Dream of Sticking to a Healthy Diet?
Easter is just around the corner with lots of lovely chocolatey temptation and at the same time many of us are turning our thoughts to summer holidays soaking up the sun on the beach. At this time of year our attention often turns to finding that elusive diet that is going to give us the body of our dreams – the diet that is going to work this time, the one that we’ll be able to stick to.
A new study has shown that two thirds of Brits are on a diet “most of the time”. We seem to be on a never ending cycle of starting a diet, losing some weight, abandoning the diet, gaining weight and then starting all over again. This pattern clearly doesn’t work yet we keep doing it, perhaps because we’ve been doing it this way for so long we don’t know any another way.
At Inspired to Change we often help people who have been going round and round in this diet cycle and have got themselves completely stuck. In their frustration they often come to see us hoping we’ll wave a magic wand and the weight will just drop off. Now, of course, we all know that isn’t really possible, but there is always a part of us that hopes that magic like this can really be done!
But, as brain experts, what we do is far more powerful than magic! By teaching our clients how their brain works and why it is getting it so consistently wrong we give them back the control they need to be making the right decisions about how they eat so they can have a healthy balance all the time without ever needing to go on a diet.
Because how we eat all starts with how we are using our brain.
There are two main areas of our brain that drive how we eat – the one that gets it right and the one that gets it wrong.
Let’s start with the one that gets it wrong as, sadly, more of us will recognise this part of our brain.
In order to help us survive and evolve into the amazingly successful species that we are there is a part of our brain completely dedicated to our survival. This primitive part of our brain hasn’t changed at all since our caveman ancestor’s time so you’d think it wasn’t really that relevant to us now. But because it’s all about survival this part of our brain has a very strong hold on us which can cause real problems as it doesn’t recognise our modern day lives. Because of this it often gets things wrong.
When we are worrying about a stressful day, money worries or relationship issues our primitive brain doesn’t understand that. It understands that we are worried, it’s just that the only thing our primitive ancestors had to worry about were woolly mammoths and scary lions so it responds as if we are in a true life or death situation causing 1 in 4 of us to struggle with anxiety and depression.
When we are in the grip of our primitive brain it drives us to over eat and not only that, it wants us to eat all the wrong stuff. But why? We know that to survive and live a long healthy life we need to eat healthily, so why does our primitive brain drive us to eat so badly? Because our primitive brain isn’t about our long term survival, it’s about surviving the 30 minutes or so, it’s about surviving that rather scary lion that’s looking at us as if we are dinner. And to survive we need energy to fight or run and we need that energy fast. It’s not interested in energy that will slowly release over the next 5 hours, it needs that energy now! So it drive us to eat high fat, high carb, sugary food that will give us an instant hit of energy.
This primitive part of our brain doesn’t understand that we want to look good on the beach and would like to lose some weight. It doesn’t understand diets. Diets fool our brains into thinking we are in a famine situation and that food is scarce. If our brain thinks that food is scarce then it will drive us to overeat – if there is food in front of us right now we’d better eat it, even if we aren’t hungry, as we have no idea where the next meal is coming from. It’s this that often leads us to eating the whole pack of biscuits when our intention was just to have a couple.
And any food we do eat whilst our primitive brain is in charge is used as a fat store so we can access that energy when we really need it, just in case that lion comes back for us again.
So it seems like this primitive part of our brain is dooming us to stay in that constant cycle of dieting that just doesn’t work.
But it’s not all bad news. Don’t forget we have that part of our brain that gets it right too! This is our more modern, intellectual brain. The part that thinks much more rationally. The part that knows that food is not really scarce. The part that knows there aren’t really scary mammoths or lions out there.
When we are in this part of our brain we always make the best decisions for ourselves, whether that’s about our careers, our relationships or what best to eat to maintain a good steady level of energy based on the requirements of our day ahead. And the food we do eat when we are in this part of our brain is favoured as an energy source rather than a fat store, as we don’t need to hold on to it for emergency lion attacks.
This intellectual brain can see a future goal (looking good on the beach perhaps!) and see that as far more important than the instant gratification of the pack of biscuits in front of us. It doesn’t drive us to overeat.
“So how do I make sure I’m in this magical intellectual part of my brain that gets it right?” I hear you ask!
It all comes down to reducing our stress levels. Our default brain is our intellectual brain, our primitive brain only kicks in if it thinks we are in danger. And our primitive brain sees danger in everything we are worrying or stressing about.
Reducing our stress levels is as important as reducing our calorie levels if we want to lose weight.
If we want a more healthy, balanced approach to eating, where we maintain a good steady weight without needing to go on the cycle of diet after diet it’s less about what we eat and more about what we think.
But reducing our stress levels is easier said than done. And this is where hypnotherapy really comes in – the combination of reducing stress and anxiety, understanding how our brain works and understanding how to set positive new habits around food and exercise is where the real magic happens.
Check out our Top Tips to Sticking to a Healthy Diet to see what changes you can make to help you right now!
If you’re fed up of being stuck in the diet cycle then maybe it’s time to book your FREE initial consultation with your local Inspired to Change hypnotherapist. Inspired to Change Hypnotherapists are based across the UK in Peterborough, Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire, Leicestershire, Devon and Kent.
Inspired to Change Hypnotherapists are all recognised by the National Council for Hypnotherapy, the UK’s leading not-for-profit hypnotherapy professional association.
To find out how you can train as a solution focused hypnotherapist click here for our hypnotherapy school information