Too much of a good thing? Overexertion of self-control and dietary adherence in individuals with Type 2 diabetes

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The resource model of self-control posits that self-control is a finite resource that can be depleted. Individuals with diabetes must continually restrict their diet, requiring self-control. As a result, dietary adherence is difficult, and lapses are common. People with diabetes who overexert self-control following a lapse may be especially likely to experience a subsequent relapse, as suggested by the resource model. This investigation used the resource model of self-control to test whether overexertion of dietary self-control following a lapse would be predictive of a subsequent relapse in dietary control.


We tested this prediction in a daily diary study of 128 individuals with diabetes (Mage = 66.12).


Participants' reports of their daily dietary adherence were used to define lapses in adherence, post-lapse adherence, and relapses.


Individuals who overexerted self-control after a lapse were more likely to experience a subsequent relapse (OR = 3.276, p = .016) and to do so sooner (HR = 2.12, p = .023).


People with diabetes may seek to compensate for a lapse in adherence by overexerting self-control, but doing so may deplete their self-control and increase the risk of a future relapse.

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