The study, How does thinking in Black and White terms relate to eating behavior and weight regain? explored what the authors referred to as "dichotomous" thinking and whether or not it had an association with weight regain.
Dichotomous thinking is commonplace in weight management. It encompasses the notions of "good" and "bad" foods, cheat days, forbidden foods, and for many, adhering to its rules is the cornerstone of their efforts. Dichotomous thinkers are the all-or-nothing'ers, the perfectionists, and they are legion.
By way of a survey, researchers explored scores of the validated Dichotomous Thinking in Eating Disorders Scale (DTEDS) and their correlations with weight regain among 241 Dutch respondents. They found that for each 1 unit increase in DTEDS, there was a 142.4 percent increase in the odds of regaining weight compared to maintaining it. When controlled for BMI, those odds decreased and became less exciting but in a sense, in their place, came the finding that for each 1 unit increase in BMI, there was an increase in DTEDS by 0.043 - meaning weight itself seemed to associate with dichotomous thinking.
What does this all mean? Well, food serves as both comfort and celebration and perhaps, not respecting those roles leads people to undertake strict and traumatic diets replete with dichotomous thoughts which in turn may well be a formative driver of a lifetime of yo-yo dieting and higher weights.
Life is a rich tapestry of colours and not just black and white. Ditch the dichotomies and embrace imperfection.