Dr Pam Spurr, self-help expert and author of The Emotional Eater’s Diet, explains how your character can affect what – and how – you eat

Most of us comfort eat in times of stress or emotional turmoil. But why you find it hard to stop has a lot to do with your personality. Extroverts for example, may cover up insecurities with a larger-than-life façade, leading to bingeing, while introverts can often be more content and less insecure than they appear and overeat when they feel unfairly judged.

So which one are you? Start by answering this checklist…

Shyness holds me back Yes/No

I don’t enjoy social gatherings Yes/No

It takes me time to open up to others Yes/No

I hate being asked to, eg, give a presentation Yes/No

Sometimes people try to bring me out of my shell Yes/No

I’ve never been told I’m too loud Yes/No

I prefer being at home than out in a group Yes/No

I don’t like being the centre of attention Yes/No

Mainly YES – Possibly Introverted

Why you might emotionally eat

Inwardly you might feel inhibited around others and by the way they react to you. Their assumptions about you can make you feel negative inside. When facing emotional difficulties, if you feel alone – as many introverts do – you can be overwhelmed. But fretting inside can lead you to the crisp aisle.

Make the change

If you have an opinion on a film, TV show, music, etc, express it at least once a day. To make your complaint better received, try saying something positive first. If you turn to food when you haven’t expressed yourself, recognise this, turn it on its head and plan what you want to say to the person concerned. Then try to say it.

Mainly NO – Possibly Extroverted

Why you might emotionally eat

The pressure to be entertaining can be very stressful, especially if you’re trying to be someone you don’t always feel like inside – and that can trigger eating. It can also mean you turn to food when you want to talk seriously with someone but you know they expect you to be ‘fun’.

Make the change

Stop yourself taking over a conversation. Make it a daily habit to listen and respond to others. If people are saying things like: ‘Where’s your party side today?’, say you’re feeling quieter instead of triggering an emotional eating situation by playing up to expectations. If food tempts you, let your
guard down by opening up to a trusted pal – one who doesn’t need your ‘party’ personality.

The Emotional Eater’s Diet is out now (£9.99, New Holland). Follow Dr Pam on Twitter @drpamspurr

Don’t missthis week’s Now magazine dated 18 August 2014 – download the digital edition now!