Real hunger vs fake hunger

Real hunger vs fake hunger

If you graze and snack all through the day, it's easy to be confused about whether you are physically hungry or just fake hungry. Grazing and snacking can be such an embedded habit that some people have no idea what real, actual physical hunger feels like.

Are you so used to eating without thinking that you find it hard to stop even when your stomach is full?  Some people go even further and don't stop eating until they feel bloated, uncomfortable and completely over-stuffed.

Your eating can feel even more out of control when it happens in a sort of absent-minded way while busy doing other things like watching TV, surfing the net, driving, or at work.

Maybe you do this?

Do you find yourself back in the kitchen searching for something tasty shortly after eating a big meal?

Do you buy yourself ‘treats’ as part of the weekly grocery shopping that is a secret that no one else knows?

Are you ashamed of what you secretly eat and try to be clever at covering up your tracks and hiding any evidence from family or friends?

Well, you’re not alone!

If you recognise yourself in any of this, you too could be an emotional eater who confuses physical hunger with fake hunger and uses food to swallow down your uncomfortable feelings such as anger, sadness, boredom, loneliness or even just feeling fed up. 

I’m right here for you with everything you need

For nearly twenty years I have worked successfully with thousands of people to erase the triggers that make them want to eat when they are not physically hungry. They are people from all walks of life who blamed themselves for being overweight or for failing to stick to the latest fad diet. They thought their excess weight was because they were greedy or that they had no will-power but nothing is further from the truth.

For emotional eaters, the drive to eat it is not ever really about food and never, ever about a lack of willpower.

Even NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) who provide national guidance and advice to improve health and social care in the UK recognised a momentous shift in how the medical profession sees the future of adult weight management in their 2016 guidelines.

It recognised for the first time the need to include ‘talking therapies’ to tackle obesity, and this marked an acceptance that psychological hunger is as powerful, and as important to tackle, as physiological, or real hunger.

Dr Matthew Capehorn said, ‘We can make anyone lose weight (lock them in a cupboard and don’t feed them!) If we don’t address the underlying reasons why they became overweight, they will face precisely the same psychological problems they had at the start and are more likely to put the weight straight back on’. (Ref: Foreword to 7 Simple Steps to Stop Emotional Eating, Hammersmith Books, London)

The underlying reasons you put on weight can be resolved too so that you are no longer triggered by your emotions to eat when you are fake hungry.

Once your emotional triggers to eat are successfully erased you too can lose weight by eating only when you are physically hungry, stop effortlessly when you have eaten enough and enjoy feeling completely calm and relaxed around food.

I work with the most powerful therapy tools that have already transformed the lives of thousands of other emotional eaters to end their fake hunger so that they can eat for nourishment instead of swallowing down their emotions.

Contact me if you recognise yourself as an emotional eater and are ready to get the help you need to transform your relationship with food so that you can eat for nourishment instead of self-punishment.

Just click on the button at the top of the page to schedule your discovery call with me.

If you want to lead a happier more fulfilled life it’s almost impossible when you’re doubting yourself or sabotaging your chances of success. Therapy isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve ‘tried everything’ it could be just what you need. You can book an obligation-free 30-minute discovery call to find out for yourself.


Brent’s Story – A therapy case study

Brent’s Story – A therapy case study

‘When I signed up for therapy with Sally I was already on the waiting list for a gastric band operation. Major abdominal surgery was something I wanted to avoid, so this programme felt like my last-ditch attempt to get my weight under control.

‘At the initial consultation, I weighed in at 24 stone and one pound (337 lb/153 kg). A week later, when I came for my first therapy session, I topped that with an additional half a stone (7 lb/3 kg) for good measure. Those extra pounds were a classic “Last Supper” response, coupled with the fall-out from the celebrations for my 58th birthday.

‘Clearly, I had a long way to go. I was under no illusions that my weight was causing me problems, but I was obviously not in the right frame of mind to fully focus on doing anything differently. I was disappointed in myself that I’d got myself in this state and felt pretty disgusted with myself for letting it happen. I had gone from being a well-built, strong athletic type of guy to someone who was classed as morbidly obese with painful joints, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep apnoea. And, I felt like had let all of that happen to me.'

