Could hypnosis help you to develop a more mindful and intuitive relationship with food and exercise?
Most of us have a pretty good idea of what makes a healthy lifestyle. Often, it isn’t a lack of knowledge about healthy living that’s getting in the way of making the positive changes you’d like to see in your life.
Our relationship with food and exercise is deeply ingrained, many of our habits can be traced right back to childhood. The choices we make are often happening below the radar of the conscious mind, which is why those healthy habits you’ve tried to introduce in the past may not have stuck. You may battle through with willpower for a while, but as soon as you relax a bit you find yourself doing the same old things.
Trying to change your habits, without getting to the bottom of why they’re there in the first place, is a bit like getting rid of weeds without digging up the roots. As soon as you relax your vigilance, you’ll find you’re right back where you started.
How can hypnotherapy help?
Hypnosis offers a way to explore what’s going on below the surface.
Instead of battling the beliefs, habits and emotions that are holding you back from being healthy, it can help you to understand and replace them. Instead of focussing on contraband foods, restrictive diets and punishing exercise regimes, it can allow you to take your cues from your body, learn to enjoy a range of foods that nourish you and move in ways that feel good. In a world that values thinking over feeling and rational thought over intuition, it’s easy to lose sight of the valuable navigational tools which support our best health and wellbeing.
From an early age, we are taught to ignore our bodily cues in favour of scheduled toilet breaks, mealtimes, working hours and even designated holidays for rest time. Whilst there is more of a leaning towards on demand feeding for babies these days, parents used to be encouraged to get their babies into a four hourly routine, teaching them, from birth, to override their own needs in favour of convention.
The inevitable result of all of this is that we learn to ignore the wisdom and guidance of our bodies.
The problem with restrictive diets
The problem with slashing calories is that our bodies have been built to cope with times of scarcity and they respond by reducing metabolism, storing precious fat and lowering energy levels.
It’s much more helpful to focus on eating smarter, focussing on maximising nutrition, rather than reducing calories. A calorie counter might be tempted to cut out foods that are rich in healthy fats, like oily fish, nuts and avocados, but a nutritionist will tell you that those foods are important to your health and may even help you to lose weight. Most diets come with feelings of deprivation and may even leave dieters physically hungry.
Often, the habits and behaviours that are keeping us from our best health have been around for a very long time. They’re deeply embedded in the subconscious mind as default reactions. Like muscle memory, often they happen without us even thinking about what we’re doing. Until you identify these patterns and learn to change them, you are likely to keep repeating them.
Amend your inner dialogue
A great place to start is to really listen in on what you say to yourself about those less than healthy habits:
What is it that you tell yourself when you pick up that family size chocolate bar in the supermarket?
What excuses do you make for eating that generous slice of cake for a mid-afternoon snack?
What drives you to ignore those signs of fullness and finish everything on your plate?
Those thoughts and beliefs provide useful clues about the reasons for your behaviours and that makes them much easier to tackle. That inner voice might be doubting your willpower, urging you to buy the snack now or regret it later, you might tell yourself you deserve a treat, or you might feel guilty leaving food on your plate when so many in the world are hungry.
Try carry a notebook around with you for a few days to jot them down or use the notes app on your phone. You might struggle at first because these thoughts and beliefs are often unconscious. Pay attention to what comes up when you try to change these behaviours and you’ll soon notice valuable insights surfacing.
Once you have identified the thoughts that support your unhealthy behaviours, you can begin to replace them with more empowering statements instead. For example: ‘I enjoy making healthy choices’, ‘My body deserves healthy, tasty and nutritious food’, ‘I choose snacks that support my health and wellbeing’.
Top tips for creating helpful thinking:
• Start with “I am”, make it personal
• Your thoughts need to be believable
• Keep it present (take out ‘will’ & ‘want to’)
• Focus on the positive –what do you want to add?
• Be concise
• Be specific
• Avoid words like: not, don’t, try, can’t, but, hope, attempt, failure, better, bad, right, wrong, should, shouldn’t, worse, hurt, pain, won’t…
Am I hungry?
One of the simplest and most effective tools that my clients use is the question: ‘am I
We so often eat for reasons other than hunger. We eat because we’re happy. We eat
because we’re sad. We eat because it’s mealtime. We eat because it’s polite. We eat
because we’re bored.
Asking that simple question before you eat can bring awareness to the differences between emotional hunger and physical hunger.
Am I sated?
Another simple but powerful tool at your disposal is to listen to your body and recognise when you’re sated. Eating slowly allows food the twenty minutes it needs to travel to the stomach so that you can stop eating before you feel uncomfortably full.
Your body has all the wisdom you need to eat well and maintain a healthy weight. You just need to learn to listen.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the ways in which hypnotherapy could help you to unpick your unhealthy habits and get healthy, I have a course coming up:
Tranceform Your Midlife Body 12 Week Course starts 26th April 12.30pm
‘Thank you. I didn’t realise how much I have changed and things have shifted for me since doing your course. I have a better relationship with food, understanding of myself and my thought patterns and the root of my eating habits. Better habits of self care, doing things for myself such as exercise and meditations. I have learned about my thought process and how to unpick and change them to enable me to make better choices. I’m so very grateful for your help and tools.”
And if you’re not menopausal or would like to work with me one to one, you can book a free consultation here.
Written by Kerry Dolan