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Weight Loss: Is your personality making you fat?


Could the reason you overeat be caused by the way you think? A new book reveals our brains have a lot to blame in the battle of the bulge.

Ever wondered why your diets aren't working. Well, it may sound controversial but a new book by American neuroscientist and psychiatrist Dr Daniel Amen might just have the answer. Those extra pounds are not down to our calorie count but to the way our brain works.

In his book, The Amen Solution: The Brain Healthy Way to Lose Weight and Keep It Off, Dr Amen argues an insatiable desire for that second helping or those envious glances at other peoples’ plates is because the food we eat doesn't match the type of person we are.

Coming off the back of years of research, the Amen solution looked at why certain people tended to flounder when it came to shedding those pounds and the results were nothing short of startling.

Rather than looking at our metabolisms, Dr Amen focused on identifying food combinations which were more suited to the way we eat and our underlying relationships with the food we put on our plates.

Whilst on the surface this may sound a little new age, the book has been wildly successful in the States with many celebrities rumored to be devotees of the Personality Diet plan. So the question is, who are these personality types and how do food combinations affect their success when it comes to dieting?

Dr Amen writes: 'We looked at the brains of our overweight patients and discovered there was not one brain pattern associated with being overweight: there were at least five different types: compulsive, impulsive, compulsive-impulsive, emotional overeaters and anxious overeaters.'

Having identified these broad personality traits, Dr Amen then went to work researching which food combinations resulted in the most successful diets. If you tend to have trouble sleeping, bear grudges easily and are prone to doing things in excess, the chances are you are a compulsive type and eat accordingly.

According to the personality plan, Compulsive Eaters should stick to salmon, herbal teas and complex carbohydrates which work by improving our happiness levels and making us less prone to those hunger pangs.

As well as asking the question what works best, the Personality Diet makes some suggestions on what to avoid. Whilst it is perfectly fine for Emotional Eaters to cook up those carbs, Impulsive Eaters should avoid these at all costs as they lower concentration levels dramatically and increase the chances of losing that all important diet discipline and going off the rails completely.

The final question the Personality Diet asks is this. If our tendency to overeat is down to our traits as a person, then is what happens away from the fridge just as important? As well as green tea and avoiding St John's Wort, those identified in the Compulsive-Impulsive eating group are advised to set themselves plenty of goals, get plenty of sunlight and take plenty of fresh air.

For some dieters, it could well be that stocking up on happiness is more important than stocking up on Special-K.