The Personality Type Diet

What It Is

It's a diet based on sensible eating and exercise. So what's new?

Author Robert F. Kushner, MD, teaches medicine at Northwestern University and is director of the Wellness Institute at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. After seeing a lot of people who wanted -- and needed -- to lose weight, Kushner realized there's no one-size-fits-all diet.

The Personality Type diet asks readers to answer 66 questions about their habits and attitudes toward eating, exercise, and coping. Based on the scores, a person falls into one or more "categories. For example, when it comes to eating, a person may be a "Mindless Muncher;" when it comes to exercise, an "All-or-Nothing Doer;" in coping, a "Can't-Say-No Pleaser."

In sections of the book appropriate for each type, Kushner offers specific advice helpful in changing the behaviors and attitudes with which a person self-identifies. This doesn't mean other sections of the book aren't full of useful advice. But because you've already identified things you need to change, Kushner's method points you to the areas where diet and lifestyle change will do you the most good. Besides, most people will identify with more than one "type" in each category.

What You Can Eat

Kushner is big on "super foods." These are all plant-based foods: Fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, dried beans, lentils, and soy products. All are low- or moderate-fat foods rich in vitamins and other important nutrients.

The Personality Type diet isn't a vegetarian diet, but there's a definite focus on vegetarian dishes. Fish and poultry are on the menu. Lean red meat is OK, but not encouraged. You won't find any beef dishes in the recipe section. There is, however, a stir-fry recipe using lean pork.

What the Experts Say

"At first glance, Dr. Kushner's Personality Type Diet looks like one more over-hyped, hokey weight loss plan," notes the July 2003 issue of the Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter. "But the book actually explores practical methods that readers can use to restructure problematic eating and exercise habits tied to, well, their personalities."

The Tufts reviewers say that the book is one of the more responsible weight-loss plans. They hail its "common sense" advise, "divided up into small, doable steps."

Tufts gives the book a five-out-of-five-stars "highly recommended" rating.

Kushner himself is a well-respected nutrition expert. However, neither he nor his co-author -- wife Nancy Kushner, RN, MSN -- is a clinical psychologist.

Food for Thought

Are you really interested in taking a look at your relationship with food -- and changing it? If so, The Personality Type diet is an easy, fun, and useful place to start. But relationships, whether with food or loved ones, are hard to solve all by yourself. It may be helpful for you to consider exploring your food issues with a clinical psychologist.

Reviewed By Charlotte E. Grayson, MD February 2004.

SOURCES: Kushner, R.F. and Kushner, N. Dr. Kushner's Personality Type Diet, St. Martin's Press, New York, 2003. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, July 2003.

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