Research by Furman, Celina; Kross, Ethan;& Gearhardt, Ashley (2020). Distanced Self-Talk Enhances Goal Pursuit to Eat Healthier. Clinical Psychological Science,8(2), 366–373. https://doi.org/10.1177/2167702619896366
Written by Robin N. Fatovic M.S.
Have you ever started a diet, but struggled to stay motivated or dedicated to it?
Psychology researchers hypothesized that what we tell ourselves impacts our self-control when dieting. First, they separated 240 participants into two groups. Each received instructions to speak to themselves in the first or third person. For example, someone in the first-person group would say “What do I want to eat?” whereas a person in the “distanced,” or third person group would say,“What doesRobinwant to eat?” Next, half of each group watched a 2-minute health-related film encouraging goals while others watched a film on home improvement.
Results? Participants decreased their unhealthy food choices if they just watched the health-related video or used distancing self-talk. Participants had the most benefit by creating goals from the health-related film plus using the “distancing” method.
So, the best combination is to have specific health goals and speak to yourself in the third person when deciding what to eat. This strategy likely will encourage better self-control as it may create a bigger separation between your emotions and eating. Create a goal for better health. Live up to your goals with your distanced self-talk!