Diets are not a-one size-fits-all model. An approach that may work for one person is certainly not guaranteed to work for another, for a range of different reasons including genetics, lifestyle choices and even personality or habitual eating behaviors that undermine our daily food decisions.
Recent research from the CSIRO, the Diet Types Study, examined the eating behaviors of more than 245,000 study participants. From this data set, and identified a number of ‘diet types’ that can be then used to prescribe the best diet for individuals depending on their underlying behavioral tendencies, psychological strengths and weaknesses.
It is thought that taking these variables into consideration when starting a new lifestyle program will be predictive of long term success.
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Do any of the most common types identified sound familiar to you? And if so, how can you use this knowledge to make sure the diet you choose is right for your personality type?
Are you a Thinker?
Accounting for almost 15 per cent of those studied, thinkers are motivated and analytical and like to do things right. They do not cope well when their diet is off-track or feel as if they are doing the wrong thing. Thinkers like to be accountable to someone but ultimately need support, not criticism, to keep motivated and on track.
Thinkers need to understand what they are eating and why and need to be able to question their food choices and programs to fully understand why they are getting the results they are looking for.
The best diet approach: See a dietitian for a personalized plan and support. Contrary to popular belief, dietitians are far from the Diet Police you may imagine them to be. Rather, a dietitian will formulate an individualized plan for you and plays the role of chief support person for any weight loss journey.
Are you a Battler?
The next most common diet type identified, battlers are vulnerable to food temptations, are more likely to be women and tend to repeat the same diet cycle over and over again.
Battlers are used to trying the latest and greatest diet program, only to find it too difficult to stick to, before feeling like a failure and never making any real progress.
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The best diet approach: Try something new. If restrictive diets do not work for you, the worst thing you can do is try them over and over again. Instead, more novel weight loss approaches such as going online for ongoing support; ordering your food online or starting a new program with a friend may be the change you need to get results over a set period of time rather than jumping off and on different programs.
Are you a Craver?
Of all the diet types, cravers had the highest BMI, and were prone to extreme cravings and overeating when tempting foods and treats were readily available. Possibly genetic, hormonal, or simply the result of programmed eating behavior over time, if food cravings dictate your life and you have always had a weight program, it is time to visit a GP or endocrinologist to see if insulin resistance may be driving your desire to overeat.
The best diet approach: Get your hormones checked with a medical professional. Excessive and unexplained hunger is suggestive of other hormonal or physiological variables driving an obsession with food. If you have always struggled with your weight, there are new and innovative medications available that may support you in your weight loss journey.
Are you a Pleaser?
Pleasers are readily influenced by those around them, and need support to help guide them through their weight loss journey. Pleasers are likely to respond well to programs and approaches that are group-based or also being followed by those around them.
The best diet approach: Online programs such as WW (Weight Watchers) for ongoing advice and support. Alternatively, your local fitness center may too provide a supportive environment and a range of healthy lifestyle programs you can enroll in as part of your health and fitness journey.
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Are you a foodie?
If you spend much of your free time reading about, watching, preparing and thinking about delicious foods you can eat and prepare, chances are you are a foodie. Big lovers of variety, and good quality food it is safe to say that low calorie, restrictive diets that replace meals with shakes and soups are not going to work for foodies.
Foodies need a program in which they can still enjoy tasty food and eat out, whilst learning to buffer the effect of higher calorie intakes at times.
The best diet approach: Mediterranean or calorie counting. It may seem counterintuitive for a foodie to count calories, but as a tool calorie counting can help a foodie make informed decisions about what they eat and when. Alternatively, a Mediterranean Diet which has a focus on whole, natural unprocessed foods is too an option, although less likely to achieve weight loss over time.
Are you socializing?
If you cannot remember the last time you enjoyed a home-cooked meal, and the thought of eating lunch or dinner alone makes you feel sad, chances are you are a socialiser and need practical strategies on ways you can balance the social aspects of eating out with your dietary goals. Socialisers need to be able to eat out and include alcohol in their lifestyle plan if it has any chance of success long term.
The best diet approach: Intermittent fasting. One of the best things about intermittent fasting regimes, both the 5:2 and the 16:8 as they allow followers to work in the diet with their schedule. For example, fasting until later in the day if you are planning to eat out at night, or buffering higher calorie days with lower-calorie ones. The key to success is to choose your fasting regime and stick to it rather than oscillate between the different fasting options.
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Author Susie Burrel is a leading Australian dietitian and nutritionist, founder of Shape Meco-host of The Nutrition Couch podcast and prominent media spokesperson, with regular appearances in both print and television media commenting on all areas of diet, weight loss and nutrition.
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