, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 245-277

Why Do You Regulate What You Eat? Relationships Between Forms of Regulation, Eating Behaviors, Sustained Dietary Behavior Change, and Psychological Adjustment

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Abstract

In 3 studies, the authors examined how autonomous and controlled forms of motivation for the regulation of eating behaviors were related to self-reported eating behaviors, and sustained dietary behavior change. Studies 1 and 2 supported the factorial structure and the psychometric properties of a scale designed to measure different forms of regulation as defined by Self-Determination Theory. A motivational model of the regulation of eating behaviors suggested that an autonomous regulation was positively associated with healthy eating behaviors whereas a controlled regulation was positively associated with dysfunctional eating behaviors and negatively associated with healthy eating behaviors. In Study 3, long-term adherence to healthier dietary behaviors in a population at risk for coronary artery disease was examined over a 26-week period. A general measure of self-determined motivation assessed at week 1 was found to be a reliable predictor of the level of self-determination for eating behaviors 13 weeks later. In turn, self-determination for eating behaviors was a significant predictor of dietary behavior changes at 26 weeks. Finally, the dietary behavior measures were related to improvements in weight and blood lipid parameters (LDL-cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol, triglycerides). Results are discussed in terms of their implication for the integration and maintenance of a successful healthy regulation.