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Most diets help only a limited number of people. Recent research shows there are genetic reasons why “one-size-fits-all” approaches to dieting don’t work. A simple analysis of eating habits may help you find the best eating plan.

To help you find this out, try to answer the questions below.

  1. Is food always on your mind?
  2. While cooking, do you feel tempted to eat something?
  3. While passing a plate of chips or biscuits or snacks, do you usually pick one?
  4. Do you feel hungry all the time and crave to eat something or the other?
  5. Do you eat more when you are lonely?
  6. Do you eat more when you are stressed?
  7. Do you eat more when you are excited or anxious?
  8. Do you eat more and your eating speed is high when you are angry?
  9. Do you eat large potions at a time?
  10. When in a party/restaurant, do your friends seem to get full earlier than you?
  11. At the end of the meal, do you still feel that you haven’t had enough?
  12. Whenever you start eating, do you feel you cannot stop even if you have had enough?
If the answers to questions 1-4 are "YES", you are a "Constant Craver", if the answers to questions 5-8 are "YES", you are an "Emotional Eater", and if the answers to questions 9-12 are "YES", you are a "Feaster". If you answered "YES" to questions in different categories, you are probably a combination of more than one category.

Feasters: These people cannot stop eating in a single sitting. Since these people do not secrete enough hormones from their gut to let their brains know that they are full, a high protein and low glycemic index (GI) diet suits them the best.

Their food usually takes longer to digest, so it’s better to include more protein, green leafy vegetables and replace high GI foods like white rice, white bread, pasta, cakes with their low GI alternatives like brown rice, whole wheat breads and pastas.

Constant Cravers: These people enjoy the food above anything else and are at highest risk for obesity. So if one of joys of your life is food, what can you do to shed those extra kilos? Intermittent fasting (two out of seven days) seems to be the only solution for them, while binging on healthy alternatives on the regular days.

Basically, people under this category need to change their eating habits to improve their lifestyle, and on the days when they are fasting they have to consume no more than 800 calories.

Emotional Eaters: People in this group use food to self-medicate, be it the times of high stress, anxiety, crisis or excitement. The key to help these people is to support them in their emotional problems which drive them to eat without even realizing how much they have eaten. Structured diets and clear guidance on how much food can be eaten should be the base of their weight loss regime.

More than one category: These might be people who love eating and also are emotional eaters. Also, there may be people who are feasters as well as emotional eaters. One may also fall under all three categories. In such cases, you need to analyze your diet deeper and try a couple of different approaches before hitting on the right kind of diet.

To a certain degree, you can keep whatever you like to eat in your diet. Simply decrease the portion size and increase the portions of healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, proteins, and whole foods.

This will gradually teach your brain and body how to eat healthier and enjoy it. In a way, by having foods you love in small portions quenches your cravings and motivates you to live a healthier lifestyle.

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  • Photo courtesy of Altemark via Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/altemark/142649790

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