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Promoting Self–Compassionate Attitudes Toward Eating Among Restrictive and Guilty Eaters

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This study investigated the possibility that inducing a state of self–compassion would attenuate the tendency for restrained eaters to overeat after eating an unhealthy food preload (the disinhibition effect). College women completed measures of two components of rigid restrained eating: restrictive eating (desire and effort to avoid eating unhealthy foods) and eating guilt (tendency to feel guilty after eating unhealthily). Then, participants were asked either to eat an unhealthy food preload or not and were induced to think self–compassionately about their eating or given no intervening treatment. Results showed that the self–compassion induction reduced distress and attenuated eating following the preload among highly restrictive eaters. The findings highlight the importance of specific individual differences in restrained eating and suggest benefits of self–compassionate eating attitudes.