Are you mindful when you eat?

When clients come to see me for weight loss, I ask them ‘How fast do you eat?’.  Most of them tell me that they eat quickly, often with the TV on.  I explain the importance of eating slowly and without distractions so that you can hear the messages that your body sends you when it has had sufficient to eat.

Last week I had an extraordinary experience.  I persuaded a friend to experience mindful eating with me.  I cut up some salad vegetables and feta cheese in bite sized portions and put them into two containers.  My friend agreed to put on a blindfold and then I gave him his food.  I did the same.  We agreed not to talk while we were eating.

It was hard not to talk but it became very meditative.  When we had finished we were both very calm and peaceful.  We had both really tasted and enjoyed the food.  The texture and sound of the food also became more apparent.  I stopped eating before the container was empty because I knew I had eaten enough.

I recommend eating with your eyes closed or blindfolded as an experience.  If you want to eat slowly and mindfully:

  • Eat at a table
  • No distractions – turn off the TV, put away the mobile phone or Tablet.
  • Put down your knife and fork between every mouthful
  • Keep the food in your mouth and chew slowly
  • Notice the ‘satisfied’ feeling and stop eating

This is a good start to losing unwanted weight.

Hypnotherapy – the last resort?

How many people consider hypnotherapy as the last resort treatment for dealing with their issues?  They may start with trying to sort out their issue for themselves and then, if that doesn’t work, they might go and see the doctor.  If that isn’t the answer, they may get sent for cognitive behaviour therapy or counselling.  If all of that doesn’t work, they may finally think about hypnotherapy.
However, a study by American Health Magazine in 2007 reported the following findings:
  •  Psychoanalysis: 38% recovery after 600 sessions
  •  Behaviour Therapy:  72% recovery after 22 sessions
  • Hypnotherapy: 93% recovery after 6 sessions
No therapist can guarantee success but these are compelling results.  As the magazine article ( )points out “Hypnosis is a special form of communication to the subconscious mind where habits are established and memory is stored…The hypnotherapist helps you connect with your subconscious mind, which puts YOU in control of your subconscious mind – the most powerful and empowering aspect of your brain.”
A recent BBC Horizon programme, ‘Out of Control?’, confirmed that our subconscious minds are influencing our decisions on issues from what you eat to who you fall in love with  Over 90% of our actions everyday are controlled by our subconscious minds so it makes sense that a therapy that harnesses the subconscious would be very useful.
So, if you are having problems with weight, smoking, an unwanted habit or something else, think about hypnotherapy.

What is good nutrition?

I work with clients on issues from nail biting to depression and I run training sessions on a range of wellbeing and NLP subjects.  I’ve found that the clients who benefit the most and the delegates who learn the most are the ones who engage with the therapy and the subject.  They are the people who ask lots of questions, experiment with the techniques that I teach them and give me lots of feedback.
So I love it when clients and learners come back to me with research and recommendations from things that they have read or seen.  Thanks to the Internet we can all have access to the latest research, the only limit is the amount of time we have to look.  
One of my weight loss clients is sending me some great information on nutrition and I thought I would share them with you.
“Sugar: The Bitter Truth.” Speaker: Robert H. Lustig MD UCSF
“Protein Power”. Speaker: Michael Eades, MD
“10 Diet Myths”: The GKR Karate UK Conference Presentation. Speaker: Zoe Harcombe
Lots to think about there if you are struggling with your diet.

