Advantage Diets
Your Personality Approach to Healthy Living
“Know your type to improve your life”

A Buddhist Perspective on Eating According to Type

Carl Jung, a Swiss psychologist, developed psychological type in the 1920s.  He was very interested in the Tao and the concept of yin and yang.


He understood the idea of opposites; that they can only exist in relation to each other.  When I say “black”, what is the first thing that comes to your mind?  “White”, of course.  And then there are other dualities such as, dark and light, cold and hot, male and female and the list goes on.

Using the Asian philosophy of yin yang, Jung created three sets of preferences to make up psychological type.  (Isabel Myers and Kathryn Briggs created the fourth set when they created the MBTI®.)  Each set of preferences is comprised of a duality.  There is Extravert/Introvert, Sensor/iNtuitive, Thinker/Feeler, and Judger/Perceiver.  For today, I just want to direct your attention to the Sensor and iNtuitive preferences.  (By the way, the reason the “N” is capitalized is because Jung first assigned the letter “I” to Introvert.  So as not to create any confusion, he capitalized the “N” in iNtuitive.)

The Sensor lives in the “here and now” while the iNtuitive lives in the” future”.  If both a Sensor and iNtuitive were trying to lose weight and you asked them to hang a picture on the refrigerator of what they’d like to look like in 6 months, which one do you think would have a harder time with the assignment?  As it turns out, it would be the Sensor.  That picture on the refrigerator represents “what might be”, something the iNtuitive is really tuned into.  For the Sensors, they saw the truth in the mirror this morning.  The picture is just self-defeating.

Now the Sensor has a real advantage when it comes time to put all one’s good intentions to work to lose weight.  You can’t be successful losing weight living in the future.  The weight has to be lost in the present and that’s where Sensors excel.  And living in the present moment is part of a Buddhist’s approach to living.

Buddha taught that we must live our lives mindfully, fully focusing on the task at hand.  The only way to do that is to live in the present moment.  You can’t be thinking about your past and how you got to be overweight.  It’s no longer relevant.  And you can’t worry about whether you’ll be able to lose the weight because that’s worrying about the future.  Action can only happen in the present moment.

As I point out in my book, “Your Personality Lifestyle”, losing weight mindfully can be done with a variety of approaches.  Just make sure it’s one that is based on your type.  Since there are 16 personality types according to the MBTI®, you can understand why one diet doesn’t fit everyone.  That’s why when you read books that sound like the “cookie-cutter” approach, walk away quickly.  You may lose a little weight on them but it won’t last.  It can’t last.  You will have used willpower, something that’s bound to come back and haunt you.  You know what I’m talking about because most people have “been there, done that”.  Willpower is like a thread that, when pulled too taut, breaks.

Knowing how many calories you should be eating is only a very small part of the weight-loss equation.  The bigger part is losing weight in a way that is comfortable for your type so it’s not a diet.  Set out to establish a lifestyle habit that can be yours for life.  No matter what approach is right for you, it must be done mindfully.

Here’s a quick exercise in mindful eating.  Give it a try and see whether you can master the Buddhist approach.  Let’s practice this with a very good piece of chocolate, preferably dark chocolate.


  1. Place the chocolate on the table in front of you.  Look at it.  Is it shiny or does it have a matt finish?  Is it smooth or does it have indentations on it?  Is it square or round?  If it’s square, does it have pointed corners or rounded corners?  Is there anything else you notice about it visually?
  2. Without touching it, bend over and smell it.  What aromas come at you?  Is it an earthy smell?  Does it smell sweet to you?  Is it fragrant or pungent?  If you had your eyes closed, would you still know it was chocolate you were smelling?
  3. If it’s a big piece of chocolate, break or bite off a small piece.  Don’t chew it or suck on it.  Just let it sit on your tongue.  If it’s a good piece of chocolate, it should start to melt almost instantly.  (Inexpensive chocolate contains more wax and takes longer to melt.)  Allow the chocolate to melt and gather around your tongue and gums.  Inhale.  Are you getting a stronger chocolate aroma?  Take note of the sweetness of the chocolate.
  4. While all the chocolate has probably not melted yet, take a swallow.  What was the sensation as it traveled down your throat?  What was the texture of the chocolate?  Was it smooth or slightly gritty?  Could you describe it as “velvety”?
  5. Once all the chocolate has been swallowed, sit for a moment and savor the experience – the aroma, the texture, the taste.  Did you get a greater appreciation of chocolate from your usual way of eating it?

And this is what you should do with all your food.  Be totally in the moment, focusing on flavor, aroma, texture, and pleasure.  If you’re not focusing on what you’re eating, how will you really know whether you’re enjoying it or not?  View the calories you eat as very precious calories that should be savored.  Considering that each of us can only eat so many calories per day without gaining weight, it makes sense to  make those calories count.  Don’t waste them on food you don’t like or food you ate so quickly you don’t even remember the next day what it was you ate.

Even though eating is a very social affair for most people, the biggest problem with eating while socializing is your attention is diverted from the food.  If you’re having a pre-dinner drink, take that opportunity to catch up on the latest news and gossip.  Then agree to have a bit of silence during the food courses to really get in touch with what you’re eating.

NEXT TIME, I’ll talk more on the Buddhist approach to healthful living, focusing on living life mindfully.

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