Identifying how and why you eat can be really helpful when making changes to your food intake.
Taking some time to reflect on your eating style will provide you with more awareness around your personal relationship with food.
Below we’ve provided some practical tips to help you overcome your individual barriers and triggers. Feel free to share your eating style with your group and mentor to get additional personalised feedback and support.
Start off with our quiz to find out what type of eater you are, followed by some tips to help you make healthy choices:
1. Why do you usually eat?
A) Because the food is there
B) Food makes me feel good
C) I eat when I’m hungry
D) I love the taste of food
E) I eat to be social with my family and friends2
2. In which situation are you most likely to eat?
A) I’m frequently picking or snacking throughout the day
B) If I’m upset or stressed
C) When it’s been 5 hours since my last meal
D) When the food looks and smells delicious
E) In a social setting
3. You’ve just had a lousy day. Do you:
A) Graze on whatever you can find, without thinking about what you’re eating
B) Find comfort in a tub of ice cream or a few chocolate biscuits
C) Eat your usual dinner
D) Prepare your favourite meal
E) Call a friend and ask to meet up for dinner
4. While preparing dinner for your family, do you:
A) Nibble on the ingredients for the meal as you cook
B) Plan to eat what’s on the plate, but often end up going for seconds
C) Follow the recipe very carefully
D) Think about different recipes or flavour combinations
E) Ask the kids or your partner to get involved with the cooking and have a chat about your day
5. You’re down at the pub with friends and fancy a snack. Do you:
A) Pick away at the nuts provided
B) Order a bowl of chips because you’ve had a long day
C) Wait until you get home for dinner
D) Try the delicious looking arancini balls on the menu
E) Share a few dishes with your friends
Mostly A’s – Mindless muncher
Have you ever found yourself staring at the bottom of a packet of crisps and not remembering how you got there? If you’re a mindless muncher, you may often graze throughout the day and eat whilst doing other activities like driving, working at your desk or watching TV. This means it’s likely you aren’t focused on the type of food you’re eating or how much you’re having.
Mindful eating practices can be really helpful in overcoming this. Firstly, try to avoid screen time when you’re eating. This includes turning off the TV, putting away your phone or avoiding eating at your desk. Focus on all your senses when you eat a meal or snack. What does it look, smell, feel and taste like? Run through each of these questions as you eat the food.
Mostly B’s – Emotional eater
Do you ever crave certain foods like ice cream or chocolate when you’re feeling stressed, upset or anxious? Like many people, you tend to turn to food to take your mind off these emotions. However, it’s often foods which are highly processed that you crave, and you may find it difficult to control your portion size.
Try to overcome this by finding other outlets for your stress such as taking a bath, going for walk, reading a good book, taking five deep breaths, playing a game of golf or going for a drive. Identify situations that trigger emotional eating behaviours for you and prepare for these in advance.
Mostly C’s – Habitual eater
Food isn’t a high priority for you. You likely have a set food routine that you stick to each week. Your motto is “you eat to live” rather than the other way around. This can often lead to selecting takeout or pre-prepared meals, rather than trying new recipes or cooking food at home. As a result, your diet may lack variety.
To overcome this, put together a meal plan at the beginning of the week so you know exactly what meals to prepare and are less likely to pick up a quick takeaway meal. Also, try setting yourself a goal of trying two new foods or one new recipe each week.
Mostly D’s – The foodie
Food is a passion of yours. You love trying new foods, looking at food, cooking and finding new recipes. Unlike a habitual eater, you “live to eat”. However, a love of exploring new foods may lead you to overindulge.
It’s important to make sure you keep plenty of variety in your weekly meal plan, so you don’t get bored. You could spend some time each week browsing through recipes and enjoy adapting these to fit in with the Second Nature guidelines. When eating out, take a look at the menu before you arrive and plan what you will eat so you don’t get tempted by everything on the menu! Try to be mindful of your portion size. If you want to taste a variety of foods, perhaps order two starters and share a dessert, rather than a full three-course meal.
Mostly E’s – The social butterfly
You love socialising with friends and family and this usually involves food or drink. It could be catching up over a coffee, out at a restaurant or for wine after work. This can be challenging as you may find yourself eating out often, forgetting about exactly what or how much you are eating. You may also be influenced by what other people are eating and drinking.
Next time you have a catch up planned with a friend, how about you suggest getting a takeaway coffee or tea and going for a walk instead. Having a healthy snack before you meet up can also prevent you from being tempted by the cakes or biscuits on offer. When eating at a friend’s house, you could offer to bring along a healthy plate of food to share. These strategies can also help to get your family and friends on board so that they can support you with your healthy lifestyle changes too.