Cognitive Dietary Restraint


Body image is an individual’s thoughts and feelings about his or her weight, shape, features etc. The pre-occupation with one’s idea of the ‘ideal’ body shape leads individuals to go on dietary restraints. This phenomenon is called cognitive dietary restraint (CDR).

CDR and negative body image is a stressor that results in increased secretion of the stress hormone cortisol. Although cortisol is beneficial during acute stress, its continuous secretion results in chronic stress that literally ‘wears and tears’ the body down. CDR and negative body image also elevates the blood pressure in young healthy adults. This high BP level even in young and healthy is related to future cardio vascular risks. For young women, CDR and the chronic pychosocial stress may also result in ovulatory disturbances.

CDR is also linked to shorter leukocyte telomeres and thus may also relate to accelerated aging of the immune system. Just by noticing the negative self-talk about one’s own body and also by noticing instances of restraints on food, people can slowly manage their CDR and negative body image. It takes time and patience. But the results do show. 

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