by Alice Greene
There are so many different reasons why we struggle with food, and it isn’t black or white. Many of the reasons stem from what we’ve been told, the way we’ve been raised and the way we feel on a given day. It is liberating to know that the struggle isn’t just because we are bad when it comes to eating well.
In the book on Intuitive Eating, written by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, they recognized that there are many types of eaters, and most of us are dealing with a combination of these types. I have found this to be true in my own work, and I’ll start with the most common ones that I see with people. They are the chaotic eater, unconscious eater and emotional eater.
A chaotic eater
has no routine to their eating and has a tendency to skip meals, over schedule themselves and eat on the run. They really have no idea what they have just eaten or how much they’ve eaten. They just eat what is available and deal with food the next time it is available. They are completely out of touch with their eating habits and choices. Is this you? How can you be less chaotic this week?
An unconscious eater
is similar to a chaotic eater. They are not tuned into what or how much they are eating, because they eat while doing other things – like working, reading, talking, driving, watching TV or cooking. They will eat whatever is available and have no idea when they are hungry or if they have exceeded their fullness level. Are you conscious of your hunger or fullness levels? Try paying attention to them this week.
An emotional eater
uses food to cope with their feelings and they may not even realize they are doing this. What they do know is that they eat too much, often eating an entire package of something before they realize it. They are numb when they eat and feel powerless around food. Emotional eaters use food to avoid facing their feelings – even though they do not seem to feel anything. When was the last time you think you did this? Watch for emotional eating and see what you are feeling. The next two types are often linked to how we were raised. These are the waste-not and refuse-not eaters.
The waste-not eater
is someone who hates to see food go to waste and believes that it’s a deal to get lots of food for their money. They will overeat when food is in abundance because they hate to see it wasted. What they don’t realize is that by overeating it IS being wasted – literally. And it is going to cost them more money than they think they saved when their health is affected by overeating, such as diabetes, high cholesterol and blood pressure and coronary artery disease. How often do you eat things for fear they will go to waste? The next time you feel this urge, consider the real cost.
The refuse-not eater
is a person that can’t refuse food. They can’t say no when someone invites them to have food or encourages them to have more food than they need or want. They feel they have to eat for fear of disappointing or hurting the other person. As a result, they give that person power over how much food they eat. Did you eat something you didn’t want over the holidays because you felt you needed to make someone else feel good? It is ok to say I’ve had enough, no thanks, or thank you but I’m full.
Then there are the restrictive eaters.
These are people that are always going on the next diet or that follow a restricted eating plan with vigilance. The chronic dieter is constantly trying the latest diet, striving to lose a specific amount of weight, and creating new good and bad food lists they try to adhere to, but in the end they vacillate between under eating, over eating and bingeing. The careful eater scrutinizes labels and foods, weighs and measures all their food, writes every morsel down and tracks every gram against their narrow and very specific daily goals. For them there is little pleasure in eating. This was me for many years. Are you restrictive and struggling to enjoy your food? To gain a healthy view of food you may want to try intuitive eating.
An intuitive eater
is conscious of their body’s hunger signals. They eat to feel satisfied. They don’t fear overeating – instead they trust themselves to eat exactly what they need and have no guilt about eating foods they enjoy. This type of eater is conscious of their food choices and tends to want foods that honor their health and are balanced to meet their physical requirements. How does this sound to you? People who try it say it is a way to achieve freedom with food while achieving healthy eating habits.