Testing whether alternative goals of multifinal means are considered helpful in working towards a primary dietary goal in college students
Multiple health-related benefits have been associated with adherence to plant-based diets, including vegan, vegetarian, and pescatarian dietary patterns. Despite a consistent body of evidence on the importance of healthy diets, Americans continue to find difficulty in establishing and adhering to dietary goals that could elicit long-term health benefits. Recent research suggests an important role for goal-setting strategies in health behavior change attempts, with some success shown in dietary behavior change, specifically. The current study thus aimed to explore whether having multiple goals alongside one primary goal of following a vegetarian, vegan, or pescatarian diet would increase the achievability of that goal. Participants of this study were broken into two groups: currently following a plant-based diet (ADHERE) and striving to follow a plant-based diet (STRIVE). Researchers hypothesized that the number of health and/or diet related alternative goals set by participants would differ between the two groups, that the ADHERE group would report that their alternative goals were more helpful and less interfering in achieving their dietary goal than the STRIVE group, and that a higher rank of importance of the dietary goal would predict being in the ADHERE group. Results showed that the number of health and/or diet related alternative goals did not differ between groups. The ADHERE group and STRIVE group did not have significantly different helpfulness and interference reports. Although, in an exploratory analysis, it was shown that those participants who reported at least 2 health/diet related alternative goals found those goals to be significantly more helpful than those who reported 0 or 1 health/diet goal. Results showed that rank of dietary goal did not predict group assignment. Overall, the results from this study showed that the type of alternative goal was very important when pursuit of multiple goals was in effect. Type of alternative goal seemed to be a higher predictor of the perceived helpfulness of the alternative goals than previous achievement of goals.