No matter how hard some of us try to follow a diet plan, dieting simply does not work. According to researchers at the Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business, this failure may be simply because people include in their diet the foods that they dislike instead of the ones they actually like.

“Our research shows that instead of creating rules to avoid one’s favorite treats, dieters should focus on eating healthy foods that they enjoy,” says Meredith David, an assistant professor of marketing at the university. “Dieters who restrict themselves from consuming the foods they love most may be setting themselves up for failure. Instead, they may be better off by allowing occasional ‘treats’ and focusing attention on healthy foods that they enjoy and making it a point to include those tasty, but healthy foods in their diet.”

The study published in the journal Psychology & Marketing involved recruiting 542 people for three study sessions. The research team asked these participants about what they believe should part of a diet plan.


Dieters should not force themselves into eating healthy foods they don’t like but focus on healthy foods they like. Credit: YoyoWallpapers

The researchers found that a large portion of participants avoided eating certain foods. This is the case for what the researchers call low self-control individuals or people who are more prone to failure at reaching their goals.

These individuals believe that following a diet means eating healthy but undesirable foods. Low self-control individuals also believe that their favorite snacks and other delicious foods are unhealthy foods and should be avoided at all cost.

On the other hand, high self-control individuals were more successful at dieting because they included the healthy foods that they like in their diet. While low self-control individuals described the undesirable food items such as Brussels sprouts as healthy, high self-control individuals were more likely to think of healthy foods as foods that they enjoy eating, like strawberries.

Overall, David reports that success at dieting means inclusion of healthy but well-liked items and exclusion of unhealthy food items that are not palatable. The researchers suggest avoiding the harder path or eating undesirable foods when it comes to dieting when following an easy route is possible.