How good is your partner? Diet to find out

March 26th, 2008 - 2:02 pm ICT by admin  

Toronto, March 26 (IANS) How your partner reacts when you go on a diet provides a clue to the state of your relationship, says a new study. Partners display a range of reactions to a diet - from support to open hostility, from joining in to deliberately eating forbidden food - that reflect the general dynamics of the relationship.

Findings of the study, by researchers at Ryerson University, Toronto, have been published in the latest issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behaviour.

Researchers, led by Judy Paisley, conducted interviews with 21 people making dietary changes - most in response to a medical diagnosis - and with their partners or significant others.

“By examining the perspectives of significant others, we hoped to deepen understanding of the social nature of dietary change,” Paisley said.

In most cases, partners said they played a positive, supportive role. Some facilitated the change by joining in the new diet, or by changing their shopping or cooking habits. Others helped by monitoring the dietary change, or providing motivation.

“Significant others who demonstrated strong support for their partner’s dietary change typically described their relationship as very supportive and often saw their direct participation in the change as a natural extension of their relationship.”

However, in some cases, the person trying to make a change felt their partner had a negative impact on their efforts - for example, by eating forbidden foods in front of them.

Interestingly, in these cases, the significant others did not view their response as negative.

Most studies of the role of social support on dietary behaviour have focussed on the perspective of the person attempting to make a change.

The researchers hope that their study will aid in developing ways of promoting dietary modifications as a shared activity.

“Although most significant others described their response as cooperative and supportive, the responses varied widely in terms of the impact that their support may have had on changers’ experiences,” noted Paisley.

“For example, indirect indications of support like not complaining about dietary changes may have been less meaningful to changers than direct support offered through positive reinforcement and encouragement.”

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