Biting the Habit - What's
your eating style?
Eating styles contribute to weight
problems more than most people realise, which is why
standardised weight loss plans often fail: they only
target what people eat, ignoring how they eat – and we’re
not talking about whether you slurp or sip your soup!
Eating styles have to do with
when, where, and how you eat – and if you’re
like most people, your eating style can really get
in the way of your weight loss goals. While you may
not need to totally change your eating habits, adjusting
them can help you reach your weight loss or maintenance
goals more effectively.
Read on and learn how to identify your eating style
and change it for the better.
Snacker and picker
Approximately 60% of overweight people fall into this
category. Snackers and pickers rarely sit down to a proper
meal, and if they do, they usually pick at it! They eat
a little bit of this and a little bit of that constantly
throughout the day. They frequently eat while engaged
in other activities. You can sometimes spot a snacker
or picker by the number of times they open the fridge
during a day. Snackers and pickers also love finger foods:
cocktail parties are heaven for a snacker or picker!
Overweight snackers and pickers can often be heard saying, "I
don't know why I have a weight problem, I hardly eat
The major problem with this kind
of eating is that because snackers consume hundreds
of empty and excess calories a day, they drastically
underestimate how much they actually eat. And due to
the fact that snacks don't really pack in enough “oomph” to
meet basic nutritional needs and satiety (fullness
and satisfaction of appetite), snackers and pickers
are always foraging for something more to eat.
The snacker’s fix-it
If you are a snacker your best
option is to omit snacks completely and eat three meals
a day with enough fat, protein, carbohydrates, and
overall calories to give you the feeling of total satisfaction.
Put extra snack calories into your three meals. Although
this is contrary to common wisdom of eating three meals
and two snacks a day, it’s advised for you. Snacking
or eating small meals all day is your problem!
However, if three meals and two
snacks works better for you, just make sure you always
bag your snacks in 100 to 200 calorie increments. Eat
everything in the bag at one time and then stop eating.
Make a commitment to eat only snacks that have been
bagged and accounted for. Realise that you are only
kidding yourself by thinking that these little snacks
don’t add up.
If you’re going to snack,
do it sitting down and with no other distractions.
When you eat and do something else at the same time,
you wind up eating hundreds of extra calories without
realising it or even enjoying the food. Focus on one
activity at a time. Eating is one activity, reading
is one activity, talking on the phone is one activity
and so on. You will learn that you can enjoy food more,
and eat less, when you pay attention to what you are
Keep a snack-calorie journal.
Write down what you ate as soon as you can after eating,
or better yet, write it down before you eat: you’ll
start to see how it all adds up. For many snackers,
just the awareness of how many calories they consume
during snacking is enough to prompt them to make the
Eat with utensils, not with your fingers. Studies show
that finger-food eaters have a difficult time losing
weight because they eat more than their utensil-using
Saver, skipper, and compensator
Not eating for long periods of time makes people hungry
and hungry people do not make wise food choices.This
eating style is characterised by erratic eating patterns.
Savers, skippers, and compensators seesaw between eating
too much and too little. They often skip meals because
they are too busy to take the time to eat, or in order
to save calories for a big occasion. When they do eat
too much – which is usually a result of missing
meals – skippers try to compensate by missing more
meals or fasting. They often say things like: "I
usually don’t eat breakfast or lunch," or "I
am going to a party tonight, so I won't eat all day," or "I
can't eat breakfast or lunch because I ate too much last
The negative aspect of this style is that it promotes
overeating. Not eating for long periods of time makes
people hungry and hungry people do not make wise food
choices. Saving calories by skipping meals can be compared
to putting money in the bank, receiving $10.00 in interest,
but paying $12.00 in service charges. It just doesn't
Erratic eating habits also disrupt normal metabolic
functions. When you don't eat for a long period (this
can be hours, not days) your body thinks it is starving
and begins to slow down to storage mode, conserving calories
for future use. It's taken by surprise when you suddenly
overload it and so can't metabolise efficiently. This
is exactly the opposite of what happens to people who
eat small meals and snacks. Their bodies are accustomed
to working with the right amount of food most of the
time and are constantly metabolising; when excess food
is encountered, metabolising continues as usual. Savers,
skippers, and compensators impede the efficiency of their
natural processes. The end result is that they become
fat storing machines. In order to lose weight and keep
it off, you need to be a fat burning machine.
