This week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week and is an annual campaign to educate the public about the realities of eating disorders.
Eating Disorders are a distressing psychological condition that is estimated to affect around 1.25 million people in the UK. As well as Bulimia, Compulsive/Binge Eating Disorder (BED) and Anorexia Nervosa, eating disorders also include Other Specified Feeding/ Eating Disorder (OFSED) and Avoidant/ Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). The pandemic has exacerbated the incidence of eating disorders and has highlighted the urgent need to raise awareness of these disorders.
Eating disorders generally manifest from a desire to feel better in some way. Many sufferers begin to use food (or no food) as a coping mechanism – a way of experiencing some level of control, where perhaps in other areas of their life, they have little or none. Food can become an ‘emotional crutch’, so to speak.
For a short while, controlling the consumption of food, may make someone feel better, however quite quickly these eating patterns can become a habit which may be difficult to break.
Taking Compulsive Eating Disorder as a specific example, eating compulsions tend to involve highly emotionally charged thoughts around over-eating making the behaviour feel like something you just have to do at that time. Excessive quantities of food can produce a drug-like feeling sending you into a kind of altered state, where it seems as if you are unable to stop what you doing. This intense drug-like experience can root these habits into your body and mind so that it expects that, whenever you’re in a certain kind of situation or whenever you’ve had a certain kind of day, compulsive overeating is simply what it is supposed to do to help you feel better.
Compulsive eating can begin to take over and rule someone’s life and those suffering can feel as though they will never break free of it – it’s like they have become a slave to it. The compulsion can leave that person feeling guilty, ashamed or out of control and, of course, over time it will take a toll on physical health. It can prove to be a lonely affliction, with many sufferers choosing to keep it a secret.
The NHS describes the symptoms of Compulsive Eating Disorder as:
eating very fast during a binge
eating until you feel uncomfortably full
eating when you're not hungry
eating alone or secretly
feeling depressed, guilty, ashamed or disgusted after binge eating
There is good news, however, and it is possible to recover from an eating disorder and the sooner someone receives help, the better their chances of recovery.
Hypnosis is excellent at changing these kinds of intense emotionally driven behaviours where it almost feels like it’s not you doing it. Because hypnosis allows you to communicate directly with the unconscious mind to change the behaviours leading to this compulsion and when we work with the mind on an unconscious level, we can access these detrimental patterns and update them so that they promote a healthier way of life.
Those that take part in a program of hypnosis notice that they benefit greatly - participants learn how to gain control, so that they are no longer a slave to the compulsion, they feel more in control of their body, they generally feel healthier and most importantly, they begin to feel more like themselves.