Habits form when we repeat a certain behaviour over time. It becomes accepted as the norm and then we continue to go through the motions, repeating the same behaviour over and over again, until a good enough reason to change crops up. Just wanting to change a behaviour usually isn’t enough to bring about a long term change. Just think about the diet industry. People who want to lose weight become seduced with a new diet they read about in a magazine, they buy into the concept, resolve to change their behaviour in line with the new regime.
But does it work? No. If it did, then all overweight people would go on a diet, lose their excess weight and that would be the end of it. They would be slim for the rest of their lives.
What actually happens is the behavioural change required for the diet is too drastically different form their learnt behaviour patterns and after a few days or weeks the old habits sneak back in. This is not just a case of poor willpower. The habits and rituals of overeating or snacking are deeply embedded in the subconscious. These habits were developed for a reason, and just trying to ignore them is incredibly difficult. People overeat for many reasons, such as emotional triggers, low self esteem, boredom or just sheer habit. Without dealing with these habits on a subconscious level, it is very difficult to ignore them.
This is one of the reasons why diets don’t work. By denying their subconscious habits an outlet, dieters are relying on willpower alone to stay on their new regime. This means that they feel deprived and are often constantly thinking about the foods they can not eat, and as we all know, if something is off limits it becomes instantly the most desirable thing in the world. Sound familiar?
Hypnotherapy can help people to establish new, healthier habits, and retain control of their behaviours rather than just automatically acting out their habits without any conscious decision making. Making some small changes makes a big difference over time. And small changes are easier to action, than big drastic changes such as living exclusively on salad or cutting out all carbs.
By taking responsibility for every choice you make, you can decide if each decision is leading you towards or away from you goal. Weight Control clients often find that when no food is classed as off-limits, it is easier to make healthier choices as they don’t obsess about it. Also by changing the way they actually eat the food, by chewing slowly and putting the knife and fork down between each mouthful, it is much easier to identify when they are full, and this drastically reduces the amount of food they consume. By eating very slowly and mindfully, the full signal form the stomach becomes easier to identify and act upon.
The principle is simple.
- Eat whenever you are truly hungry.
- Stop as soon as you are full.
That’s how naturally slim people eat. They don’t live on salad and diet food. They eat pizza and chocolate if they want it, but they eat a smaller amount. They are able to leave food on their plate if they are full. The eat what their body needs, not what they psychologically want.
By accepting that food is fuel for out bodies, and that we should only eat when we are hungry, we can override the habits of mindless overeating and excessive snacking, as there is no threat of having to go without. There is no fear of being hungry.
Clients often say to me, what if I leave food on my plate at lunch, but then feel hungry again mid-afternoon? My answer is simple, If you are hungry, you have something to eat. Listen to your body and respond to its needs.
By knowing that you can eat whenever you are hungry, your subconscious mind can relax about food, so you don’t feel deprived.
By knowing you can have a piece of chocolate if you want it means that your subconscious wont focus on chocolate as an off-limits food and provide you with cravings for it.
By eating slowly and paying attention to the food on your plate it means you enjoy the food more and feel fuller quicker, as you are no longer shovelling food in mindlessly and ignoring the messages for your body.
By making small changes, you can make a real difference. Feeling in control is the key. Fad diets remove the element of control, so even if people do succeed in losing weight, they tend to put it back on again when they start eating normally again. They haven’t learnt how to be in control.
Hypnotherapy can help Weight Control to feel in control of their eating habits, eat healthily and lose weight as their body moves towards a healthy, appropriate weight. If they occasionally fall off the wagon and eat too much curry in a restaurant, so what? Just start again the next day.
Life is for living, not for dieting, and hypnotherapy can teach people how to eat to live. Not live to eat.