The skipper's fix-it plan
To become a fat burning machine
and to keep your metabolism revved up, get into the
habit of eating regular meals – no
matter what. Eat smaller meals if you like, but eat something
every three or four hours.
Don't let yourself get hungry.
If you wait until you are ravenous, you will make poor
food choices and will probably eat so fast that you
won't give your brain enough time to get the "I am full” signal.
Instead of not eating to compensate for the possibility
of eating lots of high calorie foods, have a snack one
hour before going to a party or out to dinner. This little
tactic could save you hundreds of calories. Low-fat,
high fibre fruits or vegetables are good snack choices.
Keep your snack under 200 calories and make sure it's
not so high in sugar that it sets you up for cravings.
The day after a big party or anytime you think you have
overeaten, just get back to your regular eating. You
can cut back a little on fats, carbs or calories, but
don't fast or skip whole meals. For example, if you are
on a 1500 calorie plan, you can drop down to about 1200
for the next few days. Eat smaller meals, but eat something.
Guilty eaters were often told to "clean the plate" even
if they were no longer hungry.People with a guilty or "bigger
is better" eating style can usually find the root
of it in their childhood and the attitudes toward food
that developed when they were young. In childhood, guilty
eaters often heard messages like "You have to eat
everything on your plate because children in some countries
are starving." This attempt at magical thinking
is based on an illogical conclusion that somehow what
you don’t eat affects people thousands of kilometres
away. Guilty eaters were often told to "clean the
plate" because it was a sin to waste food, or that
they had to eat Grandma's favourite steak and kidney
pie because "she spent a lot of time preparing it".
They were also told to eat more because it would make
them 'healthy and strong'. In any of these situations,
it didn't matter if the eater was hungry or not, she
had to eat what she was given.
The problem with this style of
eating is that guilty eaters don't really know when
they are hungry. They eat everything on their plates
whether they feel hungry or not. They never learned
to pay attention to satiety as a signal to stop eating.
This inability to recognise fullness usually leads
to eating larger and larger portions, and a "bigger is better" style
The "Bigger is Better" fix-it
If you are a guilty eater, the first thing you need
to do is confront your unconscious messages. Tell yourself,
as many times as you have to, that what you eat or don't
eat doesn't affect anyone but you.
Get into the habit of asking yourself whether you are
really hungry before you eat. Once you start eating,
pay attention to hunger and satisfaction cues.
Decrease the portion size of
your meals and snacks. Do this gradually to avoid being
overly hungry. But don't make the mistake of going
back and forth between small and large portions. Habits
are difficult to "unlearn" if
you switch back and forth between the old and the new.
If you still feel just a little
bit hungry after eating, stop and wait a few minutes – this
will help reset your eating cues. It is better to be
a little hungry than it is to be a little full. If
you truely are still hungry, you can always go back
and eat a bit more. But if you only stop eating when
you feel a little full, you can't get rid of the extra
Keep a food and exercise journal. By writing down what
you eat, you will start to see the connections between
portion sizes, calories, and weight gain.
Embrace the fact that eating large portions is a learned
habit and that it can be unlearned. Eating smaller portions
is also a learned habit. Over time, your stomach will
accept less food. Conversely, if you eat large portions
continuously, your stomach will demand more food.
When you eat out, ask for a doggie
bag before you begin to eat. Doing this will show you
that you can be satisfied with smaller portions. And
by doing this before you eat, you don’t have
to use will-power to stop eating everything on the
Reproduced with permission from CalorieKing.com.au. All material copyright CalorieKing.com.au