Have problems sticking to your diet? Blame your memory

London: Your memory is to be blamed if you find it difficult sticking to a diet no matter how much you want, researchers say.

In the new study, researchers have linked a set of traits, including a form of memory, to how well slimmer people stick to their intentions.

Those who fall down on the traits, known collectively as executive function, are more likely to give into temptation.

Executive function is an individual’s ability to weigh up options, prioritise, multi-task and plan ahead. It also includes prospective memory - the form of recall that we need to carry out plans.

People with poor prospective memory forget to do things planned for the near future like locking the door, meeting a friend or posting a letter.

In the case of dieters, it could simply lead to them forgetting that they are on a diet.

“Prospective memory keeps you on track. Every time you are offered something to eat, you have to bring to mind that you are on a diet,” the Daily Mail quoted researcher Julia Allan, a health psychologist, as saying.

A series of studies carried out at Aberdeen University showed the importance of executive function to adhering to healthy eating resolutions.

For instance, when volunteers regularly wrote down what they ate over a three day period, those shown in tests to have poor executive function ate less fruit and vegetables and more sugary snacks than they’d intended.

And when dieters were given the option to tuck into chocolate, those with poor executive function was more likely to give into temptation.

“A person with less efficient executive function is less likely to resist temptation and stick with what they had planned on any given day, than someone with excellent executive function,” Dr Allan said.

The findings of the study were presented at the British Science Festival in Aberdeen.