According to US clinical neuroscientist Dr Daniel Amen, our friendship with food is directly related to our personality traits and genetic make-up. Dr Amen claims that by becoming more aware of the link between how we behave and how we think about food, we can control cravings, banish binges and work out how best to lose kilograms.
“Your personality, biology, environment and experiences affect how you relate to food,” says clinical psychologist Karen Nimmo. “Knowing who you are in relation to food helps you identify vulnerabilities and triggers essential for managing your weight.”
Identify which personality type best describes you, and it could help you get a handle on unhealthy habits...
You are...EMOTIONALFriends describe you as: fun to be around, anxious, enthusiastic and self-conscious.
Your food attitude: You use food to celebrate. You’re the first to bake a kitchen full of treats for your friends’ birthdays and baby showers, and you can’t think of a better indulgence than a night out at a five-star restaurant. But those kilojoules are also a bit of a crutch. “Eating is a coping mechanism – you believe it will make you feel better when you’re low, but it’s short-term, and then comes guilt,” says Lisa Renn, spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia.
How to take control: The next time you’re feeling a bit stressed out, rather than heading to the freezer for the family-sized tub of ice-cream, try a mood-boosting alternative that will last longer than the sugar high, such as talking things over with a friend, or exercising. “You need structure around eating – without it you run the risk of going into a yo-yo cycle,” warns Nimmo. If you do want to shed some kilograms, seek encouragement and help from programs that feature support groups, such as Weight Watchers.
You are...IMPULSIVEFriends describe you as: a goodtime girl, lacking self-control, bad at focusing and spontaneous.
Your food attitude: Your fun-loving nature means you happily indulge your cravings, but you aren’t always good at self-monitoring and often eat out of boredom. Psychology professor Tracey Wade, of Adelaide’s Flinders University, says in extreme cases you “don’t believe you can deal with unpleasant stuff, so focus on something you feel you can control: weight. If you feel you’re not achieving in other areas, your weight can become a marker of success.”
How to take control: Ensure your environment is filled with healthy snacks rather than foods that can trigger bad habits - choose hummus and crunchy vegies instead of chips and cookies. And teach yourself to think of food as nourishment, rather than a reward or the enemy. If you need extra help, you'll respond best to clear boundaries that an Accredited Practising Dietician can set for you. Visit the Dietician's Association of Australia at www.daa.asn.au.
You are...COMPULSIVEFriends describe you as: thoughtful, a perfectionist, prone to obsessions and compassionate.
Your food attitude: You love the ritual of eating and take so much pride in preparing meals that your family and friends get excited about what delights you’ll dish up. But if things aren’t going well, your best frenemy is your scales and you can become hooked on studying food labels, controlling portion sizes and counting kilojoules. “You can let your beliefs around food govern your life,” explains Nimmo.
How to take control: Avoid the type of eating plans that focus on one major food group, such as high-protein diets, because they’ll only increase your obsessive nature. It’s important that you consider a holistic approach when it comes to food. Feel that you need some extra motivation? Consider using the services of a personal trainer, so you can focus on overall fitness and health rather than obsessing solely about your weight.
You are...DISCIPLINEDFriends describe you as: judgemental, pragmatic, confident and happy in your skin.
Your food attitude: Although you can still be body-conscious, you don’t tend to eat unless you’re hungry, are able to leave food on the plate and can have tiramisu in the fridge without getting up at midnight to devour it. “But you need to remind yourself that not everyone is as emotionally stable around food as you are,” points out Nimmo. “Your relaxed approach can make others feel more insecure.”How to take control: Be aware of others and refrain from handing out treats while saying things like, “One won’t hurt.” When it comes to your own diet, food plans that involve limiting unhealthy choices and reducing portion sizes will result in greatest success if you want to shift a few stubborn kilos or boost healthy eating habits.