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Want to eat well? Let your personality be your guide
Your personality type--people pleaser, procrastinator--has a lot to do with how you take care of your health

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Date published: 11/30/2008

HOW YOU DEAL with stress affects your weight and your health. As a dietitian, I've met smart people whose plans for eating and exercising get derailed in stressful situations. And unless you live in a bubble, stress happens. A lot.

So I was excited to hear last month about a weight-management method that teaches people how to cope with stress. Dr. Robert Kushner and registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner drew an audience of thousands at the recent American Dietetic Association in Chicago with their ideas about weight and personality.

I was especially fascinated with what Kushner called the seven coping patterns that affect how people take care of their health. He gave them catchy names:








Kushner and his wife, Nancy, a nurse, co-authored the book, "Dr. Kushner's Personality Type Diet," that describes these seven coping styles, along with seven eating and exercising styles.

Your styles can improve with different strategies.

In this column, I'll go over the first three coping styles, which Blatner said are the most common. Next week, I'll discuss the last four styles.


According to Kushner, people with this personality pattern put off losing weight. For example, I knew an accomplished woman who wanted to lose weight but had a new excuse each week about why she didn't follow her plan: Relatives visited, she traveled or she was busy. Everyday life was a constant barrier.

I struggle with procrastination myself, and I am not alone. One in every five adults is a chronic procrastinator, according to a survey published in the North American Journal of Psychology.

If you delay things needlessly, Kushner suggests four strategies for getting unstuck:

First: List the pros and cons of taking action.

Pros of eating well might include feeling better, having healthier skin, losing weight, and reducing risks of heart disease and cancer. Cons might include taking more time to plan meals and worrying about whether family members are willing to try new, healthier foods.

Once you've listed the pros and cons of taking action, brainstorm ways to make your action plan more pleasant--such as finding healthy treats. Also, imagine ways to overcome the "cons," such as checking out a book with time-saving, ready-made healthy menus.

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Jennifer Motl is a registered dietitian. Formerly of Fredericksburg, she now lives in Wisconsin.