In an article from the New England Journal of Medicine in the early 1990s, ten overweight people were asked to estimate their calorie intake. Their estimations were off by about 50 percent. They thought they were eating about 1,000 calories a day when they were actually eating 2,000 calories.
That’s a remarkable difference. It seems from the research that people carrying excess weight often tend to be more inaccurate in estimating their calorie intake than ‘normal-weight’ individuals.
Lincoln University undertook a study back in the 1980s that showed that if you teach an overweight person to plan meals and food shop accordingly, then an average person could lose up to 10 pounds in three months. This was due to participants in the study reducing their number of impulse purchases when compared to food shopping without a list.
Impulse purchases are usually high-calorie and low-nutrition and can increase calorie consumption by almost half.
This organised way of shopping ensures that if it’s not in the ‘fridge, then no-one will be tempted to eat it! One fool-proof way of taking the guesswork out of what you eat is by keeping a food diary, even for just a couple of weeks.
Food diaries are a basic staple of all the weekly slimming clubs out there but you can super-charge your insights by not just keeping a food diary but adopting a food and mood diary instead.
Keep track of your eating
This not only keeps a track of what you eat but highlights emotional triggers attached to when you eat so that you can start seeing patterns around emotional eating or eating when you’re not hungry.
A template for the food and mood diary we created to use with our clients is included in the book ‘7 Simple Steps to Stop Emotional Eating’ (Hammersmith Books) I co-wrote with Liz Hogon. It is available on Amazon
It’s not just food that counts
In our food and mood diary, we also ask you to rate your hunger when you eat on a scale from zero to ten. Zero means you’re eating when you’re not hungry at all and ten means you’re eating when you’re ravenously hungry.
The mood part of the diary asks you just to pause and ask yourself how you are feeling in that moment you are about to eat.
Are you calm and relaxed or frustrated or angry? Just a word or two is all you need as shorthand to record your feelings.
A few days of a food and mood diary can offer some fascinating insights into habits around food and eating. It brings to mind a client who came to see me to lose weight. When I looked at her food and mood diary, it was clear that she grazed all day long and that was perfectly normal for her as she’s eaten like that for years. It became clear as our work together progressed that she was haunted by memories of her childhood.
Memories of childhood chaos can still trigger eating today
She recalled growing up in a chaotic household where meals were often missed or were unpredictable.
As a child, she had strong memories of feeling powerless and often hungry. As an adult, if she didn’t keep grazing on food, the slightest hint of hunger caused her to feel that old, familiar panic over not having enough to eat. Part of our therapy work together was to release her fears attached to those old memories so that they could be resolved and released.
No longer triggered she was able to regulate her eating, lose the weight she wanted and even safely feel some hunger understanding that as a grown woman she could provide for herself whatever food she needed.
Another food and mood diary insight came from a man in his 50’s. He had type 2 diabetes and was morbidly obese. He had come to me to see if it was possible for him to lose weight and remove himself from the NHS waiting list for bariatric surgery.
Being overly hungry can drive eating to excess
From his food and mood diary, he rarely ate before he reached a number ten on the hunger scale. From this, it was clear he was ravenously hungry by the time he ate, and such an intense hunger made it difficult for him to make sensible eating decisions. Also, long gaps between meals and his busy work meant his diabetes was poorly managed, and his symptoms were worsening.
Part of our therapy work together explored how little care he took of himself as he confided that having once been a very fit and athletic man he was ashamed of how overweight and ill he had become. He blamed himself completely and was so furious with himself that emotionally he had stopped caring for himself at all.
We also worked together with self-forgiveness so that he could break his pattern of self-loathing. By changing his belief system, he was able to make changes in how he thought and felt about himself. Firstly, he stopped pushing himself to the point of physical collapse and began planning and preparing some of his meals instead of always relying on take-outs and fast foods.
As he began to lose weight, his self-esteem increased and he re-discovered his pride. This was especially true when he had lost so much weight he no longer met the NHS weight requirement for bariatric surgery.
Find your a-ha moments with food
Food and mood diaries never cease to cause a-ha moments or provide useful insights. A surprisingly high number of client’s diaries’ show how much of what a person eats is of poor nutritional value. Often clients are surprised when I tell them they need to eat more nutritious food and not eat less as they may have expected.
