The Enneagram of Eating

by | Holistic Living, Print Articles, Spring 2020

(Roast) Chicken or (Poached) Egg?

How the Nine Personality Types Influence Your Food and Diet Choices

A woman called in to the radio. She was upset. Simply looking at food seemed to add unwanted kilos. Whilst she was not eating sugar, dairy, or gluten, her colleague snacked on chocolate bars, sugary sodas, chomped ‘slap’ chips, eating a foot-long Bratwurst daily. Yet her colleague remained skinny, while the caller gained weight. I want to give you an insight into why that might be. If we can understand why we put on weight, then losing it becomes easier — we can better understand our emotional and subconscious programming. Normally, we focus on the problem (weight gain) with little understanding of the cause.

Dieting and its related products — shakes, pills, ‘low/no fat’ foodstuffs, equipment and books — have become seriously big business, making pharmaceutical companies and food brands particularly, weighty dollars. Yet despite this vast infrastructure of products, for the most part, globally, we are getting fatter.

Somehow, we simply aren’t getting it (or getting too much of it)! We are, in a sense, killing ourselves with food. Reasons for weight gain, such as genetic disposition, hormonal imbalances, slow metabolism and stress, are very valid, but the bottom line is generally we are eating too much of the wrong food types.

In researching The Enneagram of Eating, I grabbed all the dusty volumes of diet books off my shelves and, using my Enneagram knowledge, began to understand how different personality types put on weight for different reasons. Yet traditionally these authors assumed everyone gained weight for the same emotional reason. I also realised that the authors themselves were naturally writing their approaches based on their own personality type. The diet then would resonate for people of the same type as the author. Each personality type has a different approach to eating and, as a result, certain methods would work for certain people.

Knowing your personality type can help you understand why you gained weight and what triggers your cravings and be better informed to choose a weight loss and exercise plan.

Why each of the nine types might gain weight and how they approach dieting

Type 1: Self-righteous Sinner or Selfless Saint?

Disciplined Ones strive for perfection, self-regulation and a morally correct diet. When the pressure builds too intensely, it can result in rebellion. The pattern becomes restraint in the pursuit of perfectionism, followed by secret binging, then remorse and an even greater need for self-discipline/perfection.

On a diet: “The diet sheet said three helpings of 200g of raw vegetables and 100g of protein…” Ones measure food exactly, conscientiously following diets, detox programmes, etc. They enjoy bringing control to the body.

Type 2: Giving Gorger or Humble Helper?

Eating becomes a way of trying to feed the heart as Twos substitute a craving for intimacy and love with comfort eating. They particularly desire sweet foods to replace the felt lack of life’s sweetness.

On a diet: Twos diet, particularly if it’s to help a friend, or attract a partner. “Let’s buddy up here, then we can call each other a couple of times a day for support.”

Type 3: Fast Food, Fast Life or Chomping Champion?

Threes’ focus is on goals and achievement. Life is often too hectic to worry about eating correctly, which may result in ignoring the body’s needs and opting for fast food solutions (in between eating out at trendy restaurants).

On a diet: “I’ll set step-by-step goals, read these motivational books, watch the Ted-X dieting videos, get a trainer…” Threes are typically most likely to succeed in their weight goals.

Type 4: Moody Muncher or Creative Connoisseur?

Food choices reflect how they feel — mood food. If melancholic, they may comfort-eat; if they are feeling upbeat, they’ll likely eat healthily. Some, though, can avoid eating when down and enjoy food when upbeat.

On a diet: “Hmm. What is fat really? I deserve to eat the way I do because I’m different. Right now I’m feeling a bit low, so a caramel smoothie would be good (vegan naturally).”

Type 5: Neglectful Nosher or Ruminating Relisher?

For a Five, neglecting the body in favour of the mind (gaining knowledge), is merely a means to a cerebral end. Food holds little importance and is often eaten sporadically, with little or no concern for nutrition, resulting in either over-eating, or skipping meals. Some do make great chefs though; think of Heston Blumenthal’s ‘molecular gastronomy,’ approach — the science of food pairing.

On a diet: “Not sure the dietician has it right. I need to research it before committing.”

Type 6: Fight-or-Flight Feaster or Courageous Culinarian?

Anxiety triggers overindulgence, be it with food, drugs, or alcohol. Faced with fear, fight or flight becomes a Six’s way of coping. This results in subconsciously either keeping trim and fit so they can run away from danger (flight) or gaining weight to appear larger so nobody will mess with them (fight).

On a diet: “The dietician keeps telling me to eat fewer carbohydrates—Ha! I’ll show her” (rebel). Alternatively: “I must comply. If I don’t there’ll be health consequences” (comply through fear of what might happen if they don’t). Or: “What diet do you think is best?” (not trusting themselves to make the right choice).

Type 7: Gallivanting Gourmet or Discerning Diner?

The ‘epicures of the Enneagram’ seek instant gratification. Food is an adventure to be embraced with anticipation, immediacy and excitement. They fear deprivation, so become acquisitive, constantly living in the future, planning what they desire to eat or do next. Activity, as well as eating, becomes a way to stuff down fear, anxiety and pain. Sevens hate to have any limits imposed upon them. Diets = limits, so the idea does not appeal!

On a diet: “All good. Sorted, going to start now…” Until later that day when a friend invites you to a new restaurant and you go skipping down the road for a feast and free vodka shots. “No time like the present.” Or “What? Limit my freedom? No way!”

Type 8: Binging Bully or Forgiving Feaster

Lusty Eights pursue what they desire with drive and passion and this includes what they eat. Limitations barely exist. Big must be better. This does not bode well for weight-loss regimes.

On a diet: “I don’t do what anyone tells me to do. Not even a dietician. I’m invincible right! So, you can take your rabbit food diet and shove it.”

Type 9: Sluggish Scoffer or Serene Health-Seeker

Wanting to keep the peace means having to suppress anger. (Anger = conflict.) This results in a numbing of self — disengagement and disconnection from the physical body. Nines unconsciously stuff down their anger with food. Some Nines can eat too fast, or when already full. Nines can be overweight (from eating unconsciously), while others can be skinny (from ignoring the body’s hunger needs).

On a diet: “Yes, on the page here. All good. Will start… hmmm, let me see. After the party perhaps? I guess we’re looking at some time in December, maybe January…”

Enneagram of Eating QuizDownload

Find out more inThe Enneagram of Eating which examines emotional eating triggers, the childhood patterns that formed them, exercise regimes to inspire rather than tire, why you entertain the way you do (or don’t), how types view their bodies, potential addictions, exercise for each type, where each type fails at weight loss and how they can be inspired to succeed. The Enneagram of Eating is published by Findhorn/Inner Traditions: ISBN-13: 9781620558270


Ann Gadd

Ann is a professional member of the International Enneagram Association, IEA World Conference presenter, author of four books on the Enneagram, 10 children’s Enneagram books and certified iEQ9 Enneagram coach. A long-term student of the Enneagram, she spent 10 years as an alternative therapist.. Ann’s focus is to inspire change and personal growth. 
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