As a personal trainer, when I'm writing nutrition and training programmes for my clients, their personality is a key consideration. Even a diet plan perfectly tailored to your physical requirements and daily schedule is going to fall flat if it's not structured in a way that motivates you to stick to it. In this article, I'm going to discuss five key 'diet personalities' and the ways in which you can adapt your diet plan to make it a good fit for YOU. So here we have it...
Pros: You have the drive and motivation to achieve whatever goal you set your mind to. You're efficient, organised and have a great deal of will power and self-discipline. You have a strong work ethic and will always strive to be the very best at what you do.
Cons: You can get too focused on a certain goal, to point of obsession. You panic about any loss of control and you find it difficult to multi-task or take a flexible approach to your goal. You are very hard on yourself and the smallest 'slip-up' can feel like a huge failure.
Tip for Controllers: It's important to harness your drive and dedication in a healthy, balanced way. Spontaneity is never going to feel comfortable, so the work-around is to make 'flexibility' an integral part of your diet plan. Schedule rest days, plan 'treat' meals and allocate a certain number of free calories per day or week, so that 'off plan' eating becomes 'on plan'.
Pros: You are driven by a determination to be the best and you pull out all the stops to make it happen.
Cons: Competition is your key motivation, so once that's taken out of the equation, you can find it a struggle to push yourself. You're either at full speed or a complete stop, with nowhere in between. You are prone to yo-yo dieting.
Tip for Competitors: There's nothing wrong with having competition as your driving force, but it's important to recognise this and ensure that there's always a competitive element to your goals. Participate in group transformation challenges, sign up for fitness events and compete against people who are currently closer to your goal than you are, to give you that extra push.
Pros: You're so inventive with food that you never feel deprived on your diet. Your meals are varied and nutritious and you set a great example to everyone about how fun and easy dieting can be.
Cons: You get bored easily, so when life gets in the way and you're too busy to experiment in the kitchen, you struggle with diet motivation.
Tip for Creators: When you know you're going to be extra busy, set aside a few hours each week to bulk cook or pre-prepare a variety of meal components. You can throw these together in different combinations over the course of the week to keep your meals varied and interesting, whilst remaining consistent and time-effective.
Pros: When on track, you're good at maintaining a healthy balance between your diet and the rest of your life. When you fall off the diet wagon, you normally jump back on pretty quickly. Of all the diet personalities, you have the most natural propensity to maintain a healthy, flexible diet long-term.
Cons: You struggle with cravings and don't always have the self-control to moderate how you act on these. This slows your progress and can leave you feeling frustrated and disappointed.
Tip for Cravers: Take a leaf out of the creators' book and either find or create healthier versions of the foods you crave. Keep emergency supplies on hand for when those cravings hit - ensure that there's always a pre-prepared healthy snack to grab and put together a 'fitspo pack' of aspirational photos, motivational quotes and your own progress photos - a flick through this will usually make you think twice about finishing that entire box of choccies. Cravings can also be a result of diet imbalances - deficiencies in omega 3, zinc and magnesium are some common culprits - so ensure you're meeting all your nutrient requirements.
The Coulda Woulda Shouda
Pros: You know what you want to achieve and you put time into researching how you're going to get there.
Cons: You don't put the above into action. You tend to procrastinate and there's always a reason not to start today, or to give up shortly after you have started. You seek a quick and easy solution, so struggle with the patience and perseverance involved in an effective diet plan.
Tip for CWSs: Don't intimidate yourself with a huge goal - instead, take it one small step at a time. Give yourself something small and achievable to do towards your goal each day. Plan one week at a time, but take a nonsense-approach to the planning: schedule your workouts and food prep time in the diary. Tell people at home, at work and in your social circle exactly what you're doing to remain accountable to them and keep a food diary to remain accountable to yourself.
Like me, you'll probably find your diet personality is a combination of these. I'd say I'm 40% Controller, 30% Craver, 15% Creator and 15% Competitor, so I apply the aforementioned advice for each of these to my nutrition plan and keep an eye out for any of the associated negative tendencies. Identify and embrace your own personal diet style and who knows... you may just find yourself with the winning formula to a successful and sustainable diet!
For more information on my tailored online nutrition plans, visit charli-cohen.com/bespoke-plans.
So over to you: what's YOUR diet personality?