Why Do I Eat When I’m not Hungry? Emotional Eating Explained.
You are not hungry so what do you do? You eat one chocolate, then another, then another…. It sounds ridiculous doesn't it but do you do it?
We often eat for emotional reasons. What is “emotional eating”? Well, sometimes we may try to displace negative emotions like loneliness or sadness with food. The brief pleasure offers us short term distraction but when inevitably, the emotion resurfaces, (now with added feelings of shame) we eat more to distract us again and the vicious circle is created. We must break the link between our feelings and our eating if we are to succeed in our weight loss goal, long term. Sadly, this can be almost impossible using will power alone.
We’re not stupid. We know food doesn’t get rid of negative emotions so why do we do it? Emotional attachments to food are usually made in childhood. Cake for gaining parental approval anchors the memory of eating it with the pleasant nurturing memory of a pleased parent. In adulthood, we may eat cakes for comfort, subconsciously attempting to re-experience these comforting emotions.
Why is “junk” food so tempting and why do we eat those chocolates when we don‘t want to? For most of our evolution, we’ve struggled to get sufficient energy into us; this meant that high calorie foods were once the “health foods”. It is only in the last one hundred years or so that many of us in the UK have had the opposite struggle; to reduce our calorie intake. Sadly, evolution works at a slower pace than technology and so we remain wired for calorie scarcity but surrounded by calorie abundance.
Sugar releases endorphins in the brain thus giving real, positive physiological effects too.
Of course, we could just resist the chocolate couldn’t we? Well, yes, some can resist by force of will power alone but for most of us mere mortals, the perpetual psychological effort required to resist is very tiring. The longer we resist, the stronger our evolutionary programming pulls on us to “give in” and eat. The more we try not to think about food, the more food becomes ALL we think about.
Most diets rely on the need to perpetually overpower these psychological and physiological urges. You’ll recognise this as “will power” and you’ll most likely have had short term success with it, until the pressure became overpowering and you “gave in”, probably with lower self-esteem than when you started “the diet”. This is why most diets have such a low long-term success rate. (Only 20% of those who attempt to lose weight are able to lose 5%+ and not put that weight back on for at least 5 years).
So how can hypno-psychotherapy be successful in long-term weight loss? Firstly, by understanding yourself better, you can help to alleviate the negative emotions which start the vicious (eating) circle. Through hypnotherapy, we can “re-program” the sub-conscious meaning that you can reduce the amount of effort needed to resist temptation.
Put simply, instead of daily fighting against your sub-conscious, it is much better to enlist it as your ally, working with you, creating a virtuous circle of long term weight loss for you.
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