The Enneagram in Diet and Health
I’ve long loved the Enneagram ever since I was classified as a Type 4 by my therapist almost 10 years ago. At first, I responded in a “meh” kinda way when she told me I exhibited signs of the Individualist (aka “tragic romantic”), but not long after, I read up on the Enneagram and my jaw dropped as I closed out the description.
Uh, yeah I am Type 4.
My love affair with this personality-typing system has continued over the years, where I intertwined it more and more with my daily life and work. Last year, I wrote a piece over at Brave New Traveler called What’s Your Travel Personality? to try and figure out how different people liked to travel. Knowing your likes and dislikes can make it easier to figure out what kind of travel is right for you, instead of getting stuck on some trip you hate.
Though I’ve also long thought about how the Enneagram relates to health approaches, only recently have I begun to use it in my work with clients. But I feel it’s a great tool in not only determining what you should do to improve your health, but how you should do it.
Here’s a synopsis of some of the health quirks I’ve observed based on Enneagram types. Before you read them, be sure to take an Enneagram test (free ones available at Eclectic Energies, the Enneagram Institute, and 9 Types) to determine your number if you don’t already know it. Then add your comments after the article, noting if you relate or feel if the description is totally off base.
Type 1: The Strict Eater
Decided to be a vegan? No problem. Honey ain’t even gonna get near your lips. And leather shoes? Sure, it has nothing to do with eating, but you don’t care. You’re a 1, dammit.
Insert Paleo, GFDF, or fruititarian for vegan, but definitely not flexitarian. Not enough structure for this get-things-done kinda woman (or man). Work it out, 1.
But if too many food fights are happening between you and your loved ones, or you’re on the verge of an eating disorder, it’s time to give a little love, compassion – and ease – to yourself and your diet.
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR: anorexia, bulimia, an obsession with healthy eating
Type 2: “I don’t know, what do you want to eat?”
Sure, you might be hankering for a Rib-Eye. But your best friend is all about raw foods these days. So you’ll deal with eating some of that nut-loaf bunk. Again.
That is, until you get home and you’re alone. Out comes the BK Broiler you picked up on the way.
Notice your tendency to eat in private and hide certain foods from others. Also, pay attention to how you may use food to make yourself feel better about relationship and work issues.
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR: secret eating, overindulging too often, using food to deal with feelings
Type 3 – “My Diet Rocks!”
Has everyone noticed how svelte you’ve gotten lately? Well, they should take note. And probably do it themselves. Cause you are ROCKIN’ IT OUT.
Be careful, though, that you aren’t too caught up in the way you think food makes you look, instead of how it makes you feel. Also, watch out for the tendency to use coffee and other stimulants to get you through your crazy work schedule, which in turn leads to wine to get you into bed.
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR: overuse of stimulants followed by depressants to come down, jumping on the latest diet craze
Type 4 – “I’ll take whatever it is you’re NOT having.”
You were gluten-free before everyone else had even heard of gluten. You know every single food you’re allergic to thanks to multiple allergy tests, muscle testing, and the elimination diet. You understand that coconut water is soooo yesterday.
The problem is, all that healthy eating on the one end often leads to bingey, bingey on the other. Moments of weakness – or the 4s nemesis, depression – often includes a serious amount of raw cookie dough. Beware the fall of the 4 – too much introspection can lead to too much mind and body altering foods ranging from chocolate bars to chocolate martinis.
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR: overindulging too often, food obsession/extreme dieting, using food to deal with your feelings
Type 5 – “Calorie in, calorie out”
You understand the vast complexity of food’s impact on physical, emotional, biological, environmental, and societal needs. You might even be able to break down exactly how much fat, carbs, and protein you need a day to be at your best. But food for the sake of enjoyment? Is that part of the equation?
You probably never have to worry about developing an eating disorder (though you may experience weight loss because you just “forgot to eat”), but it is worth breathing deep and really tasting your food. It’s one of the finest things in life – enjoy it!
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR: skipping meals, eating “too” nutritiously without thinking about taste
Type 6 – “I’m Not Buying It.”
You know what you like. Most of it’s good for you. But you don’t tend to venture out of your routine. And you may secretly feel anxious about that daily intake of kettle chips…
Relax and enjoy your food and be open to new experiences. Also, watch your caffeine intake, as your workaholic self might be taking it in by the bucketful. Same goes for alcohol to bring down that anxiety. Take a little break from both of these substances here and there.
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR: caffeine addiction, over consumption of alcohol, lacking nutrition from eating the same foods all the time
Type 7 – “Love It All”
You are the true foodie. “Slow Food” was made by and for you. You love the whole process, tasting every morsel until you are stuffed. Not quite stuffed enough to say no to a bite of that dessert…
If food were countries, you would’ve already circumnavigated the world several times over. And given every culture’s food its just due. Problem is, it’s also given your tummy it’s just due, more than likely. Not to imply you’re glutenous, you just have to watch out for a wee bit of overconsumption.
Work on balancing some indulgent meals with healthy, small portions.
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR: Over-indulging, particularly when it comes to rich or sweet foods, using food as an escape
Type 8 – “I’ll eat whatever I want, when I want”
Go ahead and try to take away your McDonalds. You’ll just go to Taco Bell instead.
You know what you like, and don’t sway from it. You like consistency and constancy – what’s wrong with that?
Sometimes though, the foods you love don’t love your body back. Even if you are a healthy eater, it might only be one type of food you focus on, so you may be missing out on valuable nutrients.
Try and be open when a friend suggests you have Thai for lunch. Odds are, you’ll like it.
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR: Too rigid when it comes to trying new foods, an aversion to health foods, missing nutrition
Type 9 – The Somewhat Secret Eater
You tend to be open to whatever someone else wants to eat. But you’ll deal with hardships through foods not necessarily the best for you, including caffeine, sugar, and alcohol.
Because of the feelings you sometimes repress in trying to keep things level for everyone else, blood sugar levels may be an issue. Therefore, good quality meats and veggies tend to be your alley.
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR: Blood sugar issues, including diabetes, using food to repress feelings, addiction to caffeine and sweets
Do you agree with the dietary tendencies listed above? If not, what are your diet ups and downs?