‘All those negative opinions of myself are just great ways of beating myself up and keeping me stuck. Little by little I was able to let go of that self-blame and begin to do things differently.' 

‘I’m a bloke, so I like goals and structure. The first thing I did was set myself staged, with dated targets, towards my key goal of getting my weight down to 19 stone, nine pounds (275 lb/124 kg). That wasn’t an arbitrary weight by the way. That was the weight I needed to achieve to get myself out of the morbidly obese category as defined by the NHS' [UK’s National Health Service] BMI (body mass index) measurement.'

''I had to work hard to clear my self-doubts and to keep focused. When I began, I was pretty overwhelmed and certainly didn’t feel confident that I could make those changes happen. There were many two-steps-forward-and-one-step-backwards as I made progress towards my goal.'

'For me, I appreciated the hypnotherapy and visualising myself achieving my goal weight really helped me to get there. In all, it took me just under a year to get down to the 19st 9lbs target.'

'The key for me appears to be a sort of mindfulness – not only while eating but in keeping these issues, the decision to put my health first, the intention to be accountable to me, in the frame on a daily basis. This is what is difficult, because it is the opposite of what I have done all my life: putting personal issues on the back burner, but is it so good, and so successful, when I do it. And when you’re on a roll success breeds success.'

‘I achieved my steadiest, most reliable, incremental, week-upon-week, weight loss when I listened to the hypnosis-recordings every day; kept a food diary; when my wife and I worked together to plan out the week’s menu in advance; and when we shopped for our meals and snacks so that everything was available in the kitchen.'

''The food diary’s weekly tally of my drinking prompted me to face up to, and radically cut-down my alcohol consumption. That has stayed down ever since, as has switching regular takeaway dinners for more home-cooked meals.'

'I’d had a long belief that the B’s were responsible and that cutting out Bread, Butter and Beer would do the job! However just trying to cut out those with no mental support framework had in the past just been doomed to repeated failure with each pound or stone off followed sooner, or later with two back on!'

'Now, the lower carb diet worked, and is mostly still working for me, does not demand foregoing Butter – but the of course less I have the better (as Betty Botter might have said). Obviously Bread is out along with rice, pasta, chips, etc., and again, as my knees only allow me to perform limited exercise, Beer has to be off the menu.'

'The quality of the mental support framework comes and goes supported by firstly success, by personal relationships, by the hypnotherapy CDs, and by some sort of personal happiness index. – what a list of variables.'

‘It might make it sound as though my weight loss was all down to practical factors, but of course, key to all of this was me getting my head around the idea, the actual possibility, of me being able to lose the weight and that’s what I did in the therapy sessions. I had so much doubt at my own ability to make a difference in my own life that for that first year I carried on attending the hospital appointments for the gastric band procedure, just in case I failed. I kept those appointments all the way up to when I no longer met the NHS’s qualifying guidelines for surgical intervention. I had disqualified myself by no longer being fat enough!'

‘I found I struggled to stay focused when I took on a couple of property renovations and my life got very busy and stressful. It became all too easy to let my health priorities take a back seat while I focused on working hard. I began making poor food choices, often eating on the run. That whole mañana thing of “’I’ll take care of myself tomorrow” had been a bit of a theme for me for years, and had got me into the mess I’d already found myself in.'

'Being busy again, and under pressure, triggered me into those old patterns of behaviour of not taking care of myself. The therapy sessions helped me realise I could make other choices for myself, that I mattered, and that taking care of myself mattered too.'

‘The four to five stone (56-70 lb/25-32 kg) I reduced my weight by had many welcome health benefits. The practice nurse at my General Practice (GP) surgery ran the statistics and said I had improved my life expectancy by 20 percent. All of the readings from my regular blood tests were hugely better. My sleep apnoea had reduced from 40 interrupts per hour to initially 11 interrupts per hour, and now I keep meaning to return the breathing assistance machine to the hospital as I never need to use it at all, which of course is wonderful.'

‘I had a health scare last year driving back down to the south of England from Scotland with my wife. A few hundred miles into the trip I felt that tell-tale tightness in my chest and my heart was pumping ten-to-the-dozen. It was very scary.'

