Hypnotherapy for addictive food cravings and emotional eating
It’s difficult to maintain a healthy relationship with food in a food-abundant society. Most of us live in a position of privilege, where food is easy enough, cheap enough and tasty enough. I’ve had an awareness of emotional eating for a long time, but never fully understood how we advocate it as a society until I had my first child.
As a therapist working with people who wanted to change their relationship with food, I had a strong (rose-tinted) view on how not to make food an issue for my daughter. Food is fuel, simple. It soon became apparent that this was not easy. From a tiny tot, everywhere we went she’d get food ‘to make it better’, ‘for being good’, ‘to keep quiet’ and the list goes on.
Every offering is made with positive intent and a lack of awareness. No one realised that, with every kind offer, there was a lesson for my daughter that food (often sweets) makes it better, is a reward, relieves boredom, etc. This is almost unavoidable, it’s no wonder so many people in our world feel the need to accompany emotions with food.
Like everything else, my grocery bill increased in recent months. However, when I walk into the supermarket, the choice feels limitless. Along with the wholesome, nutritious options, the odd, yummy snack will fall into the trolley. Unfortunately, it’s often these processed bits and pieces that increase addictive food cravings.
Manufacturers of processed foods know how to add ingredients that trick the brain into wanting more. When you eat these types of foods, your brain will ask for more, with little consideration for what’s happening inside your body. The more you eat, the more you want.
Neither addiction to foods nor emotional eating is easy to overcome. Is there a way for hypnotherapy to help you stop emotional eating and break an addictive cycle?
Hypnotherapy for addictive food cravings
Hypnotherapy will help you reduce addictive food cravings with various techniques. Addiction to food is different to drug or alcohol addiction, because there are so many types of food, and you need food of some sort. For some people, there is an addiction to one specific food, chocolate for example. For others, it’s food in general, and then there’s no specific addiction but an addiction to feeling stuffed.
If you notice an addiction to a specific food, your hypnotherapist will help you using aversion techniques. By creating a strong link in your mind with something you despise, something that makes you feel sick and repulses you, you will find yourself less eager to eat the addictive food.
Some people find they simply have no desire to eat it anymore. Others instantly think of the revolting thing whenever they reach for the addictive food, and it puts them off. This is something you can try to do for yourself at home, or strengthen after sessions with a hypnotherapist, by regularly taking a moment to enter the meditative state of mind and imagining the food you want all the time with the repulsive thing.
If you have an addiction to food in general or need to feel stuffed all the time, your hypnotherapist will work with you to explore your actual needs and find a way to fulfil them. This is likely to take more than one session, and you’ll need a willingness to delve deep into your own self.
Hypnotherapy for emotional eating
For reasons mentioned at the beginning of this article, emotional eating is generally a learned habit. Your brain becomes accustomed to eating when you experience any strong emotion. Just as your leg goes for the imaginary brake pedal as the passenger in a car (if you drive regularly), when you feel the strong emotions you learned that go with food, you’ll feel uncomfortable if you don’t reach for food.
This is of course not the only reason for emotional eating. Sessions with a hypnotherapist will help you with introspection and interoception so you know whether you feel head hunger or tummy hunger, and act accordingly.
Knowing you’re not hungry doesn’t satiate the false feeling of hunger, but your hypnotherapist will help you use mindfulness to sit with uncomfortable feelings and consider what you need in the moment. When you give yourself time to explore your actual needs, you’ll find a way to meet them in a healthy, joyful way.