The Way We Eat: Exploring the 4 Types of Eating


The Way We Eat: Exploring the 4 Types of Eating

The 4 types of eating

Each individual has their own types of eating; some are healthy, known as intuitive eaters, while others are unhealthy. Among unhealthy eaters, there are various categories such as fuel eaters, fog eaters, joy eaters, or storm eaters. These habits are often triggered by specific events or actions, with some influenced by emotions, others by hunger, and still others by boredom. Understanding the underlying reasons for these types of habits is essential, as breaking them requires effort and dedication. While eating may come easily to some, for others, it can be a significant challenge.

Fuel Eating

Just as cars need fuel to run, humans need food to live. Fuel eating is a type of eating style that happens when you are hungry and your stomach is communicating with you the necessity of being nourished. This eating habit is natural and normal, as you are supporting your body’s needs. Fuel eating should happen between 80 and 90 % of the time. The food you eat when you fuel up should give you sustained energy and make you feel better. As you might be starving, remember that eating slowly is beneficial for your body.

When eating to fuel up, processed foods should be avoided, and should prioritize fruits, vegetables, lean meat, and healthy fats for example. This type of eating habit doesn’t only consist of eating correctly when hungry, it also means stopping when you know you’re full. Fuel eating can be related to the 80/20, a Japanese rule. The 80/20 recognizes that it takes your brain, 15 to 20 minutes to realize you are full. Therefore, if you stop eating before (around 80 % of your capacity), it is more likely you are full, and you feel full in the next 20 minutes.

Based on research conducted by the Pew Research Center, Americans are surpassing the recommended daily calorie intake by a significant margin. Meaning, some Americans are unconsciously eating and fueling more than what they need to.

Joy Eating

Joy eating refers to the action of eating food with no nutritional value, but that makes you happy due to its taste, smell, and texture. This type of eating pattern might happen occasionally when you’re sharing moments with friends or family, simply enjoying the taste of various foods without stressing over their nutrition. However, even when family and friends might not support healthy eating habits, sticking to your nutritional goals is quite important. Be careful, and don’t let joy eating become a habit, as food can make us happy but, when the relationship with food is unhealthy, it can also lead to health issues.

This practice is sometimes referred to as fun eating, but like anything else, if you overindulge, it can lose its enjoyment. For a healthy balance, aim for joy eating to make up only about 10% of your overall eating habits. While it’s difficult to measure precisely how much joy eating you’ve done, this percentage serves as a reminder that it should remain occasional.

When regulated, the joy of eating is important in our lives as it stimulates happiness. This method is often a solution for people with eating disorders. Allowing yourself to find joy in food is crucial because little things like that can bring a smile to your face and let you relish life’s simple pleasures.


Fog Eating

Fog eating is a type of mindless eating, often compared to a plane when it is set on autopilot. During the coronavirus pandemic, many people developed this type of eating habit due to boredom or the easy access to snacks. A fog eater will eat snacks between meals without actually being hungry. Here are a few examples of fog eating, in case you’re still having trouble distinguishing it from the two eating habits mentioned above:

  • Mindlessly snacking while watching TV or working
  • Turning to food as a way to cope with emotions
  • Eating out of boredom rather than genuine hunger
  • Snacking while making lunch

As you may have noticed, some of the examples listed above result in poor food choices due to distracted eating, often linked to multitasking. You might catch yourself fog-eating when you reach the bottom of the chip bag, or discover there’s no ham left for your pizza because you’ve eaten it all. If this eating habit rings a bell, remind yourself to never fog-eat as it can impact your health.

Storm Eating

We mentioned that in some cases joy eating can be beneficial but in this case, storm eating always results in negative consequences. Storm eaters are often seen as out of control, and as people who can’t stop themselves from eating. Also referred to as binge eating, this type of eating habit can have negative physical and mental effects, often leaving the person feeling regretful and ashamed afterward. This eating habit is often perceived when coping with difficult emotions. When feeling sad, indulging in a big pot of ice cream might seem tempting, but it’s a crucial moment to reconsider emotional eating habits.

Storm eating habits are one of the worst enemies you can have during your weight loss journey, often resulting in weight gain, digestive problems, and emotional distress. For some, the hardest step of the diet is avoiding storm eating, which tends to occur when you’ve deprived yourself of a particular food.

person eating while crying

Other types of eating habits

  • Fast Eating: This type of eating habit is commonly observed among students or individuals leading busy lives. While eating quickly may save time initially, the long-term repercussions of fast eating are undesirable. The duration of a normal meal should be around 20 to 30 minutes. Finishing a meal in less than 10 minutes can cause digestive issues. When tempted to devour your food quickly due to its deliciousness or hunger, try to restrain yourself and savor each bite.
  • Critical Eating: Critical eaters possess extensive knowledge about various diets and calorie regulations. While this knowledge can be beneficial, the downside is their rigid adherence to self-imposed rules. For instance, if faced with only hamburgers at an event, they would rather go hungry than deviate from their strict guidelines.
  • Habitual Eating: Students or individuals with limited time often fall into the category of habitual eaters. Due to time constraints, they may stick to the same basic meals, such as pasta. These eaters thrive on routine and simplicity, craving familiarity in their meals.

How to Build a Healthy Eating Pattern

Building healthy eating patterns can require professional help and plenty of self-motivation. Healthy habits via the Spatz Gastric Balloon is an option to consider if you’re seeking to at the same time lose weight and adopt healthy habits through professional medical care. If you’re uncertain about the most effective methods for achieving satisfactory results, steer clear of unhealthy diets and seek professional guidance. Here are some tips for a good start to adopting healthy eating patterns :

  • Plan ahead: Planning your meals ahead is a proactive way of avoiding turning to processed or delivery food.
  • Watch portion sizes: Portion sizes can be challenging both at home and on vacation. Remember to prioritize mindful eating during holidays, as there are many tempting foods in tourist destinations.
  • Cook at home: Cooking at home is the best way to know what is in your meal and adapt it to your needs.
  • Manage your emotions: Emotions often trigger unconscious eating, with the primary goal being to alleviate feelings of sadness or anger. Learning to manage emotions and stress is key to overcoming this pattern. Often unknown, being relaxed when eating is a great way to avoid gaining excess weight.
  • Eating slowly: Adapting the pace at which you eat is essential to digest easily the food intake, giving your body time to obtain the most vital nutrients.

To these tips, adding professional support is an option always worth considering. Seeking support demonstrates determination and a commitment to achieving results safely.

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