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Finding Your Eating Style

While eating styles are as individual as we are, some researchers believe they can be grouped into just a handful of behavior patterns.

After analyzing surveys from more than 5,000 men and women, researchers Larry Scherwitz, PhD, and Deborah Kesten, MPH, identified seven common patterns.

"Each of the newly identified eating styles was independently related to self-reports of overeating frequency; five of the seven were significantly related to overweight and obesity," the authors wrote in Explore: The Journal of Science of Healing, which published their findings.

Some of the unhealthy patterns identified by the study include:

  • Food Fretting: You're overly concerned with what you eat, and have a negative relationship with food.

  • Task Snacking: You almost always eat while doing something else -- like watching TV, answering email or even cooking -- which can lead to overeating.

  • Emotional Eating: You turn to food not only during life's traumatic moments, but anytime you feel stressed, anxious, or a little upset.

  • Fast Foodism: Simply put, you're "hooked" on processed and convenience foods, and you gulp them down fast!

  • Solo Dining: You use food to fill a social void – and the more often you eat alone, the more you eat.

  • Unappetizing Atmosphere: You eat behind the wheel, at your desk, or standing up in front of the refrigerator. This keeps you from concentrating on what you're eating, and makes it more likely you'll overeat.

  • Sensory Disregard: Mealtime is hectic, and you disconnect entirely from the eating experience. This leads to eating without thinking, and that usually means overeating.

While you may not see your own exact situation in these categories, Taylor says the bigger picture here is that all seven behaviors serve a single purpose: They take the focus off appetite and provide another reason for eating.

"Whether it's a distraction, an amusement, a comfort, a consolation -- if you are not eating mindfully, and you are not one with your food, chances are you are going to overeat," says Taylor, creator of the "Kick in the Tush Club" weight loss newsletter.

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