13th January 2019
What type of eater are you?
At the start of nay new year, many people make resolutions. A lot of these focus on getting healthier. Appletree's first blog of 2019 is asking you to consider -'what type of eater are you?'
This blog is not asking you to make any judgements around the types and amounts of food that you are currently eating. It is trying to get you to consider what type of eater you are, and how changing could help you manage and improve your current weight.
We all have different approaches to eating our food. By this, I mean the way we think about our food and the manner in which we eat our food. The type of eater we are can seriously affect our weight. There are a variety of ways that different 'types of eater' are defined. However, in my experience the four categories below are a good starting point to consider the type of eater you are -
- The gulper
- The grazer
- The plate filler
- The see it and eat it.
One of the reasons why the causes of obesity and the weight management journey are so complex, is that we eat not just to stay alive but for emotional and social reasons. Therefore, our eater type will have developed over a number of years as a response to our emotional relationship to food and eating.
The gulper rushes eating their food. For them, chewing is for wimps. They eat their food very quickly, and tend to finish their meals before everyone else. Because they eat fast with little chewing, the don't always get their full enjoyment of favours and the pleasure from eating. Importantly, the message of satiety (feeling full) between the brain and the stomach doesn't get the chance to kick in. For these reasons, the gulper doesn't always feel the full enjoyment from their food they might otherwise enjoy, or recognise that they have eaten enough, and tend to go on and eat more than they need.
Actions - slow down, take the time to enjoy your food. Savour the aroma, the flavouring and the textures. Take small bites. Put your cutlery down and take time between mouthfuls. Count to 10 while chewing each mouthful. Try to avoid eating on the go. If that is not possible, then at least sit down and put your food down between each mouthful.
The grazer lends to be eating constantly. They won't be having three meals and two snacks per day, but will be snacking all day. Meals just tend to be bigger snacks. Most of these snacks tend to be high sugar and high fat foods. They never feel hungry, or at east their body no longer truly recognises the brain to stomach signals of feeling full or hungry.
Actions - start to reduce the number of snacks in the day. Seriously look at having three meals per day, and only having a small snack in between each meal. Swap high sugar and high fat snacks for ones lower in energy - ideally vegetables and fruit. Allow yourself to feel hungry before a meal, this is perfectly normal and healthy.
The Plate Filler
The plate filler overloads their plate and piles it s high as they possibly can. They love to eat as much as you can buffets, and the current trend for large plates is a design made in heaven for them. They no longer have any idea of what a normal portion size should actually look like. Even their snacks tend to be the super-size versions.
Actions - reduce the size of everything you currently eat and drink. Using a smaller plate is something that many plate fillers actually find exceedingly helpful in reducing their portion sizes. Weighing foods out is very helpful in getting an idea of portion sizes, but many people find this a step too far, so use handy portion sizes. For carbs, the size of your fist. For protein foods, the size of the palm of your hand. For fruit, what you can hold in one handful, and for vegetables, as much as you can get on the plate.
The See It and Eat It
The see it and eat it person cannot walk past foods they like without having a pick. Offices that have a culture of cakes and sweets lying around are either a nightmare or heaven depending on their point of view of their current weight. In the evenings, they tend to explore the cupboards looking for their favourite nibbles. They can often eat healthy, balanced meals, but their total calorie intake for the day exceeds what it should be because of all the extra goodies they consume.
Actions - don't buy it and you can't eat it. This one of the most effective ways for the see it and eat it person to reduce those extra calories. The office space is harder one to change, but it is worth asking colleagues to remove the foods from obvious sight.
As with many things in life, we are probably a mixture of different eater types. Being aware of how we eat and interact with foods can help us t start to moderate some of our actions, and in the months ahead, help us to reduce any extra calorie intake and promote a healthy weight. For all eater types, the main take home messages are -
- listen to you body
- eat when you're hungry and stop when you're full
- eat mindfully without distractions such as TV, computers and mobile phone
- allow yourself to be hungry - this is normal.
Have a happy and healthy 2019 !
Dr Laura Stewart