KNOW ABOUT HEALTHY AND UNHEALTHY DIETING TECHNIQUES
The use of unhealthy dieting techniques is another story. As expected, women who were using more unhealthy dieting techniques were more depressed and had lower self-esteem. Self functioning. As expected, healthy dieting was not related to self functioning. That is, while healthy dieting behaviours appear to be part of normal life, unhealthy dieting behaviours seem to have a more pathological nature and are related to more unhealthy self functioning (regardless of the woman’s actual weight status). The emphasis on being thin for women in contemporary western culture makes the failure of most diets to bring about weight change incredibly frustrating, and not surprisingly dieting failure causes depression. Given the important role of physical attractiveness in women’s evaluations of their own value it is also likely that women who are feeling anxious or depressed may try riskier and more problematic techniques to lose weight in order to increase their feelings of self-worth.
As predicted, no other associations were found between attachment style and healthy or unhealthy dieting level. While women who are more avoidantly attached also doubt and distrust others, they tend to have quite high levels of self-esteem. The lack of an association between avoidant attachment style and unhealthy dieting level highlights the role of self-doubt in women turning to disordered dieting strategies. This study further implicates the important role that self-esteem plays in the turn towards harmful patterns of eating behaviours. As predicted, women who had more disordered attitudes toward eating and their bodies were more likely to be using disordered dieting techniques. However, also as predicted, women with both low self-esteem and disordered attitudes toward eating and their body were significantly more likely to allow these attitudes to translate into more frequent patterns of disordered dieting. Why are women with low self-esteem at increased risk of turning to pathological eating behaviours? Women focused on their inabilities may be less likely to believe they can reach their weight-loss goal by continuing to use healthy dieting techniques and so may turn to risky and disordered dieting techniques.
An alternative explanation is that women with low self-esteem have a global feeling of low self-worth. Relationship satisfaction. As predicted, given the common use of healthy dieting techniques in weight-loss efforts, relationship satisfaction was not related to healthy dieting levels. However, against predictions, evidence was not found that women in less satisfying relationships (self and partner report) were doing more unhealthy dieting. These results suggest that relationship quality is not related to unhealthy dieting levels. For example, Markey et al. found that women who reported being less satisfied in their relationship were doing more unhealthy dieting and Boyes found that women were doing more unhealthy dieting when their male partners were less satisfied with the relationship. Perhaps in marriages, the relationship context becomes more important over time and motivates women to use unhealthy dieting techniques.