'We were in a part of the country that we barely knew and had to make our way to the nearest hospital, where I was admitted for tests. I was eventually diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, a heart condition characterised by irregular heartbeat which can lead to an increased risk of stroke, or even heart failure. I can’t tell you how immensely pissed off I was.'

' I had done everything I was told to do - eaten more healthily, cut down on the booze and lost weight and then - sod’s law - this should happen to me. I felt all over again that my body had let me down. I know it’s not rational, but it’s how I felt. I was back in that abyss thinking that I had allowed this to happen to me, that it was all my fault. It took a while to haul myself back up and recognise that the weight I had lost had probably made the difference from me being here today or not.'

‘I had got complacent, I guess. I thought I had done enough, but I have decided now I’m ready to lose the next chunk of weight. I’ve set a new weight loss target. I’ve gone back to keeping a food diary and listening to the hypnosis recordings every day. I want to build on the positive health improvements I’ve already gained, and I’m keen to have more of the same. I’m talking to my wife about my plans as I know how well I can do when she and I work together, and she always loses some weight too, so everyone’s a winner!'

‘I understand now that I deserve to be well and happy and that no-one can do that for me, except me, and I truly want that, and I’m willing to work for it.’

Contact me if you feel ready to lose your excess weight through changing how you think and feel about yourself and food. Click on the button at the top of this page for an obligation free 30-minute call.

If you want to lead a happier more fulfilled life it’s almost impossible when you’re doubting yourself or sabotaging your chances of success. Therapy isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve ‘tried everything’ it could be just what you need. You can book an obligation-free 30-minute discovery call to find out for yourself.


Emotional Eating Q & A Session

Emotional Eating Q & A Session

Emotional Eating Q&A

Emotional Eating Q & A with journalist Betty Russell poses her questions to therapist Sally Baker about her work to transform emotional eating into successful weight loss.

Why do you have a passion for helping people lose weight?

The mind-body connection informs my work as a therapist, and when working, I am working with a client I tend to focus on the signals from their body to reveal and often, in turn, resolve their sub-conscious issues.

Carrying excess weight for many people is the outcome of a survival decision they made when they felt powerless to defend or define themselves in any other way. Being overweight is never just about food or lack of willpower.

Can you describe the tools you use to help people change?
I work with three main therapy tools. Originating in the US, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) has been around now for over 25 years. It is easy to learn as a self-help tool and can be applied to alleviate a myriad of negative emotions. The technique involves tapping with two fingers on various points mainly on the face, and upper body. It works on the same energy lines, or Chi meridians as acupuncture, the traditional ancient Chinese medicine.

The second core therapy involves listening and interacting with a selection of short audio tracks. The listener taps with the fingers of both hands to a complex sequence of three rhythms.

Due to how the brain processes information, and in particular memory this therapy works wonderfully to reduce and even erase the emotional connection between negative feelings from memories, or events from the past whether they are real or imagined.

The third technique is Hypnotherapy which during a period of intense guided relaxation allows the subconscious mind to accept positive suggestions to support change and to help align the subconscious mind with the weight loss success that a client desires for themselves without triggering self-sabotaging behaviour.

How did you arrive at using this combination of therapies?
I came to use this combination of therapies with my therapist colleague and co-writer, Liz Hogon. We initially began working with EFT, and then hypnotherapy.

It feels as though we have had to explore a lot of modalities and techniques that are out there to ultimately find the most powerful and effective tools for successful weight loss.

What are the seven steps people can take to control their weight that you mention in your book?
We view the seven steps for people to resolve their emotional eating to be similar to the layers of an onion. We recommend people begin at step 1 in the book and work through to step 7 without skipping steps, or tackling them out of order. In this way, the journey begins with the present and unfurls the multi-layers leading to letting go, acceptance, and stepping up to a new way of living and loving oneself.
The seven steps are:
Acknowledging the present
Comfort and stress eating
Body image
Setting and achieving your goals
Breaking through
Digging deep
New day, new dawn

What do you have to say to anyone who thinks this is just another thing that won’t work for them?
By the time a person seeks help with their weight loss from a professional therapist, they are already experienced at every diet from Atkins to The Zone. They already understand that their overeating is not about an insatiable appetite for food but more an attempt to fill a bottomless void inside of themselves or to quell their often ever-present anxiety.

