Since we have such a wide array of delicious snack and meal options right at our fingertips, it’s common for us to indulge in something that we might regret later. Especially during a diet, these moments of weakness can seem like a major setback.
However, recent research offers a fresh perspective on handling these often disappointing situations.
According to a study conducted by researchers at Drexel University, individuals who practice more self-compassion experience improved mood and demonstrate better control over their exercise and eating habits shortly after a “lapse” in diet.
The researchers behind the study suggest that self-compassion– or extending the same kindness to yourself as you might show to loved ones– can be key in encouraging and sustaining healthier weight loss practices. This is because it helps individuals not to feel disheartened by occasional slip-ups.
“Many people worry that self-compassion will cause complacency and lead them to settle for inadequacy, but this study is a great example of how self-compassion can help people be more successful in meeting their goals,” explained Charlotte Hagerman, the study’s lead author.
“The road to achieving difficult goals– especially weight loss– is paved with setbacks. Practicing self-compassion helps people cope with self-defeating thoughts and feelings in response to setbacks so that they are less debilitated by them. In turn, they can more quickly resume pursuing their goals.”
The study gathered data from 140 individuals who were all actively engaged in a weight loss program based on group lifestyle changes. Throughout the study, participants completed several daily surveys on their smartphones.
These surveys asked them to report any deviations from their diet, such as eating more than planned, consuming unintended foods, or eating at unplanned times. They also assessed their level of self-compassion in response to these lapses.
Additionally, the participants answered questions about their mood and the effectiveness of their self-control regarding eating and exercise habits since their last survey.