This is often true of new mothers desperate to lose their baby weight. They are usually feeling so overwhelmed with their new baby that from their food and mood diary it is clear they are exhausted, and their nutrition levels are very poor. The pressure on mothers to be perfect is very damaging, so therapy work in many of these cases often involves reframing clients beliefs so they can let go of impossible ideals and standards.
Instead, the therapy work makes it okay for them to ask for help and to delegate wherever possible all the non-essential tasks. It’s also easy for new mothers to lose sight of themselves, so therapy refocusses them to understand how important their well-being is and that it’s not selfish to prioritise their own emotional needs too.
Keep a note of your eating
If you don’t have access to our Food and Mood template, you can use a notebook or your smartphone to create your food and mood diary and keep track of your eating and its emotional triggers. See if you can be a detective and work out what’s happening with food for you.
If you’d like some help with this process as a crucial first step in exploring your emotional eating, then do book an obligation-free discovery call with me.
Finding it hard to be well?
One of the goals of a therapeutic approach to losing weight is to resolve and release the stress triggers which can lead to carrying excess weight, and with obesity often comes Type 2 diabetes or a diagnosis of pre-diabetes.
Rates of obesity are increasing year upon year, and so is the incidence of diabetes. There is an insightful quote in Jeff O’Connells’s book called ‘Sugar Nation’.
He wrote, “The truth is, by the time you have or even flirt with type 2 diabetes, there’s probably a lot more out of whack with your life than just blood sugar’.
In my work I find this to be very much the case, and my therapy approach includes reframing and changing the mindset to enable people to alter their habits, adopt healthier lifestyles and step up to create the life they want for themselves.
Living with a chronic disease
For my clients living with a chronic disease, it is common for them to feel utterly overwhelmed with the degree of medical intervention they are dealing with on a day to day basis. Complex drug regimes can leave you so overwhelmed in fact that you can feel as though you have little or no part to play in achieving the best life you can live.
Feeling powerless is counter-productive to optimising your health and well-being and can keep you stuck in self-limiting beliefs and negative thinking. Powerlessness does not leave you with access to your emotional resources or personal resilience to draw upon to help you do whatever you need to improve your health outcomes.
It can leave you feeling as if your whole life is one long duvet day with your head under the covers
Are you newly diagnosed?
When newly diagnosed with a chronic illness a person can experience feelings of grief similar to bereavement. The person mourns their previous sense of self and all its future possibilities.
They often struggle to accept what is happening to them and can stay in a period of denial for quite some time. This denial can coincide with poor drug compliance or a delay in starting treatment which can make the long-term prognosis worse.
Other emotions that present can be issues around not deserving to be well; colossal self-blame; self-directed anger; long-buried resentment at others; frustration; self-punishment, and fear.
What could your secondary gains be?
On top of feeling unwell. All of these emotions are exhausting and can wear you down. When not taking care of oneself there are also secondary gains to be considered however uncomfortable that idea may be. Secondary gains are ‘benefits’ from being in any given position or state. They do not have to be positive and still count as secondary gains if the impact of them is negative for the person experiencing them.
In therapy work, these can be safely explored so that they can be released. It is only then that self-forgiveness and the development of self-worth and ultimately self-love can become the dominant feelings. These are crucial steps on the journey of living as well as one can.
An illness can also provide a person with a voice or a narrative when they felt they were not heard in the past. Although having an illness can be a ‘successful’ strategy for gaining attention a person pays a high price for this to be their voice.
Finding it hard to be well?
Stumbling blocks to well-being is always worthwhile through hypnosis to explore what a medical condition might ‘say’ for the person suffering it.
A therapeutic goal would be to reframe those feelings or emotions so that the person felt able to have their emotional needs met in new and different and more empowering ways.
Scientific evidence recognises that type 2 diabetes, for instance, can respond more favourably to changes in lifestyle more than the current drug regimes. Stepping up and making changes that can positively impact on one’s health is a big ask for someone whose self-esteem is on the floor and who feels it’s their fault they are unwell in the first place.
The desire to thrive can be blocked for a myriad of reasons and therapy can clear away those blocks to achieve your best self.
You can begin to feel more peaceful and accept everything that has brought you to this place in your life, and from there you can have a profound and beneficial impact on your health. Not just diabetes but all illnesses are exacerbated, to a degree, by cortisol hormone, a by-product of adrenaline, which is triggered by stress.
