Personality Type Diet


The personality type diet is a diet developed by Dr. Robert Kushner that helps dieters identify what kind of eating, exercising, and coping habits they have to help them achieve weight loss and better health through personalized incremental change.

Personality type diet



Unguided grazer

Tends to not think about food very much

Night-time nibbler

Eats more than half of food intake at dinner or even later

Convenient consumer

May eat regular meals, but rarely cooks

Fruitless feaster

May eat regular meals, but tends to leave out two important food groups: fruits and vegetables

Mindless muncher

Snacks constantly throughout the day, usually in addition to eating a full breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Hearty portioner

May eat three meals a day, but tends to eat far too much at any given sitting

Deprived snacker

Constantly on a diet


The personality type diet was developed by Dr. Robert Kushner. Dr. Kushner is a practicing physician who specializes in nutrition and weight loss. He developed the diet to meet the needs of the average dieter with a busy schedule. He used the information and insights he gained during many years of helping people lose weight. Dr. Kushner designed the diet to be a longterm aid in the fight against obesity that was personalized enough to meet each dieter's unique needs.

Dr. Kushner attended medical school at the University of Illinois Medical School in Chicago, Illinois. During this time he became interested in obesity and weight loss. After completing his medical degree in 1979, he completed his residency at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and specialized in internal medicine. He also completed a fellowship in clinical nutrition at the University of Chicago in 1984. He is the clinical director of the Northwestern Comprehensive Center on Obesity and a former president of the American Board of Nutrition Physician Specialists. He authored the American Medical Association's “Obesity Treatment Guide for Physicians,” as well as numerous scientific papers on obesity, weight loss, and nutrition. His book “The Personality Type Diet” was written with his wife Nancy Kushner who is a registered nurse.


Unguided grazer

Unguided grazers tends to not think about food very much. They will eat at various times during the day but rarely stop to have a meal or think about what they are eating. Usually eating is an afterthought to a very busy schedule, so foods tend to be whatever is around and easily available. Often this person eats while doing other things, so portion size can vary drastically depending on what is available or what size package is sold.

Nighttime nibbler

Nighttime nibblers eat more than half of their food intake at dinner or even later. Instead of eating regularly throughout the day they might not eat at all until dinner time. Sometimes the nighttime nibbler does not even eat dinner, he or she just snacks after work until going to sleep.

Convenient consumer

Convenient consumers may eat regular meals, but they barely ever cook. Because they do not cook meals at home, most of the foods that they eat are packaged or are from restaurants, often fast food chains. Convenient consumers may also eat a lot of microwave meals.

Fruitless feaster

Fruitless feasters may eat regular meals, but they tend to leave out two important food groups, fruits and vegetables. Instead the fruitless feaster eats lots of meat and carbohydrates.

Mindless muncher

The mindless muncher snacks constantly throughout the day, usually in addition to eating a full breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Often the snacking is done without actually being hungry, and is done instead out of habit or for emotional reasons.

Hearty portioner

The hearty portioner may eat three meals a day, but tends to eat far too much at any given sitting. Sometimes this may occur because they let eating go for too long and then are ravenous when they sit down to eat, and end up eating too much.

Deprived snacker

Deprived snackers are often people who are constantly on diets. They crave foods that they feel like they shouldn't eat, and then overeat alternative foods instead. This is often a vicious cycle of making resolutions and then eating in ways that may fit the specific rules, but violate the spirit of the diet.

Personality type diet basics

Dr. Kushner believes that helping people to identify the ways in which they eat is an important first step in helping them change their eating behaviors. Paying attention to what is being eaten may even help to reduce negative patterns on its own. Dr. Kushner suggests specific techniques to help each type of eater overcome their specific type of problem. For example, for the hearty portioner, learning the basics of how much should be eaten at each meal can be very helpful. Also, adding a small snack or two throughout the day can help to ensure that the dieter is not so hungry by mealtime that he or she overeats.

There are also different types of exercisers, such as the hate-to-move struggler and the no-time-to-exercise protester. Dr. Kushner provides ideas for making incremental changes to help achieve regular healthy exercise habits. There are also different types of copers, including cant't-say-no pleaser, and the emotional stuffer. There are suggestions about ways to put better coping mechanisms in place, and to deal with the problems that the dieter encounters.