Clients who come to see either Sally in London, England or Liz in Melbourne, Australia feel over-whelmed with years of yo-yo dieting with failure inevitably following success.

Intellectually people understand how to lose weight, and are tired, and frustrated with their occasional weight loss success triggering a whole range of sabotaging behaviours that puts the weight back on, and keeps them stuck.

We begin the work by acknowledging the present, and that includes their fears that this won’t work for them as so many other things they've already tried for themselves haven’t worked either.

We gently explore an individual’s belief system to shift their perspective with the techniques we use so that the client can begin to embrace, and believe that there is a different way and that they deserve it to be their story too.

Anything else you want to add?
All the techniques we use in our therapy practices are simply explained in our book and in our new online course 'Overcoming Emotional Eating.' With the book and the course we have put together a compelling self-help resource for people to tackle their own reasons for emotional eating, and to facilitate their successful lose weight, once and for all.

7 Simple Steps to Stop Emotional Eating is available from Amazon as a paperback and as an e-version. For more information about Sally and Liz's online course 'Overcoming Emotional Eating' checkout

Contact me if you feel overwhelmed with years of yo-yo dieting and emotional eating. You can schedule an obligation free discovery call by clicking on the button at the top of the page.

If you want to lead a happier more fulfilled life it’s almost impossible when you’re doubting yourself or sabotaging your chances of success. Therapy isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve ‘tried everything’ it could be just what you need. You can book an obligation-free 30-minute discovery call to find out for yourself.


Emotional Eaters over-think about food. Do you?

Emotional Eaters over-think about food. Do you?

​To understand the mindset of an emotional eater, it is vital to understand that their sense of self-worth is directly linked to the numbers on their bathroom scales.

A pound lost, or a pound gained can set the tenor of their entire day.

Foods are also never neutral. They are forensically studied, and determined to be good or bad.

Emotional eaters battle with their own body’s hunger, and cravings.

They know there have been times when they have succumbed, and eaten just one forbidden food for it to start a tsunami of bingeing, and sometimes purging with all the accompanying feelings of shame, and self-loathing.

An emotional eater’s attitude towards themselves and food isn’t logical. The extent of their preoccupation with the axis of food, and their weight is often a private source of great personal distress and shame.

The reasons for this over-thinking about food, body weight, and how they define themselves and feel about being themselves in the world are varied, and inevitably complex.

Liz Hogon and I specialise in resolving issues around emotional eating so that people who have struggled with weight loss for years can finally successfully lose weight.

We are also the co-authors of 7 Simple Steps to Stop Emotional Eating (Hammersmith Books, London).

The clients we see are mostly people who feel over-whelmed by the challenge of losing weight, and they can also often have other long-term health issues to contend with.

Non-emotional eaters have a different relationship with food. They also come in all sorts of physical shapes, and sizes and some may decide they are heavier than they would like to be.

With this realisation, they now have two main choices. The first would be that they now decide to lose their excess weight.

For non-emotional eaters, this would mean setting; reducint portion size, and maybe even incorporating regular exercise until they have reached their goal weight.

Unlike emotional eaters, they do not totally define themselves by how much they weigh. Therefore for them losing their excess weight is no more of a challenge than any other aspect of their lives such as learning conversational French, or taking up painting with water-colours as a hobby.

They often successfully lose weight, and even if they eventually pile on some extra pounds, they have the option of just applying their tried and trusted methods until they are back again at their goal weight.

Their second choice is to accept their expanding waistbands and buy bigger clothes sizes.

Anyway, most of the people they know are like them and are increasingly larger versions of their former selves.

Non-emotional eaters find it hard to feel their weight gain is that important when the trend of increasing pounds is a familiar trait with their partner, members of their family, and their friends.

They simply get used to buying a size, or two larger in their clothes, let out their belts another notch, and ultimately pay it little mind.

This feature was first published online by the Talking Health Partnership.

Contact me if you are feeling overwhelmed by your weightloss challenge. I can help you to target your body by changing your mind to end your emotional eating. Just click on the button at the top of the page to schedule a free call.

If you want to lead a happier more fulfilled life it’s almost impossible when you’re doubting yourself or sabotaging your chances of success. Therapy isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve ‘tried everything’ it could be just what you need. You can book an obligation-free 30-minute discovery call to find out for yourself.


