Examining women's perceptions of their mother's and romantic partner's interpersonal styles for a better understanding of their eating regulation and intuitive eating

Appetite. 2015 Sep:92:156-66. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2015.05.020. Epub 2015 May 22.


Intuitive eating is a positive approach to weight and eating management characterized by a strong reliance on internal physiological hunger and satiety cues rather than emotional and external cues (e.g., Tylka, 2006). Using a Self-Determination Theory framework (Deci & Ryan, 1985), the main purpose of this research was to examine the role played by both the mother and the romantic partner in predicting women's intuitive eating. Participants were 272 women (mean age: 29.9 years) currently involved in a heterosexual romantic relationship. Mothers and romantic partners were both found to have a role to play in predicting women's intuitive eating via their influence on women's motivation for regulating eating behaviors. Specifically, both the mother's and partner's controlling styles were found to predict women's controlled eating regulation, which was negatively related to their intuitive eating. In addition, autonomy support from the partner (but not from the mother) was found to positively predict intuitive eating, and this relationship was mediated by women's more autonomous regulation toward eating. These results were uncovered while controlling for women's body mass index, which is likely to affect women's eating attitudes and behaviors. Overall, these results attest to the importance of considering women's social environment (i.e., mother and romantic partner) for a better understanding of their eating regulation and ability to eat intuitively.

Keywords: Autonomy support; Controlling interpersonal style; Eating regulation; Intuitive eating; Self-Determination Theory.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Diet* / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Intuition
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Mothers
  • Motivation
  • Nutrition Policy*
  • Overweight / etiology
  • Overweight / prevention & control*
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Quebec
  • Sexual Partners
  • Social Perception
  • Social Support
  • Young Adult