I know what and how I should be eating, but why can’t I do it?
Sarah was well educated, she had a good job, she knew that to be healthy, that meant eating healthy food. She knew that also meant eating less processed foods and less sugar. But, and it is a big but, why can’t she do it?
It sounds simple, doesn’t it? It should be easy. Plan ahead, buy the food, prepare it all from scratch, and eat it. When you do that, you should lose weight, right?
This is what many clients say to me in my practice. They also verbally beat themselves up over not eating this way all the time and think negatively of themselves. Well, in real life if it was that easy and simple we would all be eating fresh fruit and veg every day and we would all be thinner. Only it is not that simple and straightforward.
Why eating healthily can be complex
Let’s look at why eating healthily is not always straightforward and simple.
1. Time and lifestyle
Time can be a rare commodity when we are running around after children, trying to squeeze in a full-time job, and then there are the household chores, cooking, and looking after everyone. Quite often, we will put others before ourselves and get the house sorted and our kids sorted before us.
Often we are tired at the end of the day and if we are not getting home from work 'til late, the last thing we want to do is stand and chop up veg and cook dinner from scratch. Grabbing a microwave meal is a quick and easy option. It is not only the time and energy it takes to cook, but we need the mental energy to think about what to have and this can be challenging when you are cooking for a family with different tastes.
Sarah loves nothing more than relaxing at the end of the day by sitting down in front of the TV with a cup of tea and something sweet in hand.
2. Childhood messages
We receive messages from our caregivers such as:
- We must eat everything on our plate.
- We cannot waste food.
- Someone has worked hard to buy this food so you must eat it all.
- There are starving people in the world, so make sure you eat your dinner.
Perhaps you saw your own parents not eat the healthiest of foods and junk food was readily available. We unconsciously repeat these patterns. Eating everything to the point of being uncomfortably full. Sarah eats everything on her plate even if she is full up because she cannot bear to waste food and throw anything away.
3. Life experiences
Life events have a profound effect on us. We may have experienced abuse, bullying, neglect, and/or traumatic events. If we are not given the understanding and compassion we need, we seek what we need emotionally elsewhere. As children, we do not know what we want or how to express it, so if we find food gives us that comfort, we set up an association that pairs feeling good with food and hence we keep going there.
Over the years this pattern gets so familiar that we do not even think about it. In the end, we do not know why we are turning to food, we just see ourselves not eating what we should. Sarah’s schooling years were hard and as a teenager she found herself constantly dieting, trying to be like the other girls, trying to desperately fit in. She was in a constant battle between dieting and then bingeing on the food she loved.
4. Change is hard unless we work on the inside
We may come to realise that we are emotionally eating and try diet after diet to change our eating habits. But a diet is not for the long term, nor does it reflect real life. It may give us ideas on portion sizes and healthier options. If we are relying on a diet to help us eat more fruit and veg, it is not going to work when life throws us a curve ball or life gets in the way as above.
Sarah goes on another diet because she is fed up with being overweight, she hopes this one will stick. As usual, something happens that throws her off and she ends up completely ruining her diet. She is now even more fed up because she has to motivate herself even harder to start all over again.
5. Negative thinking
We slip into thinking negatively about ourselves when we are not eating the way we want, or we are not losing weight. We think we are inadequate because we cannot stick to a diet. We feel we are not good enough because we are not thin enough. We think there is something wrong with us because we know what we should be eating, but we just do it.
This thinking compounds over time and leads us to feel despondent, have little self-belief, and feel not good enough. When Sarah is having a stressful day, what is the thing that is easy and cheers her up? Yes, junk food. A takeaway and chocolate should do the trick.
How hypnotherapy helps you to change
We all want to change our eating habits. Yet when we are caught up in life as described above it is hard to change. In that moment when you are tired/stressed/frustrated and hungry all you want is to sit down and relax and eat. Chopping veg is the last thing that is going to happen.
When all of this is going on, how can we change? Change is an inside job. It takes self-reflection and a desire to change. Change can also be very difficult because we often cannot see our own thought processes or recognise how our emotions are playing into our eating habits.
How hypnotherapy can help you to change your eating habits
- The therapist will help you look at what you want to change and why you want to change. Together you look at what is getting in your way, what is stopping you.
- The therapist will help you go deeper and find out your thinking process and how you feel when you are in a pattern of eating that you do not want. We are looking for what overeating or snacking does for you. For example, do you use food to help you relax? Does it give you comfort?
- We use hypnotherapy as a way of relaxing the part of our brain that keeps us in our old patterns. Hypnotherapy is a state of relaxation where it feels comfortable and enjoyable. This state helps you to be open to change, and open to seeing yourself with different eating habits.
- Through using hypnotherapy we also explore what emotional needs are not being met, that are currently being met by food. This might be love, comfort or it is helping you to be calm. We explore other ways to help you achieve your needs.
Hypnotherapy is a wonderful way to help you heal and for you to find out what you really need. It helps you learn how to regulate your emotions and bring in a sense of calm. It helps you to become mindful of what you are eating, so you do not go on automatic pilot.
With hypnotherapy, Sarah was able to bring in some calm and space for her throughout the day. This meant she could be mindful of her eating choices and started choosing healthier lunches. This started to give her more energy and then she was not so tired at the end of the day, which led her to be able to plan her meals ahead and do some cooking. She also had a renewed sense of self which started changing the relationship she had with herself and food. Overall she was calmer, kinder to herself, and felt more confident and positive within herself.