How To Really Make Healthy Eating Easy

The Starting Point

Have you seen this TEDx Talk, which promises to explain “How to make healthy eating unbelievably easy”?  Unfortunately, it only manages to be unbelievably naive.

The basic premise is that to make healthy eating easy, you have to remove unhealthy options from your surroundings.  Sadly, there is nothing new there.  After all, in Bill Phillips’ 2010 bestseller Transformation: How to Change Everything, he discusses exactly that as one of his first steps.  Clear out your kitchen of any junk food and other triggers to unhealthy eating.

What Else?

More to the point, that was just the first step of many Bill Phillips suggests.  He also talks about motivation, community, accountability, and healing the past, to name just a few.  There’s a good reason for that: the “control your surroundings” plan only works as a short-term measure.

Sure, some people live places where the closest shop takes long enough to get to that it’s an effort you’d be unwilling to make unless you’re desperate.  Or somewhere that the shops are closed for a good deal of the time.  For any city dweller, though, junk food is just a short walk away, day or night.

On top of that, if your cravings are strong enough, you’ll drive half an hour to the closest shop.  Or spend an hour baking something at home from ingredients most people won’t want to remove from their kitchen, even if they have had a clear out.  Hell, I’ve baked flapjacks using oats, apple juice, apricots and not much more.  All healthy ingredients, but eat enough of them and the calories add up!

As Bill Phillips correctly pointed out all those years ago, the most important factor in achieving transformation is not trying to bend your environment to your will, because that’s pretty much impossible.  The most important factor is mindset, and there are several different elements to it.

brain-619060_640Motivation

I’ve written about motivation in the past – the different types that exist, and how to make them work for you.  Motivation is certainly an important element, yet it’s only part of the equation that makes up mindset.  Other elements include environment, capabilities and resources, beliefs and values, sense of identity, and life’s purpose.

Environment

By environment, I don’t mean whether you’ve got cookies in your kitchen cupboard.  Rather, it’s things like how stressed you are in your life.  Do you love your job, your relationships, your financial and geographical situation, your home?  Or do any or all of them cause you stress?  Do you live right next to a really delicious bakery?  Are there always cakes in your office kitchen?  What activities do you do with your friends?  Do you go to the pub, go out for dinner, or are you more likely to do something active with them?

Resources and Capabilities

What resources do you have?  I’m not just talking about whether you have a computer, but also whether you have time to search for the information you need, or someone that you can ask for help.  Do you have a kitchen, and is it equipped with the pots, pans, baking tins and whatever else you might need to make healthy, nutritious food?

And what skills and capabilities do you have?  Do you know how to cook healthy food that is tasty?  And can you do so in the time you have between work and other commitments?  What about shopping for healthy food: do you find you never have the ingredients you need?  How about what goes with what?

Beliefs and Values

What beliefs do you have that may help or hinder you?  Do you believe that healthy food has to be tasteless and boring?  Do you believe that junk food is the only way to reward yourself?  Not only that, but as you make changes to your behaviour you may come across new beliefs you didn’t realise you held.

You can also ask yourself what you value: what is important to you?  Is it important for you to have variety in your life?  That might be a block to cutting certain foods out of your diet.  Or do you feel it’s vital to be hospitable?  How might that affect what you feel you need to offer others who come to your home?

Sense of Identity

Who do you feel yourself to be?  That might seem an odd question.  Still, a lot of people say things like: “I’m not someone who can change,” or “I always fall back into old habits”, or “I just love food too much to give up some things”.  These become part of how you see yourself, and that can be a block to enjoying healthy eating.

Sense of Purpose

This is a biggie: what do you think your purpose is in this life?  Now, you might be wondering what that has to do with healthy eating.  Think about this, though.  If you feel your purpose is to be happy, but being overweight makes you unhappy, then changing to a healthier way of eating will help you fulfill your life’s purpose.  If you feel that being of service to others is paramount, how might you getting on top of your eating help others?  Would it give you more energy to assist them?  Would you be able to act as a role model to inspire others to make better choices?

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How To Change Your Mindset

There are a number of ways to approach your mindset.

Questioning

One of those is by asking yourself some of the questions above.  By becoming clear on what is helping you and hindering you can make changes in a way that suits you better.  For example, if you realise that going to the break room at work is a big trigger for you, can you find a way around it?  That might be going out to the park instead of going to the break room.  Or it might be starting a healthy eating initiative at work, to get others involved.  That way, you improve your environment and also get a community of like-minded people as support: win-win.

