Comfort Eating

August 29, 2007 § Leave a comment

NLP and Comfort Eating in Glasgow.


Why do people comfort eat? Well, to get a handle on that, you need to understand a bit about the unconscious mind.  Your conscious mind can handle about seven plus or minus two bits of information at any one time. Think how many digits of a phone number you can remember when someone shouts them out and at what point your brain just gives up and they all merge into one.


In NLP or Neuro Linguistic Programming we say that the unconscious mind on the other hand is dealing with so much more which includes everything coming at you from your senses, your breathing, blinking, moving your muscles and the rest. The figures vary between 4 to 11 million bits of information at any one time. To think we are conscious beings is to be very wide of the mark. The psychology establishment  are now coming round to the idea that we are mostly unconscious beings who work on instinct and react to the world around them in similar ways to other animals.


So the analogy which is often used is that the conscious mind is like the captain of a ship and the unconscious mind is like the crew. Imagine that the crew are seven years old  and we are getting even closer.  Now each member of the crew and each part of your unconscious mind has your best interests at heart.  So if its given a job it will do it to the best of its ability.  Say for instance as a child, when something bad happened a parent would cheer you up by giving you some chocolate.  If this happened a number of times, a part of you would associate cheering up with chocolate. As you grew up and things went wrong that part would step right up and offer its solution. The more often this happened the more anchored that would become to that idea.


Now if you go through a period of unhappiness then that part  would be constantly there offering food as a comfort i.e. you would comfort eat.. What its not very good at is seeing  the bigger picture which is that comfort eating and getting fatter is another source of unhappiness. If you are not being comforted in your life and it provides however fleeting a feeling of comfort, then its going to be difficult to persuade that part to stop what its doing. To stop it from comfort eating.


So what do you do? Well firstly you need to change your thinking. Look at your life and pay special attention to the areas where you are being comforted. If you are unhappy, the chances are that your internal filters are set to ignore the good parts of your life and see only the negative. You need to change that behaviour. Negative thoughts should be banned from your thinking. The minute they come at you actively think of something you enjoy or are grateful for. Really take charge of your thoughts. It requires discipline at first but gets easier and conditioned with time. Think about the things which do comfort you and concentrate on them. Make them bigger and brighter. Talk to yourself as you would to a seven year old child who you wanted to motivate. Get them to focus on anything good which happens. This will change your brain chemistry to produce more ‘happy’ chemicals and you will start to feel better. Its similar to getting fit; going to the gym can be difficult to start but if you keep going you start to see the benefits and it becomes a habit.  Take charge of your thinking and it too becomes habitual.


Once you prove to the part which provides comfort in the form of food that actually you are comforted in so many other ways that it is a bit redundant, you can more easily persuade it to stop what it does – to stop you comfort eating.


Try it for two weeks and see what happens. Tell your unconscious mind that you’re not doing negative thoughts for a fortnight and that if it wants it can start it up again then. The chances are that when it sees how much better you feel, it won’t bother.



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Weight Loss

August 25, 2007 § Leave a comment

Weight Loss.

What makes people who are generally successful , who manage their business and personal lives with aplomb, who happily navigate the complexities of the world we live in which would have thrown our grandparents… what makes them make bad decisions about food?  Why can’t they loose weight when they can do so many other things effectively. Strategies can be one of the answers.

I was recently asked to go canyoning. ‘It will be fantastic’ my friends said. ‘you have to something exciting at least once a year’ they said. Now a few years ago, I would have said yes with no hesitation. Try everything at least once was my motto. So what was going on in my unconscious mind then for that to happen? Well, I would visualise the smiling faces of my friends, then I would have a feeling of excitement and camaraderie. Then I would talk to myself and say ‘ it will be such a laugh, lets do it!’ and I would sign up there and then.

We have five senses : visual, auditory, kinaesthetic ( or feeling ) , gustatory (taste) and  olfactory (smell) or V,A,K,G,O. In the above example my strategy was V followed by K followed by A.

This time round I said no to the canyoning. So what happened there? Well I saw a picture of us diving into freezing cold water, followed by a kinaesthetic feeling of ‘Noooooo!’ followed by a voice saying ‘why would you want to put yourself through that? Followed by another feeling of ‘No’.

Can you see the difference between those two strategies? The young person in the first example didn’t run the visual movie of the consequences whereas the older person in the second example did.

Now in my experience, people who eat too much, who are not loosing weight,  are running the first strategy or something similar. Whatever strategy they are running, its different from the strategy they run to make ‘good decisions’ in their lives. So one example would be someone who is normally very visual; when making decisions they run the movie in their minds eye and can see the consequences of the decision.They will then have a feeling of whether it’s a good decision or a bad one. When they analyse the bad decisions about eating cake they find that they had a feeling that they wanted it, but didn’t run the movie or the visuals of the consequences. Its like the picture was static, they could only see the cake and have the feeling of wanting to eat it.

People who make good decisions about food and who don’t experience weight gain get to feel bad, before they eat. People who make bad decisions about food  and don’t experience weight loss feel bad after they’ve eaten and that’s the difference.

So a suggestion would be if you want to loose weight, don’t have a static picture. Run the movie of the consequences of eating the cake and exaggerate it. Up the calories by 1000%. See a picture of your waistline growing by 10 inches. Make whatever pictures you need to in your mind that will help you to make the right choice.

So look at the good decisions you make in the parts of your life which are successful, discover your strategy and map it across to your eating life.  Rather than take a diet pill, change your strategy.

This may be the only thing you need to do or it may be part of the answer. There are a number of techniques NLP can use to help you loose weight now.

Minds Change provides one-to-one coaching and training and is based in Glasgow Scotland

Dorothy C. Le Grove is a Master practitioner of NLP

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