As a Hypnotherapist and NLP Coach I have helped a lot of people to lose weight, with overeating and emotional eating being the main difficulty. It can be a sensitive and emotionally distressing subject and it's because people can get so unhappy, that they often come and see me. Nearly everyone will tell me that they desperately want to manage their eating issues yet they just can’t seem to stop, or they manage to for a little while before going back to their old ways. One of the most powerful revelations is that through our sessions together we often establish that there is an unconscious part of them that doesn’t want them to stop or is actually sabotaging them. This is very typical of a lot of behaviours we want to stop...but can't.
Every Behaviour has a Positive Intent
One of the core beliefs in NLP I find very helpful is the assumption that there is always a positive intention behind any behaviour, even if it's unwanted. As strange as it sounds, finding a positive intention behind doing something you don’t want to be doing can be very liberating. By understanding the positive intention it becomes much easier to bring some acceptance into the picture, releasing the energy and power it may have. This is not always so easy yet by working with clients on this I have seen really powerful change that allows us to come alongside the emotion driving the eating, negotiating with this destructive part, allowing options and choices to then be put in the frame.
What Emotional Need is the Eating Fulfilling?
In one of my blog posts on my website I have written about the Human Givens approach to understanding a set of essential emotional needs we all have and recognising how they can impact on unwanted behaviours and thoughts if they are not being met in a healthy way. With emotional eating it can be a case of seeing if any of these emotional needs are being neglected, with the eating instead providing a substitute. A lack of feeling challenged and expressing creativity can lead to boredom for instance, for which the emotional eating can stand in for. Low self esteem is also a very common element to emotional eating where the eating becomes a way of meeting a need for status and self-attention which of course is usually only temporarily relieved, after which a sense of guilt is induced, lowering self esteem even more.
The other important element to controlling emotional eating is to learn about the pattern; when does it happen more often, what are the triggers and when it happens less often what is different about those situations? When is it easier to control and when is it harder? Taking an overall view of your life to see what areas are going well and what areas you might want to be better may also give clues to how the eating fits in.
For some it may be only very specific situations that induce an urge to eat with the rest of the day going fine. In this case it would firstly be a matter of understanding what the external stimulus is that sets of the emotional eating and the exact mental pattern that is being replayed; what thoughts and emotions result from seeing the biscuit jar at home or upon walking past the newsagents or bakery for instance? We can then start to implement a new thought and emotional pattern instead. I have written more about pattern matching and the associations we form in another one of my web blog posts titled 'A door is a door?'.
Hypnosis for Powerful Change
With all this knowledge about a client’s individual relationship to food and eating I then use hypnosis to powerfully integrate all the work we have done up to that point. New and more helpful associations and patterns around eating are then taken on board. It’s wonderful to see clients then make amazingly powerful changes, that means they can effortlessly leave behind their eating issues.
Article written by Lawrence Michaels - Hove
I'm a qualified Solution Focussed Psychotherapist and Hypnotherapist and NLP Practitioner, specialising in anxiety related concerns. I have been practising since 2008 and have also worked extensively with clients who have eating, weight and body image concerns in addition to a large number of other life issues. I hold a current... [read more]