Healing the Past

Another mindset transformer is to heal issues from the past that have led you to where you are.  You might choose a talking therapy, or maybe you could try hypnotherapy.  It’s amazing what you can do when you revisit the past in hypnosis, and see how it might have been different.  You can find resources you weren’t aware of, and bring them to bear in both the past and the present, to move you forward into a new future.

Shifting Your Sense of Self

Also, those questions around sense of identity.  How do you change those sabotaging, deeply held views of yourself?  Once again, hypnosis may provide a solution.  In your subconscious, there are myriad different possibilities, and the chance to try on what it might feel like to shift your sense of self a little.  Not that you want to be someone else entirely: you will still be you, just a happier, healthier version of yourself.

Finding and Living Your Life’s Purpose

As for life’s purpose, not everyone is sure what theirs is.  Gaining some clarity on that can be really helpful, as can exploring at a subconscious level what that might look like.  How would you act if you were living your life’s purpose?  Seeing this in hypnosis can give you a greater sense of motivation of the best kind!

Making Healthy Eating Easy

The real way to make healthy eating easy isn’t by clearing out your kitchen, though that may be a good place to start.  The most important factor is to shift your mindset.  If you think about healthy eating as pleasurable and as part of who you are, then it will be easy to maintain.  Otherwise, there will always be the possibility of getting cravings that send you out to the shops, day or night, near or far.

The easiest way to shift your mindset is to approach it at the level where these things reside.  Not in the rational logic of your everyday thoughts, where you know you ought to eat an apple rather than a biscuit, but at the subconscious level of your deep desires, which hypnotherapy gives you access to.  You have nothing to lose but your cravings and guilt.

5 Kinds of Motivation and How to Make Them Work For You

Motivation is often considered the biggest factor in whether or not you succeed at something you set your mind to.  Be it getting a new job or taking control of your weight, if your motivation isn’t clear, you are far less likely to achieve what you want.

All kinds of motivation are not created equal, however.
Studies show that internal motivation is more powerful at helping you stick to a plan than external motivation.  Therefore, understanding the different kinds of motivation that exist can help you to use them to your best advantage.
Self-determination theory distinguishes five different kinds of motivation.  The first three are internal, and the last two are external.  Let’s take a look at each, and also at ways that you can boost them, and use them to help you get where you want to go.

Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation is when you enjoy what you need to do to achieve your goal.  For instance, if you want to get fitter or control your weight and you really enjoy dancing, then that is probably the best type of exercise to add to or increase in your life.  If you want to give up smoking, then finding a habit to replace it with, which you enjoy, is a good way to go.  You could drink a herbal tea every time you want a cigarette, for example, or have a small piece of dark chocolate.  Just make sure you aren’t replacing one bad habit with another equally bad habit.

Ask yourself: what aspect, element or variation of this activity or goal do you most enjoy?
How I can help: Hypnotherapy can be a great way to increase your intrinsic motivation.  Firstly, because it can help you become aware of what you already enjoy, which can increase your sense of enjoyment through increased awareness. Secondly, hypnotic suggestions can remind you to become aware of that enjoyment when you are actually in the moment, rather than getting distracted by what you are going to have for dinner, the latest news, or some project you are working on.

Integrated Regulation

Integrated regulation basically just means that the activity you are taking part in aligns with your sense of identity or your values.  Taking the example of becoming vegetarian, that might fit with your view of yourself as an animal-lover, as a highly ethical person and as someone who is highly empathetic.

Ask yourself: how does this goal align with my sense of self, with those things I most value?
How I can help: In terms of this kind of motivation, coaching can make you more aware of what your values are, and hypnotherapy can increase your emotional connection between that value or sense of self and the activity you want to feel motivated to do.

For instance, if you want to control your weight, you may want to exercise more.  Feeling more strongly that you are someone who is independent and that staying active will help you stay independent for longer might help.  Or, if helping others is important to you, emphasising that by getting healthier and stronger you will be able to support others more effectively and for longer could give your motivation that extra boost.  Hypnosis can help you make these high ideals feel real, bringing them into your everyday in a way that connects with both your senses and your emotions.

Identified Regulation

Do you really want one or more of the outcomes associated with that activity you want to stay motivated about?  That’s what the term identified regulation is about.
Thinking about weight control, one outcome associated with eating less sugar and junk food would be achieving a slimmer figure.  Another would be a greater sense of wellness, which could be measured through lower cholesterol and none of the warning markers associated with diabetes.

Ask yourself: what outcome of this activity or goal do I find most desirable?
How I can help: There is good evidence that imagining a desired outcome makes you more likely to achieve it.  With hypnotherapy, you can do that very effectively, bringing all your senses into play and communicating that image clearly to both your conscious and subconscious mind.

