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Updated: Jun 27, 2019

Stress, sadness, happiness, celebration – these emotions have one thing in common: they all make us want to eat. Louisa Kiernander, hypnotherapist at Mind Solutions, explains why it can be so hard to keep to a healthy eating plan and how you can start to make changes today.

Why can't I motivate myself to lose weight?

Keto, paleo, health food delivery programmes – they are all good on paper and, certainly, there are many people out there who achieve great success with them.

But for every one person that succeeds on one of these diets, there is a whole load more people who didn’t succeed - why is that?

Well, there are a number of potential factors, but one of the most common reasons is that their emotions got in the way.

Think about it. You start off a day with great plans of ‘being good’….

A healthy breakfast of overnight oats, or poached eggs, or an acai bowl, only to find yourself back on your regular diet of cappuccinos and comfort food by lunchtime.

Why? What happened between 8am and 12pm to make you ditch your plan and sabotage your commitment to having a healthier day?

Traffic jam followed by an intense morning of meetings, without any breaks?

A hectic school run in the 40 degree heat with a toddler in tow, only to get home and find that you had forgotten to take the lunchboxes?

Or simply the strain of being self-controlled all day, eating food that you enjoy a lot less than your regular food, and then falling off the health wagon at 9pm with an entire bar of dark chocolate?

Any of these reasons (or, excuses) would be understandable. In the face of stress, most of us need to soothe ourselves with some sort of self-comforting habit.

For some this is a cigarette, for others its alcohol, for some it’s social media, for others it’s food. Perhaps you use a blend of these self-comforting habits, or some others not listed here.

Either way, it’s OK. Forgive yourself.

In many ways, it has been out of your control.

The Role of the Subconscious Mind In Weight Loss

You see, your subconscious mind, which is responsible for an uncountable number of vitally important functions in your body, such as your heart beating and your hormone’s being produced, is also responsible for the management of your emotions.

And if, at age three when you fell down and scraped your knee, your loving grandma gave you a hug and a lollypop to help you forget your tears, your clever subconscious mind could/would have made a connection between that lovely sweet lolly and the relief of sadness.

When you think about it, we were all programmed to link food with emotions from the day we were born.

When a baby cries, we don’t know if it’s hungry, cold, hot, lonely, tired, angry, we simply hug it and feed it, thereby linking nurturing and soothing with feeding. And that continues throughout childhood – be a good girl and you get a sweetie; it’s your birthday, here have a special cake; it’s a family celebration, let’s have lots of special food; someone was mean to you at school, let’s go get ice cream.

Without even realising it, we were laying down strong associations between experiencing emotions and eating.

And normally these food rewards or commiserations were high in fat, sugar, carbs, or all three - I mean, when did anyone ever celebrate good exam results with broccoli?

No wonder then that, come adulthood, when hit with a tough day (or, conversely, a great day), we find ourselves reaching for the Oreos, or the gourmet burger. This is an old, well-established, deep-rooted pattern of behaviour, which comes from a part of your brain that is way stronger than you are.

How can I set my mind to lose weight?

The good news is that the subconscious mind is always ready to learn new habits and, in the process, forget old ones. It’s also always on the look out for ways to help keep you happy, pain-free and safe from danger.

So, by communicating with your subconscious mind, using hypnosis, talk therapy and NLP techniques such as visualisation, you can change the way your subconscious mind reacts to those emotional triggers and the way you think about food.

Life is still going to throw you a traffic jam when you are already late, or a day when everything seems to go wrong, or a period in your life when you are dealing with heartbreak, or grief, or some other difficult emotion, but, by changing your relationship with food and your emotional responses, you can stop the pattern of reacting to these feelings through reaching for chocolate/chips/take-out.

You can rebuild your experience of those emotions so that, when they come, instead of finding yourself in the kitchen, you find yourself wanting to head out for a long walk on the beach, or feeling the need to talk to someone, or to simply have a cry, or take a break.


When you think about it, food was never really a good solution to those problems anyway. A temporary relief from it perhaps, but a solution? Not really.

So why use it? You wouldn’t use a hammer to crack open an egg, or a tissue to fan a bonfire.

Whatever the emotion, good or bad, there is guaranteed to be a better way to feel it than to feed it. We just have to find that new tool and programme your mind to use it – and, thankfully, that is easier than you might think.

For more information on how to reprogramme your old emotional eating habit, join us for one of our two-hour interactive workshops this month, where you will identify your emotional triggers, create new responses and leave with a hypnosis track to listen to in your own time. To book a space, call or whatsapp Louisa on 0528291508.

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