If you struggle with binge eating, you perhaps feel like you have tried everything to overcome it. Many people perceive themselves as failures for being unable to overcome their difficulties with food. They assume that they are in some way weak-willed or different from others that appear to have control around eating. There can be a great sense of guilt and shame felt by the binge eater, which can lead to a lot of the binge eating episodes being done in secrecy.
The truth is that the reasons why people binge eat can be complex and requires not only a thorough assessment but also a personalised approach to recovery.
No amount of dieting or willpower will resolve binge eating. If anything, it contributes to it.
In this article, I’ll explore some of the main reasons why people binge eat and how you can use hypnosis for binge eating recovery.
What is binge eating?
What one person perceives to be a binge can be very different from another. Generally, a binge would be classified as (1):
- Eating a significantly larger amount than normal, within a relatively short period of time.
- Feeling out of control during the eating episode
- Eating beyond the point of fullness, to discomfort
Despite it being an issue that is often clouded in secrecy, BED is the most common of all eating disorders. In fact it, affects three times the number of those being diagnosed with anorexia and bulimia combined.
It’s also estimated that around 40-50% of individuals seeking weight loss treatments can be clinically diagnosed with BED (2). This is one of the reasons I find it so unfortunate and frustrating that more professionals in the health and fitness industry are not trained in recognising or supporting individuals with this issue.
What causes binge eating?
There are many reasons why someone might struggle with binge eating, but here are a few key reasons
Being too restrictive with their eating
If someone actively trying to lose or control their weight and engaging in calorie counting or tracking through myfitness pal, they are likely undereating.
I was dismayed to hear an almost 6ft tall and incredibly active member of my gym mention that her MFP app had told her that her daily calorie allowance was 1200 calories a day. I’m sure you can imagine what I told her to do with the app!
Bottom line, if you are eating a calorie amount that is more appropriate for a young child, you are at risk of binge eating because you are simply not meeting your body’s needs
Eating chaotically or mindlessly
If an individual lacks structure and consistency in eating, they may often skip or go long periods without eating. They may also eat on the run or eat when distracted e.g. watching TV. The lack of awareness and attunement to eating may lead to mindless overeating.
Using food as a coping mechanism
Feeling stressed and overwhelmed can lead to food being used as a means of self-soothing. When we experience stress, our cortisol levels are high and we experience a myriad of unpleasant symptoms such as agitation, tension, shortness of breath and a racing heart. Foods such as chocolate provide an immediate soothing effect as these refined foods release dopamine in the brain.
We learn that food can soothe us right from the minute we are born. When we cried as babies we were given milk, which has the perfect combination of sweetness and creaminess…just like chocolate!
When you consider how often throughout your life you’ve been comforted, bribed or rewarded with these foods. It’s understandable to see why how the relationship with them can be so challenging to change.
No matter how well intended we are, alcohol can weaken the strongest of resolve. Alcohol lowers our inhibitions and can stimulate an increase in perceived hunger (the munchies). For people that try normally try to exercise great restraint over their eating, binge eating can occur when alcohol has lowered inhibition. As alcohol slows and weakens our senses, we are less likely to notice eating beyond our normal level of fullness.
Our experiences in childhood can have a significant impact on our relationship with food, weight and body image. The word ‘trauma’ can often create the perception that huge, devastating life-changing events need to have happened for us to be affected. The reality is that many of us will have experienced lots of what I call ‘Little Ts’ throughout our early life. That will affect how we feel about ourselves and the world around us. For individuals that have experienced adverse events in their life, food can serve a much deeper purpose e.g. a way to punish self-further.
How can I use hypnosis for binge eating treatment?
Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT) is a pioneering hybrid therapy based on neuroscience. It combines elements of hypnotherapy, NLP, psychotherapy and CBT.
What happens in an RTT session?
The client will be guided into a very relaxed state of hypnosis. In which they are always in control and will remember everything afterwards. In this relaxed state, we can access our subconscious mind, where we will revisit scenes from their life which are driving their current behaviours.
We will give new meaning to these scenes by removing any limiting beliefs that they may have formed. After looking at them and working together to understand their meaning we will give their mind better suggestions, upgrading them with new helpful, supportive and empowering beliefs that align with what they want for themself and their life.
After the session
They will also receive a bespoke audio recording that they must listen to for at least 21 – 28 days. The mind learns by repetition, and by listening to this personalised recording often they are reprogramming their mind with new thought patterns, which leads to new habits of action. This is why it is incredibly helpful in overcoming disordered eating issues.
People can feel apprehensive about using hypnosis for binge eating recovery. This is mainly due to what they’ve witnessed through TV and fear that they might lose control in some way.
In truth, it’s something that I would have been very dubious about. However, as I progressed in my personal development and researched disordered eating recovery, hypnotherapy felt like a natural next step. I love to integrate RTT into my psychotherapy practice to facilitate the best outcomes for clients.
Almost 90% of everything we do is driven by our subconscious mind. This is why reliance on willpower and conscious effort to create lasting change can so often prove futile. We need to change the underlying subconscious limiting beliefs that are keeping us stuc
If you are curious to find out more using hypnosis for binge eating disorder and whether it might be right for you, please book a discovery call.