Let’s face it. The most difficult food habits to change are those that conflict with our eating personalities. So what are these dietary preferences and how do they influence our choices for successful weight loss?
The Structured Eater
The structured eater likes three meals a day. He or she may have grown up in a household where the family ate meals together. An article by Marlene Lesson in Structure House, in fact, recommends it, citing the following advantages:
- Healthier diets (more fiber, calcium, iron and less saturated fat)
- An opportunity to model positive eating behaviors and healthy food preferences
Bulimia.com, in an article by Lindsey Hall and Leigh Cohn, recommends structured eating for the recovery from eating disorders: “One common practice is to have three, well-planned meals each day and up to three healthy snacks.”
The Grazer likes to eat often. And, as Diet Life Tips suggests, “the grazing eating style is hard to manage.” But, as Runners World points out, some people, like runners, prefer to fuel before a run for energy and fuel post-run for fast recovery. As nutritionist Tara Coleman cautions, however, “Grazers can eat too many or too few calories if they don’t watch portion sizes.” She suggests:
- You calculate your daily calorie needs (on Web sites such as nutritiondata.com)
- Evenly divide those calories through the day (take your caloric need, and if you like to eat six times a day, divide your caloric need by six and include a mix of carbohydrates and protein).
The Protein Program Preference
If you are drawn to high protein foods such as meats, eggs, dairy, seeds, nuts and legumes, you’ll probably prefer plans such as the Atkins and Dukan diets because they suit your diet personality. As Dr. McDougall, points out in a discussion of the Great Debate, High Versus Low Protein Diets, “the foods recommended in high-protein diets are the very same rich foods we were all raised with and learned to love…” A good choice, however, is to opt for lean meats and protein from vegetables.
The Carbohydrate Program Preference
The Mayo Clinic defines a carbohydrate-loading diet as a “strategy to increase the amount of fuel stored in your muscles to improve athletic performance.” If you are drawn to foods such as breads, pastas, potatoes, blueberries, and bananas, you’ll probably prefer food plans rich in carbohydrates. The key, according to Cool Running, is to have “about 60 percent of your calories coming from carbohydrates, 25 percent from fat, and 15 percent from protein.” In this case, exercise is what keeps the weight off.
The Restaurant Diner
As reported by CBS News, “nine in 10 households with children under 18 report that most of the family eats dinner together at least once per week, including 39 percent who do so all seven nights.” But CBS also reported in their survey that “most households earning over $50,000 got restaurant food for dinner at least once in the last week.” On the other end of the income scale CBS News also reported that “three-fourths of those earning under $15,000 did not do so at all.”
Michael Jacobson, the executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), feels that putting calories alongside prices on fast-food menu boards would help consumers see the true cost of what they order. He lists sample caloric contents:
- Hamburger – 280 calories
- Cheeseburger – 330 calories
- Double Quarter Pounder – 780 calories
The following are some basic guidelines for eating out:
- Avoid foods that have been fried
- Eat half portions
- Avoid sausages, fatty cuts of meat and limit the amount of cheese
- Replace mayonnaise with mustard
- Ask for washed coleslaw, tomatoes, a pickle or pretzels instead of fries or chips
- Eat slowly
Cook at Home
Michael Jacobson also reports that a third of our calories are now eaten outside the home. But that leaves two thirds of our calories eaten at home. He also points out that diners at home swallow fewer calories. Fit Day subscribes to the notion of eating at home, suggesting reasons:
- You can choose your own low-fat and low-calorie ingredients
- There is less temptation to eat tasty but unhealthy food
- Cooking and washing dishes makes you more active
If you wish to lose weight, know yourself. Don’t necessarily fight your diet personality. Just make rational choices.