Self-regulation of healthy eating: the role of motivation and approach-avoidance goals




Maillet, Myles A.

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Research on healthy eating motivation has shown that people who are autonomously motivated tend to engage in healthier eating behaviours than people with controlled forms of motivation (Ng et al., 2012; Verstuyf et al., 2012). However, healthy eating requires both trying to eat healthy foods (i.e., approach goals) and trying to avoid unhealthy foods (i.e., avoidance goals), and previous research on the association between motivation and approach-avoidance eating goals is mixed (Harrison et al., 2011; Otis & Pelletier, 2008). In the current study, we explored the relationship between motivation and approach-avoidance goals using a 21-day daily diary design. Our findings indicated that approach goals were more difficult than avoidance goals and that higher relative autonomous motivation was associated with greater approach goal success, but not avoidance goal success. We also investigated the relationship between goal specificity, the temporal scope of approach-avoidance goals, and goal success/failure. Our findings are consistent with previous research on motivation and goal difficulty (Aitken et al., 2016; Green-Demers et al., 1997), but our approach-avoidance goal difficulty findings warrant further investigation.



Self-regulation, Eating, Goals, Health, Approach-Avoidance Motivation, Motivation