Friday, 10 April 2015

Are You Gaining Weight Because Of Your Emotions?


Most of us feel the pressure to look a certain way. For some this runs much deeper. For some food is their best friend and enemy number 1.

What's the difference between emotionally eating, having a gorge on a Friday night and grabbing a chocolate bar and a bottle of wine after a hard day? Not much actually. The difference is regularity and proportionality to the emotional undercurrent and leveraging taking place.

After years of experience as a therapist treating many weight-loss and eating addiction clients I'm wondering if the new buzzword 'emotional eating' is a cop out for food companies. 

Are food companies including food substances and chemicals that trigger the feel good chemicals - and are they addictive? 

We know that ingestion of 'fat' in our foods naturally triggers a feel good response in the brain. Could it be that if people are pre-disposed to addiction, is it likely that if it isn't food then it will be something else and can that really be repressed and effectively dealt with? Or, is food the easiest, most available source of comfort to quell a negative emotional surge - get the carbohydrates and gorge on the sugar intake - create the high and feel better as a result. 
As a form of self-medication it makes chemical sense and is often an unconscious decision - a mindless eating - unconscious consumption. 
Emotional Eating is epidemic
Client's tell me they will eat till they can't eat any more and are in pain, often past the signals to stop until a client is sick. It's a desirable physical signal that tells them they have done all they can to fill themselves with something they believe fills a hole, makes them feel good. Followed by huge amounts of conscious guilt and sadness, grief and shame. It's serious. Food addiction, is miserable, spiralling and like other more notorious addictions is killing people.

Obesity in the UK alone is said to be affecting around two thirds of adults. How many of those obese adults are addicted to eating? That doesn't count the children already showing signs of food addiction. Then there are of course the adults who are struggling with food addiction and have chosen anorexic and bulimic behaviours to try and control their addiction and facilitate it. Not everyone with a food addiction is what we would consider 'fat' often, they are not. Many of my client's with an addiction to food find extreme ways of leveraging it. With serious health complications. The problem is epidemic. And it isn't going away, it's getting worse.

The trigger - a subconscious instigator of this addiction is often unavoidable. Food is after all  necessary and everywhere. We can train our minds to become more consciously aware of what marketing is doing to us which will give us more choice and give us a chance of being in control. With the media's magnification of a western social obsession with celebrity and the cultural pressures we feel to emulate a perception of perfection. This brings social beliefs and values that are at odds with obtainable reality. 

Unfortunately it's difficult to make broccoli sexy!

Food companies advertising their products often harness our emotional needs for certain foods and the seductive colours, emotive music, celebrity endorsements, promise of lifestyle repetitively anchor in our subconscious and we unconsciously will gravitate towards those foods that promise the feel good factor. Sell the product at all costs. It's hypnotic and it's giving the unconscious mind hooks to anchor hopes on. Unfortunately it's difficult to make broccoli sexy. I'm yet to meet a gorger of food and an addictive personality addicted to leafy greens. We are saturated with triggers in the media, packaging and marketing materials and where food is placed in the supermarket.  Do we stand a chance of de-linking from these ties? 

What is certain, is that for every food that we think emotionally 'gives', its due to a 'lack' and imbalance elsewhere. 

I am beginning to fight back from the root cause of the desire. I find at the root of a client's eating addiction - the polarising needs and strong desires to fulfil them where parents, relationships, self esteem cannot. By giving therapy at deep root cause and working to eliminate long-held negative beliefs about themselves, we are beginning to claw back control. 

If you consider that the food is filling a hole - literally and also psychologically, when you begin to consciously eat and we all have a good idea of what foods are healthy for us, we make an important first step. 

Consciously chewing is another.  It's an easy and effective awareness, retraining our conscious mind to sense the 'I'm full' signal again, like we had as babies - often before the programming of 'eat everything on your plate!' ' you're not leaving the table until you've finished your food'. 

Education about food. How many people understand the acid/alkaline importance and the chemical changes within our bodies. A fundamental learning that would and could be made essential learning in all of our schools.

Next is the therapy. Interesting word therapy because it has it's own media connotations and labelling. Not particularly a desirable concept and for many often is associated with failure and stigma. This must change. Therapy can help you in business, at home, make you a better golfer, performer, better at relationships and at dealing with emotions. As a caring, aware and connected society, there are rapidly effective modalities that can make huge changes to a person and their emotional issues or problems in as little as an hour. I know because I use them. 

Emotionally eating deserves attention at the root cause - emotion - before the eating. So, I look to the past to where the emotions originated, which for me as a therapist is essential. I don't subscribe to the gastric band hypnosis - (or band-aid for your gastric issues). To me it's treating the symptom and result and not addressing the cause, it is also providing the unconscious mind with the dilemma of accepting an untruth - a lie when the unconscious mind fully acknowledges there is no gastric band restriction in place hypnotically. Likewise the real gastric band treatment is a last resort butchering of the body often without fully resolving the reasons why it has happened. If the unconscious mind hasn't learnt other ways to cope, it's likely that the expression of emotional pain will find other ways to be expressed.

There are exciting therapies that have emerged in the last few years, which as a therapist are truly ground-breaking. Not just in terms of speed and efficacy but simplicity. Havening is one of those modalities. 

Havening in practice is a simple application of rhythmic brushing on areas of the face, hands and shoulder to the elbow whilst the mind is guided through exercises is proving to have dramatic effects for emotional eaters coming see me in my office. Havening de-links and allows the processing of deep level emotions and the gestalts attached to them at a speed that no other therapy I know, other than Time-line Therapy* is able to do. 

NLP Timeline therapy* is a fantastic method of finding root causes from the all-knowing unconscious mind and learning from the events, together with Havening we can find a root cause and actively process and treat the emotional triggers. 

Like EFT, a commonly used modality for emotional issues and it's father, the original therapy TFT - Thought Field Therapy can also be applied to pressure points on the meridians usually on the upper torso and face and emotions resonating on specific meridians can be processed and released. As an energy therapy client's often notice quick release and emotionally energetic shifts with this modality. Hypnosis can then be used to work directly with the unconscious - TFT, Havening and Time-line therapy are all hypnotic and all work on the unconscious mind, traditionally applied hypnosis techniques are also useful with some clients, teaching them self-hypnosis for relaxation and training the mind to appreciate the body and gain more rapport with yourself. 

All of these therapies - especially combined are amazing. They aren't guaranteed to work, nothing is. However, these modern therapy applications  offer serious  significant chance of change and positive improvements psychologically and therefore physically. I personally am experiencing good results with my own clients using this approach and I encourage other therapists to think more about root cause action - real active change work and less about a quick fix - plaster over the issue approach which many gastric band hypnotherapists I have encountered and other quick fix therapies offer. I will often encounter clients approaching me after other commonly known quick-fix methods or psychotherapy and CBT have failed them. 

Food isn't the enemy, neither are the emotions. If we can become more aware consciously of what we eat, when we eat it and why - the knowledge of that can set us free,  it can begin to raise to our thinking, conscious-mind the reasons!  It's perhaps then that we can begin to make serious often enlightening changes. Food can lose the blame and we can gain back control - and keep the hypnotic media messaging at arms length!

For more information about my work and where I treat clients, please visit my website I treat clients in Marylebone London, Central Manchester and over Skype. You can contact me on 0161 949 8182 or email me at for more information or if you have any questions relating to this blog or the treatments I offer. My website is

By Diane Beck Health-Success NLP Hypnotherapist, London, Manchester and Skype

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