“Behaviour is the end result of a prevailing story in one's mind: change the story and the behaviour will change.” ― Dr. Jacinta Mpalyenkana
One of the techniques I use with many of my clients to help them change their behaviours around food is hypnotherapy. Many people tell me that they don’t really understand what hypnotherapy is or how it works - they worry also about what it will do to their minds. They imagine a stage hypnotist getting them to “bark like a dog” or embarrass themselves - they imagine some “magical” thing this has no scientific grounding. However the latest research in neuroscience shows us that hypnotherapy is actually a very powerful tool that can be used to manage behaviours around food. It can’t make you do anything that you don’t want to do and it is a very powerful tool that can be used to change thoughts and therefore patterns of behaviour.
Here are some of the ways that hypnotherapy helps my clients to form new, healthier habits around food:
1. Managing stress: much like meditation, a hypnotherapy session turns off the body’s physical stress response and allows the body to just relax. Chronic stress is very often what causes people to comfort eat foods that they don’t want to be eating, it can also affect hormone balance and cause an increase in the stress-hormone cortisol (which often leads fat to be stored around the core). There is lots of research now showing that relaxation techniques such as hypnotherapy and meditation help the body to relax and can therefore switch off the body’s stress response. This has a powerful effect on the body’s chemistry but also on an individual’s ability to feel more in control of their food choices.
2. Improving sleep: sleep deprivation very often drives people to make poor food choices and also causes higher blood sugar levels and increased cortisol levels in the body. Hypnotherapy can help to improve the quality of sleep in a number of ways. Studies show that relaxation techniques like hypnotherapy can increase the secretion of melatonin, which is the hormone that encourages us to fall asleep. Hypnotherapy also switches off the body’s stress-response and distracts the mind away from negative and anxious thoughts, which very often can stop someone from falling asleep. By improving sleep quality and quantity, hypnotherapy can in turn lead to an improved metabolism, enabling an individual to feel more in control of their food choices and also change their hormonal profile, which means they are more easily able to reach their health goals.
3. Building new habits: the amazing thing about our brain is that we can re-programme it. Most of our food related behaviours are just habits that we perform on auto-pilot mode. Even over-eating or binge-eating is very often an automatic, auto-pilot response to a particular situation. Now the great news is - that neuroscience shows that any neural pathways in our brain (i.e. the connections in our brain that cause us to engage in certain behaviours) can be effectively unwired and we can build new neural pathways (and new habits) in their place. Now if we want to build a new habit, we usually have to perform that new habit repetitively many times before it just becomes a natural pattern of behaviour. However, neuroscience also shows us that just by imagining ourselves performing a new behaviour (rather than actually performing that behaviour in real life) - is enough to build new pathways for that habit in our brain. We take advantage of this in hypnotherapy by getting individuals to imagine engaging in new healthy habits and therefore building new neural pathways in their brain. This accelerates the speed with which they can achieve the behaviour changes that they want to achieve.
4. Building new positive patterns of thinking: many of the clients I work with are stuck in very negative patterns of thinking or have low self-esteem. However, when someone has very low self-esteem and feels very bad about themselves, they can often turn to food to cope with how bad they feel. This means that if they want to stop over-eating they need to start feeling better about themselves. Hypnotherapy (in the same way it can build new behaviours) can also build new patterns of thinking. By encouraging my clients to start thinking good thoughts and feeling better about themselves - they no longer feel the need to turn to food to make themselves feel better.
These are just a few of the many ways that hypnotherapy can help you build a new relationship with food. If you are keen to use hypnotherapy to create a new relationship with food, you can buy a hypnotherapy recording here: https://www.thefoodpsychologyclinic.co.uk/prices. This recording comes with a full set of instructions on what you can also consciously start doing to completely change your relationship with food and your body. The recording is just £35 and is a great alternative to attending regular sessions at the clinic.
“Our behaviors reflect what we believe. If we want to change our behavior, we have to change our beliefs.” ― Patty Houser