Diet & Fitness

What kind of eater are you? Pick the right diet plan for your personality

Jan. 6, 2014 at 10:36 AM ET

Video: TODAY’s Health and Diet editor Madelyn Fernstrom tells Kathie Lee and Hoda which diet plans work best with certain personality types, which will help accomplish long-term diet goals.

When it comes to losing weight, it’s clear that "one size does not fit all." And while it’s always tough to drop those pounds, choosing the right eating plan for your personality can help keep you on track for the long run. It’s all about choosing a diet plan based on the kind of eater you are.

If you’re not sure of your diet type,  take our eating personality quiz to find your closest match.

Junk Food Eater: You’re someone who craves anything salty, crunchy, or sweet and struggle to control snacks and desserts. Consider a comprehensive plan like Weight Watchers, where no foods are off limits, and you’ll learn to incorporate your “treat” foods into a healthy eating plan. Or, make your own healthy food swaps for the junk. Try air-popped popcorn or a handful of nuts for that salty crunch. Grab a fresh fruit for a sweet tooth, or a couple of dried apricots or small box of raisins. 

Pre-plan your treat foods in your day, and you’re looking for the “real thing”, look for single servings of around 100-150 calorie of your favorites. You’ll have the satisfaction of eating the whole thing, and controlling your calories. And look for some “grab and go” options like a KIND bar, a PureProtein chocolate shake, Balance 100 bars, or Health Warrior 100 calorie chia bars for a nutrient dense choice.

Food Lover: You’re someone who overeats in social situations like parties. You prefer a large variety of healthy foods, and struggle with portion control. You’re a happy eater! 

You’ll want plans with volume, meaning lots of water and air in the foods you choose. You have a lot of latitude here with plans, and any plan with an abundance of fruits and vegetables (these are mostly water), lean proteins of all kinds, and variety work for you. 

Think South Beach style, or Mediterranean-based plans with the “smart carbs” being mostly fruits and vegetables. The “flexitarian” and “omnivore” plans also work well. 

For those struggling with portion control, another option to consider is the concept of "intermittent fasting." It’s not fasting at all, but cutting way-back on calories two days a week, to about 600-800 calories. This is a jump-start for portion control that helps many people connect with their portions. The other 5 days are around 1,600, the typical range for moderate weight loss.

Emotional Eater: You eat when you’re stressed or worried, and struggle to stay in control, and not overeat when faced with food. Any many of you are walking encyclopedias of calorie information. Most plans work for the emotional eater, but the most important part is support. Whether it’s on-line, an app, or an in-person support group in your community, staying connected is the key issue. 

A single diet-buddy can also be the solution. Programs like Weight Watchers offer group support in several formats (and one exclusively for men). TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) or Overeaters Anonymous are other options. And you might need to try a few different groups to find the best fit for you.

Mindless Muncher: You’re someone who is always eating, and grazing through the day and night. You often eat without thinking about what you really want, or if you’re even hungry. 

A plan with a lot of structure, and less choice helps you learn to make new habits. Meal replacement plans can be a good option. Try meal plans like Jenny Craig or Nutrisystems, or create your own meal replacement plan with frozen calorie-controlled meals, and some protein shakes and bars. All of these plans supplement your own favorite colorful fruits and vegetables. Structure of eating regularly is the priority.

And no matter what your plan, daily physical activity needs to be a part of it. Start with a 30-minute walk every day. Build on that as your time allows. Remember that exercise supports, but does not replace cutting calories. It can take 5 minutes to eat 500 calories, and 2 hours to burn it off.

TOP