This week I was interviewed and quoted by a newspaper about a book written on personality and dieting. Daniel Amen thinks that there are 5 types of overeater – compulsive, impulsive, compulsive-impulsive, emotional and anxious overeaters. He suggests that each group of person should avoid certain foods and eat more of others in order to lose weight. This is all based on brain patterns as Daniel is a neuroscientist.
Personally I agree that there are different types of overeaters and personality does definitely affect the way people eat. We all know people who eat more when they are anxious and others who just have to eat food if its in the house but can resist if its not there. It would be right to say that different personalities respond to different approaches. For example some people work well with tackling their body image first, others want practical goals and some need a focus on activity. However I don’t agree with the food advice that Mr Amen gives. Whatever type of person you are a healthy balanced diet is key to weight loss combined with activity. The key ingredient is to have a personalised plan that suits your lifestyle and your food likes/dislikes. If your eating plan and activity plan are not based on things that you enjoy you are not likely to stick to them! Cutting out food groups like carbohydrate is never a good idea no matter what your personality.
My other thought is that some people may use this concept as an excuse… “well I can’t lose weight easily due to my personality. ” In admit it is really not easy to lose weight, it takes time, dedication and lots of hard work, sweat plus some tears, but the health benefits are amazing. Losing 10% of your body weight if you are overweight reduces your risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, it can help improve your overall sense of well being and your ability to go about everyday life.
Don’t put your health on hold, get your nutrition and activity sorted out as a matter of priority, it really will change your life.
So here is a link to a recent article I was quoted in… it got me thinking. The article was about a study that followed a more than 11,000 children from 2-18 years over 5 years. They found children who ate sweets were 22% less prone to be overweight or obese compared to those who did not eat sweets.
I think it’s a good example of how media spin can confuse people, the headline suggests we should be feeding our children more sweets. Surely not helpful in a society that is struggling with obesity and diabetes. What is not mentioned is how often sweets were consumed by these children or how active they are, and the rest of their diet is also a huge factor. This study was not a case of letting children overindulge in “treat” foods but showed that children who regularly ate sweets learnt how to eat sensible portions and balance their food intake.
Having small children this is a topical area for me. I want my children to grow up appreciating how to have a healthy balanced diet and that includes how to eat sweets and chocolate on a semi-regular basis in sensible amounts. Therefore I need to firstly model this myself and secondly let my children eat these foods so they learn how to moderate their intake.
Fatty and sugary foods are included in the EatWell plate (see below image) that we use to demonstrate balanced eating so remember its ok to eat these foods its just how often and how much of them you eat 🙂 I’m off for a couple of squares of dark chocolate mmmmm.
An interesting piece of research caught my eye this week. A team of psychology researchers in Montreal looked into how using mental imagery techniques may increase the likelihood of people eating more fruit and vegetables. They asked 177 students to aim to eat more fruit over the next 7 days. Those who planned, wrote it down and visualised how they were going to do it (e.g. where and when they would buy, prepare and eat the fruit) were twice as likely to increase their consumption.
This was based on sports psychology. “Athletes do lots of work mentally rehearsing their performances before competing and it’s often very successful. So we thought having people mentally rehearse how they were going to buy and eat their fruit should make it more likely that they would actually do it. And this is exactly what happened,” says Bärbel Knäuper.
As a dietitian part of my job is helping people plan how they will manage to alter their eating habits so this research is further evidence that planning really is key. Talking through with someone what your long term goals are, how you can put them into place and having a short term goal to achieve are vital components of achieving dietary change.
I’ve been working with a client who literally must rattle if she walked, which is doesn’t do often. She is largely bed-bound and is trying to use supplements as a way to get her better and boost her energy levels. Now I’m not against supplements on the whole but I do think that we need to be careful with them and use them sparingly.
The nutrition world is growing at such a fast pace and there seems to be a new supplement coming onto the market every week with one for every occasion! A lot of money is spent by people trying to be healthy. But are they really needed?
Taking a multivitamin/mineral on a daily basis seems to be the most common supplement. Whilst this is not harmful and can be very helpful to people who are struggling to eat a balanced diet, it also shouldn’t be necessary for most people. A healthy person should be able to get everything they need from food. The benefits of eating a well balanced diet instead of using supplements are huge. If we think about fruit and vegetables alone there is research linking eating these colourful foods to a reduction in blood pressure, cancer risk, heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Your multivitamin isn’t going to do all that. Plus lets face it food just tastes a lot better than a pill.
For some people supplements are a definate yes. Before and in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy 400mcg folic acid is proven to reduce the incidence of neural tube defects. People at risk of osteoporosis should take calcium and vitamin D. In fact the whole UK population is recommended to take a Vit D supplement of 10 mcg/day. Some vegetarians may need a B12 boost. If you have low iron then iron supplements can helpf ro at time. These are all specific conditions. Anyone with a deficiency may need a supplement to help out for while and there are numerous people who can’t get everything they need from food for various reasons so need a supplement. In my eating disorder job I often recommend clients take a supplement whilst they rebuild their eating.
However, if we can get all our nutrients from our diet it is so much better for us. Think natural rather than manmade. There’s also issues with overdosing on some nutrients. Some of these nutrients will just be lost from the body when it is saturated with them, others can cause tummy upsets and health problems. So be cautious with mega doses! The research is still being done on lots of these things.
Until the research comes in, if you can, try to get as much goodness as possible from your food and take a Vit D supplement, especially in those winter months.
Over 5 portions of fruit and veggies a day (preferably over 7).
Wholegrains including wheat, rye, barley and oats, the less processed the better.
Starchy carbohydrate foods at each meal.
Dairy foods 2-3 times a day.
Low fat, low sugar options of foods.
Lean proteins – meat, fish, pulses, beans.
Freelance Dietitian specialising in helping those with Eating Disorders and a Media Spokesperson for the profession.