Yes, it does.

Tension, stress and anxiety are major contributors of weight gain and unhealthy dietary patterns. The pressures of daily life leave too little time for relaxation unless we make a special effort to make the time. Busy lifestyles are not always healthy lifestyles. It may lead to a feeling that we cannot afford the time to relax and focus on our mind and body; we are too busy with other things. If we add chronic stress into the equation, we get a wide range of medical conditions as a consequence, amongst these are obesity, diabetes, hypertension, headaches, anxiety, depression, low immunity to infections.

So is it about priorities? Yes. To be able to look and feel well, we need to spend time to look after ourselves. The mind as well as the body needs to have maintenance scheduled in, otherwise we can end up stuck in a vicious circle of negative thoughts and unhealthy behaviour patterns that affect our wellbeing. If you are gaining weight or if you are on a diet and it does not seem to be helping, you can learn a little about the way your brain functions to understand why this is so. Relaxation and a positive mind set are just as important to your wellbeing as exercise and healthy diet.

Weight gain is directly related to the chemical responses in your brain. These chemical responses, neurotransmitters, regulate the functioning of your body. When we are stressed we produce higher levels of cortisol; stress hormone. An increased level of cortisol often leads to increased appetite and enhanced fat storage. Excess body weight is a direct result of an imbalance between energy intake (food) and energy expenditure. Cortisol increases blood sugar, aids in fat storage and suppresses immunity; so high levels of it are bad news. Insulin is responsible for regulation of blood sugar. It encourages the storage of energy in cells for later use. However, excess energy is toxic to a cell. If we overeat, our cells may become desensitised to insulin and this could lead to Type 2 Diabetes. We can decrease stress levels by relaxation and exercise.

Dopamine, on the other hand, is a neurotransmitter that makes us feel good. This is produced in our brain when we engage in positive activity and thoughts. Dopamine release is essential to our feeling of happiness. So how does it link to overeating? Food is linked to brain activity that releases dopamine as a reward. Food is linked to feelings of pleasure and has been experienced by humans since early man successfully hunted and looked after his tribe. We live in times where food is plentiful and we no longer need to worry about a sufficient supply. Overeating is a modern issue, which can lead to desensitization to dopamine. In other words, to achieve the same satisfaction from food, we need to increase food intake to feel the same comforting pleasure delivered by dopamine release.

How can Solution Focused Hypnotherapy help? I can help you to focus on the positives in your life and by establishing new thought and behavioural patterns, you will be able to change your relationship with food. By addressing the way your mind works and by learning how to relax, you will not need food as a tool to survive the stresses of daily life. You will once again experience food as a pleasure that enhances not corrupts your wellbeing.