People who are trying to lose weight often banish tempting foods from their kitchen but a new study suggests that keeping some sweet treats around might be a good way to build willpower.
In this new report from the Journal of Consumer Research, scientists recruited female college students for a series of food experiments.
In each study, the women were told that a candy manufacturer was doing consumer research, which involved showing them pictures of the candies -- a food temptation - they could not immediately, akin to seeing an ad for candy.
Some of the women were also presented with a bowl of the candy and were told not to eat any - an accessible temptation they had to resist.
Soon afterward, the study volunteers were confronted with yet another temptation - a bowl of M&Ms.
Women who'd already been tempted by the forbidden candy were more likely than those who'd merely seen pictures of that candy to exercise self-restraint around the M&Ms.
Nutrition researchers say challenging yourself to resist temptation may be more effective than banning all sweets and snack foods from the house.
Avoiding food temptations by banishing forbidden foods means you never have to deal with self-control.
This means that when food temptations arise - as they inevitably do - a person who is on a diet might not have the willpower to resist.
"In other words, we believe that self-control can be trained," say researchers.
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