Food, weight and eating

A bullets 4 blue rings on yellow aa-img028_crHypnotherapy and counselling in Bristol for weight and eating problems: “Brilliant at any weight”

If you want help with food and eating, you’ve come to the right place. I offer practical and insightful help with behaviours, with emotions, and with habits around all kinds of weight and eating issues. However, because my belief is that people are brilliant at any weight, I no longer work with clients who have the pure and simple goal of weight loss. Please read on to find out why.  If that is your goal, you may find I’m offering you something much more useful.

Brilliant at any weight

The first reason that they way I work is eating is not conventional weight-loss hypnotherapy is this. My experience is that far too many people want to lose weight because they hate their bodies at the weight they are, and desperately need to lose weight to feel good about themselves. And they think desperation is a really good motivation for losing weight. No, it’s not.

Obviously, there’s a common-sense level where we all want to look our best. This is normal and natural. But beyond that, body weight and body shape can develop into a spiral of self-loathing and low self worth. People desperately want to feel better – again, that’s natural – and think they can do so by making desperate efforts to lose weight. The trouble is, it never works to make outward appearance such a fundamental basis of our self-worth. To do so that makes our self-worth into the hostage of other people’s opinions. “If they approve, only then I’m OK, so I MUST have a body that others approve of.”

What is more, this kind of desperation creates an internal split inside a person’s being. There is a critical part saying “You MUST lose weight, you bad, out-of-control person” to a criticised part whose eating is out of control. And the criticised part feels just terrible, terrible, about being such a bad, wanton, out-of control eater. And do you know what that bad, out-of-control part does to feel better? Yes, the only thing that part knows how to do to feel good  … eats more.

The remedy is for behavioural change in eating actions to go hand in hand with the attitude “I’m brilliant at any weight”. Or, at least, with the beginning of that attitude. All that’s needed is a willingness to explore the attitude that “Maybe, just maybe, I can respect myself, even be proud of myself, at my present weight; and it would be useful, or healthier, or feel even better, to lose some weight.” [Or if very underweight, to explore gaining some.]

Eating behaviours, not weight

The second reason that I work with weight in a different way than most hypnotists is that I really want sustainable, relaxed, long-term change. My experience is that there are serious problems with weight loss as a goal. It is far more effective to have eating behaviours as the goal. Beyond a certain point, weight is not in general easy to have as a target. Some people never put weight on (I am one), many others lose weight to a certain point, but not beyond that. The few who feature in headlines like “I lost 10 stones” and who keep it off long term, are a minority. Chasing a weight-based goal can end up chasing the wind. In real life it is far wiser to aim for the achievable goal of simple, long-term-sustainable healthy eating habits. These will bring your weight down to a healthy range; then, give yourself the gift of accepting the weight you find yourself at even if it is not your dream ideal.

So I am delighted to work with people who are unhappy with their eating and who are
(a) at least open to the possibility of believing “I am brilliant at any weight”
(b) are willing to look at goals of long-term sustainable changes in eating behaviour, with weight loss or gain, while of course important, as a consequent result.
(c) are interested in a  flexible combination of direct solution-oriented behaviour change and emotional healing.
If this may be you, please click here to explore further with a no-charge, no-obligation half-hour initial meeting.

Behaviours and emotions

For both weight loss, weight gain, binge-vomiting and all other forms of unhappy eating, direct behavioural change is vital. That means finding  simple direct  actions that fit in with your lifestyle and can be sustained long term. A very simple example (maybe too simplistic for some) would be “Three square meals a day and no snacks.” And then you stick to these actions 80% of the time, again with clear exceptions and relaxations eg “except for parties and airport days.” This is different from what many people expect of a traditional hypnotist (magic spells that make everything easy!)  but, it is what works. Being extremely, though not entirely, solution-oriented, I don’t pull these arbitrarily from a list. I help you find behavioural changes of your own that really fit with your lifestyle.

At the same time, emotions matter too. People give themselves a really hard time around eating and weight. Whether over- or under-weight,  they feel some or all of shame, failure, secrecy, ugliness, powerless to change, and indeed sometimes pure self-hatred.  Whether bingeing, purging, dieting or yo-yoing, almost always they feel desperate and out of control That’s obviously so at the extreme end of the scale with an eating disorder needing psychotherapy. At the other end of the scale there is habit overeating caused by high-calorie food advertising and needing only simple weight-loss hypnosis. Even then, people still feel out of control and often give themselves a very hard time. (See below, “I’m great at any weight.”)

It may seem strange to speak of such different things as losing weight and eating disorders in the same breath. But I deal with a wide spectrum of unhappiness around food and eating. (If you have serious or health-threatening anorexia, you need to be getting treatment in the Bristol NHS STEPS program. Clients give me good reports of this.)

“I’m brilliant at any weight” – some more examples

Self-criticism and self-dislike never, ever help life to change. It’s essential to make friends with your over- or under-eating self in a safe, warm, understanding way. My starting point is respecting and liking yourself even though you are overeating and even though you are overweight (or under-eating and underweight, or bulemic, or whatever else.) Then the unhelpful eating behaviours can be dealt with very much more easily. People who are, for example, overweight often think “I can’t love myself, or have anyone else love me, until I lose weight.” So they are desperate to lose weight, and seek therapy out of desperation. But what actually works, is to be open to the radical self-love and radical self-respect that “I love myself whatever my weight. I respect myself whatever my weight. I’m great at any weight. And, I’d prefer to be several stones lighter.” That’s the opposite to how people mostly think. But with emotional eating, it’s what works.

There are numerous websites offering weigh loss hypnosis in Bristol and eating disorders counselling in Bristol. Therapy research shows that what matters is your relationship with the therapist, and you can’t judge that from a website. So I am happy to arrange a no-charge half-hour initial consultation so you can meet me and ask your questions.

I use various methods in my sessions. Solution-oriented brief therapy (SOBT)hypnosis and meditative awareness (“mindful eating”) are an excellent combination for everyday weight loss. We try those first and if they work, no more is needed. If there are unconscious factors, for example using food as an attempted solution to stress, unhappiness or, sometimes, serious issues like abuse, then I use a wide range of emotional healing techniques.

If you would like to find out more about the kind of weight loss therapies in Bristol and eating disorders counselling in Bristol which I offer, just give me a ring.

 I am delighted to work with people who are unhappy with their eating and who are
(a) at least open to the possibility of believing “I am brilliant at any weight”
(b) are willing to look at goals of long-term sustainable changes in eating behaviour, with weight loss or gain, while of course important, as a consequent result
(c) are interested in a  flexible combination of direct solution-oriented behaviour change and emotional healing.
If this may be you, please click here to explore further with a no-charge, no-obligation half-hour initial meeting.

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