1.25 million people in the UK are living with an eating disorder right now, according to Beat Eating Disorders UK.
One of the biggest problems I see in my work is people eating while they are asleep.
What do I mean by this?
Someone asked me recently, "How do I stop myself eating a whole big bar of chocolate?"
My reply was, what else are you doing while eating that chocolate? Right there and then she had a light bulb moment. She could see herself on the sofa, watching TV putting one piece after another into her mouth and thinking about everything else but what she was consuming, work, that argument, what she is going to eat next...
When we eat in this way it's like being in a trance, a habit is triggered by a thought, followed by an emotion and then we respond with an action. A thought, feeling, habit cycle that is intrinsically linked and when left unchecked keeps us in a perpetual cycle of eating to feed our emotions.
I know because I have been there too. Chewing to release stress, not tasting what I was eating but thinking what would I eat next. Eating as a reward, I had worked hard, done well. Eating to feel loved. Eating more to drown the upset of feeling fat and not wanting to be seen out...and repeat.
And all these reasons for eating came into my awareness after years of training in NLP and hypnosis. Through reading and exercises during training sessions, I turned the spotlight towards myself.
That self-awareness woke me up to deeply held beliefs and habits that had formed around food since childhood. Those beliefs and stories about myself were so deeply held that I wasn't even aware of them. I went about life distracted by all those things that were competing for my attention while that part of me that wanted satisfaction from over eating took control.
With new knowledge, self-awareness and self-love - I woke up and took back control of my eating and was able to let go of 3 stones/42Ibs and stop the cycle of yoyo dieting.
The best thing of all, is that I now savour, taste, smell and enjoy food and when I feel satisfied I push the plate away. It is so empowering when you can feel in control of eating because it has ripple effects on the rest of your life.
Using techniques developed by Neuroscietists in the 90s, we know we can 'teach old dogs new tricks'. Those old stories and habits that aren't serving you can change.
We focus on what you do what instead - life changing things that are important to you. Your 'Why's, like, living longer, being able to play with your Grandchildren, walking into a room and feeling great. We strengthen your ego and put you back in control so that those reasons to eat just aren't relevant to you anymore.
So, now you are reading this and you know about this, you can become a witness to your own experience.
Observe, as though you are your own best friend and notice, now you are awake - how much easier it is when you are about to reach for that food, to make a different choice instead.
Jessica Vassallo is an Award winning Hypnotherapist and Master NLP Practitioner based at The Practice Rooms Exeter and Online.