Contributed by Michelle Myers
Eating personality? You've probably taken a dozen personality tests in your life - Myers Briggs Inventory, The Big Five, The Four Temperaments, etc. People often use the results from these tests to help make critical decisions such as career choice, interpersonal communication issues and intrapersonal struggles.
But have you ever thought about uncovering your eating personality ? Understanding your relationship with food is critical to breaking out of the diet dungeon you may be knowingly or unknowingly incarcerated in.
Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch have identified four eating personalities in their book Intuitive Eating : A Revolutionary Program that Works: the careful eater, the professional dieter, the unconscious eater and the intuitive eater.
We are born all born intuitive eaters, and life experience can cause our eating personalities to vary to one of the other three personalities. None of these other eating personalities are better or worse that the other. However, it can be problematic if you find yourself constantly existing within a single eating personality division other than intuitive eating.
The careful eater rarely eats anything without a thorough examination of the nutrition label first. Painfully prolonged grocery store trips, waiter interrogation at restaurants and specialized orders are inevitable. Careful eaters systematically plan each meal and do not handle their meal plans getting disrupted well. While these characteristics can be seen in a health-conscious person, careful eaters may tend to make eating decisions based on body image rather than overall well-being.
The professional dieter is always on some sort of diet. They are well-versed in portion control and calorie counting , and perhaps even macronutrient counting, knowing amounts of carbohydrates and fat grams. Unlike careful eaters, professional dieters make it known that every food choice they make is based on weight loss. These eaters can also experience the yo-yo effect of dieting and losing weight to eventually trailing off and gaining weight...only to go on to the next diet. Undereating usually results in overeating, so it's not only an ineffective weight loss plan in the long run, but professional dieters are typically not very healthy.
The unconscious eater exists in four forms: the chaotic unconscious eater, the refuse-not unconscious eater, the waste-not unconscious eater and the emotional unconscious eater.
* Chaotic Unconscious Eater: Maybe due to an overly busy schedule or refusal to plan, this person is constantly making eating decisions based on what is available, whether fast food, vending machine or leftover snacks in the office break room. They tend to go long period of time without eating, so they are ravenous when they finally decide to eat.
* Refuse-Not Unconscious Eater: These eaters live a grazing lifestyle, simply not refusing food whenever it's available. They may grab a handful of M&Ms unknowingly from the candy jar each time they walk past the office desk. Hunger doesn't matter. If food is there, they will eat. * Waste-Not Unconscious Eater: Fast Food Dollar Menus and buffets were created with this type of eater in mind. Desiring to eat the most they can for the least amount of money is the biggest concern for this eating personality. Fear of discarding food, even when full, will drive this eater to all of the food served.
* Emotional Unconscious Eater: These eaters turn to food for comfort. Whether stressed or hurt, happy or excited, food seems to be the only reward or punishment that will satisfy.
Last, meet the intuitive eaters. This type of eater listens to internal hunger cues. When hungry, they eat whatever they choose without guilt or debate. It's that simple.
In today's diet-crazed world, remembering how to have an eating personality that you might have lost somewhere as early as elementary school can seem impossible. However, the statistics show that if we returned to a lifestyle of balance and moderation, we may discover our bodies are smarter than we give them credit for. After all, what do we have to show for our diet-conscious American society?
Contact us with any questions about eating and behavioral health issues. You or someone you know may be in need of outpatient or residential eating disorder treatment.
Jennifer Pereira LPC, RD - Therapist & Dietitian
1. Do you worry that you have lost control over how much you eat?
2. Do you make yourself sick (or use laxatives/exercise) if you feel uncomfortably full?
3. Do you currently suffer with or suffered in the past with eating issues?
4. Do you ever eat in secret?
5. Does your weight affect how you feel about yourself?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, or if you are not satisfied with your current eating patterns, contact us for more information.