2 July 2020
Are you putting on weight in lockdown? Have you found yourself eating more as time goes on? Maybe you’re working from home and the kitchen has become your office. Suddenly, you’re noticing yourself raiding the fridge between Zoom meetings and emails.
Perhaps food helps you to cope with the stresses of home working, home schooling and uncertainty about the future. Or, it may be, you’ve had enough of being at home alone, and eating is a quick way to make yourself feel better.
On the other hand, you may appreciate spending time eating together as a family, enjoying the food and conversation. As your clothes start feeling that little bit tighter, you realise you’ve been eating more than you used to.
Whatever the reason, many of us are finding we are putting on weight in lockdown. As we try to cope with our anxiety about Coronavirus, new demands and an uncertain future, our brains try to help by craving foods to comfort and soothe us.
Stress and anxiety increases the release of addictive neurotransmitters in the brain. These stimulate cravings for sweet, salty and fatty feel good foods, which give us instant relief from our worries.
Foods high in fat and sugar seem to reduce stress related responses and emotions. These foods provide comfort by neutralising stress. This, in turn creates a feedback loop, so when we experience more stress, it leads to more cravings for these foods.
On top of this, when the body’s under continual stress, the adrenal glands release a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol increases appetite and motivates us to eat more.
To find out more about how stress affects your body click herehttps://www.blossomhypnotherapy.com/fight-flight-understanding-body-responds-stress/
So, the end result is, three months into lockdown, and most of us would like to lose some weight. It may be just a few pounds, or more. For some of us, it’s about improving our health and wellbeing by eating better and taking more exercise. It may be noticing our clothes feel a bit tighter, or not having as much energy anymore that’s motivating us. Or we may just and we want to feel more confident as we begin to venture out into the world again.
Whatever the reason, in our overloaded lives, our weight is often the first casualty. Working long hours means we have neither the time or energy to exercise or prepare healthy food. Even though we know if will make us feel better, we can’t seem to find the motivation to take that first step. Or we find ourselves comfort eating to make up for not getting a break at work or not having enough time for ourselves.
Often, we will turn to a diet. But they are rarely the answer. Crash diets only work in the short term and usually lead to more weight gain. Strict diets are difficult to stick to when we have a busy life and need a steady release of energy to get through the day. Dieting often slows down the metabolic rate (the speed at which the body uses up the fuel from food). When we dramatically reduce what we eat, the body goes into “famine alert” and slows down to make the most of the food it is receiving. All of this can leave us heavier and unhappier than when we started.
Too often. we add in self critical thoughts about not being able to stick to a diet and feeling our bodies aren’t good enough. Then, we can end up caught in a vicious cycle of futile dieting, self criticism and comfort eating.
Hypnotherapy can help break this cycle. Studies have shown that combining hypnosis and cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) has helped clients lose more weight and keep it off for longer.
When I work with clients who want to lose weight, we look at your life as a whole to find what works for you. We look at your thoughts and feelings around food; your habits and motivation. Once we understand you and your patterns, we have the key to making lasting changes. Using hypnotherapy, CBT and mindfulness, we work together to put strategies in place to empower you to lose weight and create the mindset to keep it off.
It is easier to achieve our goals when we can picture them clearly. Try to imagine all the details of your life once you have lost weight. This could include what you will look like, what you will be doing and how you will feel. It helps to list all the benefits of changing. Keep your list somewhere you can see it every day such as on your fridge, phone or computer screen. This will help remind you why you are making these changes. Frequent reminders will make your goal easier to achieve.
Keeping a food diary can be the first step to understanding and changing our eating habits. A food diary helps you to understand what you are eating and why. Keep your food diary for two weeks to get a full picture. Try and note everything you eat or drink, the time and what was happening. At the end of the fortnight you will have a picture of your diet, what triggers overeating and you will be able to see what progress you are making. This can help motivate you while you are trying to make difficult changes in your life.
Losing weight is about learning to trust your innate abilities. Think of it like learning to ride a bicycle. You may not remember how scary it was the first time you tried to cycle on two wheels. It was something you really wanted to achieve and so you kept on practicing until you could just do it, without thought or effort. Losing weight is the same. You may have lots of stops and starts, but once you get going it becomes second nature. It’s a matter of finding your balance.
Imagine eating healthily for a day helps you visualise the steps to becoming the person who eats healthily. Find a picture of yourself at a comfortable weight and remember what you were doing differently then. Now imagine rekindling those habits. Or you could imagine getting advice from a future older, wiser self who has managed to lose weight.
Often we eat when we are not hungry. Mindful eating is just paying attention when we are eating. Once a week try eating mindfully. Sit at a table, eating from a plate, with no distractions around you. Take your time to notice the food you’re eating and to slow down your eating speed. This gives your stomach time to send signals to your brain that you’re full. Notice all the sensations as you eat and pay particular attention to the feeling of fulness in your stomach.
To find out more about how eating mindfully can help check out https://www.blossomhypnotherapy.com/five-ways-mindful-eating-can-stop-you-overeating/
For more on how I can help you lose weight click here.
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