What kind of dieter are you?


We all know the drill: eat less, lose weight. However there’s more to it that that. In fact, how you should lose weight depends very much on how you put the weight on in the first place.

Are you on the heavy side because you think about food all the time? Or do you tend to eat when you’re sad, angry, lonely or bored? Or do you fall into the third category of people who just can’t stop once they start?

Understanding this is key if you’re going to keep the weight off in the long-term.

You see, most people think that diets are about willpower. Not true. Rather, diets are about habits, and since we know it takes 66 days to form one, that’s how long I ask patients to be super-aware and disciplined about what they’re doing. I find that slipping up in the early days is a sure fire way to sabotage your efforts.

Research indicates that there are three types of dieters:

Constant cravers literally have ‘hungry brains’. This genetic trait means that they think that their fat stores continually need replenishing, so their brain never gets the signal to stop thinking about food.

Feasters appear to produce low levels of certain gut hormones that are released when food arrives in the intestines.

This means that they don’t really know when they’ve had enough food and, as a result, find it difficult to know when to stop eating.

Emotional eaters generally reach for food in response to some sort of stress. Their brains seek to offset a troubling emotion that they aren’t able to process.

Once you know what kind of dieter you are, losing weight is actually much easier. For feasters, a diet that results in feeling fuller for longer is key, and this is best achieved using a low glycaemic diet. Lean protein (fish, chicken) combined with slow-release carbs (veggies, brown rice) work best here. Foods like potatoes and bread are off-limits.

Constant cravers feel hungry most of the time, making a full-time diet very difficult. Enter the 5:2 diet: five days of normal, healthy eating and two days of a strict diet (normally less than 800 calories). This is also known as intermittent fasting and can shock the body into burning fat.

For emotional eaters, group support is crucial to breaking bad habits (encouragement triggers the motivational part of the brain thus helping to overcome stress).

Cognitive behavioural therapy is also recommended to help manage the thoughts and behaviour associated with emotional eating.