It’s surprising how the same sort of requests seem to come clustered together – for instance last week I had three people come independently for hypnotherapy for sweet tooth cravings.
Rebecca* was the first to contact me. She’d had a knee operation a few months before, which had gone well but meant that she hadn’t been as active as normal. Whilst she was missing work, the gym, and netball she’d been cheering herself up with chocolate biscuits and cake – “chocolate cake, preferably” she’d told me.
The inevitable result of less activity and more biscuits and cake was that Rebecca’s weight went up. “Even though I’m back doing my sport, I’m not shifting the weight because I’m still craving sweet things. It’s as if I ‘ve turned my sweet tooth back on and now I can’t stop it.”
Hilary* had a slightly different problem with her sweet tooth – puddings. “If we’re going out I choose where we’re going based on the desserts. My husband isn’t very keen on them, but I always make him have one so that we can ‘share’ it.”
“It’s got to the stage where it’s beginning to affect how I eat at home, as well as affecting us when we go out. I just want to get back to enjoying them in moderation – but I can’t even remember doing that.”
Finally, Marcus* had a very specific reason for wanting hypnotherapy for sweet tooth sugar cravings. He wasn’t hugely overweight but was becoming insulin resistant and pre-diabetic. The reason was his high sugar diet – he’d eat a large (“the biggest they do”) bar of Galaxy most days and try and manage his calorie intake around that.
Sugar free fizzy drinks may have helped Marcus avoid the calories, but they were only perpetuating his sweet tooth. “In fact, sometimes I’m craving something savoury instead, just for a change, or even sometimes some salad in a sandwich.”
Those last two cravings were Marcus’ body expressing its need for nutrients that it wasn’t getting from its normal diet. What was good about that was it showed that subconsciously he still knew how and wanted to eat more healthily. Of course, all three of them wanted to eat more healthily, because all three had lost their unconscious control of their sweet tooth.
Today’s world, with its ready availability of high sugar foods, is a very different to the one where our sweet tooth evolved. Then our diet would have been largely savoury, with berries being gorged on when available. Now our sugar receptors are overwhelmed and desensitised, especially by the hidden sugars in fruit juices, and low-fat and convenience foods.
The work with all three of them involved helping them to reset their sugar threshold, steadily lowering it to healthier levels. At the same time, they would become aware of higher sugar foods tasting increasingly syrupy and cloying. Recordings of their individually tailored sessions allowed them to repeat and strengthen this process.
They all addressed their sweet tooth – Rebecca turned hers back off, Hilary is rediscovering starters, and Marcus, while still eating some sweet things, isn’t working his diet around huge slabs of chocolate.
What I noticed though, after the third hypnotherapy for sweet tooth session of that week, was an abrupt change in myself. Opening a small bottle of my usual apple juice I took one mouthful and found it so sweet I had to throw it away – an unexpected, but welcome, side effect.
* Rebecca’s, Hilary’s and Marcus’ real identities have been protected, and they are happy to share their stories.
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