Food and you

Sci­en­tists tackle eat­ing habits by di­ag­nos­ing diet per­son­al­ity type

Life & Style Weekend - - FASHION AND FITNESS - BY Letea Ca­van­der

AN ONLINE tool has been de­signed to help Aussies an­a­lyse how their per­son­al­ity type in­flu­ences their re­la­tion­ship with food. A team of sci­en­tists at the CSIRO has found that be­havioural pat­terns can play an im­por­tant role when it comes to suc­cess­fully main­tain­ing a diet.

Diet types help Aus­tralians bet­ter un­der­stand their per­son­al­i­ties and what they need to do to change their eat­ing habits.

One of the be­havioural sci­en­tists who cre­ated the online tool, Dr Sinead Gol­ley, said there was much im­prove­ment to be made in Aus­tralians’ eat­ing habits.

The coun­try scored poorly (59 out of 100) on the CSIRO diet score, which com­pares the qual­ity of Aus­tralians’ food choices to the coun­try’s di­etary guide­lines.

How­ever, the be­havioural sci­en­tist said Aussies were also re­ally mo­ti­vated to start healthy habits.

“At this time of year, around New Year’s, peo­ple are re­ally se­ri­ously think­ing about mak­ing these changes, which is fan­tas­tic to have a mo­ti­vated group of peo­ple who un­der­stand that change is nec­es­sary,” Dr Gol­ley said.

“But we’re not see­ing that trans­late into a bet­ter qual­ity of diet, so that made us won­der about what might be hap­pen­ing. It seems while peo­ple are very mo­ti­vated to make these changes it’s trans­lat­ing them long-term which is where they may be hit­ting hur­dles.”

To de­ter­mine a per­son’s diet type, par­tic­i­pants fill in a five-minute online as­sess­ment that analy­ses their psy­cho­log­i­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics re­lat­ing to food. Once the sur­vey is com­pleted, par­tic­i­pants re­ceive in­stant, per­son­alised feed­back about their diet type pro­file and, more im­por­tantly, tips on how to man­age the long-term change.

“Diet change re­quires such a massive and some­times over­whelm­ing change in peo­ple’s lives. They not only have to change what they eat, but how of­ten they eat, the in­gre­di­ents they use and things like that. It can be quite over­whelm­ing to sus­tain changes that are that large,” Dr Gol­ley said.

“We looked at per­son­al­ity and also be­hav­iour change the­ory in or­der to clas­sify peo­ple on fac­tors we thought were go­ing to be quite rel­e­vant in terms of main­tain­ing a diet. Per­son­al­ity was a key fac­tor, but also things like how in­volved peo­ple are in food, how they deal with emo­tions and crit­i­cism and things like im­pul­siv­ity.”

The be­havioural sci­en­tists iden­ti­fied the fol­low­ing five main diet per­son­al­ity types:

THE THINKER – Overthinki­ng leads to stress and mood swings which can de­rail your eat­ing pat­terns

THE CRAVER – Your height­ened ex­pe­ri­ence of crav­ings can lead to overeat­ing in a va­ri­ety of “tricky’’ sit­u­a­tions

THE FOODIE – Food is on your mind 24/7 – you love mak­ing, eat­ing and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing it

THE SOCIALISER – Flex­i­bil­ity is es­sen­tial – you won’t let strict food re­stric­tions sti­fle your so­cial life

THE FREE­WHEELER – Spon­ta­neous and im­pul­sive, you tend to make choices in the here and now.

Take the five-minute diet type as­sess­ment to find out why you eat and how you can learn to eat bet­ter at di­et­


The CSIRO has come up with an online tool that as­sesses Aussies’ per­son­al­i­ties and clas­si­fies them into one of five diet types.

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