Overcoming fear of giving birth – 7 top tips

Overcoming fear of giving birth – 7 top tips

Liz Hogon and I have often worked with women to prepare them for giving birth by helping to release their fears using hypnosis and other powerful therapy tools.

We also have also occasionally worked with mothers who have come into therapy many years later who were still harbouring critical judgements about themselves and how they managed their birth experience as well as feelings of enduring trauma.

We've worked with some new fathers too who got caught up in a particularly stressful or distressing birth experience with their partner. Although rarely acknowledged, some men can be left feeling overwhelmed and powerless observers of nature as it's most raw.

It is most often beneficial in these cases for them to access therapy for what can be symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that if left untreated can lead to depression.

Although every woman faces this time with her unique perspective, and expectations in clinical practice we have observed several core issues common to many expectant mothers.

Here we have selected our seven top tips for you to consider in advance of your big day to help empower you to have the birth experience you want.

1. Think positive
Emile Coue was a famous French hypnotist who coined the phrase now known as Coue’s Law - ‘Whenever there is a contest between the conscious mind, and the imagination, the imagination will always win.’ Therefore the more you focus on a positive, life-affirming experience of giving birth the more likely this will be the outcome of your experience.

2. Speak up
Get clear about your birth preferences including who you want to be present at the birth. Women can often feel obliged to rely on just having their partner present when in fact they would value the support of a trusted friend or relative as well. Voice your preferences well in advance.

3. Be open and flexible
Women are often encouraged to compose a detailed birth plan which can lead to carved in stone type of expectations. When reality diverts to Plan B or even Plan C, it is easy to feel like you failed.

It can be a positive process to create your birth plan while at the same time acknowledging that whatever happens, it will be OK.

4. Self-belief
Women have given birth since the dawn of time. You are part of this amazing, and powerful continuum. You too can do this. Take this as your mantra and repeat it to yourself regularly.

5. Visualising
Rehearse visualising your body is relaxed, and open. Take an image that works for you, perhaps a gorgeous sunflower unfurling its petals and facing into the sun or beautiful lotus flower. Whenever you have a few moments to spare, close your eyes, and imagine this effortless transformation taking place.

6. Strengthening your ‘No.’
From the day you tell people you are pregnant, the nay-sayers can target you with the exaggerated horror monologues of their own birth experiences.

The majority of women have a natural labour and have positive experiences of giving birth, but they are not so inclined to keep reliving their stories.

Interrupt the scaremongers by calmly, and assertively stating your refusal to listen.

In many circumstances, women can find it difficult to say ‘No’ to other people's demands. If you recognise this in yourself, then it is useful to practice strengthening your ability to say no in your everyday life so that it becomes easier and easier for you to state what you want. Practicing your ability to say no with clarity can be immensely helpful in facilitating you having the type of birth you want to have as you will find it is easier to speak out when you feel it is necessary.

7. Be calm
Anxiety and panic release the hormone Adrenalin which is known to increase the pain receptors in the body potentially making your birth experience more challenging than it needs to be. In preparation note down your imagined fears around your impending birth so that your negative thinking is not allowed to escalate into catastrophic thinking.

When working with pregnant clients, we use a mix of therapeutic approaches to dispel birth fears, erase negative thinking, and reinforce confidence for positive outcomes.

Many of the techniques are easy to learn as self-help tools including one of our primary therapy approaches which work brilliantly to help discover the underlying reasons for limiting beliefs.

For instance, a woman who has experienced a previous difficult birth can face the prospect of giving birth again with even greater fear and trepidation. We work to break the emotional connection to those old memories so that although the memories remain, they no longer carry an emotional charge and do not trigger fears for the future birth either.

(This feature was commissioned and first appeared on an NHS website designed for mothers-to-be.)

Contact me if you are feeling fearful around giving birth or still feeling overwhelmed following your birth experience. You may need some help to resolve your old memories and let them go. Click the button at the top of this page to schedule a call.

If you want to lead a happier more fulfilled life it’s almost impossible when you’re doubting yourself or sabotaging your chances of success. Therapy isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve ‘tried everything’ it could be just what you need. You can book an obligation-free 30-minute discovery call to find out for yourself.