You are what you eat, or so the saying goes. But it may be more accurate to say that you are how you eat.
According to Juliet Boghossian, a Los Angeles-based behavioral food expert and founder of food behavior research firm Food-ology, we can “absolutely” make inferences about someone’s personality based on their eating habits.
“Food-related habits can in fact reveal facets of an individual’s personality and behavioral tendencies,” Boghossian told The Huffington Post in an email. “What you want to observe is your ‘consistent’ or ‘typical’ food-related habits, idiosyncrasies and rituals.”
We talked to Boghossian and Julia Hormes, a psychologist specializing in food behaviors at the State University of New York at Albany, about what our eating habits really say about who we are. Here’s what they had to say about a few popular eating styles.
1. The Slow Eater
We all know the type: After everyone else has finished their meal, you’ll find this person plodding along, eating one little bite at a time. When sitting down at the table, the slow eater takes his or her sweet time - and is always the last person to finish the meal.
According to Boghossian, slow eaters are usually people who like to be in control and know how to appreciate life. They also tend to be confident and even-keeled.
People who eat slowly only sometimes, however, may do so because of low energy or a sad mood.
“Our mood is known to affect our eating rate,” Hormes said.
While slow eaters might feel pressured to catch up to everyone else, Hormes notes that there are some real health perks to being a slow eater.
“Slow eating has been shown to be associated with decreased energy intake, increased satiety, and higher pleasantness ratings of meals,” she said.
2. The Fast Eater
There’s a good chance you or someone else in your family fits the description of the fast eater - and if you grew up with a fast eater, you probably developed a habit of fighting for seconds. This person tends to barrel through meals, cleaning the plate before the rest of the table has finished even half of their meal.
Away from the table, fast eaters tend to be ambitious, goal-oriented and open to new experiences, but they may also have a tendency to be impatient, according to Boghossian.
“The speed at which you eat reveals the speed at which you take on and enjoy life,” she said.
There’s nothing wrong with eating efficiently, but super-fast eaters would be wise to consider how quickly they’re consuming. Eating too fast carries with it certain health risks, including weight gain.
3. The Adventurer
The adventurous eater is always looking for the next gastronomic adventure. When it comes to food - and probably other areas of life - this person is a thrill-seeker and a risk-taker.
“Your one-of-a-kind approach to life is something that you should never change,” Phil Mutz, the author of the LittleThings post, writes. “Just be careful not to pressure others to be as adventurous as you; not everyone is meant to be an explorer.”
Being an adventurous eater, according to Boghossian, “shows [one’s] openness to trying new things outside of [one’s] experience/comfort zone.”
4. The Picky Eater
This person may never have grown out of their childhood likes and dislikes, or the tendency to turn up his or her nose at an unfamiliar cuisine. This eater can often be found asking a waiter if the dish can be served without sauce or with dressing on the side.
There’s a good chance this person is a little neurotic away from the table, too.
“Research on ‘food neophobia’ - the reluctance to try new foods - shows that it is related to certain personality traits, including sensation seeking, anxiety, and neuroticism,” Hormes said. “Those high in food neophobia appear to associate many avoided foods with a sense of disgust.”
5. The Isolationist
The isolationist, one of the more unusual eating types, approaches the plate methodically, eating one food item in its entirety before moving on to the next.
“You are a very detail-oriented person, and you are sure to always think things through thoroughly,” Mutz writes. “Though other people may not always understand your way of doing things, deep down you know that there is a method to your so-called madness. You are a very careful person.”
Boghossian agrees this type of eating behavior may suggest an individual’s personality type.
“This behavior conveys a task-oriented personality versus a multi-tasking individual,” Boghossian said. “Also, it conveys a disciplined and border-line stubborn tendency to complete one task before moving on to another.”