Does Your Personality Affect How You Eat?

Anybody who has been paid any attention to dieting at all knows that emotions and discipline all come into play when a person tries to eat better. A recent study published in journal Appetite and conducted at ETH Zurich matches specific personality traits with eating habits. Using a reasonably large sample, the researchers have showed that how we eat correlates with our personalities. Perhaps this is the old saw “you are what you eat” reversed and adapted. “You eat what you do because of who you are.” While this study focuses on correlation rather than cause and effect, it’s interesting to speculate on how personality affects diet.

As you might suspect, people who score high in conscientiousness (mainly the Judging types in our model), eat the healthiest. They eat more fruits and vegetables and avoid sweet and savory foods, along with the sugars, fats and salts therein. Sugary drinks are not on their menus either. It makes sense. People who have these traits take care of business and promote responsibility. Those who are conscientious also live longer. Interestingly, people who score high in openness to experience (our Intuitive types intellectually, and Observant and Prospecting types experientially) also go for healthier fruits and vegetables and shun meats and soft drinks like their conscientious friends.

Those who score high in neuroticism are also more likely to eat the sweet and savory foods the conscientious types reject. These are the people with more volatile emotions making them likely candidates for emotional eating. They may actively seek out comfort foods. They also have problems when it comes to regulating their intake. In other words, they may overeat. While not all of those who have the Turbulent type variant will score high in neuroticism that is the most likely place in our model for those who do.

On the other side of the coin, our Feeling personality types are also likely candidates to score high in agreeableness. They typically aim for harmony with others. Agreeable eaters are more likely to be vegetarians or at least not eat as much meat. Does the harmony they seek in people extend to animals or are there other things going on?

Extraverts are a mixed-bag when it comes to health. While having vigorous social connections is seen as a health benefit in many studies, it apparently fosters poor eating habits in this study. Extraverts admit to eating more sweets, more savory food, and more soft drinks. If you need confirmation of why this is likely, attend just about any party or other social event where there’s food. Whether “partying” is the reason they eat poorly or not is just speculation. But the question remains: does the healthy aspect of having more people in one’s life balance out poor eating habits in the long-run?

This study explains some things which most of us understand intuitively. But it also raises some interesting questions.

Does this study ring true with your traits and eating habits? Do you identify with it or would you argue with the ideas it suggests? Join the conversation and let us know.

14 hours ago
INTP-T here. I’m a vegetarian b/c of meat intolerance (& maybe I wouldn’t have liked meat otherwise anyway). Also have intolerance of sugar alcohols. Used to have a big sweet tooth, but it’s maybe ¾-dead now since my dr put me on a diet to try to cure chronic mono & other chronic infections, also arthritis. Now I have to have extra fat & protein (so, in my case, it’s mainly extra eggs & cheese), no sugar except ‘sm.’ amts of honey (so far, more like med.), no white flour or white potatoes, & everything natural. Already I didn’t eat GMOs b/c they seem dangerous, or artificial sweeteners b/c they don’t taste sweet but only like chemicals. Also, I hate certain textures, mainly bread w/ dough conditioner in it (esp. if it gets at all wet—turns into horrible goo), & undercooked & overboiled eggs (I eat eggs done any way, just WELL-done). Maybe all this makes me a picky eater too.
1 month ago
You know what, as a non-judger like I am myself, this is accurate. I have a sweet tooth and I like things that are sweet, savory, saucy, and salty with carbs as well. I'm also a picky eater just so you know.
1 year ago
I try to eat as healthy and environment conserving as possible without putting too much effort into it (for example I rarely go to specialised bio stores, because there are none in my area or on my way to work. But about 90% of Schitzels and bolognese sauce that I eat are vegetarian variants. But that mainly started a few years ago. I got used to eating way less sugar in a very short time. I would also prefer way less plastic, but stores make it really difficult. 100% of my paper is back sides of sheets that I get in school. (INTJA)
2 years ago
I'm an INFJ-T, but l have a sweet tooth and l don't like to eat lots of stuff, such as fish and green beans. I don't like kiwi and dragonfruits either, and l don't eat much in parties either. I am a chocolate lover, but l just have no idea how to seduct my habit...
3 years ago
INFP-T here, I'm a pescetarian, though ideally I'd want to take it further but recognise my limits. I think this article is accurate when it comes to my dietary habits. I tend to eat quite healthily, making an effort to have all the fruits, veg and other things needed. I have done a lot of research on food and diet and know what to eat if I'm lacking in any vitamins or minerals. I tend to shun meat, I do eat fish and seafood once in a while because I admit a weakness to them but recognise the need to not eat those too often because of environmental reasons. Most of the time, my diet is plants only. Not even eggs or milk (also have a mild lactose intolerence). I only compromise on those if I go to someone's house or to a restaurant. I prefer to avoid making a scene and get along. But also, since I am turbulent, I tend to turn to comfort foods in emotional states, which are more fatty and sugary than I normally eat. I manage to not be overweight entirely because of my diet (I don't exercise beyond walking when I go out) but I realise that I need a better grip on my emotional eating.
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