Find Your Nutrition Personality

How does your personality affect your ability to live a healthier lifestyle? Perhaps you have your diet under control, but exercise in fits and starts, unable to maintain consistency. Or perhaps you are exceedingly disciplined in working out regularly, but are too impatient to keep the food journal that would help you rein in your habitual overeating. Analyzing your personality—appreciating your strengths while honestly acknowledging and balancing your weaknesses—may give you the self-knowledge you need to get and stay healthy.

You can’t really change your basic personality, nor do you need to. A particular personality trait is two-sided—useful in some situations, not so helpful in others. By analyzing how your innate traits affect your health and well-being, you can come up with strategies to channel your tendencies—so they’re always strengths, never weaknesses.

Here are some personality traits that might make a difference, and tips to help you use them to meet your health-related goals:

Are you an extrovert or an introvert? While it’s perfectly natural to lean one way or the other, it’s probably helpful to look for ways to balance your dominant tendency.

If you’re an extrovert, you may have a tendency to let social situations dictate your program or unduly influence your choices—for example, by getting off-track at the monthy potluck. Instead:
  • Organize or get involved in friendly competitions that not only challenge you to stay on track with your nutrition goals, but allow you to encourage and help others.
  • Eat healthfully in social ways: swap tasty but healthy recipes or share meals/desserts when eating out.
Introverts are more oriented toward an inner world of ideas and face the opposite challenge: a stubborn tendency to go it alone, forgoing the support, motivation, and companionship others might offer. Some possible solutions:
  • Make reading or learning about  a motivational tool that can help energize you.
  • Look for quasi-social ways to get support (within your comfort zone), like lurking (or getting brave and posting!) on the SparkPeople message boards.
  • Capitalize on your penchant for defining success by measuring your previous accomplishments against current performances.
Are you a careful planner or an impulsive improviser? Both have their virtues. The planner faithfully counts calories and miles walked, while the improviser doesn’t stress out when an unexpected menu change at his favorite restaurant requires adaptability.

Some tips for planners:
  • Make a conscious effort to branch out periodically, try new things, and allow for variety, whether ordering at a restaurant or shopping for vegetables
  • Satisfy your need to bring things to completion by keeping a checklist of the goals you set and accomplish
  • Occasionally allow yourself to be "carried along" in both health endeavors and fun things, which can be rewards for meeting your goals (This means you must cut back on overbooking your schedule!).
Strategies for improvisers::
  • Pick some healthy "go to" meals which allow you to literally change course on quick notice, whether an important meeting pops up or you just don't feel like cooking tonight.
  • Pair up with another improviser who's flexible and open to new activities, but will help hold you accountable in maintaining consistency
Are you intuitive or analytical? Both approaches can likely lead to success. Being honest about which way you lean will help you find the middle road that’s effective.

Intuitive personalities generally resist record-keeping, assuming they just "know" whether they’ve been good or bad. To be more accurate and ensure success, try to:
  • Adopt simple record-keeping systems nutrition that have components which make sense to you—portion sizes (simply small, medium, and large), etc.
  • Rate your success in meeting daily and weekly goals on a scale of 1-10— intuitives tend to see "the big picture"
Although the analytical personality can turn record-keeping into a major obsession, being detail-oriented has its rewards: problem-solving skills that can be used to identify and overcome fitness obstacles.
  • Do you set goals that are so unrealistic you can never meet them? Use your talents to break goals and activities into smaller, realistic pieces that can be more easily accomplished.
  • Avoid getting bogged down in too much measurement detail. Instead, pick one or two (such as weight or inches lost) to assess once or twice a week.
  • Find a way to learn more about health and fitness trends on a regular basis, whether using the library, internet, or reputable magazine. Like the introvert, you enjoy exposure to new ideas and data. Make a point to learn about any personal issue you grapple with, such as emotional overeating or how to successfully quit smoking.

Diet Personality Profiler

If you’re looking for a little motivation to get healthy, the SparkPeople Diet Personality Profiler can help you find a program to get excited about. Find out what online resources will work for your program with our quick 15 question quiz. Click here to start the quiz now!

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Member Comments

I like this article. I know some people eat the same thing over and over and will not try anything new. I think when you are adventuous to count calories may be a little bit challenging, but it is do-able. Report


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