The prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased with alarming speed over the past twenty years and has recently been described by the World Health Organisation as a 'global epidemic'.
Research announced by Safefood, revealed in January 2012 that despite 2 out of 3 adults on the island of Ireland being overweight (Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance National Adult Nutrition Survey; summary report March 2011), only 40% of adults classify themselves as such (‘Safetrak’ survey of 810 adults on the island of Ireland). This means that thousands of people are failing to recognise that they are overweight and are putting their health at risk. Most worrying of all is the fact that childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions in Europe, with body weight now the most prevalent childhood disease.
“Being overweight today not only signals increased risk of medical problems but also exposes people to serious psychosocial problems due mainly to widespread prejudice against fat people. Prejudice against obese people seems to border on the socially acceptable in Ireland. It crops up consistently in surveys covering groups such as employers, teachers, medical and healthcare personnel, and the media. It occurs among adolescents and children, even very youngchildren”.
(Dept. of Health: Report of the National Taskforce on Obesity)
This reflects some of the distress overweight people have expressed in The Kerry Hypnotherapy Clinic.
- “I can’t play with my kids”
- “I don’t go out anymore ‘cause I don’t want people pointing at me”
- “I’m disgusting”
- I just can’t stop myself once I open a packet of biscuits.”
- “I can’t exercise ‘cause I look ridiculous”
- “I think the reason I didn’t get the job was ‘cause I look like this..”
- “I don’t want my kids to grow up like this..”
- “My GP has warned me that I’ll have a heart attack before I’m fifty”
Along with the serious level of psychological distress that many overweight people suffer also comes a host of other physical and mental issues. As outlined in the U.K. by the NHS being overweight or obese can increase your risk of health problems, including:
- high blood pressure (hypertension)
- type 2 diabetes
- many types of cancer
- heart disease
- osteoarthritis – a condition that affects the joints
- back pain
- liver disease
- kidney disease
- sleep apnoea – a condition that causes interrupted breathing during sleep
- gastro-oesophageal reflux disease
Safefood, sponsors of the popular RTE show ‘Operation Transformation’, developed the ‘Stop the Spread’ campaign which was aimed at alerting people to the fact that being overweight is now the ‘norm’, and tackling the common excuses for excess weight such as middle-age spread, height or genetics. The campaign urges people to measure their waist to see if they are overweight and having a waist size greater than 32 inches for a woman or 37 inches for a man is a clear indication, they point out, that a person is carrying excess weight.
Many people who come to The Kerry Hypnotherapy Clinic to lose weight state that they have “no willpower” .This is very similar to people who want to quit smoking, alcohol or some other drug and it’s very interesting that research is beginning to stack up that, for some people, sugar is effectively a drug.
[image 2]A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that higher sugar foods can be addictive.
David Ludwig, author of Ending the Food Fight, and his colleagues at Harvard, showed that foods with more sugar trigger a special region in the brain called the nucleus accumbens that is known to be central for addictions such as gambling or drug use.
They took 12 overweight or obese men between the ages of 18 and 35 and gave each a low sugar or low glycaemic index (37%) milkshake, and then, four hours later, they measured the activity of the brain region (nucleus accumbens) that controls addiction. They also measured blood sugar and hunger.
Then, days later, they gave them another milkshake. This milkshake was designed to taste exactly the same and be exactly the same as the first milkshake in every way except that it was designed to be high in sugar with a high glycaemic index (84%). The shakes had exactly the same amount of calories, protein, fat and carbohydrate. The participants couldn’t taste that they were getting a different milkshake but their brains knew.
Each participant had a brain scan and blood tests for glucose and insulin after each version of the milkshake. Without exception, they all had the same response. The high sugar milkshake caused a spike in blood sugar and insulin and an increase in reported hunger and cravings four hours after the shake.
This finding was not surprising and has been shown many times before.
But the breakthrough finding was that when the high glycaemic shake was consumed, the nucleus accumbens lit up like a Christmas tree. This pattern occurred in every single participant and was statistically significant.
This study showed two things…
- the body responds quite differently to different calories, even if the protein, fat, carbohydrates and taste are exactly the same.
- foods that spike blood sugar are biologically addictive.
This study proved the biology of sugar addiction in a random, blind, crossover study using the most rigorous research design to ward off any criticism (which will inevitably come from the $1 trillion food industry).
So part of the reason almost 70 percent of Americans are overweight or one in two Americans has pre-diabetes or Type 2 diabetes may not be gluttony, lack of willpower or the absence of personal responsibility but biological addiction. And just as a society can have sympathy for those suffering addictions and recognise that other factors besides will power are at play it may be useful to extend the same understanding and help to those who are obese. And just as hypnosis has proven invaluable in helping large numbers of people to quit cigarettes, it can be equally helpful for many of those who display symptoms similar to addiction in relation to food. The difference with food is that we need to continue eating (in a healthy manner) and re-focus from unhealthy habits to healthy approaches and hypnosis can be a great help in achieving this without drastic mood swings and upset. The Kerry Hypnotherapy Clinic has experience in providing this support to people of many different shapes and sizes, allowing them to start reaching their weight loss goals.
