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Impulsive Vs. Compulsive: Do They Impact Weight?

Do you consider yourself an “impulsive” person?.  Here is a definition:  a sudden strong and unreflective urge or desire to act”. Impulsive behaviors are those that are executed without premeditation or advanced thought. We simply act first, and perhaps, think about the consequences of those actions later–usually when it’s too late.   The behavior or action is acting more or less on an instinct.

Here is a good definition of compulsion: “an irresistible urge to behave in a certain way, especially against one’s conscious wishes”.  Compulsive behaviors are those that are done repeatedly to serve a particular purpose, although that purpose may not be directly related to the behavior.  Additionally, the affected person does this behavior even when it comes with undesirable consequences.

Both impulsive and compulsive behaviors often lead to undesirable results.  Focusing on weight control, here is an example of how an impulsive behavior contributes to derailing weight control:  A person has just completed shopping, only placing in the basket the food/drink items that were on a shopping list developed with lots of focus on following the SP Phase dietary plan.  At the checkout aisle, the Milky Way bars are on sale.  The person impulsively grabs two of them to eat after check out and before the car is reached.

Here is an example of how compulsion can negatively impact weight control:  A person has had a very difficult day at work…lots of stress.  The person knows from previous experience that downing several glasses of wine will help ameliorate the feelings of stress.  Compulsively, the person plans to crack open that bottle of wine upon reaching home.

So, the bottom line: To some extent, all people with weight control problems have some elements of both impulsive and compulsive behaviors.  The recognition of just how much these are present will come from introspective analysis of your own behaviors and perhaps getting the opinion of others around you.  Perhaps if there seems to be a pathological level of these behaviors, a professional should be consulted.

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