You might imagine seeing that new, slimmer you in a mirror, admiring your achievement.  Or you might imagine talking with a nurse who is congratulating you on your blood tests: ‘I wish everyone had numbers that good!’

These internal motivators are powerful and positive, but what about those external motivators?

Introjection

A word many may recognise from psychology, this is about internalising other people’s ideas.  For instance, your parents might have told you ‘Eat your food, there are children starving in Africa!’  In later life, you may find it almost impossible not to eat everything on your plate, even if you aren’t hungry.
While a few of these introjects may motivate you to be ‘good’ – ‘Don’t eat ice cream, it’ll make you fat!’ – this motivation is rarely effective, and may even be counterproductive.  It’s not unknown for people to rebel against such introjects, even if the advice is valid.  This can lead to self sabotage: the overall goal may be one you embrace, and yet you find yourself doing the opposite of what you ‘know you should’.

Ask yourself: What old patterns am I following, and do I really believe in them?
How I can help: Hypnotherapy is great here for untangling introjects so you can either kick them out of your head or embrace that part of them that truly resonates with you.  Either way, you remove the self-sabotaging.

External Regulation

Here, it is still other people’s voices and ideas that act as motivators.  This is the realm of ‘Everyone says you should workout at least three times a week’ or ‘All my friends are having botox’.   While these motivations based on what other people think or do are less likely to lead to self-sabotage, in the long run they are not very effective.  If something starts to feel too hard, like too much of a sacrifice, if the motivation doesn’t come from inside yourself you are unlikely to stick with it.

Ask yourself: Which ideas or habits from other people work for me?
How I can help: Identifying which bits of common wisdom or peer pressure really matter to you can convert some of these into internal motivators.  And then you can apply one of the many strategies suggested above to reinforce them.

The Bottom Line

Getting clear about what motivates you towards a particular activity or goal will help you achieve better results faster.  Develop your strong, internal motivators and make sure there is no self-sabotage getting in your way.  Then, watch how you seem to achieve your goal almost without effort!
If you want some help with your motivation, why not get in touch on 07561 231 281 or on ceejaymccracken@gmail.com

 

How the Rocky Horror Picture Show Got It Wrong!

There’s a lyric in the Rocky Horror Picture Show that goes “Don’t dream it, be it”.  However, dreaming it – imagining something in detail, getting all your senses involved in the experience – helps you be/come it…

Imagination is an incredibly powerful and versatile tool to assist in making changes in your life.

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Imagining standing on the winner’s podium

It has long been used by athletes and others to help boost their performance.  In this instance, you  focus on your desired result, imagining it as already having happened.  You focus on what you would see when you achieve that goal, what you would hear and feel, perhaps even taste and smell.  This could be considered as using imagination to focus on the positive.

Several recent studies also showed how imagination (and specifically visual imagination or visual aids) can be used to help stop food cravings.  In particular, it was used to bring up images of pleasant or engaging activities rather than thinking about food.  Here, then, imagination is used as a tool for distraction.

A third way of using imagination is to create a negative image around something you want to let go of or remove from your life.  For example, if you want to stop smoking, you could imagine your lungs filled with black tar, your mouth filled with ash and cigarette butts, or perhaps smoking a cigarette that tastes and smells as though it was soaked in urine.  You pick whatever distasteful idea will help put you off smoking.  Here, you use your imagination to amplify the negative in order to reinforce your desire to stop.

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Eau de Skunk to help put you off something like smoking or junk food

For any of these three ways to exercise your imagination, you can use aids to help you tap into your senses.  For example, you could bottle some unpleasant smelling thing to sniff while you imagine the thing you want to remove from your life.  Or you could find a visual image that speaks to the goal you want to achieve, or to the distraction you want to anchor in your mind for times of need.  You could also find a piece of music that evokes the feeling you want to have –

This is a large part of what is done in a hypnotherapy session.  The therapist helps you identify your goal, and how best to approach it.  Then, the actual hypnosis is a way of strengthening your imagination so that these techniques are more effective, in the same way that a bottled scent or an image can act as a support.

Certainly, using imagination in this way is something you can do by yourself.  In fact, most hypnotherapists agree that all hypnosis is self-hypnosis: you can’t be forced to do anything.  And you are always an active participant in where your subconscious is willing to take you.

Still, having someone else guide you in the process can help you relax into it more, and can also help keep you on track.

Either that, or you can go back to watching the Rocky Horror Picture Show and come up with a more sci-fi way to achieve your goals…

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