The personality type diet is intended to help the dieter make incremental changes that are sustainable for a lifetime. Although weight loss is the primary function of the diet, it is only a secondary concern and is expected to take place as a natural consequence of the incremental changes for better eating and health that take place during the diet. Better eating, exercising, and coping strategies are expected to lead to weight loss and better health and well-being that lasts a lifetime.


There are many benefits to losing weight and being fit. The benefits of weight loss can be very significant, and are even greater for people who are obese. People who are obese are at higher risk of diabetes, heart disease, and many other diseases and disorders. The risk and severity of these disorders is generally greater the more obese a person is. Weight loss, if achieved at a moderate pace through a healthy diet and regular exercise, can reduce the risk of these and many other obesity-related diseases. Increased exercise can also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and other diseases. An additional benefit of the personality type diet is that it may lead to a perception of increased control over life in general as the dieter learns to identify and correct problem behaviors and patterns and take more active control of his or her eating and weight.


Anyone thinking of beginning a new diet should consult a medical practitioner. Requirements of calories, fat, and nutrients can differ significantly from person to person, depending on gender, age, weight, and many other factors such as the presence of diseases or conditions. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should be especially cautious because the diet of the mother influences the nutrients that the baby receives.


There are some risks to following any diet. The Dr. Kushner diet encourages the dieter to eat a wide variety of healthy foods and does not completely restrict any food group. For this reason the risks associated with this diet are probably not as significant as with many other diets. However, a multivitamin or supplement may help ensure that the dieter receives all the necessary nutrients and vitamins required each day for good health. A dieter may want to ask his or her physician about an appropriate vitamin or supplement before beginning the diet. Vitamins and supplements have their own risks, and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should be especially cautious. There are no known risks specifically associated with the personality type diet, as it suggests slow, incremental change and a balanced diet.

Diabetes mellitus—
A condition in which the body either does not make or cannot respond to the hormone insulin. As a result, the body cannot use glucose (sugar). There are two types, type 1 or juvenile onset and type 2 or adult onset.
Dietary supplement—
A product, such as a vitamin, mineral, herb, amino acid, or enzyme, that is intended to be consumed in addition to an individual's diet with the expectation that it will improve health.
An inorganic substance found in the earth that is necessary in small quantities for the body to maintain health. Examples: zinc, copper, iron.
Condition characterized by excessive weight due to accumulation of fat, usually defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above or body weight greater than 30% above normal on standard height-weight tables.
A nutrient that the body needs in small amounts to remain healthy but that the body cannot manufacture for itself and must acquire through diet.

Research and general acceptance

Although the personality type diet has not been studied specifically, there is a wealth of scientific evidence that suggests that a diet low in fat and high in vegetable and plant products is healthful. There is also a large quantity of evidence that suggests a generally balanced diet is important for weight loss and good overall health.


Dr. Kushner has authored many scientific papers about obesity and weight loss. He is the author of the American Medical Association's “Obesity Treatment Guide for Physicians.” His views on what constitutes a healthy diet and the best ways to help patients control their weight are generally accepted by the medical community, and in some cases have set the standard in care for treating obese patients seeking to lose weight.



Becker, Marty, and Robert Kushner. Fitness Unleashed!: A Dog and Owner's Guide to Losing Weight and Gaining Health Together. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2006.

Bessesen, Daniel H., and Robert F. Kushner, eds. Evaluation and Management of Obesity. Philadelphia: Hanley and Belfus, 2002.

Jones, Keith. Diet and Nutrition Sourcebook. 5th ed. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 2016.

Kushner, Robert F., and Daniel H. Bessesen, eds. Treatment of the Obese Patient. Totowa, NJ: Humana, 2007.

Kushner, Robert F., and Nancy Kushner. Dr. Kushner's Personality Type Diet. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2003.

Robitaille, Francis P., ed. Diet Therapy Research Trends. New York: Nova Biomedical Books, 2007.


Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Center for Diabetes and Metabolism. “Faculty Profile: Robert F. Kushner, MD.” (accessed April 16, 2018).

Helen M. Davidson

  This information is not a tool for self-diagnosis or a substitute for professional care.