This week there is a documentary on BBC2 called 'The secrets of Food' with Michael Mosley which looks into the science of why we are attracted to certain unhealthy foods such as sweets, crisps, cakes and biscuits. The research shows the powerful formula of fat and sugar and how this mix can be so powerful and addictive. This is even more so if you are psychologically vulnerable to comfort eating. This is where hypnotherapy and the powerful therapies I work with can help. Coincidentally, I was working last weekend with hypnotherapy students teaching them how to deal with clients with cravings, so this blog seemed so appropriate.
There's an over-abundance of options with respect to unhealthy foods. It’s everywhere; on the telly adverts, signs - even when you’ve completed your supermarket shop they try to trap you at the final hurdle with racks of sugar filled treats awaiting you at the till. If you’re fortunate, you can actually pass these by with little interest, yet for many people the continual temptation of snack foods can be too much to disregard.
It’s usually understood that smokers or drug addicts are dealing with real addictions, and are generally afforded some level of sympathy; yet individuals that binge or overeat aren’t generally given such tolerance or understanding. Because of this, issues such as self-hate or low self-worth can arise which normally end up making the issue more pronounced. Yet, obsession with foods such as sweets, cakes and crisps is a real addiction just like any other, and sometimes utilising sheer self-control to stop just does not work.
Precisely why do lots of people comfort eat?
Addictive habits in many cases are based inside the subconscious. Our minds develop emotional coping systems as we encounter difficult scenarios in our lives. When we find something which generally seems to work at making us feel better, the mind can latch on to this strategy, supposing that if we are able to just keep doing that same thing, it can continue causing us to feel good when we’re feeling bad.
It’s typical for adults to reward good conduct in children with treats or sugary sweets. Processed foods might also be used by a mum or dad to help ease a child’s bad temper or to compensate for something which has turned out badly (‘I’m sorry you didn’t win your football match; let’s go for a hamburger ’). This habit of making use of food as a reward or as a mood-booster then becomes ingrained, which means that when we find ourselves feeling low, our mind is wired to desire junk foods given it believes that's what makes us feel good again.
Stimulating the subconscious mind
A hypnotherapist may help stop your cravings for high calorie foods like cakes, sweets, biscuits and crisps, by using the subconscious. In a way that resembles how hypnotherapy may be used to make smokers imagine that cigarettes taste or smell unpleasant, a hypnotherapist can make use of the strength of suggestion to create new feelings related to snack foods, and therefore you will not feel so tempted whenever you pass by the cake section.
Hypnosis resolves the underlying cause of your comfort food, rather than attempting to work with your inspiration or willpower, and replaces the old thinking patterns with all new healthier ones, releasing you from the grip of your addiction. No longer will you have to work hard at avoiding sweet treats; bypassing them would become natural.
If you are interested in dealing with cravings in order to support weight loss or long term health, please call or email me to discuss in more detail.
John Plester is the Principal Tutor of the East Anglian Institute of Hypnotherapy and lead consultant at Norwich Hypnotherapy Practice with over 17 years experience.