So, what this post aims to share today is that whatever health concerns you have, and we all have some, therapy is a powerful way to start making changes in how you think and feel about yourself so that you can star in your own life.
Make contact If you are feeling overwhelmed by your health issues and not sure how to move forward to maximise your health potential, then you can book an obligation free discovery call with me to find out what may be blocking your journey towards health and well-being.
If conventional treatments have failed you, the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) agree that hypnotherapy is an effective treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and specifically chronic IBS when symptoms have persisted for more than a year, or have not responded to pharmacology.
NICE Recommend hypnotherapy for IBS
The NICE recommendation is a research-based acknowledgement from independent committees which report to the government’s body responsible for providing national guidance and advice to improve the UK’s health and social care.
NICE recognise that IBS as well being a physical illness with very distressing and disruptive symptoms, also has an emotional component. Every person who suffers from IBS has a unique experience of how the illness affects them and the impact it has on their life.
Many people experience a flare-up in symptoms corresponding with an increase in stress or anxiety. Alternatively, specific stressful events can trigger IBS symptoms.IBS can also be unpredictable with little or no obvious or conspicuous causal links. Because of IBS’s unpredictability,
it can make it difficult to fully relax and enjoy periods of time when symptoms lessen or abate completely. There is often a preoccupation of fear and dread that the symptoms will suddenly return, creating an unremitting and self-perpetuating cycle of stress and anxiety so that even when living free of IBS it can still dominate and limit one’s life.
Hypnotherapy as a way forward for IBS treatment
A therapeutic approach to IBS works below conscious awareness direct with the sub-conscious mind to quickly improve and increase day to day levels of calmness. Long-term stress and anxiety can also be released with hypnotherapy.
This would enable the fear and stress triggers which would have previously resulted in an IBS flare-up to be resolved and released.
It is also possible to influence the Amygdala when working with hypnotherapy. As the emotional centre of the brain, it controls the primitive fight or flight response. The Amygdala can get ‘over-cranked’ by years of stress so that it gets ‘stuck’ in high alert. Under hypnosis, a person can take a guided journey into their mind’s control centre and dial down their fight or flight response to reset it at a calmer level.
This powerful technique can in effect reset the brain’s habitual responses to pain, emotion, stress and fear, all of which play a critical part in the severity of the IBS symptoms. Hypnotherapy is known as an effective method for releasing long-term stress that may have originated many years previously. Improvements in levels of relaxation and calmness can be achieved even when the memory of the originating specific events are forgotten and lost in time.
Clearing negative emotions attached to old memories or events enable a person to be no longer bothered or triggered by their past. Lowering stress levels generally is beneficial for everyone. In particular, the mind and body can benefit from the reduced production of Adrenalin, and it’s bi-product Cortisol. Both of these stress hormones can increase IBS symptoms so feeling calmer improves digestion; lowers blood pressure; improves sleep patterns and many other physical improvements.
The benefits of hypnotism increase as the client allow themselves to relax deeper and deeper. The hypnotic process can then effortlessly create profound changes in the belief system and how a person thinks and feels about themselves. To be most effective the guided visualisation techniques and the appropriate hypnotherapy approach is customised to each person’s specific needs. As well as improving a person’s ability to relax it may also be necessary to clear negative emotions attached to old memories or events so that they no longer bother them as they used to.
Part of a holistic treatment plan includes teaching clients powerful self-help tools to manage their stress levels in the future so that they can release day to day stress before it builds into chronic stress.
There are many relaxation audio recordings and meditation teaching resources available online designed to help you to reduce your overall stress levels. Taking steps yourself can also help you to feel pro-active in the face of an illness that can often feel beyond personal control or influence. Be kind to yourself if you struggle with IBS.
Try writing down your feelings in a notebook if you find it challenging to express your emotions or find it difficult to access your real feelings. At the very least it may offer you some useful insights into the thought processes that influence you, plus you may also discover some of your triggers to your IBS too.
If you want to find out how hypnotherapy can be customised to help with your unique IBS symptoms or other health challenges, then please book an obligation free discovery call via the link on this page.
The idea of ‘self-love’ is a popular aspiration for many people these days along with achieving zen-like mindfulness or lithely moving from downward-facing dog to sun-salutation without as much as breaking a sweat.
All these goals sound great in theory and why wouldn’t anyone not want to love themselves?
