Dr. Anne Dranitsaris, PhD and Heather Dranitsaris-Hilliard believe that this model is not how weight loss should be approached. In their new book, Who Are You Meant to Be?, released January 1, 2013, they outline how an individual’s personality affects their behavior and, in turn, their dieting styles.
“We’re looking at [dieting] through a different lens than most. What is it that’s driving our behaviors? Why do we people behave like we do around food?” said Dranitsaris-Hilliard.
The mother-and-daughter team’s book is not a diet guide, but it may be applied toward eating styles as part of an integrated look at human behavior. Through their research, they have identified eight different “striving styles” and find most individuals fall under one of these.
For example, a Socializer style needs to be connected to others. When this need is not being met, they compensate by mindlessly overeating. A Leader prefers to micromanage and be in control. When they fail to be in control, they may binge eat.
So how do these styles change their bad habits and understand how their brains fuel their eating patterns? The key, says Dranitsaris, is to be connected to what you’re feeling. It’s not enough to know what style you identify the most with and what your bad habits are, you must actively work to change them through self-awareness.
A Socializer could change their habits by remembering to ask themselves, “Is my need to be connected being met?” If they are feeling empty, what do they need to put into their life instead of using food as that emotional crutch? A Stabilizer, who eats to be secure and out of habit, would realize to listen to their body instead, and embark on a way to consciously create new habits. Examples of this would be by scheduling and shopping for the week’s meals in advance.
“The first step is to have self-awareness with yourself and your body, and what you’re telling yourself. Notice your negative self-talk. Most women would never talk to anyone else like they do with themselves,” said Dranitsaris.
The authors say that it is important to have compassion with yourself and your behaviors. When you slip up, realize that it is all right. “It’s never about being perfect at it. Sometimes you just want to eat two pieces of pie!” said Dranitsaris.
To exchange negative self-talk and behaviors takes time and practice, but is well worth it. Instead of feeling guilty and then eating even more after “messing up,” having compassion with yourself lets you move on from your mistakes.
Who Are You Meant To Be? teaches that we do not need to comfort ourselves with food. When we end up not pursuing our dreams and interests, we end up suppressing our true selves. “[Over]eating is a symptom of us not pursuing our full potential,” said Dranitsaris-Hilliard.
Most of us already know how we’ve behaved, as in, “I overate again,” or “I ate something that was not healthy,” the duo explained. Said Dranitsaris, “The key is to understand why you’re behaving like that, and change that behavior.”