Most people have a reasonable understanding of what constitutes a healthy lifestyle. We’ve all 'tried', at some point, to make positive changes, but somehow we usually find ourselves slipping back into those old habits.
Conscious thoughts are just the very tip of the iceberg when it comes to the mind. That’s why it’s so hard to stick to those new, healthier choices. You might be able to battle through with willpower for a while, but as soon as you relax a bit you find yourself doing the same old things.
It’s a bit like getting rid of weeds without digging up the roots. As soon as you relax your vigilance, you’ll find you’re right back where you started.
Hypnosis is a great gardening tool for the mind!
Instead of battling the beliefs, habits and emotions that are holding you back from being healthy, it can help you to understand and replace them. Instead of focussing on contraband foods, restrictive diets and punishing exercise regimes, it can allow you to take your cues from your body, learn to enjoy a range of foods that nourish you and move in ways that feel good.
Research has found that hypnosis and guided visualisations were over 30 times as effective for weightloss than dieting alone(Cochrane, Gordan; Friesen J.1986).
In a comparison between normal diet programmes and those using hypnosis, those in the hypnosis groups lost more weight than 90% of non hypnosis participants and had still maintained the weight loss two years later (Alison DB, Faith MS 1996).
Why don’t diets work?
The problem with slashing calories is that our bodies have been built
to cope with times of scarcity and they respond by reducing metabolism, storing precious fat and lowering energy levels.
It’s much more helpful to focus on eating smarter, focussing on maximising nutrition, rather than reducing calories. A calorie counter might be tempted to cut out foods that are rich in
healthy fats, like oily fish, nuts and avocados, but a nutritionist will tell you that those foods
are crucial to your health and may even help you to lose weight.
Most diets are restrictive, some even leave dieters feeling physically hungry. When you are focussed on what you ‘shouldn’t’ have, it’s hard to think about anything else. Have a go. Think about not eating your favourite food. What happens? You have to think about it before you can unthink it. And, if you’re hungry, it’s natural that you’re going to be obsessing about food.
Often, the habits and behaviours that are keeping us from our healthy weight have been around for a very long time. They’re deeply embedded in the subconscious mind as default reactions. Like muscle memory, often they happen without us even thinking about what we’re doing. Until we identify these patterns and learn to change them, we are likely to keep repeating them.
Amend your inner dialogue
A great place to start is to really listen in on what you say to yourself about those less than
healthy habits: What is it that you tell yourself when you pick up that family size chocolate
bar in the supermarket? What excuses do you make for eating that generous slice of cake
for a mid-afternoon snack? What drives you to ignore those signs of fullness and finish
everything on your plate?
Those thoughts and beliefs provide fantastic clues about the subconscious drivers of your behaviours which makes it easier to tackle them. That inner voice might be doubting your willpower, urging you to buy the snack now or regret it later, you might tell yourself you deserve a treat, or you might feel guilty leaving food on your plate when so many in the world are hungry.
Try carry a notebook around with you for a few days to jot them down or use the notes app on your phone. You might struggle at first because these thoughts and beliefs are often unconscious. Pay attention to what comes up when you try to change these behaviours and you’ll soon notice valuable insights surfacing.
Once you have identified the thoughts that support your unhealthy behaviours, you can
begin to replace them with more empowering statements instead. For example: ‘I enjoy
making healthy choices’, ‘My body deserves healthy, tasty and nutritious food’, ‘I choose
snacks that support my health and wellbeing’.
Top tips for creating positive affirmations:
• Start with “I am”, make it personal
• Your thoughts need to be believable
• Keep it present (take out ‘will’ & ‘want to’)
• Focus on the positive –what do you want to add?
• Be concise
• Be specific
• Avoid words like: not, don’t, try, can’t, but, hope, attempt, failure, better, bad, right, wrong, should, shouldn’t, worse, hurt, pain, won’t...
Am I hungry?
One of the simplest and most effective tools that my clients use is the question: ‘am I
We so often eat for reasons other than hunger. We eat because we’re happy. We eat
because we’re sad. We eat because it’s mealtime. We eat because it's polite. We eat
because we’re bored.
Asking that simple question before you eat can bring awareness to the differences between
emotional hunger and physical hunger.
Emotional hunger is sudden and comes on quickly and without warning. It often craves a
certain food – and that isn’t likely to be salad! It feels urgent and might be accompanied by
a strong emotion. It doesn’t feel sated by physical signs of fulness and is often followed by
unresourceful emotions like regret, guilt and shame.
Physical hunger, in contrast, builds slowly and can be satisfied by a wide range of foods. It is
accompanied by a gnawing or empty feeling in the stomach. It comes sometime after you
last ate and is more patient, recognises fulness and is followed by a feeling of being sated.
Identifying the emotional needs behind our habits gives us an opportunity to explore better
ways of supporting those needs. Don’t worry if you don’t know the answer right away.
Asking the question is a huge leap forward.
Am I sated?
Another simple but powerful tool at your disposal is to listen to your body and recognise
when you’re sated. Eating slowly allows food the twenty minutes it needs to travel to the
stomach so that you can stop eating before you feel uncomfortably full. It sounds
ridiculously simple, but we’ve been conditioned to ignore our bodies. To eat when it’s time,
not when we’re hungry. To eat everything on our plate, not finish when we’re sated. To eat
food as a reward, a comfort, a celebration, not because our body needs and deserves
quality fuel. Your body has all the wisdom you need to eat well and maintain a healthy
midlife weight. You just need to learn to listen.
If you would like more support to unpick the beliefs and habits that are holding you back and make lasting changes in your relationship with food and with your body, join my next Tranceform Your Body 12 Week Course: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/259380884207
Or, book in for a private consultation: https://www.appointfix.com/book/kerrydolanhypnotherapy
Kerry Dolan Hypnotherapist and nLP practitioner