About Fogdog's Weight Loss

Don't Focus on the Goal...

If you've followed this blog you know that I've struggled for many years with improving my health. I've finally reached a point where I've managed to maintain a small amount of success. Now it's time to take the next step, but I believe it requires a new way of thinking.

Instead of trying to get healthy, why not shift focus toward learning how to build healthy habits instead. Follow me as I try to teach myself how to Engineer healthy habits that will allow me to take my health to the next level. Let's see where this experiment goes!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Your Eating Personality

In order to lose weight you have to get a solid understanding of who you are and how you got to be overweight in the first place. Only then can you learn to recognize the “triggers” for your overeating. Below are a few personalities of overeaters and some of the mechanisms that trigger the behavior. The groups are not meant to be exclusive to each other; you may find you fit in several. However, there will probably be one that describes you better than the others:

The Closet Eater
To anyone who knows the closet eater casually, it’s hard to understand why they are overweight in the first place. Usually this person is seen eating relatively healthy, eating small amounts of healthy fare whenever in the public eye. But once at home they binge on anything and everything they have in their cupboards. Typically the closet eater doesn’t care to go out to restaurants; he/she prefers to get take-out and bring it to the confines of their home. Their addiction is well hidden from the rest of the world and they take great strides to hide it from others. If you’ve ever gone to a fast food drive through, ordered a ton of food, and then ordered extra drinks just so the cashier doesn’t know it’s all for you then you might be a closet eater.

Because they don’t overeat in public they can rationalize that their eating is not really a problem. Often closet eaters are single making it easier to hide their overeating, but it’s not a requirement. There are plenty of closet eaters out there who hide it from everyone including their spouse and children.

What triggers the closet eater to eat is the feeling of reaching their safe zone. They’ve fooled the world again and now can reward themselves with a gallon of ice cream.

The Social Eater
Everyone knows the social eater; they are usually the loudest, funniest, and largest person at every get-together. All plans by the social eater require food in some way; Movies require dinner beforehand; Work meetings should include lunch; Getting together with friends needs to be at the local bar and grill. Social eaters don’t hide from being overweight and some actually wear it like a badge of courage.

Social eaters rationalize that they don’t have a problem because they are happy all the time. Most people think the social eater has a very happy and fulfilling life, but that’s not really the case. Often the social eater puts on the happy, “life of the party” face in order to hide the fact that they are really unhappy about their weight.

The trigger for a closet eater is any gathering of people where food is involved

The Emotional Eater
Emotions can trigger overeating in all the personality types, but the emotional overeater’s entire diet is based on how he/she is feeling at the time. If depressed or sad, the emotional eater will eat comfort foods. If stressed or angry they will eat crunchy foods. How they feel directly determines what and how much they eat.

Emotional eaters rationalize their eating by treating it as a form of therapy. If it changes their mood, then it’s worth the few extra pounds. Unfortunately the mood change is usually short-lived and they end up in a cycle of feeling bad and eating to get out of it.

The obvious trigger for the emotional eater is any event that causes unwanted emotions.

The Constant Eater
The constant eater never stops eating. Their days consist of a never-ending routine of trips to the vending machine and stops at the convenience store. Anytime there is an opportunity to get a snack, they are going to get it. If someone brings cookies to work, they’ve got to try them. If they pass the local Starbucks, it’s time for a coffee. If the constant eater goes to a party, they usually just hang at the food table and snack as others pass by.

Constant eaters rationalize their eating because they never eat a lot at any one time. They know their weight is a problem but often they understand why because their regular meals really aren’t that bad. The snacking becomes unconscious and they often don’t realize how much they take in each day.

The trigger for constant eaters is any opportunity that presents itself for a snack whether it’s walking by a vending machine, working at a restaurant, or stopping at a gas station.

The Binge Eater
Opposite the constant eater is the binge eater. The binge eater doesn’t eat vast quantities of food for most of the time, but then has episodes when extremely large quantities of food are consumed all at once. The idea of a proper diet for the binge eater is to deny any of his/her favorites and eat as little as possible. The strategy fails, and ultimately the will power of the binge eater wanes and it’s off to the races eating anything in sight.

Binge eaters rationalize the binge by saying they’ve been good for a while and they deserve a break. Unfortunately once that break begins, it turns into something more than just a little indulgence.

The trigger for binge eating often is stress or depression

The Subconscious Eater
The last personality is the Subconscious Eater. This person eats heavily all the time and doesn’t even realize he/she has eaten too much until it is too late. Often subconscious eaters come from families with a history of unhealthy eating. It’s part of their culture so it isn’t even considered. The subconscious eater eats with his/her eyes, often selecting the largest quantities of food and shoveling it in without even taking the time to taste it.

The subconscious eater doesn’t rationalize the behavior because it is perfectly normal for him/her and there really isn’t any trigger as the subconscious eater generally eats this way most of the time.

So what’s your eating personality? As I said before, you may fit more than one of these categories, but one probably describes you better than the others. For me, I’m a subconscious eater with some tendencies toward binge eating. Knowing and understanding your eating personality is a big step toward correcting the behavior. By understanding the triggers you can learn to recognize them when they show up and that can help you to do better. You won’t get it right every time, but as time goes by and you get better and better at correcting your behavior, your habits will change and you will be the healthier for it. Good Luck.

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