For many people the connection with the food they eat is very tenuous compared to not so long ago when most people grew or raised the food that they ate or, at least, had a much closer connection to it. The result of this is a handing over of power to corporate interests which has led to the following situation in America as an example.
There are 600,000 processed foods in the American marketplace, 80 percent of which have added, hidden sugar. The average American consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar a day, mostly hidden, and the average teenage boy has 34 teaspoons a day. Sugar sweetened carbonated drinks are thought to contribute to obesity and for this reason the World Health Organisation has expressed serious concerns at the increasing consumption of these drinks by children . It would be naive to think that the situation in Ireland is any better as our statistics follow hot on the heels of America. It’s interesting in the light of the growing negative publicity around soft drinks that Innocent the best known smoothie brand in Ireland is 90% owned by the Coca-Cola company and Tropicana is owned by PepsiCo. Consumers need to be aware that, for example, sweetened yoghurts can have more sugar than a can of soft drink and we need to question what we put in our shopping baskets.
Sugar is the core ingredient used by the food industry to make poor quality ingredients taste good. Consumption of sugar has increased from 10 pounds per person in 1800 to 140 pounds per person per year today. This is the equivalent of eating a teaspoon of sugar every hour 24/7.
Of course we also find natural sugars in nature but nature packaged them with the antidote which is loads of fibre.
“ Why is the whole fruit better than a smoothie?
- Professor Mary Flynn (of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland) says that when we eat a piece of fruit the sugars are released slowly as we chew the fruit, and it winds its way through the digestive system. By blending it we make it much easier to digest, and this causes a blood sugar spike.
- She also says we consume more because it is so easy to drink. Someone could drink a smoothie containing several fruits, such as kiwi, banana and strawberry, in seconds. If they sat down to eat that fruit they might not be able to finish it, because they would feel full more quickly. By eating it whole it takes longer to go through your gut. It swells your stomach. It sends all the right messages to your brain, telling it you’re feeling full. The liquid nature of the product is another reason it’s not satisfying, as liquid calories are always less satisfying than solid calories.
- Drinking fruit juice instead of a whole piece of fruit causes the loss of fibre, as the fibre is left with the pulp in the juicer. Prof Flynn also notes that some smoothies contain concentrated fruit juices that could be sweetened with sugar. Some also contain yogurt or ice cream, which increases the calorie count.”
The Irish Times, Saturday September 14th, 2013
Also of concern is the increase in the use of fructose, especially high fructose corn syrup, over the past 30 years which coincides with the obesity epidemic. It is more concentrated but manufacturers tend to use just as much as they used to use of glucose. Fructose doesn’t suppress Grehlin, the hunger hormone which means that the brain doesn’t realise that you’ve eaten something and you end up eating more and eating sooner. Every cell in the body can use glucose which is what we traditionally ate and very little of it ends as fat. About 30% of fructose ends as fat and it’s also a liver toxin. It’s like alcohol but without the effects because it’s not processed in the brain.
Dr Celine Murrin (lecturer at UCD School of Public Health)
“A lot of people aren’t aware of sugar in processed products such as savoury sauces and pasta sauces and because they are labelled as things like fructose, people don’t necessarily consider them as sugar.” And although some cereals may appear to be healthy, she says they can have a very high sugar content. “People can be blinded by labels such as “high fibre”, “healthy fibre”, “wholegrain”, thinking they are entirely healthy.”
The Irish Times, Saturday September 14th, 2013
Effects of sugar
- A rapid rise of adrenaline
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sugar feeds cancer cells
- Sugar can cause premature aging
- Sugar helps the uncontrolled growth of candida
- Sugar can increase body fluid retention
- Compared to starch your body changes sugar into 3 to 5 times more fat in the bloodstream.
Recently in Europe we had the horsemeat scandal with mislabelling of food and it’s important to be aware that just because a foodstuff is out there in the marketplace doesn’t mean that it is healthy for you. People should be able to eat a varied diet without becoming overweight as they used to be able to do but, partly due to poor standards in the food industry over the last 50 years, this can no longer be taken for granted.
Professor Mary Flynn (of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland) says peoples diets have changed enormously in the past 30 years.
“First of all the portion sizes have really swelled”, she says. Thirty years ago a can of cola and a packet of crisps contained 273 calories. Today they add up to 434 calories. “The extra 161 calories come from the 330ml can swelling up to a 500ml bottle and the packet of crisps increasing from 25g to 35g.”
The Irish Times, Saturday September 14th, 2013
The Virtual Gastric Band hypnotherapy, which has proven to be a successful weight loss intervention in The Kerry Hypnotherapy Clinic, focuses in particular on using hypnosis to make changes in portion size. It is not a diet as such as people can eat what they like but in smaller amounts, this takes away the sense of victimisation that people often feel after a few days on a diet when they have to eat “odd” foods separate to everyone else in the family. Once they get started though, experience shows that, of their own volition, people begin to make little adjustments towards a healthier diet as their confidence grows.
Food is only one half of the health equation the other is exercise.
