A study by Dr Sally Robinson from Christchurch University in Canterbury found that 22.9% of four to five year olds were overweight or obese, and in the report claims in the last 25 years alone the number of people shown to be overweight or obese has tripled. I have friends who have been horrified by schools wanting to weigh their children at school and label them as overweight (and believe me they don’t look it), who have felt patronised by the healthy eating guides they have been given. Don’t get me wrong – I watched Jamie Oliver’s battle to improve school dinners in Britain with admiration – encouraging fresh quality ingredients over the processed foods many schools were offering was urgently needed. Surprisingly though, the opposition he came against was often from some of the parents, I still remember the ones passing their children Mcdonald’s through the fence.

So what messages are we passing onto our children? From giving young children labels about being overweight, to the fast food adverts on children’s television, to the unrealistic airbrushed pictures of celebrities, and the crazy way that some people have called the naturally curvy (and size 12) and gorgeous Kelly Brook in a recent swimwear campaign from New Look ‘fat’. I believe we all come in different shapes and sizes and that we all have a natural weight that our body works best at, a weight that your body can easily maintain, which is supported by set point theory.  For some people this will indeed be a size 6, for others this is a size 16. So if you  are a natural size 16 and want to get to a size 10 you would have to pretty much starve yourself, and people that are naturally a size 6 can often seem to be able to consume large amounts of food and stay the same size.

In my work as a Hypnotherapist and Counsellor in Faversham Kent,  I try to enable clients that come for weight loss to embrace their natural size, most people have an idea of what this size is for them, its usually the size that they look their healthiest.  The thing that often gets in the way is how we are subconsciously (and consciously) programmed from the media and society that being thin is somehow an ideal. We are bombarded with the new wonder ‘diet’ which will somehow help you lose 8lb in a week. You can’t pick up a womans magazine like Womans Own, Chat, Pick me up, Heat, Cosmopolitan without a diet being advertised on the front page, and if diets really worked then we wouldn’t need a new one every week would we? In my experience from working with hundreds of slimming clients who are have  yo yo dieted on a regular basis they find that they may lose some weight to start with, but once they get back to eating normally they end up putting on the weight they have lost plus a bit extra. Diets also encourage failure because they are difficult to keep to long term. So I strongly believe that diets make you fat in the long term! People I talk to who want to lose weight often have a perfectionist trait to their personality, and can be black and white thinkers. This means that they may start a diet and may be doing well, then they have one bad day and it is the end of the world to them, they feel that they have failed, they give up on the diet and go back to eating the way they was before.

I walked past the Eat restaurant whilst in London recently and they had a sign up saying something like ‘don’t diet, just eat 3 good meals a day, not too much, not too little’, to me that really sums it up, it is that simple.  I used to work as an assistant on Paul Mckennas ‘I can make you thin’ workshops and the way he explains his ways of losing weight  it really is about getting back to basics.  Eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full, it’s about listening to your body, noticing the difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger. If it is not physical what is underlying the urge to eat?  Start questioning yourself when you want to eat when you are not hungry.  I often ask a client’ when did your weight gain start?’  Often there is a trigger like trauma or bereavement. The reason for the trigger will often need to be worked through with a professional.  Other questions I might ask include:

‘What’s going on in your life now (or what isn’t going on in your life)?’

‘Are you bored, stressed, worried, not achieving what you want?’

‘Have you just got in a habit of overeating and it has become the natural way for you.’

‘Are you running an old script from childhood – for example were you told as a child that you must empty your plate otherwise you wouldn’t get a dessert?’

To make changes you really need to ask yourself some questions about the underlying reasons you eat when you are not physically hungry and to work through them in a suitable way either yourself or with the help of a professional, to be realistic about your weight loss expectations, give yourself a break if you have a bad day, enjoy your food (yes I did say enjoy – take your time, saviour it, eat mindfully), find an exercise you enjoy and please ditch those diets.

Marcia Tillman is a Hypnotherapist and Counsellor working from Abbey Place Clinic in Faversham, Kent. She sees clients from across Kent and often further afield too. Abbey Place Clinic is perfect placed close to the town centre, public transport and local car parks. Only 1 hours train journey from London.