Eating disorders can take on many different disguises and have a variety of symptoms. The 3 most commonly identified eating disorders are Anorexia, Bulimia and Binge Eating.

The symptoms of Anorexia tend to be that the sufferer will eat very little, or not eat at all for a number of days, for fear of gaining weight. This obviously has a dangerous impact on general health as the body is not receiving all of the nutrients it requires. In some cases Anorexia is fatal, so it is important to get this condition treated as soon as possible. Sufferers of this condition have a distorted perception of their body when they look in the mirror. This may lead you to think that the problem is just with their body image, but the problem is really with their need to feel in control. Quite often, sufferers of anorexia are constantly seeking perfection, but rarely find it.

Hypnotherapy can help to alleviate the anxiety that comes from the pressure an anorexic puts themselves under. It can also be used to explore any unresolved negative emotions from events in the past, which may have contributed to the condition arising. NLP and Hypnotherapy can be used to increase self esteem, which is probably very low and this can be done by focusing on solutions for how the anorexic is feeling instead of creating more pressure by focusing on food and weight gain, which, certainly at the early stages is not what the anorexic wants to have to think about.

With Bulimia, the symptoms of the eating disorder are different. The Bulimic will eat large amounts of food (possibly because they have starved themselves), usually very quickly and will then make themselves sick. Sometimes they may also use laxatives which force the food they have eaten, out of their body. The person may go through phases of this behaviour every few weeks or months or even daily. They may also be binging in private.

As with anorexia, bulimia is largely linked to self esteem and other emotional problems however, despite being more common than anorexia, it is more difficult to detect because the bulimic will probably maintain a normal body weight (or just above normal) but the condition is still just as dangerous and will have a detrimental effect on overall health.

Hypnotherapy and NLP can also be used in this instance to overcome the emotional challenges the bulimic faces. Hypnotic suggestions for more positive behaviours can be given and early relationships and emotional events can be explored. It is also worthwhile using hypnotic suggestions to recognise the body’s own queues for fullness.

Not all eating disorder cause severe weight loss, obesity is a growing problem and within the next few years, it is expected that a third of the UK population will be obese. Whilst obesity is commonly linked with unhealthy diet, there is also the issue of binge eating to consider. Binge eating is when the person binges throughout the day and/or continues to eat when their stomach is already full. There are many long term health issues to consider here- such as heart problems, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Binge eating is often triggered by negative emotions. Eating when bored or to feel comfort can lead to a negative pattern being created, so that later when the feelings of boredom, or need for comfort occur, the person feels drawn to food. Hypnotherapy and NLP techniques can help to refocus the mind on what needs it is seeking to fulfil. Motivation to fulfil these needs in more positive ways can be created using hypnotic suggestions. When these suggestions are followed consistently, new habits will begin to be created.

By Gemma Bailey

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