On the Today show this morning, they ran an interesting segment called “Is your personality making you fat?” They had experts reveal five different personality types and how each one can potentially sabotage your health and your daily eating habits, which I found insightful, for the most part. As a previous personal trainer, not only have a I seen each of these behaviors, but I know exactly how each one can set someone up to fail with their weight-loss goals. The good news is, there are ways around this–you just need to know your personality type.
One of the main reasons why I love this type of research is because it goes back to the point that we are all different, and there is no one diet that works for everyone. Meaning, just because your friend had great success with Weight Watchers or the Paleo Diet, doesn’t necessarily mean that you will. What I have learned over the years is that it’s important to know our bodies and our minds so we can personalize our weight-loss strategies. And that starts with knowing how we eat, when we eat and why we eat. There are certain triggers and connections between food and our emotions, behaviors and personality.
Here are the top personality types to be aware of. See if you can identify with one or a combination of these:
The Night Owl — This is obviously someone who stays up late and likes to eat during those hours. The problem here is that we tend to be sitting in front of the TV or computer, which means we are probably not aware of what we’re really taking in. On top of that, later at night, we are drawn to unhealthy foods–ones that are higher in calories and carbs (how many times have you been watching Saturday Night Live while eating an apple?). I would always advise clients in this group to make a pact with themselves that they will not eat anything after dinner. So stay up late if you want to, but just stay out of the kitchen.
The Stress Junkie — When we’re stressed (and who isn’t from time to time?), our bodies release a lot of cortisol which makes us crave more carbohydrate-rich foods. If this happens once in a while, it’s probably not a big deal. But for someone who is perpetually stressed-out, this can lead to more fat stored around their mid-section. Fortunately, clients I had who fell into this group had an easy solution: Replace stress-eating with stress-exercising. Think about how you feel after you finish a run–relaxed, right? There is so much research that proves exercise relieves stress; it makes anything we were worried about seem smaller and manageable. And as a bonus, we tend to crave healthier foods after we exercise.
The Mulit-tasker — I once had a client who claimed she was too busy to eat (which is a total excuse). Instead, she would eat in her car, or eat while working on the computer or talking on phone. But you know what? Despite her busy lifestyle, she could never lose weight. That’s because she wasn’t eating mindfully. Like some of these other personality types, not paying attention to what you’re eating or how much you’re eating can wreak havoc on your diet.
The Giver — I worked with so many moms who fell into this category. They believed it was their responsibility to take care of everyone else first and leave themselves as last. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. We all need to prioritize our own health so that we will better be able to care for others. And this includes our nutrition. Figure out a way to eat healthy meals so you’re not constantly emotionally drained and reaching for those fatty comfort foods.
The Perfectionist — One of my clients was so particular about her life that she not only stressed herself out, but she gave herself too little time for eating healthy. She wouldn’t sit down to eat until everything was “done”, and this often meant she wouldn’t sit down to eat at all. I had to repeatedly tell her that the quest to be perfect and have all of her chores, work, emails, etc. done every day is just not realistic, and it can interfere with your health. Don’t wait until things are “perfect” before you can relax and eat.
What’s your personality type and how does it affect your eating habits?