What's Your Eating Personality?

What’s your eating personality?

Are you a Careful Planner, Unconscious Eater or Professional Dieter?  

Perhaps you’ve been all of these at some point. This isn’t unusual as your eating patterns can shift depending upon what’s going on in your life.

If you’d like to return to the Intuitive Eater you came into this world as, it’s helpful to understand what your predominant eating style is.

The Unconscious Eater
Let’s take a look at the Unconscious Eater. This eating style is rooted in a lack of attention, awareness and attunement, and can take many different forms. Following are three ways it has shown up in my life. 

1/ Refuse-Not Unconscious Eater
When I worked in the corporate world, I’d mindlessly eat whatever food came into the office whether it was pizza a sales rep brought for a lunchtime presentation, mini-chocolate bars from the candy jar, leftover cookies from an afternoon meeting, or bagels that had been sitting in the kitchen for eight hours.

While there’s nothing wrong with eating any of these foods, I rarely ate them because I was hungry or truly wanted them. Instead, I was vulnerable to their mere presence, not attuned to my body’s needs, and unable to refuse free food.

This behavior showed up outside the office as well, whether it was with party fare, holiday food gifts or grocery store samples.

2/ Distracted Unconscious Eater
I used to be embarrassed if anyone used my computer because of the crumb-covered keyboard and sticky keys. If this sounds like your computer, it’s a sure sign you’re a distracted diner, too.

A Distracted Unconscious Eater typically eats while multitasking whether it’s responding to emails, scrolling through social media, driving to work or texting with friends.

Perhaps you feel there’s no time to stop and just eat, or that it’s more productive to be doing another activity while eating, or that just eating is boring.

I’m definitely not saying you should never enjoy a movie while eating popcorn or takeout! However, if you regularly eat while distracted, you’re likely to derive less pleasure and satisfaction from your food and more likely to overeat.

3/ Waste-Not Unconscious Eater
I grew up in a Clean Your Plate Club and continue to struggle sometimes with this hardwired habit.

The fact that someone would actually choose to leave food on his or her plate or throw away perfectly good food can still astound me today despite all the work I’ve done with identifying my attunement disruptors.

If you’re a Waste-Not Unconscious Eater, you believe it’s better to finish something even if you’re full rather than toss it or save the last few bites. If you’re a parent or partner, you likely clean the remaining food off your children’s or partner’s plates, too.

The challenge with this eating personality is that you prioritize the value of food over your body, which can lead to chronic overconsumption and subsequent discomfort.

Understanding Your Eating Personality
There are other types of Unconscious Eaters, such as the Chaotic Unconscious Eater and the Emotional Unconscious Eater, that you might relate to more strongly.

Having a better understanding of your eating personality, whether it's an Unconscious Eater or Professional Dieter, can be very insightful and helpful as you work toward shedding the beliefs and behaviors that disconnect you from your body’s wisdom, cues and needs.


Source: These eating personalities were created by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, the originators of Intuitive Eating and authors of Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works.

What to Do When Someone is Policing Your Eating

Do you ever feel like you’re being patrolled by the food police, whether it’s a family member, partner, friend or co-worker?

Food policing sounds something like:

  • Should you really be eating that?

  • Gosh, you're eating again?

  • Do you really need more?

  • You sure can put it away!

  • Don’t you know how bad that is for you?

  • Wow! You must really be hungry!

  • Once on your lips, forever on your hips.

  • Are you really going to eat all of that?

  • Looks like you'll need to hit the gym tomorrow.

  • Someone's being naughty!

If you’ve ever been the victim of food policing (like my brownie shaming and dinner party incidents), you know it’s never helpful. More often than not, it leaves you feeling humiliated, guilty, ashamed, angry, resentful or rebellious—or all of the above!

Regardless of the food cop’s intentions, you have the right to eat whatever you want—whenever, wherever and however you want it—without having someone negatively comment on, criticize, judge or question your choices.

Set Your Boundaries
When the food police show up, it’s important to stand up for yourself by setting and protecting your boundaries. How you do so will naturally depend on the comment, the commenter and the situation, however, here are some responses to consider.

  • I know you mean well, but your comments are not helpful.

  • What I eat is truly none of your business.

  • I trust myself to give my body what it needs and not be influenced by other people’s views.

  • Please don’t make comments about my eating.

  • Yes, I am going to eat it and I won’t stand for being shamed about it.

  • What led you to think I want you to police my eating? Please don't do it again.

  • You mind your own plate and I'll mind mine.

  • You’re out of line. It’s absolutely not okay to comment on my food choices.

  • Yes, and I'm going to savor every single bite.

  • Say nothing, blow the food cop a kiss, then walk away to enjoy your food in peace.

Guilty of Food Policing?
Perhaps you’re guilty of policing other people’s food choices. I'm sorry to say I’ve done it myself in the past and have worked hard to change my ways.

Not only is it important to set your own boundaries, it’s equally important to respect other people’s boundaries, too.

If you catch yourself stepping into the role of the food police, hit the brakes. Should a comment slip out, immediately apologize.

Remembering how it feels to be on the receiving end of an unsolicited food comment will help you think twice before you open your mouth.

Your Internal Food Police
In addition to external food police, many of us struggle with internal food police. These are the voices in your head that tell you that you’re “good” or “bad” based on what or how you ate.

Your food police try to enforce the unreasonable rules diet culture has created, and make you feel guilty and ashamed about your food choices.

In order to make peace with food, you must fire your internal food police by challenging your beliefs and rules and removing any moralism and judgment surrounding food. Doing so is a critical step toward reclaiming the Intuitive Eater within you.

 

I Was So Bad Yesterday, I Ate Too Much...

How often have you thought or said something like the following?

"I was so bad yesterday, I ate way too much…"

"I was a good girl today, I didn’t eat any..."

"This food is one of my guilty pleasures."

"Oh my gosh, this is sinfully delicious..."

"This has only X calories, so I can eat it guilt-free."

If you can relate to any of these, you’re not alone.

I’ve heard thousands of different versions of these statements from my clients. And, for many years, I said or thought them myself.

Removing Morality
A primary focus of my coaching practice is to help my clients cultivate a positive relationship with food and their body. This requires making peace with food.

One of the ways this happens is by removing all morality and judgment from eating (which is often learned from diet culture).

This means not labeling foods as good or bad—and not labeling yourself as good or bad based on what you ate or want to eat.

Labeling foods bad—and yourself as bad based on your food choices—leads to a lot of unnecessary suffering, including all-consuming feelings of guilt, shame, disappointment and despair.

Your so-called food transgressions may make you feel like you have to repent and punish yourself with food restrictions (e.g., cutting calories, eliminating sugar), excessive exercise or abusive self-talk.

Categorizing foods as bad can also increase the reward value of those foods and trigger intense cravings, overeating and binge eating.

Emotionally Equal
Of course, nutritionally, all foods are different. Emotionally, however, all foods must be treated equally in order to have a peaceful relationship with food.  

For example, carrots and carrot cake may not be nutritionally equal but they need to be emotionally equal. Neither one is good or bad.

Unless you stole a food or harmed someone to get it, there is absolutely no reason to feel bad, guilty or ashamed about your food choices. 

Liberation is Possible
I’ve seen with my clients and with myself that when you free yourself from food moralism, your eating will be a lot more pleasurable and satisfying.

Thoughts about food will take up less real estate in your brain.

You will trust food and your body more. Feelings of liberation, empowerment and ease will bubble up.

You will discover that there is nothing more delicious than a peaceful relationship with food.