The only drawback is that self-love is bandied around as if it’s something that’s easy and effortless for all to achieve.
If that were true, then everyone would just be getting on with it, and it wouldn’t be a thing. But it is a ‘thing.
The Challenge of self-love
Self-love doesn’t feel like a natural state for all of us and perhaps trying to achieve it is just another way of beating yourself up for failing at something you think everyone else is managing as if they were born to it.
Rest assured as many people struggle with achieving self-love as find yoga sweaty and uncomfortable.
One of the most common obstacles to loving yourself is the little negative voice in your head that whispers in your ear a running commentary on everything you do or say.
Now, if on hearing about your inner voice your response is, ‘What inner voice – I don’t have one’, then that is your inner voice. Your inner voice runs a continuous internal dialogue commenting on everything you do and often makes judgments on how well you do it too.
What does your inner voice say to you?
For many people, their inner voice is rarely a source of uplifting encouragement. It is more likely to be an unremitting flow of self-criticism and negative self-judgments, and it acts as an effective block to self-love.
Tuning in, and hearing your inner voice is the crucial first step to silencing the dispiriting stream of negativity that can be happening continuously, just below your conscious awareness like a toxic dripping tap.
I would like to encourage you to spend a little quiet time, just a few moments, every day for about a week to tune-in to your inner voice. Just listen and note down the negative statements it says while being aware of the use of language, idiom, slang or accent of your inner voice.
Where does your negative voice originate?
Begin to get a sense of where the negative voice originated – does it remind you of anyone in your past – a parent, a teacher or a grandparent.
The first step towards turning off your negative voice is to gain a greater awareness of your unique brand of negative self-talk. Train yourself to be more attuned to your inner voice and instead of allowing it a free pass to your sub-conscious mind become aware of it.
By just clocking it you are changing the dynamic and starting to diminish your inner voice’s power to block your self-love and then in your mind you can dismiss it for just what it is – a BS thought.
Your aim is to transform your critical, carping inner voice into your most enthusiastic cheerleader. You can do this easily in just a couple of weeks of awareness. With your inner voice finally whispering words of encouragement and reminding you how fabulous you are self-love does become you’re effortless, natural state.
Book a discovery call
If you are struggling to transform your inner voice from carping to celebratory you can book an obligation-free discovery call with me to explore what is getting in your way of self-love.
woman and what it means
I've been looking at the events for this year's International Woman's Day and making contact with women friends and family members for the Million Women Rising March #MWR on Saturday 10th so that I don't end up as #SallyNoMates on the day.
It's made me focus on the myriad events in my life that have made me who I am and how I share those experiences with many other women the whole world over.
My life so far, just like so many other women, has been one of loving and loss, and I sometimes fear who else I will lose.
It was about the birth of my son all those decades ago and the other babies I never allowed myself even though at the time it never felt like a choice.
It has been about so many experiences and challenges when I felt overwhelmed to the point of doubting my survival and yet with good people around me miraculously I have so that today I thrive.
It's made me pause and think about the women I know and love who most probably won't be marching this year for all sorts of reasons.
I'm thinking of my friend Linda who has just lost her husband after caring for him through his decline from Alzheimer's. I can only imagine how it must have been for her to see her once alpha male partner hollowed out by that dreadful disease.
I'm thinking of my friend Barbara who has just buried her mother and the tsunami of grief she is currently caught up in. I'd love her to come, but it might be too soon for her even to consider right now.
I'm thinking of my unique woman friends I've not made time to see in the last year or so and it makes me feel sad and ashamed of myself that I've not tried harder to keep these relationships alive. I'm prompted to reach out to them now before I'm no more than a distant and irrelevant memory to them.
I'm thinking about the women I know professionally and how great it could be for us to do something together that is real and would be unifying away from emails, webinars and Skype. I hope some of us will meet up for this.
I'm thinking of my beloved sister-in-law and her grown-up daughter living in the Republic of Ireland. I know they're not going to make it over for now and it would have felt great to march with them. They've got their country's Irish Abortion referendum coming up in May, so maybe I should go there and march with them.
I'm thinking of women in my modern, re-constructed London family, my step-grand-daughters and their mums and hoping they'll answer the call to action too so that we can all march together.
Women. All of the women from all the parts of my life. Feels like a Million Women Rising is a perfect opportunity to show up, be counted and to celebrate connection and appreciation for every last one of us.