Tuesday, May 7, 2013

What Kind of Eater Are You? Diet Solutions For Every Type

Photo:  Fashion Gal blog

Ruth explains when you need protein and when you need carbs. 

Ever wonder why birthdays translate into cake?  It turns out that carbohydrates stimulate serotonin, which makes you feel good. Think about it. Selected Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs),  a class of antidepressants, work naturally through the foods we eat.

Traditionally, we use food to elevate the mood. Hence, birthdays get celebrated with cake. When you are depressed, and you are looking for comfort food, do you reach for a cookie? Bowl of pasta maybe? Your body may be telling you that you need some mood enhancing foods. Are you an emotional eater? And if you are, which type are you? 

What type of eater you are will determine whether your focus should be protein or carbohydrate. Impulsive people do well on high protein low carbohydrate diets. But compulsive people don’t. They start to focus on what is wrong, things that upset them. They need the carbs to stay calm. 

Type 1: The Compulsive Overeater 

People with this type have trouble shifting their attention and tend to get stuck on thoughts of food or compulsive eating behaviors and also on anxious or depressing thoughts. The basic mechanism of this type is that they tend to get stuck or locked into one course of action. They can have trouble seeing options and want to have things their way. This type is also associated with worry, holding grudges, and having problems with oppositional or argumentative behavior. Nighttime-eating syndrome, where people tend to gorge at night and not be hungry early in the day, usually fits this pattern. 

DIET: If you are this type of eater, you need to elevate your serotonin level. That translates into eating complex carbohydrates like sweet potato, whole grain pasta, brown rice, beans lentils, and spinach, kale, and other dark leafy vegetables. Avoid high-protein diets, diet pills, and stimulants, such as Ritalin. 

Type 2: The Impulsive Overeater 

People with this type struggle with impulsivity and have trouble controlling their behavior, even though nearly every day they intend to eat well. “I am going to start my diet tomorrow” is their common mantra. This type lacks a supervisor to help with attention span, forethought, impulse control, motivation, organization and planning. 

DIET: If this is you, reach for the high protein diet rather than the carb focused diet.  Sip green tea throughout the day, and satisfy yourself with nuts as a snack. You really need to move! Exercise. Find an activity you love to do and stay with it. You are a prefect candidate for coaching. This type of overeater will succeed with outside supervision. You need someone you trust to check in with and keep you focused on a regular basis. Start by creating incremental weight goals and exercise goals. Make lists, charts and track your progress each week. 

Type 3: The Impulsive-Compulsive Overeater

People with this type have a combination of both impulsive and compulsive features. You will do well with an exercise plan. This kind of eater needs options, so the notion of crowding out the bad with nutritionally beneficial offerings will work well. 

DIET: Train yourself to move toward whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein and good fats. 

Type 4: The SAD or Emotional Overeater 

People with this type often eat to medicate underlying feelings of boredom, loneliness, or depression. Their symptoms can range from winter blues to mild chronic sadness, to severe depression. It’s best to seek help for this. 

SOLUTION: When the negative thoughts come into your head, and you are looking backward and reviewing your mistakes, try this: 
1. Stop the train of thought. 
2. Focus on what is positive in your life. 
3. Create a gratitude journal. 
4. Generate positive small steps toward achievable goals for solving your problems. 
5. Do this incremental step ladder for weight goals 
6. Create an activity that you do in response to this moment. Try prayer, meditation, or yoga breathing exercises. Do something physical when you start down this road to stop it. 

Type 5: The Anxious Overeater 

People with this type tend to use food to medicate underlying feelings of anxiety, tension, nervousness, and fear. They tend to feel uncomfortable in their own skin. They may be plagued by feelings of panic, fear, and self-doubt, and suffer physical symptoms of anxiety as well, such as muscle tension, nail biting, headaches, abdominal pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and sore muscles. It is as if they have an overload of tension and emotion. People with this type tend to predict the worst and look to the future with fear. They may be excessively shy, easily startled, and freeze in emotionally charged situations. 

SOLUTION: Try relaxation exercises such as meditation, prayer, hypnosis, transcendental mediation, yoga breathing exercises and follow the 6 steps outlined above to control your anxiety. 

Type 6: The Adrenaline-Overload Anorexic 

For most people, excess stress leads to weight gain. But some people have trouble keeping a healthy weight on their bodies when they’re under a lot of stress. The stress causes them to go into an emotional overload state, and they start to waste away. Typically, these people’s thoughts often go too fast, they tend to have trouble sleeping, they may experience diarrhea, and they often complain of memory problems. 

SOLUTION: Learning to relax before a meal works well with this type. Create a pattern of calming activity before you eat. Enjoy the time and meal that you have prepared for yourself.

Use the techniques outlined above for emotionally based eating behavior and carve out what works for you. Make breathing and relaxing an activity that you control and enjoy. Go on this journey of finding the relaxation activity that works for you. 

For any weight solution to be effective, it must be centered on your particular problems, and your particular needs. Any program that gives you a one-size-fits-all approach is destined to fail. Consider using a coach to help you define who are and find the right fit. The support and accountability makes the objective a serious goal.

Do You Have More Than One Type? Having more than one type is common, and it just means that you may need a combination of interventions.


Here's this month's recipe for a healthy homemade Birthday Cake!   This and more lighter cake recipes from Eating Well.

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting



  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks (see Cake-Baking Tips)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature (see Cake-Baking Tips), separated
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 ounce red food coloring, (4 teaspoons), optional (see Ingredient note)
  • 1 cup nonfat buttermilk


  • 12 ounces soft light cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2-1 ounce chocolate, grated, for garnish (optional)


    1. To prepare cake: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat two 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray.
    2. Whisk all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
    3. Beat sugar and butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until crumbly, about 2 minutes. Beat in egg yolks one at a time, then vanilla and food coloring (if using) until smooth.
    4. Beat in half the buttermilk on low speed until smooth, then half the flour mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat in the remaining buttermilk. Beat in the remaining flour mixture just until combined.
    5. Clean and dry beaters. Beat egg whites in a clean medium bowl at high speed until soft peaks form. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the whites into the batter until just incorporated, using long, even strokes. Divide the batter between the prepared pans, spreading to the edges. Gently rap the pans against the counter once or twice to settle the batter.
    6. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then invert the layers onto the rack, remove the pans and let cool to room temperature, about 45 minutes more.
    7. To prepare frosting; assemble cake: Beat cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and vanilla in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Place one cake layer top-side down on a serving plate; cover with half the frosting, spreading just to the edges. Set the second layer on top, top-side down. Spread the remaining frosting on the top only. Sprinkle with grated chocolate, if desired.

    By Ruth Gantman, HHC, AADP, Holistic Health Coach

    You can contact Ruth with your questions here in the comments or at ruth@nurtured-by-nature.com.  

    Also visit Ruth's site for more  information on nutrition and heart health at Nurtured By Nature.

    1 comment:

    1. This reminds me of my favorite, easiest cake recipe, which comes from "More Home Cooking" by the late, great Laurie Colwin. It calls for buttermilk (I use powdered), vegetable oil, and cocoa. No eggs. It is very chocolatey, keeps well, and the flavor deepens the day after baking. I usually don't bother with frosting but it's good with a little whipped cream and even some berries on top.