Is Your Personality Making You Fat?

11:38 PM, Feb 23, 2012   |    comments
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Is Your Personality Making You Fat?

FAIRFAX, Va. (WUSA) --  Many people have trouble losing weight even though they exercise and eat right. Now there's new research out of Baltimore that suggests your personality could be making you fat

Gayl Hales of Linden, Virginia has tried all kinds of different diets. She loses weight, but as soon as she goes off a plan, she immediately gains the weight back. But the busy 43-year-old is trying to stop yo-yo dieting by looking inside and getting to the bottom of her emotional eating.

"I'm a mindless eater, I eat very fast. I eat when I'm stressed," Hales said.

"I'm a perfectionist, I'm always trying to make sure everything's perfect, which stresses me more," she continued.

Being a perfectionist is one of the personality traits which makes someone prone to weight gain, according to study conducted by the National Institute of Aging. The study looked at nearly two thousand Baltimore residents over a 50 year period and found negative, self-directed emotion and impulsiveness contribute to being overweight.

Research shows the link between emotions, food and weight starts at a young age. The study found four distinct personality types that commonly lead to weight gain. These personalities include; the "stress junkie," who often eats unhealthy food for energy and comfort, the sleep-deprived "night owl," whose low levels of leptin make them crave carbohydrates and other high-calorie foods, the "mindless-multitasker," who frequently over-eats while on the run, and the "giver," who puts other's needs before their own and seeks solace in food.

Psychotherapist Jackie Jacobson is a bariatric counselor at INOVA Fair Oaks. She says she frequently encounters these personality types in her practice, particularly the "giver."

"A lot of us like to give, but we give and give and give and then get depleted inside," Jacobson said. "We don't develop the skills to give to ourself, or to stop and take care of ourselves and thats where food comes in," she continued. 

For Gayl, learning to look inside has helped her better control how she looks on the outside. She's already lost 25-pounds.

"I've learned to slow down on my eating," she said.

"I'm learning to say, 'No I don't want to do that,'" she continued. 

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