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5 Research Findings To Reveal The Connection Between Your Food Choices And Personality Type

5 Research Findings To Reveal The Connection Between Your Food Choices And Personality Type

We live in a society that is obsessed with food. You’ll find plenty of self-proclaimed gourmets who enjoy eating food a little bit too much, and there are also the fitness zealots with body-image issues who subside on nuts and berries. Most people fall somewhere in between, and we all tend to have different tastes and affinities. However, there has been quite a bit of research done on finding a link between someone’s personality and his or her eating habits, and it looks like there are certain traits that makes us more likely to engage in specific eating behaviors.

In this article we will be looking at five research findings that suggest a connection between food choices and certain personality types. The ultimate goal is to examine the findings to determine whether they are accurate and reliable, i.e. to see if we can use the information to our advantage and make a positive lifestyle change.

1. Thrill seekers love spicy food

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Spicy food

    Way back in the 70’s, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania argued that the reason why people enjoy the burning sensation of spicy food, is the same reason why some people enjoy potentially dangerous activities, i.e. they were thrill seekers. Further research, like the work of Nadia Byrnes and John Haze has supposedly shown that sensation seekers – determined with the use of the Arnett Inventory of Sensation Seeking test – handle spicy food much better than other people.

    The research involved giving people water infused with capsaicin, the active ingredient in hot peppers, and having them answer questions on how intense the sensation felt and whether they enjoyed it. Although there are several other factors that can account for this affinity towards spicy food, cultural background and upbringing being the major ones, the study is quite solid and offers an interesting insight.

    2. People-pleasers tend to overeat when they have company

    The fact that social butterflies end up eating a bit more than they should won’t really come as much of a surprise to anyone who regularly eats out with friends and has guests over for several hours a day several times a week. When you are out and about you are bound to get tempted to have another snack if a friend grabs some fast food, but it seems that those who are eager to please others are at much greater risk of overeating throughout the day. A study done on pairs of young women concluded that people tend to mimic their companions’ eating habits, so someone who is a big eater can easily set the tempo and cause others to overeat.

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    However it’s not merely about mimicking our friends, as a Case Western Reserve University study from a few years back shows. Namely, those who were found to be inclined toward people-pleasing – as determined with the use of a questionnaire – readily accepted candy offered to them by an actor pretending to be another participant in the study, and took more than other participants.

    3. Overly emotional people tend to gorge on snacks in secret

    Sweets

      We are all well aware of the fact that some people are emotional eaters, meaning that they use food as a coping mechanism in times of stress, but those who tend to be more in touch with their emotions reportedly have a nasty little secret when it comes to food. A weight loss firm named LighterLife recently conducted a survey on 2000 women to find out more about the average woman’s eating habits, and discovered that a shockingly high percentage of women sneak away to have a secret snack on a regular basis.

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      Around 40% of the women said that they were aware that these covert snacks were a problem, as they were overweight, but simply couldn’t resist the temptation. Some even felt so ashamed of their habit that they resorted to eating in the bathroom under lock and key, or stashing extra snacks in locked drawers. Such polls are a good rough estimate of average trends amongst the population, and it looks like this is a large-scale problem that can seriously affect diet adherence. This secret eating habit can ruin even the most well-thought-out diet and exercise plan.

      4. Conscientious people are more likely to eat fruit and vegetables

      Fruit salad

        In 2005, a study was conducted using the International Personality Item Pool Big Five short-form questionnaire, which you can take a look at here,  to determine personality types of the participants and a health assessment questionnaire that examined behaviors including eating habits. It was determined that conscientious people tended to eat more fruit and vegetables, and choose overall healthier meals. Extroverts were shown to be more prone to risky behavior and bad food choices.

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        When you think about it, someone who is a bit less social and doesn’t drink too much is less likely to feast on fast food in the late hours of the night, so the study kind of goes along with what a lot of us already understood on an intuitive level. The interesting thing is that, with the vegan and raw food movements gaining popularity, and crazy crash diets giving way to meal delivery focused on plant-based food, it seems like a large chunk of the population falls into the conscientious category.

        5. Extroverts can’t say no to animal fat, sweets and alcohol

        The study in the previous paragraph already pointed towards extroverts being more susceptible to the allure of junk food, but there is another interesting recent study published in the Appetite journal that found that extroverts have an affinity towards fatty, savory and sweet foods, as well as sugary soft drinks.

