After many years as a hypnotherapist, I’ve noticed that there are a couple of common issues with almost all of the people I work with for weight loss. Those issues start in childhood, so maybe it would be helpful if parents understood how weight problems occur and possibly prevent them.
One of the key differences is that people who have a weight issue have lost touch with their body’s signals of hunger and satisfaction. Many of my clients tell me they haven’t felt hungry in years. Others say they have no sense of feeling full, they just keep eating.
On the other hand, people who don’t have a weight issue are very aware of the signals of hunger and satisfaction from their body. They act on those signals and eat when they are hungry and stop when they’ve had enough. They’re connected to the intuitive intelligence that knows very accurately what they need to eat, when they need to eat and how much they need to eat.
This is an extremely important aspect of maintaining a healthy weight. It’s the difference between an inner knowing and trusting the body, and having to rely on something outside of yourself to tell you how to eat. In psychological terms it’s called an “internal locus of control” versus an “external locus of control”. If you have an external locus of control you’re counting calories or following a diet plan, or eating by the clock or always finishing what someone else puts on your plate and if you have an internal locus of control you listen to your body.
An interesting study involved allowing children to make their own decisions about food for a period of six weeks. They had free access to a wide range of foods. As was expected, initially they choose the sweet, low nutrient foods. By the end of six weeks, however, every one of those children was eating a healthy balanced diet. This shows that when we let go of the moral judgement on food and get our head out of the way, we naturally know what to eat.
That moral judgement might be that sweet foods are a reward or a treat, or that they are bad foods. It might also be a moral judgement that you should eat three meals a day, or that you must eat vegetables at dinnertime. We have so many beliefs and rules about food, and the diet industry is coming up with a new approach every second day.
So how do parents contribute to the problem? Losing connection with your body can start very early in life. When a child is sitting in the high chair and just beginning to eat solid food, it’s pretty common practice to praise the child for each mouthful. When they get to the point that they’ve had enough, they’ll turn their head to one side to indicate “no more.”
As a parent, you will probably encourage them to eat a few more spoonfuls. You might make noises like an aeroplane, or a train, and make a big fuss when they open their mouth and comply. In short, you are teaching them to override their stop button. You’re teaching them not to listen to their body and their sense of satisfaction. It may seem like a minor thing but as they get older you might insist that they sit at the table and eat their dinner even though they may not be hungry.
You may also tell a child to wait until dinner time to eat, even if they are hungry an hour before dinner. You might also serve them a certain amount of food and expect them to eat it all. There is a multitude of ways we teach children to disconnect from their body’s signals of hunger and satisfaction. These signals are of paramount importance in maintaining an ideal, healthy weight.
These signals come from the body’s fuel gauge. A hunger signal will occur at a particular time according to any number of variables. The point at which we sense hunger depends on how many calories were in the last meal, how active you have been since that meal, whether you are well or sick, how much sleep you have had, and how stressed you might be. It even depends on the temperature of the day and what you are wearing. The body’s natural intelligence accurately calculates everything for you and will let you know when it’s time to eat again. If you ignore the body’s signals then you will inevitably get it wrong.
Helping children stay connected to the signals from their body is probably the single most important thing a parent can do to prevent childhood obesity. Get your moral judgement and rules about food out of the way, provide a range of nutritious foods and help your child listen to the signals of hunger and satisfaction.
Interestingly enough, studies have also shown that when children have free access to nutritious foods in the classroom, they actually behave and learn better. Like so many of our modern day problems, the solution lies in simply getting back to nature.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alison Burton is a public speaker and has appeared on ABC National Radio, SBS Radio and is a regular guest on 3WBC Radio. She has also featured in The Age, Herald Sun, Insight Magazine and local news media. Alison has a keen interest in all aspects of natural health and wellbeing, energy medicine, human consciousness and bringing more common sense and kindness to the planet.sought afterAlison Burton is one of Melbourne’s leading Hypnotherapists and owner of Simply Natural Therapies.
Alison’s interest in energy healing is often incorporated in her work through the use of Reiki, Kinergetics and acupressure techniques including Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).
She has three adult children and 2 adorable grandchildren.
Alison lives Melbourne’s Eastern suburbs and runs a Natural Health Centre with 15 practitioners, an extensive range of classes including and a retail shop.
Alison offers a FREE 60-minute Health and Wellbeing Consultation to clarify your needs and design a strategy to help you achieve your health and well-being goals
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