What's Your Eating Personality?*

* Adapted from Intuitive Eating (Tribole & Resch, 2003) (http://astore NULL.amazon NULL.ca/heathehun-20/detail/0312321236)

Identify your eating style and learn to work with it! Read the profiles below and find out what your eating personality is. While some people fit predominantly within one category, it isn’t unusual to see yourself in several of these profiles, particularly at different times in your life.

Are you a Careful Eater? (main trigger: health and fitness)

I am vigilant about everything I put into my bodyI am highly nutrition consciousI always scrutinize food labelsWhen I eat out, I like to find out how the food is prepared and/or ask the cook to modify the dish (no butter, sauce on the side, etc.)I often carefully plan my meals and snacksI worry or get upset if I eat something that isn’t “healthy”I’m careful all week so that I can have a “cheat day”

While there’s nothing wrong with eating for health, being overly diligent can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food. There is a fine line between “careful eating” and dieting.

To manage this style better, avoid scrutinizing every food-related decision, focusing instead on how the food makes you feel, both physically and emotionally. Try increasing the pleasure that food gives you by eating mindfully, relishing the tastes and textures, and being more playful in your food choices.

Are you a Professional Dieter? (main trigger: feeling fat)

I am perpetually dietingI am always the first to try the latest diet or weight loss gimmickWhen feeling fat, I often try to “cut back” or fast to speed up weight lossI know a lot of dieting tricksI could name the calorie content or fat/carb grams of any foodI wake up most days telling myself, “today will be a good day/a new start” in terms of dieting

While having a lot of knowledge about nutritional information can be important, professional dieters focus on eating to lose weight, not for health. Firmly entrenched in the dieting mentality, this eating style often leads to the unhealthy cycle of restricting, deprivation, overeating, and guilt.

To manage this style better, enjoy a healthy range of foods without feeling guilty. Ignore the promise of a “fresh start” with every new diet, focusing instead on developing a healthy life-long relationship with food.

Are you a Chaotic Unconscious Eater? (main trigger: constant busyness)

I live an overscheduled life with too many things to doI don’t have time to cook for myselfI rarely plan my meals ahead of timeI never eat at regular intervals/mealtimesOut of desperation, I often grab vending machine snacks or fast foodI am often so busy putting out fires that I don’t realize I’m hungry until I’m ravenous

Being productive is one of the hallmarks of an accomplished person. But if your hectic schedule is preventing you from taking care of yourself, it may be time to reprioritize.

To manage this style better, plan your meals ahead of time and always leave the house prepared (boxed lunches, snacks for the road). Try to find a way to manage your time better, leaving enough time for rest and relaxation, including eating for health and pleasure.

Are you a Refuse-Not Unconscious Eater (main trigger: presence of food)

If there’s food lying around (candy jars, buffet tables at parties, leftovers on a plate), I have a hard time passing it upI tend to overeat at social gatherings where a lot of food is being servedI am often unaware of how much I’ve eaten until the container of food I’ve been picking at is empty

While the presence of tasty-looking food is tempting for most people, munching away at it without paying attention is a form of unconscious eating. Constant grazing means you’re not present with the food, and will be likely to overeat.

To manage this style better, try to stay aware of how much you’ve eaten by taking a portion and eating it “properly;” i.e., on a plate or napkin, sitting down, and with focused attention.

Are you a Waste-Not Unconscious Eater? (main trigger: free food)

I hate throwing away food, even if it’s starting to go badI love “value” meals, getting the biggest bang for my buck (larger portions for a few cents more, all-you-can-eat buffets)I never leave anything on my plateIt isn’t unusual for me to finish off my spouse’s or kids’ leftovers

While this eating style can help you stretch your dollar and prevent letting things go to waste, there is still a cost to eating food that your body doesn’t want or need.

Try to practice moderation in situations where food is freely available. Learn to tune in to your body’s feelings of satiety and satisfaction to prevent overdoing it. Also realize that you can always come back for more when you are hungry again.

Are you an Emotional Eater? (main trigger: uncomfortable emotions)

I use food to cope with my emotionsI sometimes binge on large quantities of food to deal with stressful situationsI often have intense cravings that seem to come out of nowhereI sometimes use food to “zone out” from the worldI have difficulty expressing my emotions and needs, and food is a comforting substitute

It’s not unusual for all of us to use food for comfort sometimes, but if it becomes a pattern, it may be a symptom of a deeper issue.

While many of the other styles can be managed with a few changes, emotional eating is more difficult to change on one’s own. Therapy can help you explore the reasons for your eating and teach you healthier ways of coping with life. Otherwise, try keeping a list of activities to soothe, distract or help you cope when a stressful situation arises.

To take a more detailed assessment of this style, click here.

Are you an Intuitive Eater? (main trigger: biological hunger)

I make food choices without experiencing guilt or an ethical dilemmaThere are no “good” or “bad” foodsI eat when I’m hungry, and stop when I’m comfortably fullI try to listen to what my body tells me it needsI enjoy a wide variety of foods and take great pleasure from preparing and savouring my food

People who eat intuitively tend to have healthier minds and bodies. The benefits of this eating style include less stress around food, and making more nourishing choices overall, a healthier body image, and lower rates of diet-related health problems.

We are all born knowing how to listen to our body`s inner wisdom. Some of us lose our way, but there is an intuitive eater within us all. To learn more about how to reap the benefits of eating intuitively, go to Services.

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