On average a person at rest uses about 1 calorie per kilo of body weight per hour. For example a person who weighs 70 kg will burn approximately 70 calories an hour while at rest or 1680 calories over an entire day. For someone who leads an inactive life the amount of calories they burn in a day will not be that much higher than this figure and it can be difficult to lose weight under these conditions.
Once a person starts to exercise losing weight becomes much easier.
Walking for a half-hour burns approximately 143 calories.
Cycling for a half-hour burns approximately 239 calories.
Running for a half-hour burns approximately 478 calories.
The values above are for an average pace and vary according to tempo. For people who train a lot the daily energy requirement can go over 8000 calories because their metabolism is raised for many hours after the exercise.
If a person hasn’t exercised in a long time it’s a good idea for them to have a chat with their G.P. before commencing. The most important “rule” is to start slowly and gently and remember that while aerobic capacity and muscular strength can be improved relatively quickly, bones take 3 to 4 months to become denser and ligaments can take a year to strengthen. A slight majority of those who attend The Kerry Hypnotherapy Clinic for weight loss are women and it’s interesting to note that, over longer distances, women are more physiologically efficient at burning fat than men.
Physical activity is an important determinant of body weight. Over recent decades there has been a marked decline in demanding physical work and this has been accompanied by more sedentary lifestyles generally and reduced leisure-time activity. These observable changes, which are supported by data from most European countries and the United States, suggest that physical inactivity has made a significant impact on the increase in overweight and obesity being seen today. It is now widely accepted that adults should be involved in 45-60 minutes, and children should be involved in at least 60 minutes per day of moderate physical activity in order to prevent excess weight gain.
(Dept. of Health: Report of the National Taskforce on Obesity)
Why is exercise important? Because it burns calories. Yes but it has a much wider effect than that. For example going purely by calorie count it would take about 20 minutes of exercise to burn off 1 chocolate chip cookie.
Exercise has much wider effects and is important because….
- It improves skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity (insulin resistance commonly coexists with obesity
- It reduces stress and resultant cortisol release
- It makes the tricarboxylic acid cycle (the oxidation of nutrients to produce usable energy) run faster.
When a Gallup poll in the U.S. asked “What are the two or three most important reasons you don’t exercise?” the following were the excuses.
No time 40%
Get enough exercise at home or work 20%
Too lazy 15%
Health problems 15%
No interest; exercise is boring 13%
Too old 12%
It’s not necessary 10%
Too tired 9%
These excuses are for the most part ill-informed. Firstly the human body is built for exercise and, unlike a machine, it improves with exercise and many medical conditions benefit from exercise. Generally the type of exercise that brings these health benefits is not available during work or around the home. There is now a huge variety of sports available which should suit everyone and you’re never too old. The most honest answer above is probably “Too lazy” or “Too tired”. Getting started is the most difficult step and once you get beyond this most inhibitions drop away. Hypnosis is of great value in making this first step and continuing on beyond. Once you have an idea or a “vision” of how you want things to be, the power of hypnosis to anchor this in the subconscious mind brings a huge boost to your ability to achieve those goals.
For many people the main attraction of exercise is that it controls weight: for example running directly burns about 100 calories per mile and leaves your metabolic rate raised for many hours afterwards. Those who follow a regular exercise programme are also more likely to change other health habits – 64% of new exercisers polled by Gallup also started eating more healthily (compared to 47% of nonexercisers) and 43% lost weight compared to 31% of nonexercisers. Those who get and remain fit also reported an enhanced sex life - 45% of those in the Gallup poll. 62% of those in the Gallup poll who exercise regularly feel they have more energy throughout the day than they did before they started exercising. Exercise promotes good mental health including increased confidence, self-esteem, positive mood and general well-being with less anxiety and depression.
According to The American College of Sports Medicine Fitness Book there are 4 elements that comprise fitness
- Cardiorespiratory fitness: the hearts ability to pump blood and deliver oxygen throughout your body
- Muscular fitness: the strength and endurance of your muscles.
- Flexibility: the ability to move your joints freely and without pain through a wide range of motion.
- Body composition: the portion of your body weight made up of fat.
[yoga image] 5For example running reduces rather than increases flexibility and does little for upper body muscular fitness. To be physically fit you ideally need to include all the major fitness components in your exercise programme and variety is the spice of life.
Regular exercise makes losing weight much easier and has many other benefits besides. Hypnosis is a very useful tool that makes the starting of a weight loss programme much more likely to be successful, both the exercise aspect and the eating more healthily aspect.
So much information has been presented above that it may seem overwhelming but making the changes that you want can be simple. Start off with simple adjustments in how you eat and an exercise programme that is not too challenging initially. Discover that you lose weight and start to become fit and toned and that it’s enjoyable and your motivation will increase.
For those who find it difficult to get going, The Kerry Hypnotherapy Clinic can find and change limiting beliefs in the subconscious mind that tend to sabotage your plans. At this point motivational imagery introduced into the subconscious mind will tend to have a powerful effect.
Your health and your peace of mind deserve it and you are worth it!
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