as part of an ostensibly unrelated study. As hypothesized, dieters did not overeat following violations of their diet in either study. These findings are in contrast with those of previous lab studies and dispel the widely held belief that diet violations lead to overeating in everyday life.

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