The recent BBC series investigating personalised diets made fascinating watching and seemed like very good science. People were tested for the type of eater they were and then asked to follow a diet that addressed their particular type. Briefly, the three types of eater were ‘emotional’, ‘constant craver’ and ‘feaster’. The people involved in the experiment seemed more than happy to accept their ‘diagnosis’ and all of them successfully lost weight.
More than that, there seemed to be a palpable sense of relief among the participants that there was a ‘real’ cause for them being overweight. For example, in the case of the ‘feaster’ group, there was an actual hormonal inbalance, which was demonstrated to be corrected with the recommended eating programme. For ‘constant cravers’, their genes played a large role, and ‘emotional eaters’ often had experienced loss or deprivation or developed particular meanings for food, that eating or ‘comfort eating’ helped them to deal with. For us, this was a real highlight. So often, being overweight or trying to lose weight is fraught with other peoples’ judgment, criticism or ‘quick fix’ answers, which can add to an already present sense of failure and self-blame and makes shedding the pounds much harder to achieve.
We don’t know if there was anyone with diabetes in the study – probably not, as those with existing medical conditions may well have been excluded for valid research reasons – but it occurred to us that the recommendations for each of the groups would be equally safe, even ‘generalisable', for anyone wishing to lose weight, whether to enhance their diabetes management or to prevent getting Type 2 diabetes, regardless of what type of eater they are.
This is where the ‘common sense’ bit comes in. All the diets and tips recommended in the programme are not the proverbial ‘rocket science’, but well known and tried and tested ways to lose weight, which have already worked for millions of people, regardless of their ‘eating type’.
You can take the BBC online test on the programme website to identify your eating type and read more about the whole project. However, it’s completely possible, as in our case when we took the test, that you don’t fit exactly into any category. Maybe, there is also a ‘mixed eater type’ group, where you recognise elements of each eating type in yourself, perhaps at different times in your life?
In this case, there may be a danger that the success of this programme and its findings that there may be a ‘designer diet’, might have the opposite effect and put those of us in the possible mixed category above, off dieting altogether, perhaps by creating a response such as ‘there’s no diet that will help me lose weight, so it’s not going to happen and so I might as well not bother trying’?
The truth is, that if you aren’t able to, or don’t want to, know which type of eater you are, but you do still want to lose weight, you may well benefit from the plans put forward for all of groups. So, while we celebrate the success of this new way of looking at losing weight and look forward to its follow-on findings, there’s also the equally massive message - don’t let not knowing your ‘eating type’, or not belonging to a particular designer group, put you off!
We’ve set out the principles that were recommended for the groups and in general below, so you can take your pick and give them all a try if you want, to see what combination works for you. There will be one!
For added motivation and inspiration, you might find our booklets ‘Tips for a Lively 2015’ and ‘How to Make your Healthy Living Wishes a Reality’ both useful and inspiring. They are completely free and available to download from our website now!
Principles for successful losing weight (brackets show the particular group a principle might help most)
• Always eat breakfast – can reduce cravings later in the day
• Eat slowly – helps your body tell your brain when you are full, via hormones (Feasters)
• Eat high glycaemic index foods – again helps to feel full for longer (Feasters and Constant Cravers)
• Get support from others – online, face to face or in groups (Emotional Eaters)
• Gain insight into what food and eating means for you and how you behave around food, including professional help if you need it (Emotional Eaters)
• Eat soup – helps to feel fuller - and very comforting!
• Try Intermittent Fasting – minimum 600 and maximum of 800 calories on each of 2 consecutive days a week and eating normally, but healthily as possible, for the rest of the week – stops you feeling ‘deprived’ of food (Constant Cravers)
Wishing you success in your dieting plans, whatever they involve!