        This was linked to social behavior directly related to the extrovert personality type, i.e. this personality type eats out more frequently and engages in group activities where high-calorie foods abound. The random population sample size was large enough to point out certain trends, however we should always be careful when trying to extrapolate such data and use it to come to generalized conclusions. One good thing we can draw from the study is that extroverts’ diets are influenced by outside factors which can be controlled to a great extent.

        These are just a few interesting studies that have shown some links between a person’s personality type and his or her food choices. It is a topic that definitely requires further detailed research, but even with the information we have available right now it is possible to come to a few conclusions, based on which you might be able to slowly start developing better eating habits. It always helps to understand why we are drawn to some foods if we are looking to make a big lifestyle change like switching to a healthier diet.

        Featured photo credit: cute little girl eating watermelon on the grass in summertime/Lana K via shutterstock.com

        More by this author

        Ivan Dimitrijevic

        Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

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        Last Updated on October 14, 2020

        Had a Bad Day? 7 Ways to Rebound From It and Feel Good Again

        Had a Bad Day? 7 Ways to Rebound From It and Feel Good Again

        Today didn’t turn out as you planned, but it doesn’t mean you’re weak. It simply means that you’re human, and you’re not bad just because you had a bad day.

        “Not everyday is a good day but there is something good in every day.” -Alice Morse Earle

        It’s not the end of the world when you find yourself thinking “I had a bad day,” but it can feel like it. You may have had plans that fell apart, experiences that set you back, and interactions that only did harm.

        You may have started the day thinking you could take on it all, only to find you could hardly get out of bed. When you have a bad day, you can forget to look at the good.

        Sometimes, self-care helps us to remember why we are worth it. It helps us to recharge and reset our mindset. It helps us to know that there are still options and that the day isn’t over yet.

        Love yourself today, no matter how hard it’s been. That’s the way to find yourself amidst the hardships you have. That’s how you center yourself and regain focus and live a more meaningful life. Give yourself some credit and compassion.

        Here are 7 ways to rebound from a bad day using self-compassion as a tool. If you had a bad day, these are for you!

        1. Make a Gratitude List

        In a study on gratitude, psychologists Dr. Robert A Emmons and Dr. Michael E. McCullough conducted an experiment where one group of people wrote out gratitude lists for ten weeks while another group wrote about irritations. The study found that the group that wrote about gratitude reported more optimistic mindsets in their lives[1].

        Overall, having a gratitude list improved well-being and made one truly grateful by counting the blessings in their lives.

        Write a list of what you are grateful for if you had a bad day. Make it as long as you like, but also remember to note why you’re grateful for each thing you write.

        What has given you the most joy? What has set you up for better days? Keep a tally of triumphs in mind, especially when you do have the bad days.

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        The day doesn’t define you, and you still have things of value that surround you. These could be material things, spiritual connections and experiences, relationships, basic needs, emotional and mental well-being, physical health, progress towards hopes and dreams, or simply being alive.

        Here are some other simple ways to practice gratitude.

        2. Write in a Journal

        Journaling affects your overall mental health, which also affects physical health and aids in the management of stress, depression, anxiety, and more[2].

        All you need is a pen and paper, or you could do an online, password-protected journal such as Penzu. The key is to get started and not pressure yourself on how polished or perfect it is. You don’t need to have prior experience to start journal writing. Just start.

        Write out everything that is bothering you for 15 minutes. This helps with rumination, processing problems, and can even aid with brainstorming solutions.

        However you approach it, you can find patterns of thinking that no longer serve you and start to transform your overall mental state. This will impact all areas of your life and is a great coping skill.

        3. Meditate

        Meditation can help you overcome negative thought patterns, worrying about the future, dwelling on the past, or struggling to overcome a bad day[3]. It shifts your mentality and helps you focus on the present or any one thing you truly want to focus on.

        Here is an example of a meditation you can do:

        Get into a comfortable position. Close your eyes. Rest your body, release tension, and unclench your jaw. Tighten and release each muscle group in a body scan for progressive muscle relaxation.

        Focus on your breath, taking a few deep breaths. Let your belly expand when you breathe in for diaphragmatic breathing. Empty yourself completely of air, then return to normal breathing.

