At times it seems that all we ever hear or read is bad news about what we should or shouldn’t do when it comes to diet and lifestyle. So wasn’t it great to hear this week that chocolate may be good for us after all? Read about it here. I’m one of those people who cannot live without chocolate. I could never totally give it up, certainly not long term. But I’ve always known that it’s not a problem as a little of what you like is a good thing, right? Depriving ourselves of the things we like the most can often result in our craving them, and many diets come crashing to an end when the cravings get too much. It is far better to eat what you like, but know how to eat it healthily – in modest quantities, and as part of a diet that also contains plenty of good nutritious options.
Clients I’ve helped with weight reduction – once they’ve accepted that hypnosis is not a magic wand that I can wave to get rid of their excess weight instantly – often express surprise when I tell them that they don’t need to give up eating chocolate – or sweets, crisps or in fact anything they enjoy – and that they can still lose weight. It’s all about being more conscious of what we do eat, and how, when and why we eat. Learning your unconscious eating habits will help you to gain a level of insight and control over the way that you eat that can lead to healthier habits and therefore to the body and health changes that you aspire to. I teach my clients how to eat “mindfully” – so that they become more aware of their food choices and eating processes and can control them better. I teach them easy but effective changes they can incorporate into their daily lives to achieve sustainable weight reduction. Regular hypnotherapy helps to endorse those changes and make them even easier. It can also help to deal with negative associations that lead to dsyfunctional eating habits. I teach my clients how to use self hypnosis to motivate them permanently to improve their relationship with food, and also with exercise and actitivity. And whilst I don’t give my clients a calorie-controlled diet plan, I do give them a healthy weight reduction plan with steps they may take to achieve their aims. I even suggest that they choose only the changes they will find easiest to make. It only takes a few small changes to start to see positive effects in weight management (which also, by the way, applies to desired weight gain). Like a ship which changes its course by only a few milimeters – over time it will end up a long way away from its original destination. Slow, steady and easy to maintain changes are the keys to sustainable weight reduction. I even allow – or rather encourage – my clients to let themselves have times when they eat as much as they want of anything they like. So long as this doesn’t happen too often (not more than once a week, I usually suggest once a month) and that this doesn’t mean they’ve failed, lose hope and give up, which is the downfall of most diets.
If a client wants to lose weight quickly I usually advise against this, unless there are serious underlying medical issues, or obesity (a treatment plan for obesity would also address psychological factors). I recommend that female clients aim to reduce by no more than 1-2lb per week and slightly more for males. Some clients feel that this won’t be enough – but 1lb a week after 28 weeks means a 2 stone reduction, which is a fantastic achievement, and even better when it has not been difficult and is easy to maintain.
So coming back to chocolate, I’ve never thought of it as unhealthy – when combined with a varied and balanced diet and not eaten to excess. And now we hear that eating small but regular amounts of chocolate can actually improve our health (specifically blood pressure, cholesterol levels and insulin sensitivity and it can even help to maintain a low Body Mass Index according to the study in question¹). But don’t go crazy – the key is still to stick to small amounts of good quality chocolate, probably not the types that contain lots of sugar or fat, so bulk consumption of Snickers bars is probably not a good plan, though once in a while won’t kill you!
1. Association between more frequent chocoloate consumption and lower body mass index, by Beatrice A. Golomb, MD PhD; Sabrina Koperski, BS; Halbert L. White, PhD in Archives of Internal Medicine, Vol. 172, No. 6, March 26, 2012