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The 6 Types Of Unhealthy Eaters -- And What Triggers Their Bad Habits

04/29/2015 11:57 am ET | Updated Apr 29, 2015

Most health and diet advice tends to focus on the types of food you're putting in your body, but Brad Lamm believes why you eat is just as important as what you eat. As the founder of the Breathe Life Healing Center, he's helped countless people change their eating habits and has noticed six distinct eating styles that initially hinder their path to better health. The key, Lamm tells #OWNSHOW in the above video, is pinpointing which eating style you most relate to and learning the triggers that have you heading to the kitchen.

Emotional Eater

woman eating ice cream

These eaters tend to use food to fill an emotional void, closely linking their eating habits to their emotions without realizing what's beneath the surface. "You confuse your feelings," Lamm says. "You think, 'I feel bored,' but that's camouflage for 'I'm disconnected, or lonely, or angry, or sad, or even happy.'"

The trigger for an emotional eater, therefore, is that they excuse their binge eating by saying that they're experiencing one of these particular feelings. To overcome this trigger, Lamm says, it's all about awareness.

"Connect with the feeling [beneath the urge]," he says. "Also, consider a quarantine. For example: From 8 p.m. to bedtime, you find that's the hardest time of the day; finish foraging and feeding at 8 p.m."

Habitual Eater

woman eating in car

Habitual eaters crave routine, and if that routine gets disrupted, chaos breaks loose. "When you get overscheduled, everything goes out the window," Lamm says. "You make excuses [and the] 'just this once' routine comes up."

To prevent this excuse from happening, Lamm suggests planning your meals. "Pack your own," he says. "[Also, using] the mental reminder of 'not my food' is really useful when you're looking at the food that doesn't deserve you."

External Eater

woman tempted by sweets

"You see it, you eat it," Lamm says of the external eater. "It's the cupcake in the store window that cries out to you like a puppy, says, 'Take me home!'"

What can help external eaters avoid this trap is distraction. "Phone a friend. Create something to take the place of the food you find 'talking' to you," Lamm suggests. "Ask yourself, 'Is this my food? Really, is this the kind of food I want to put into me?'"

Critical Eater

woman sandwich

Critical eaters have buckets of knowledge about food and fitness, but tend to get caught up in the rigid rules they've set for themselves. "You're the person who has the diet down to a ritual... You tend toward all-or-nothing thinking with the food and habits around it," Lamm explains.

So, he says, try relaxing your rules a bit. "Concentrate on a notion of 'more good, less bad,''' he adds. "Put fasts, cleanses and magic pill challenges at rest."

Sensual Eater

woman with cake

For the sensual eater, food becomes about pleasure. "You make love to the savory sauces, the sweet confections," Lamm says.

To prevent overindulgence, try this seemingly counterintuitive approach: Don't deny yourself food. Instead, focus on portion control. "Really look at the volume," Lamm says. "Split a meal, a side, a dessert. You don't have to eat it all. [And] give yourself some time to enjoy the taste and textures, then listen when your belly says, 'Hey, I'm satisfied.'"

Energy Eater

woman eating a pastry

These types of eaters respond to cues that many other tend to overlook, understanding when they are full and when they are actually hungry. The trouble, however, is that energy eaters still feel as if it's not enough.

"This is my primary eating style," Lamm admits. "The energy of a cycle of craving and feeding based on legit need and volume can actually really get confusing."

Luckily, there's one simple concept that can help keep energy eaters on the right track: Eat snacks no larger than your fist.

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