Can hypnotherapy really curb your sweet tooth? Carla Challis and her saccharine-loving molars took a course of hypnosis to find out.
Last updated: 09 June 2016, 19:21 BST
I can put it away. Sugar that is. Give me anything sweet and I’ll eat the lot – in one go.
I can plough through a family-sized bar of Dairy Milk in a mere whisper of time and still crave more; I’ve been known to eat a whole angel cake in one sitting followed by half a packet of chocolate biscuits.
I know what you’re thinking. Glutton. Pig. Get some willpower. I’d say that too. You see, it’s not that I do it all the time, but it’s certainly more than at Easter and Christmas, when that kind of behaviour is a little more acceptable.
I’ve even had to ban sweet snacks at home – I can’t think of anything else if I know there’s a packet of biscuits in the cupboard or a few chocolate bars languishing around. And usually before I know it, I’ve not only eaten some but the whole lot.
So yes, a sweet tooth is definitely something I’m lucky enough to possess. My willpower is reasonably strong on most things but sugar isn’t one of them.
I’d say I was a ripe candidate, then, to try hypnotherapy to see if it would help me quit sugar.
I was secretly wondering whether I’d find myself in the middle of a Derren Brown-style situation where I’d be leaping around the room clucking like a chicken. Or was hoping at least that I’d unearth some buried, dark reason why I love the sweet stuff.
Unfortunately, I’m not that deep. I just really like it.
Thankfully, the Derren Brown scenario didn’t happen either.
Instead, it was all rather relaxing.
In a basement room of a gorgeous old building off Chancery Lane, I met with Aaron Surtees, Director and Clinical Hypnotherapist of City Hypnosis.
After a quick chat about my sugar-lovin’, I bombarded Aaron with a ton of questions.
Would I cry? What if I can’t relax? What if I can’t go ‘under’? Will you tell me I’m feeling very sleepy?
Maybe, you will, everyone does and no, I won’t, he said.
I was, in all honestly, a little nervous. I was mainly worried I simply wouldn’t relax enough for it to work but true to his word, Aaron, who treats clients with hypnotherapy for everything from weight management to gambling addictions, had me feeling pretty zen in a matter of minutes.
As I reclined in the comfy leather chair, Aaron spoke into a microphone attached to a pair of headphones that I was wearing – which he would do for the next 30-40 minutes.
With my eyes closed, Aaron’s soothing voice soon relaxed me – I possibly even nodded off at one point. I wish I could tell you exactly what he was saying as I lay there practically comatose, but I was so chilled out I barely remember a thing.
One thing I do remember were the visualisation exercises Aaron asked me to. I had to imagine a lift with buttons. With every button I pressed I became more and more relaxed. Even typing this is making me feel a tad sleepy. Don’t ask me how, but it worked.
Hypnotherapy is all about the power of positive persuasion, and at one point Aaron planted the seed of thought that I’d rather tuck into fresh fruit or vegetables than a chocolate bar.
The minutes just whizzed by. By the end, when Aaron was telling me to open my eyes, I didn’t feel dazed or confused but completely and utterly chilled out. That night, not only did I not fancy any sugar, but I wasn’t even particularly hungry. After a dinner of a small chicken salad, I made myself a peppermint tea which tasted so crazily sweet I couldn’t even finish it.
Over the next few days I noticed that I wasn’t reaching for any snacks that weren’t fruit-shaped. Even with cakes and biscuits scattered around the office, I was quite happy with a banana and water.
But Rome wasn’t built in a day and my sugar addiction wasn’t going to be cured with just one session. A week later, I was back in Aaron’s office ready for another 40 minutes of lying down and doing absolutely nothing.
Following the same routine as the first session, I found myself drifting even further this time. I can only liken it to the moment you feel just before you fall asleep, where you’re still vaguely aware of what’s going on around you but not really taking any notice of it. You’re there but you’re not there, if that makes sense.
Aaron even noticed I had gone further (hopefully I wasn’t grinding my teeth like I normally do before I nod off).
Again, 40 minutes went in a flash and again, I felt the same post-session. Did that feeling last? Well, yes and no.
While I felt like I didn’t want any sugar whatsoever following both sessions and for a few days afterwards, my cravings have, annoyingly, come back.
What has worked though is that I’m able to resist sugary treats more than I was and I’m even able to eat a little at a time rather than scoffing the whole lot.
As one friend said to me, you need some willpower in the first place for this to work and they’re right; but it’s that willpower that made me make the appointment to go in the first place. I want to stop eating so much sugar and I feel like Aaron’s work has ignited that little flash of willpower I do have in me to say no – OK, not every single time but a lot more than I used to.
Which has got to count for something, right?
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