Can personality determine weight loss success?

November 22, 2011 BY: LISA

As we are all individuals it would seem that our response to different situations will differ, that’s no different with food and dieting for weight loss. I am a firm believer in the mind being in control and governing all food decisions. Often food is just the symptom of an underlying problem, that is, the problem is totally unrelated to what you are going to have for lunch but you choose to overeat because it’s what you do when you are stressed.
To label someone with a particular type of compulsion provides the individual with a pretty good excuse. You could say “Oh, I’m a compulsive eater, I have no control over what I eat in certain situations” – and guess what you won’t! It’s like someone telling you they are lazy, it’s a water tight excuse why they can’t start an exercise program; they don’t even have to try because they have told themselves that they are lazy and won’t succeed in the first place.
We are self fulfilling prophecies, if we believe we have no control over eating then it’s likely that we won’t. If we believe we don’t have the skills for weight loss then it’s unlikely we will lose weight.
So yes, the brain is heavily involved in weight loss success but whether or not we can say that one diet or food group should be avoided on the basis of brain activity is not clear.
The problem with setting up particular foods for supposed brain/personality types is that it represents just another diet. If you are following a set food regime because you have been described as a compulsive eater but you can’t stick to it any weight loss you achieve will be short lived.
An Accredited Practising Dietitian can help tailor a sustainable eating plan and give consideration to the way your mind is working and the triggers which cause the overeating in the first place.
People tend to use food for all sorts of purposes so the compulsive or impulsive personality type described in the personality diet is merely a coping strategy for a particular situation.
What would be more helpful to know is what situation(s) do you overeat in? Are you bored? Lonely? Trying to put something off? Stressed? Tired? Once you know how what triggers your eating then you can start looking for alternative actions which deal with your emotions/situations just as well as food.
Our reactions and means of coping are simply learned responses. The classic case is giving a child a lolly or biscuit if they are hurt. The message is that food will provide comfort – but will it? What about a hug? That will also work wonders and be a much more constructive way of dealing with hurt.
In response to a stressful situation your usual response may be to eat. However, start thinking about what you actually want. Do you want comfort? Someone to talk to? Time out? What would provide this for you? A phone call to a friend, listening to music, going for a walk, sitting down and working out a solution? What other action would deal with your stress?
Ask yourself:
1. What is my trigger feeling/situation?
2. What do I really need right now?
3. If I deal with this problem by eating, how will I feel later?
Answer these questions and then make a plan for what you will do the next time you are tempted to overeat or eat in response to an emotional situation.
Lisa Renn
Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD)
Author of “Body Warfare- The Secret to Permanent Weight Loss” (Brolga Publishing 2011)



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    December 2nd, 2011

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