We’ve all experienced cravings before. But some of us seem to struggle harder with them than others, and have a much lower success rate when it comes to handling them in healthy and weight-wise ways. For many people trying to battle with weight gain and control body weight, a fundamental connection between mind and body seems to keep on getting in the way. Researchers set out to understand why some people seem to struggle harder with weight gain than others, and discovered a personality trait that most perpetual weight strugglers seem to possess in common.
Researchers at Florida State University’s College of Medicine joined forces with researchers at the National Institutes of Health. Together, they found that individuals who experience weight gain are more likely to be impulsive and deliberate in their actions. The study incorporated findings from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging and the Baltimore Epidemiologic Catchment Area study, which included 1900 participants. The body weight and personality traits of study participants were analyzed prior to the study, and then looked at again a full decade later.
The researchers found that those whose weight increased by 10 percent also had an increase in the personality traits of impulsiveness and deliberation. For the purpose of the study, impulsiveness was defined as “more likely to give into temptation”, and the deliberation trait described as “more likely to think about what you’re going to do before you do it”.
It’s interesting – and perhaps surprising – that those who are more likely to give in to their food temptations are also more thoughtful about their actions. Angelina Sutin, a psychological scientist and the lead researcher in the study, explained the motivation behind the study: “We know a great deal about how personality traits contribute to weight gain… what we don’t know is whether significant changes in weight are associated with changes in our core personality traits. Weight can be such an emotional issue; we thought that weight gain may lead to long-term changes in psychological functioning.”
If controlling your body weight has been a struggle for you for years, there’s a high chance that you’re forced to battle with cravings on a regular basis. Sutin explains that “the inability to control cravings may reinforce a vicious cycle that weakens the self-control muscle. Yielding to temptation today may reduce the ability to resist cravings tomorrow. Thus, individuals who gain weight may have increased risk for additional weight gain through changes in their personality.”
To help battle impulsiveness and control your body weight, try your best to implement the following tips:
Even if you have an impulsive nature, that certainly doesn’t mean you’re doomed to live a life of weight gain battles. Arm yourself with the tools you need to make better choices. If binge eating is something you struggle with and you can’t get a handle on it, seek the support of a therapist, motivational coach, or registered nutritionist who can guide you in the right direction.