Clinical hypnotherapy supporting prudent eating habits
‘Each of us has a duty to look after ourselves - we must all become custodians of our own health.’
Mark Drakeford, Minister of Health and Social Service, Welsh Government 2014.
We all enjoy eating, but eating too much can cause us to put on weight and that can have a negative impact on our health. Too much weight is a concern because it can be detrimental to our feeling of well-being and also because of the link between being overweight and heart disease, organ failure, chronic pulmonary disorders and diabetes, which can lead to blindness.
The Welsh Government NHS release (June 2014) reported that ‘substantial reductions in serious health conditions are linked to five healthy lifestyle behaviours - not smoking; a low body mass index; regular exercise; a plant-based diet and alcohol consumption within guidelines...’. Eating too much will increase our body mass index, so, if we can control our eating and our weight we can improve our feeling of well-being, and also improve our chances of avoiding health conditions where being overweight is considered a contributory factor.
Why is it that many of us eat too much?
Why don’t we consider the health consequences of over-fuelling our bodies?
Why do we struggle to control our eating habits?
Why it is that food has become detrimental to a long and healthy life?
Surely once we make up our mind to lose the excess weight we are carrying then that is what we will do. If only it was that simple but, of course, we know that it is not.
We can find it difficult to reduce what we eat because when we think of food, our brain patterns may revert to our primitive brain. Primitive men and women lived in times of famine and feast, and they stored food on their bodies to help get them through times when there was less food available. They were also hunters and gatherers of food, and needed enough food stored so they could draw on it to supply them with the energy they needed to do this. Their primitive brain patterns were programmed to eat when food was available to support their survival in the famine months. On occasions, our brains can revert back to this primitive way of thinking when it comes to our eating habits.
Being stressed can also be a factor that influences what we eat and how much. All of us will have heard the term ‘comfort eating’. In reality, we comfort eat when we are stressed because we have reverted to our primitive thinking of safety and survival, causing us to eat the wrong food and more than we need. For primitive men and women, their stress was the fear of starvation but because of their lifestyle they could burn off the excess weight they had stored. Our lifestyles are different and often we cannot burn off the comfort food we have eaten.
Negative emotions arising from anger, anxiety, depression, esteem and relationship issues can also cause us to revert to our primitive brain, and this can also affect our food choices. We can and do look to food for comfort or a reward rather than as a fuel, and look for something to eat, not because we are hungry but in order to relieve this feeling of stress and anxiety. Once we recognise that we are using food as a coping mechanism, it can help us to take steps to think differently and stop the way we think about our need to eat too much.
We really can change the way we think to be better able to deal with the challenges of life and balance out any craving to comfort ourselves with food. We need to change our thinking patterns from primitive thinking to thoughts that support a modern lifestyle and help keep our heart and body healthy. Our thinking around food needs to be re-aligned. We no longer need to store food on our bodies as the primitive man did, as nowadays technology allows us plenty of other ways to store and keep food safe.
Becoming overweight is often something that happens gradually, as we get older, and once we are overweight it is not always that easy to lose it. Being overweight not only puts our health at risk, but also our professional and social lives can suffer as a result. Being prudent with our eating habits may not be that easy because eating has become the sociable ‘thing to do’, and of course we do need food as it is our fuel. Food becomes a problem when we eat more than we need to maintain a healthy lifestyle and a sound immune system. Seeking support or working towards constructive food intake relevant to our own lifestyles and health can be the first step in beginning to make those healthy food choices for better personal healthcare.
Wales Health Minister, Mark Drakeford, made the point that “each of us has a duty to look after ourselves”. Clinical Hypnotherapy can help by changing the way we think about food and help us to focus on the solutions to the stresses that cause us to eat too much. By looking after ourselves and by being prudent in what we eat, we can also become more prudent in our need for what are finite NHS services.
Prudent Health - Welsh Government NHS press release (June, 2014)
AfSFH (Association for Solution-Focused Hypnotherapy) www.afsfh.co.uk
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