Eating-related thought suppression in high and low disinhibitors




This study examined the effects of the attempts by high and low disinhibitors to suppress thoughts about food and eating.


Seventy-seven females who differed in level of disinhibition were asked to monitor their thoughts about food and eating for three 5-min periods. Participants were administered either a suppression or a nonsuppression instruction relating to thoughts about food and eating. The number of food-related thoughts were recorded. Self-report ratings of anxiety, distress, perceived frequency of thoughts, control over thoughts, and strategies used to control thoughts were also obtained.


Low disinhibitors who were instructed to suppress had more food-related thoughts than high disinhibitors who were instructed to suppress. The reverse was true in the nonsuppression condition. High disinhibitors reported higher levels of anxiety and distress. Furthermore, high disinhibitors had less difficulty controlling their thoughts than low disinhibitors when asked to suppress, whereas the reverse was true when they did not receive suppression instructions. Thought control strategies were found to correlate significantly with anxiety ratings, self-reported frequency of intrusions, actual number of thought intrusions, and distress.


High disinhibitors are able to successfully suppress their thoughts about food and eating, at least across relatively short periods of time. However, there appears to be associated negative consequences. © 2001 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 30: 329–337, 2001.