Last night I switched on BBC TWO’s “What’s The Right Diet For You? A Horizon Special”. I was expecting the usual ‘which diet’ debate; Weight Watchers vs 5:2, Paleo vs Slimming World, but the concept turned out to be quite different. Instead, the programme examined the psychological issues behind obesity, an area of study which has long been neglected. The experts sought to debunk the myth that obesity issues can be solved with increased willpower and instead they focussed on the theory that bad diets are caused by bad habits. They wanted to prove that these bad habits could be broken by matching overweight participants with the diet that suited them best.
The participants were put through extensive tests and split into three groups, based on the psychological factors that were deemed to be making them fat. Originally I tuned in out of interest, but very soon I found myself identifying clearly with one of the categories.
Once they’ve started eating members of this group find it hard to stop. At a sushi buffet one participant who fell into this category ate 19 plates of sushi, when the normal portion was considered to be between 5 and 6 plates. Scientific tests showed that the Feasters’ gut hormones were failing to tell them when they were feeling full. This group was prescribed a high protein, low GI diet. The diet, often favoured by nutritionists and dieticians as a long term strategy, is a bastion of common sense. The high levels of protein will help fill the Feasters up.
The Emotional Eaters
The Emotional Eaters eat in response to stress. Members of this group use food to cope with stressful events, like a bad day at work or the strains of family life. The best diet for Emotional Eaters? The experts say it’s a calorie controlled diet. It’s probably the diet requiring the most willpower, but the experts decided that a calorie controlled regime gave the emotional eaters the best chance of breaking their bad habits.
The Constant Cravers
Are you constantly thinking about food? Do you always feel hungry? Are you reaching for snacks not long after you’ve finished your meals? Then you’re a Constant Craver. Despite being given a perfectly adequate meal this group were still craving sweet snacks just two hours later. Their genes may play a role in their constant hunger. The diet prescribed for this group was intermittent fasting, more commonly known as the 5:2 diet.