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Eating and weight concerns

Many hypnotherapists promote weight loss. I don't. But I can help you take control of your eating and your weight. Let me tell you how.

We have evolved to cope with types of famine. This has been necessary for our survival as a species. The mechanism for adapting to famine is known to kick in 3-4 hours after your last meal! We are adapted to eat regularly and often during the day. 3-4 hours after a meal, we will start to think about food, our concentration will decrease (our brains use 20% of our calorific intake), our metabolism will slow down and we feel hungry. Nature has adapted us to seek out and gain comfort from high energy foods. Until relatively recently, these were hard to come by.  But now with so many high energy foods available try going shopping on an empty stomach and see what you put in your basket.

Evolution has not required that we develop such a powerful mechanism for dealing with plenty. So it it is not surprising that we have problems with weight when we live in sedentary society with plenty of high energy foods. And we live in a society that values thinness - that rewards us if we are seen as being able to resist eating. The dieting industry knows this and makes megabucks selling us products (diets, pills and low-calorie foods) that actually serve to activate the famine response. Each provides a means of “weight loss” that promises a miracle and is eventually succeeded by another product when it is shown not to work. All of this undermines our ability to form healthy eating patterns and a healthy weight.

There are four factors that can lead to overeating:

Food restriction: If you starve your body, you will trigger the body's famine response. At some point this will override your determination – you will eat outside of the "rules" of your diet – leading to a sense of loss of control and failure.

Food restraint: As soon as we even think we can't have something, we want it. Try going without chocolate over Lent and you will see what I mean! You can meet all of your dietary needs without chocolate. However, soon you will be dreaming of chocolate! So if we give our minds the idea that we are going to restrict our food intake in order to lose weight – our primitive brains will be on the look out for what it knows we will be denied. Just by the power of thought, we can trigger the famine response.

Mood altering substances: Drugs and alcohol both give you the “munchies” and dis-inhibit you.

Emotions and anxiety: We are programmed to find food comforting. It was our earliest and most primeval of instincts. Especially the high energy foods. Especially the forbidden ones! Food is often the first port of call when we are upset. Conversely, we may not eat at all – setting us up for the next binge!

We need to be in a place where we can think clearly to be able to plan healthy eating.

How hypnotherapy can help

So I don't want you to tell your mind that a famine is coming. Alongside a healthy eating plan hypnotherapy can work to allow you to calm your primitive mind and enable you to access the amazing resources of your intellectual mind. Negative thinking - especially when you are unhappy with yourself - creates chronic unhappiness and low mood

The primitive mind - the fight/flight/depression mind - responds to negative thoughts and wants an instant solution. It wants an "opt out" – something to make us feel better now. Indeed it is not uncommon to “binge” in response to worrying about weight!

Self image is greatly influenced by mood, self esteem and comparisons to others and an ideal of how you feel you should be. Hypnotherapy increases your ability to form a positive and realistic view of yourself, allows you to develop your inner resources and self confidence and to develop an accepting and calming way of dealing with emotions.

Hypnotherapy is known to increase the brain's production of serotonin. As well as promoting mentally healthy behaviour, serotonin is known to have an important role in appetite regulation. We need to have positive actions, positive thoughts and positive interactions to trigger the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin. When we are caught in negative spirals we seek rewards in other ways. Hence we may turn to food.

By learning how to better meet your needs, both physically and emotionally, you are more likely to be able to obtain a healthy weight, and to become more accepting of yourself and your body.

Bristol Talking Therapies Ltd.

Specialist Counselling and Hypnotherapy