Here's why people find it difficult to change eating patterns. It is based on my workshop "Retrain Your Brain for New Eating Habits". The next one is Friday morning 17th April 2015.
You would think that after all the years that we have been trying to tackle the problems associated with over eating and weight loss, it would be under control by now. But it obviously isn’t, in fact it’s getting worse. The question is what happens when you try to stop doing something that you enjoy? Especially when it is something that is in front of you all of the time. Oh, and it's OK to have some of it. In fact you need some of it to survive.
Most people give in to their feelings. And so it is with food. The cause of the difficulties is not the diet or choice of food. The real cause is the uncontrollable impulses which lead to the eating behaviour. These impulses may not be there all of the time. For many, the initial stages of planning a new eating regime - such as in the New Year - can feel very positive, and for a while the changes can feel good. However people eventually slip back into old patterns and start overeating again.
The surprising truth is that we can be addicted to eating without knowing it. With the word 'addiction' we associate tobacco, alcohol and other drugs. But bear with me on this. Firstly there can be different levels of addiction, some more serious than others. Also it comes with two common components - denial and justification. These may be operating right now as you read this (if you are overweight for example). However by approaching it like an addiction doesn't make things more daunting; it makes it easier to change what is happening.
Denial may operate in the form "I'm not addicted, it's just a habit". People don't like the word addiction to apply to themselves. Justification may operate in a way such as "I love my food". This is a term I've heard regularly when helping clients to change their eating patterns. Indeed they do get a lot of pleasure from food, but then that's the nature of addiction. You enjoy doing it to excess, but it has negative consequences. The notion of reducing food intake to them therefore implies reducing pleasure which they rebel against.
Another tricky issue is that you need food to survive. Not only are you doing something socially acceptable, but it is entirely necessary! You can't stop doing it completely as with other addictions.
The foods that people have problems with are usually either fat-based or sugar-based. If you take a different food that you enjoy such as say, strawberries, you gain pleasure when eating them but you are unlikely to eat them to excess. You are happy to stop eating them at the right and natural point and don't have an urge for more unnecessarily. This is often not true for fat or refined sugar. But what if your feelings and behaviour to all foods were to enjoy eating and to be happy eating the right amount? This is how things are meant to be, and it can be achieved.
Recognising that eating can be addictive enables us to deal with it in a different and more effective way. It opens the door for us to learn how to change our eating patterns by retraining the brain to the new eating habits which can be very liberating. The techniques and methods which I have combined to do this have their roots in EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques), Self-Hypnosis and NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming). The workshop "Retrain Your Brain for New Eating Habits" on the 17th April does not presume any prior knowledge of these techniques, as you will learn simple versions of them applying them in a structured way to what needs changing.
The workshop takes place in Kenilworth, Warwickshire which is in the UK midlands.