Did you know that ‘stress’ is a major contributor to weight gain? It’s true. But how can stress make you FAT? How does stress make you reach out for sweets and cakes?

A good starting point is to consider how many of us are emotionally conditioned from birth to crave foods as rewards or to make ourselves feel better.

Anna Raymond, of the British Dietetic Association, agrees: “You crave reward foods. The pattern for this is partially set in childhood when parents give us sweet food to show love, to reward or to ease pain.”

From a chemical perspective, when you’re stressed your brain signals to your body that you are under threat and floods your body with stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. This is why a chocolate donut or a big slice of cake is more appealing than an apple when you’re feeling strung out and tired.

Fight or flight and FAT

Cortisol puts your system in the ‘flight or fight’ mode, telling it to stock up on energy-rich foods. While fatty, sweet and salty foods are a good source of energy, they become useful only when you expend them on physically-straining activities.

Stress in response to danger used to mean energy was burned up. Stress in today’s lifestyle may have the same chemical effect, but these days you’re less likely to burn the calories off.

In addition, cortisol affects how fats are distributed throughout your body, which means a swift bee-line to your waistline mainly.

Here’s how to fight the stress

Stress goes hand in hand with today’s busy lifestyle and avoiding it can be challenging. However, by learning how to relax and think differently you can change how your body responds to stress.

This is where weight loss hypnosis offers itself up as a sustainable solution. Weight loss hypnotherapy combines relaxation with positive suggestion, allowing you to comfortably change the way you think, feel, act and behave.

And here’s how to lose the weight

A skilled weight loss hypnotherapist will ask relevant questions to discover the root cause(s) and residual trigger(s) for your stress. Then the work begins to create alternative behaviours to the old triggers. You may be taught how to release emotional pressure without having to re-experience the trauma.

Weight loss hypnotherapy allows you to reprogram your mind and then choose healthy solutions instead of the old bad habits and eating patterns. In other words, you’ll be back in control.

You’ll be given the tools to continue the progress made in session, like teaching you self-hypnosis techniques and sometimes audio products to refresh your mind.

Exercise is frequently suggested by the weight loss hypnotherapist: Not only does exercise tone your body, stimulate your muscles to burn fats and reduce your calories, working out is also a scientifically proven way to fight stress.

A checklist for choosing a good therapist

There are plenty of great weight loss hypnotherapists out there, however, in today’s saturated market there are also a lot of ‘instant experts’. The Association of Weight Loss Hypnotherapists can guide you to competent therapists who:-

  • are passionate in the service they provide
  • have had more than adequate training
  • regularly undertake continual professional development
  • provide a list of client testimonials and results

An experienced weight loss hypnotherapist will advise on how best to release emotional baggage, how to choose healthier eating options, and how to develop a more motivated mindset to include regular exercise in your routine.

All this will go towards you saying goodbye to the unhealthy fat forever.

Mind hacks

To finish off I thought I’d leave you with some quick exercises to trick your mind into thinking differently. Here are four ways to defuse the stress and stop you reaching for the cake.

  1. Be mindful of how you label things

How you label a certain situation will determine how your body reacts to it. Your brain tells your body how to respond to an event, so if you label something as horrible or painful, your body will react to that thought and make you look for comfort, possibly in a bar of chocolate. If you decide to see the situation as a beneficial lesson in how not to do something, you’ll have a much more positive physical reaction, and no FAT cravings.

  1. Hit the ‘delete’ key

In much the same way that you’d delete a typo from your mobile or computer screen, you can remove a stressful thought before it takes hold. Try saying the word ‘delete’ out loud whenever a worrying thought pops up. This will help you let go of your attachment to that thought. Before long, you’ll be automatically deleting that stress without even thinking about it.

  1. Use your imagination

Some very powerful weight loss hypnosis techniques are based on imagination. The next time you feel stressed out, remember a time when you felt happy and relaxed. Or, imagine a situation where you would feel this way (even if it never actually happened). I’ve worked with research academics at the University of Hull who proved that the conscious mind doesn’t know the difference between what’s real or imaginary. Visualise calm in the face of chaos and experience peace.

  1. “And… ACTION!

Imagine your life is a movie. The next time you recall a stressful event from the past, look at the moment as if it’s on screen. See the event that originally caused the stressful feeling and remember your reaction to it. You’re the director: You have the power to slow the movie down or rewind it to change the event. Start to add props. Visualize threatening people wearing clown costumes and speaking in silly voices. Looking at a problem from this detached perspective will remind you that you’re in control of how you label things.

Please do let me know how you get on. Your thoughts and comments are always welcome.

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Richard specialises in treating the symptoms that lead to weight gain, such as stress and anxiety, and ultimately weight management itself. Richard says, “Helping everyone is uniquely satisfying and that’s why my business isn’t a job – it’s a passion!”