A hypnosis approach to dieting.

So many people commit to extreme diets in the hope that they will radically change their lives.  Unfortunately those that do reduce weight usually do so for a short time and behavior soon slips back in to the old routines that were in place before the diet, and any weight lost soon returns.

In Vancouver we are lucky to live in a place where health and outdoor activities are valued and a part of our daily life. As we look about at others it’s tempting to envy the perfect bodies many people seem to have. The societal pressure to diet can be enormous.

Yet however scientific and well researched a diet may be it depends on you to be able to maintain it, and this is where many of us slip up. If this is a familiar story to you then you are far from alone. The good news is there are ways to make your diet healthier and sustainable. Bare with me while I explain this.

I had a client some time ago who would walk to work everyday passing a Starbucks.  One block off their path was a small family coffee shop where the coffee was considerably cheaper, tasted more to my clients liking. They also had a small range of very healthy hand made snacks and had a small but loyal clientele. Realising that they’d rather use this shop than the Starbucks they started to buy their coffee there.

The problem was that if my client was late for work they’d hurry on, grabbing the Starbucks as it was on their route. After doing this once, it became easier to break their resolve. Soon she was back to the old, easy solution of buying the more expensive coffee, even though it was less to her taste and cost more than twice as much. And of course, they’d be the occasional snack – laden with sugars and not healthy by any description.

So, why would someone do this. We are, after all, motivated to save money, choose the better tasting foods, and generally serve our needs intelligently. Something else is psychologically in play.

There’s the ease of not leaving the direct route to work. There’s the pressure of advertising and brand awareness which, while low level, is a constant force. And then there’s the fact that they’d trained themselves through the repetitive action of going to Starbucks to continue to do so.  The first time they’d try to resist, but justify it, the second time they’d excuse themselves by telling themselves it’s just occasionally, and by the time a third time happens, it’s just part of their routine.

Each of these influences has a psychological element to it. The justifying of the action is a negotiation – “I’ll save time this way, and it’s not as if I do this all the time” – it is (falsely) totally reasonable. The advertising is a constant nudge toward accepting that the high price of the coffee is worth it, even though the coffee is not as enjoyable as the alternative. The brand awareness is about trust – “It’s ‘my’ coffee shop.” And the repetitive action is quite literally self conditioning.

Over the course of a month my client would spend $50 more by choosing the Starbucks coffee over the coffee they preferred. Put like this it does sound like a pretty stupid thing to do, but let’s be honest, we’ve all done things similar to this. And I really have no issue with Starbucks. I’d like it if they contributed to our tax system now and then, after all the rest of us do, but other than that I have no issues with them. Yet, they are a good illustration how we let things influence us.

Diets face the same challenges. Is it convenient, is it achievable and do you have the discipline to maintain a shift in behaviour? These are the questions one should start with if you want to change your diet and succeed in changing long held behaviours. And that’s the way I work with diet.

I also assure all my clients that we’re looking at improving diet, not simply ‘reducing weight’. When an unhealthy person looses twenty pounds they simply become a slightly smaller unhealthy person. When I work with diet I focus in on one or two key aspects to remove and replace with healthy alternatives.

A good example is the person who wanted to stop eating chocolate. When explored it turned out that she’d daily buy a chocolate bar and felt guilty eating it.  After a session or two she’d shifted to enjoying a small piece of chocolate now and then (usually once or twice a week). We’d got over the idea of eliminating any use of chocolate, and replaced it with an approach of appropriate moderation. After, she did enjoy chocolate. Why eliminate it? Far smarter to choose to have it now and then – but at appropriate levels. Levels that wouldn’t harm her health.

I’ve done much the same with other aspects of diet, and as a result have a string of healthy clients. They still enjoy food, and understand the power of moderation. Hypnosis gives us the ability to target some behaviours and tackle them effectively. After all, we all deserve to enjoy good health and an enjoyable diet. Feel free to give me a call (778 919 0197) if you’d like to try this approach.