Good Resolutions

 Good Resolutions

What have you decided to change in your life in 2012?  Is it something you want to stop doing – smoking, drinking too much, over eating?  Or is it something you want to do more of – relaxing, exercising, learning a new skill?  
It’s good to have a goal for positive change and remember, if the road to hell is paved with good intentions, the road to heaven is paved with commitment and good planning.  So, whatever you’ve decided to do, here are some tips for making it happen.
Step 1 Know what you want to have happen
  • Close your eyes and visualise what you want. State it in the positive eg “I want to be a size 12”, “I want to breathe easily”, “I want to spend two hours a week exercising”.
  • What will you see, hear and feel when you achieve your goal?
  • When do you want to achieve it by? eg a specific date or special occasion.
Step 2 Plan how you are going to get there
  • What resources do you already have? What resources do you need?
  • What options do you have to help you achieve your goal?
  • Do you need any advice or support?
  • What actions are you going to take?
  • What obstacles might you experience? How might you overcome them?
Step 3 Make a commitment
  • Tell someone else what you are going to do or
  • Join a group with the same goals
Step 4 Work the plan
  • If you move off of the plan one day, forgive yourself and start again
Step 5 Enjoy your achievements!
Good Luck and Happy New Year

Frightened of Fruit?

There was an interesting programme on ITV2 last weekend called ‘My Child Won’t Eat’.  The programme followed the treatment of three children who were being treated by a psychologist, Dr Gillian Harris.  All of the children were refusing to eat ‘normal’ food along with the rest of their families.  Instead they were eating the sorts of food that parents normally reserve for treats for example chocolate, biscuits, cereals and yoghurt.
Dr Harris believes that the children have phobias relating to certain foods which means that they are actually scared to eat them.  The normal encouragement and cajoling just doesn’t work in this situation and can just creat tension around mealtimes.
This type of phobia can carry on into adulthood and  this can have an adverse effect on nutrition, growth and healthy weight control.  I have worked with weight loss clients who find it hard to eat fruit and vegetables.
So what can you do if you have a food phobia and want to increase the range of food that you eat?  Dr Harris’s approach is to encourage her clients to start by identifying one need food that they are prepared to try to eat.  Relax before meal times and picture yourself eating the new food in a completely calm state.  Then, eat a small portion of the new food.  On average you need to eat a new food about 15 times before it becomes familiar and easy to eat.
Most of all, make mealtimes enjoyable and stress free.

New Research on Weight Loss

Sometimes when you hear about a new piece of research that has been published you wonder how they ever got the funding to look into something so whacky or something that just seems like common sense.  But there have been a few interesting papers published recently on weight loss.
Dr David Hall of the US National Institutes for Health and his colleagues have published research in The Lancet about realistic rates of weight loss ( ).  In their report they say that general advice has been that if you cut 500 calories from your daily diet or burn them off through exercise you can expect to lose 1lb (0.5kg) of weight every week.  However, they say, that it takes longer to lose weight and a year of dieting will result in only half the amount of weight that experts currently predict.  Because of that, many people give up because they have unrealistic expectations.
An unusual study by Ohio State University has shown that a socially active lifestyle can dramatically speed up weight loss through the burning of fat in mice ( .  The team found that relatively small changes in the physical and social living environment of the mice can alter vast amounts of white fat to brown fat which is easier to burn off.  Professor During said that “it is not the size of your social network, but its depth and complexity, and your level of engagement with that network, that counts.”
Radio 4’s ‘All in the Mind’ programme on 5 October, featured research by Dr David Neill of the University of South Carolina into the effect of bad eating habits.  Their research studied habitual popcorn eaters at a cinema.  They found that participants ate out of habit, regardless of the freshness of the popcorn.  The habit can be broken by asking the participant to eat with their non-dominant hand, that is, if they normally eat with their right hand, change to their left hand.  That change, known as a ‘pattern interrupt’ in neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), gives the participant a chance to make the conscious decision about whether they want to carry on eating.
So what are the implications if you want to lose weight?  Firstly, set yourself realistic weight loss targets and stick at it – healthy eating is for life not just for New Year’s resolutions.  Having an active social life with lots of face to face interactions is good for your emotional health and will help you to lose weight.  And finally, you can break harmful eating habits by making small changes like eating with your non-dominant hand or moving snacks to a new drawer or cupboard in the kitchen.