        Next, focus on the idea of self-love and let it erase negative thoughts. Think about the ways you’ve been judging yourself, with the narratives coming up that your mind may create.

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        Give yourself unconditional love and release judgment. Take your time meditating on this because you matter. This is particularly important if you had a bad day.

        Check out this article for more on how to get started with a meditation practice.

        4. Do Child’s Pose

        Yoga Outlet says:

        “Child’s Pose is a simple way to calm your mind, slow your breath, and restore a feeling of peace and safety. Practicing the pose before bedtime can help to release the worries of the day. Practicing in the morning can you help transition from sleeping to waking.”[4]

        When you do Child’s Pose, it can be between difficult positions in yoga, or it can be anytime you feel you need a rest. It helps you recover from difficulties and relax the mind.

        It also has the physical health benefits of elongating your back, opening your hips, and helping with digestion[5].

        To do Child’s Pose, rest your buttocks back on your feet, knees on the floor. Elongate your body over your knees with both arms extended or tucked back, with head and neck resting on the floor[6].

        Had a bad day? Try Child's Pose.

           

          Do this pose as a gift to yourself. You are allowing yourself to heal, rest, get time for yourself, recover, and recharge. When you’ve had a bad day, it’s there waiting for you.

          5. Try Positive Self-Talk

          Engage in positive self-talk. This is essentially choosing your thoughts.

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          When you have a negative thought, such as “I can’t do this,” replace it consciously with the thought “I can do this.” Give yourself positive affirmations to help with this.

          Negative self-talk fits into four general categories: personalizing or blaming yourself, magnifying or only focusing on the negative, catastrophizing or expecting the worst to happen, and polarizing or only seeing back and white[7].

          When you stop blaming yourself for everything and start focusing on the positive, expecting things to work out, and seeing the areas of grey in life, you reverse these negative mindsets and engage in positive self-talk.

          When you speak words of kindness to yourself, your brain responds with a more positive attitude. That attitude will affect everything you do. It’s how you take care of yourself if you had a bad day.

          Check in with yourself to know when you are having negative self-talk. Are you seeing patterns? When did they start to become a problem? Are you able to turn these thoughts around?

          6. Use Coping Skills and Take a Break

          Use your coping skills. This means not letting your thoughts take control of yourself.

          You can distract yourself and escape a bit. Do things you love. You can exercise, listen to music, dance, volunteer or help someone, be in nature, or read a book.

          It isn’t about repression. It’s about redirection. You can’t stay in thoughts that are no longer working for you.

          Sometimes, it’s okay to get out of your own way. Give yourself a break from the things going on in your head. You can always come back to a problem later. This may even help you figure out the best course of action as sometimes stepping away is the only way to see the solution.

          If you had a bad day, you may not feel like addressing what went wrong. You may need a break, so take one.

          7. If a Bad Day Turns Into Bad Days

          “I believe depression is legitimate. But I also believe that if you don’t exercise, eat nutritious food, get sunlight, get enough sleep, consume positive material, surround yourself with support, then you aren’t giving yourself a fighting chance.” –Jim Carrey

          If you’ve been feeling out of control, depressed, or unstable for more than a few weeks, it’s time to call a mental health professional. This is not because you have failed in any way. It’s because you are human, and you simply need help.

          You may not be able to quickly rebound from a bad day, and that’s fine. Feel what you feel, but don’t let it consume you.

          When you talk to a professional, share the techniques that you have already tried here and whether they were helpful. They may tell you additional ideas or gain insights from your struggles of not being able to rebound from a series of bad days.

          If you’re having more than just a bad day, they will want to know. If you don’t have the answers, that’s okay, too. You just need to try these tools and figure out how you’re feeling. That’s all that’s required of you.

          Keep taking care of yourself. Any progress is progress, no matter how small. Give yourself a chance to get better by reaching out.

          Final Thoughts

          If you had a bad day, don’t let it stop you.

          Know this: It’s okay not to be okay. You have a right to feel what you feel. But there is something you can do about it.

          You can invest in yourself via self-care.

          You are not alone in this. Everyone has bad days from time to time. You just need to know that you are the positive things you tell yourself.

          More Things You Can Do If You Had a Bad Day

          Featured photo credit: Anthony Tran via unsplash.com

          Reference

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