Remorseful For Every Morsel - New Study Looks At The Psychological Complexities Of Food Guilt

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A new study by PsychTests.com indicates that people who feel guilty about their eating habits are more likely to be struggling with a number of other psychological issues.

Food guilt can inflict a great deal of damage, physically and emotionally.

Feeling guilty about what you’ve eaten - and punishing yourself as a result - won’t help you lose weight.

If you’re experiencing weight issues, you have to learn to see food as sustenance, as life-giving, as the path to better health, not as the enemy.

Many people would dismiss a weekend of indulgence as a temporary interlude in their diet and all in good fun. For people with extreme food guilt, however, an indulgence is calamity, a transgression that must be paid for with brow-beating remorse and self-induced punishment. According to research from PsychTests.com, people who experience food guilt are also more likely to be dealing with a number of other issues, including unhealthy eating habits, severe weight loss methods, and a lack of protective psychological traits.

Analyzing data from 3,177 people who took the Diet & Weight Loss Test, researchers at PsychTests examined the personality and behavioral differences of people who experience food guilt and those who don’t. Here’s what their study revealed: (Note: Scores on the factors listed below can range from 0 to 100)

EMOTIONAL OR MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES

Binge Eating Disorder

  • Score for Food Guilt group: 70
  • Score for No Guilt group: 27

Emotional eating

  • Score for Food Guilt group: 60
  • Score for No Guilt group: 30

Tendency to engage in extreme rumination

  • Score for Food Guilt group: 73
  • Score for No Guilt group: 41

Tendency to deal with stress by ignoring it or refusing to face the issue

  • Score for Food Guilt group: 61
  • Score for No Guilt group: 35

Tendency to deal with stress by isolating oneself rather than asking for help

  • Score for Food Guilt group: 66
  • Score for No Guilt group: 43

LACK OF PROTECTIVE PERSONALITY TRAITS

Self-esteem

  • Score for Food Guilt group: 39
  • Score for No Guilt group: 79

Sense of self-efficacy

  • Score for Food Guilt group: 58
  • Score for No Guilt group: 71

Emotional control

  • Score for Food Guilt group: 45
  • Score for No Guilt group: 68

Self-discipline

  • Score for Food Guilt group: 41
  • Score for No Guilt group: 61

Positive mindset

  • Score for Food Guilt group: 58
  • Score for No Guilt group: 73

Proactive attitude

  • Score for Food Guilt group: 53
  • Score for No Guilt group: 64

Belief that health can be improved by positive lifestyle choices (internal locus of control)

  • Score for Food Guilt group: 65
  • Score for No Guilt group: 74

PsychTests' study further reveals that people who experience food guilt are also more likely to engage in unhealthy eating and weight loss practices, including:

  • Using food as a source of comfort (e.g. when feeling sad, guilty, anxious, etc.)
  • Using food as a reward (e.g. for an achievement, for exercising, etc.)
  • “Grazing” (eating small yet frequent meals throughout the day, often mindlessly)
  • Eating large meals late at night
  • Fasting after over-indulging
  • Making themselves vomit
  • Taking herbal weight loss supplements
  • Taking fat-burning or diet pills

“Food guilt, like feeling ashamed about what or how much you eat, engaging in self-deprecation when you over-indulge, and categorizing food as either ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is harmful, both physically and psychologically,” explains Dr. Jerabek, president of PsychTests. “You start to develop a negative relationship with food, and this can, in turn, lead to severe and potentially dangerous compensatory behaviors. If you’re experiencing weight issues, you have to learn to see food as sustenance, as life-giving, as the path to better health, not as the enemy. Rather than seeing food as bad, acknowledge that you simply did not make very good food choices. And if you fall off the wagon and over-indulge, then accept it and strive to do better the next day. Using punishment to encourage good behavior is rarely successful and simply not the way to go.”

Struggling to lose weight? Check out https://testyourself.psychtests.com/testid/3093.

Professional users can request a free demo for this or any other assessments from ARCH Profile’s extensive battery: http://hrtests.archprofile.com/testdrive_gen_1.

To learn more about psychological testing, download this free eBook: http://hrtests.archprofile.com/personality-tests-in-hr.

About PsychTests AIM Inc.
PsychTests AIM Inc. originally appeared on the internet scene in 1996. Since its inception, it has become a pre-eminent provider of psychological assessment products and services to human resource personnel, therapists, academics, researchers and a host of other professionals around the world. PsychTests AIM Inc. staff is comprised of a dedicated team of psychologists, test developers, researchers, statisticians, writers, and artificial intelligence experts (see ARCHProfile.com). The company’s research division, Plumeus Inc., is supported in part by Research and Development Tax Credit awarded by Industry Canada.

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Ilona Jerabek, Ph.D.
Queendom.com
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