Did you know that your temperament affects what kind of diet is most effective for your physiological and psychological type? You may need to be on a diet for many reasons – weight loss, health reasons, life-style balance or career requirements. However, if you don’t choose the right diet for your temperament you may be setting yourself up for failure before you even start. On the other hand, if you do choose the right diet you will find it enjoyable, easy and effective.
A person of the melancholic temperament needs to choose a structured plan. The melancholic type appreciates structure and functions most efficiently within one. The more structured a program is, the more successful they will be. A diet that includes a daily menu may seem restrictive and complex for other people but the melancholic person will thrive with this method. When choosing a dietary plan they need to make sure the plan they choose involves a planned out menu and a strict plan. A plan that includes measurements and ingredients for every meal of the day would be ideal.
However, to choose a plan that includes planned out menus AND the meals prepared is not necessarily a good choice as the melancholic temperament enjoys maintaining control over their own environment.
Another thing to keep in mind is the kinds of foods involved in the diet. Some foods help keep the melancholic balanced, some speed up their metabolism and some will slow it down. Because the melancholic is a cool, dry temperament they should avoid cooling activities if they want to lose weight. So activities like yoga may not be a good form of exercise for them. Those of the melancholic temperament are also very sensitive to spicy foods and sweets. These foods may cause their body to function less efficiently and cause them to gain weight. Because the melancholic person is a dry temperament they also need to make sure they keep their fluid intake very high during their diet. They have a tendency to “dry out” which may cause constipation or slow digestion.
Another important factor to consider is that Melancholics need more fiber than any other temperament. They should choose a diet that includes oatmeal, brown rice, vegetables, and many foods with fiber. This is another reason that already prepared meals are not a good choice for the melancholic. Most pre-prepared meals contain low to average amounts of fiber. Vegetables in their diet should be cooked rather than raw because raw vegetables will be too cooling for the melancholic on a diet. This means that any diet involving a lot of raw foods, fruits or juices would not be ideal for this temperament. To be most efficient in losing weight they would want to focus more on milk, cheese, eggs, seafood, poultry, meat, legumes, nuts and seeds.
The phlegmatic temperament can become very emotionally attached to food and may find it hard to follow many diets. They may find food comforting emotionally as well as physically. For this reason it is essential that the phlegmatic person on a diet chooses a diet that is colorful, exciting, visually pleasing and full of enjoyable textures. Their diet should also leave room for their favorite foods as the phlegmatic finds great comfort in these favorite foods and will find it hard to be without them. Most diets can be adapted to accommodate portions of anyone’s favorite food either on a daily or weekly basis. They should also be encouraged to experiment with new low-calorie foods and try to find some favorites among those, too.
Just like the melancholic, the phlegmatic is a cool temperament so they need to avoid diets that involve a lot of cooling foods like juices, many fruits (but of course some are fine) or a lot of raw vegetables. They are most sensitive to sweet, raw and salty foods. Eating these foods will cause their body to function less efficiently. The phlegmatic, however, is not a dry temperament like the melancholic – they are a moist temperament. This means that they can gain and hold water weight very easily. The best way to avoid this is to make sure they drink a lot of water, avoid items that are heavily salted and to perhaps even drink herbal teas that help eliminate water such as dandelion or nettles.
The phlegmatic temperament can also benefit from dietary aids that speed up the metabolism. These dietary aids such as caffeine, some herbs and spices can be too intense for some temperaments because they are hot and dry. However, their hot and dry natures are perfect for the phlegmatic. All other temperaments should either avoid or not rely on any dietary aid that works by speeding up metabolism.
The choleric person is often very active and experiences more problems with being under-weight than over-weight. However, when they do gain weight they tend to be more cherubic and soft rather than bloated or pear-shaped. The choleric relates to food in a very functional way. They are often too busy to eat and when they do eat it is more for function (they are “starving” and have to force themselves to stop what they are doing or pleasure (they are socializing with friends) rather than because it is lunch time or because they are actually hungry.
As long as they drink enough water their elimination is often quite smooth so they could do well with a prepared food diet. Because the choleric does not become very attached to food they may also do well with a diet that includes the same foods in a rotation or the same foods over and over. They would even do well with a smoothie diet or juice fast.
Because the choleric type is hot and dry they should avoid dietary stimulants like caffeine or stimulating/hot herbs. They would do best to focus on cool, moist foods like fruits and raw vegetables for the bulk of their diet.
However, because they are often in a hurry they may also tend to grab the wrong foods. They do not give a lot of thought to what they are eating so part of the dietary needs of the choleric will be to change their diet so they are eating more healthy foods and fewer quick or “junk” foods.
The choleric type tends to burn through their food quickly just as they burn through their life and activities quickly so any diet they follow needs to involve many small meals throughout the day and be strong in protein. Good things for the fire type are: Juicy fruits and vegetables, warm soups, and adequate liquid intake, denser root vegetables, sea vegetables, legumes, and fish protein.
She should use ice cream, spicy condiments, yogurt, and ices drinks rarely. For the adult they need to avoid overindulging in curry, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, tea, chili, and salt (this also applies to children if they are exposed to such things as colas, tea, or sugary foods).
The sanguine dislikes structure and tends to “go with the flow” of life and follow their own rhythm or a rhythm in tune with the seasons or daylight cycles. Because of this they do not function well with a strict dietary plan. However, because of the sanguine nature of being spread out in so many directions, they do crave organization so the best diet for the sanguine is not one of structure, but one that they can organize. Using a system that allows them to track their calories, steps walked or other factors and then adjust their day accordingly (like a Fitbit or Weight Watchers) is ideal for the sanguine.
What is often discouraging to the sanguine on a diet is that their body, just like their mind and personality, works in cycles. So they can loose weight very easily in the spring and autumn but are less likely to lose weight in the summer or winter. They may also find that their weight and body fluctuates with the seasons. Instead of being frustrated by this they can come to expect it and work with their natural rhythms instead of striving to be the same body type all year round.
The sanguine person should avoid rich foods and eat greens daily like swiss chard, parsley, mint, coriander, chives, argula, dark greens, lettuce (dark green), and other green vegetables. Because the sanguine temperament is much like a garden they do best when they “eat like a garden” and stick to eating local fruits and vegetables that are in season.
Although the sanguine is a hot temperament they need to exercise to take care of their excess energy and to keep their energy levels flowing evenly. They do best with gentle exercise like walking, light lifting or repetitive motion rather than intense exercises like running or heavy weight lifting. A sanguine needs to stay in motion all day but because their minds are so full of motion they may often perceive this mental work as motion. Because of this the sanguine must be careful to balance mental work with physical work throughout the day.
To learn more you can ask questions in the comment section of this post or sign up for a temperament consultation with Kristie Karima Burn, Mh, ND, Ph.D. at: Consultations. Be sure to check the box that says “receive notices if someone replies to my post” or to check back in a few days if you ask a question so you can see the reply.