Category Archives: General

Tapping is a great tool for managing cravings

Cravings are a cruel part of breaking a bad habit–they can be painful, and they tend to lead to self-shame and other negative, unhelpful feelings. I’m thinking about sugar cravings here, but there are lots of other things that fit the description.

One thing  I know about cravings, after dealing with them first with smoking and later with food, is that as we persevere, they do get less frequent and eventually go away.  In the meantime, however, it’s helpful to have techniques to deal with them in the moment, when they first strike–when they are hard to ignore.  EFT (emotional freedom technique, or just tapping) works really well for getting through the cravings without giving in.

If you’re one who struggles, here’s a link to the Tapping Solution how to video. it’s very easy to follow if you’ve never done it, or you’ve forgotten where all those pesky tapping points are. (This  technique has also helped me with sleep issues, too.)

Making mindless eating work for you

I mentioned an article by Brian Wansink in a previous post, and after reading his article, I checked out his book, Slim by Design. The book is a great resource—he has useful suggestions for diverting the train wreck of bad choices that can sneak up on us when we’re not paying attention. I’ve been able to strategize my way through some of my own problems in this area—like moving the peanuts to a different shelf, out of my sight—but it hadn’t occurred to me that could use similar strategies to steer my family’s choices towards healthier options.

Following his advice in Slim by Design, I moved the least desirable snack things—cookies, crackers, bread—out of sight. (I had to leave the toaster where it is, because space constraints wouldn’t allow me to hide it.) I moved the fruit bowl into the main flight path through the kitchen, and made sure it was stocked with apples, oranges, and pears. (This was new since I usually prefer to keep them in the frig to maintain freshness.) I put yogurt—the lowest-sugar, lowest-fat yogurt I could find—on eye-level in the fridge, along with some good quality cheese sticks. I was already a believer in having celery, carrots, radishes, and red peppers washed, cut up, and available for snacking, but I added baby carrots because they are guaranteed to appeal to some other members of the household.

So the kitchen landscape now has some inviting and healthy choices in plain sight. The next bit of advice I followed was to institutionalize his half plate rule, which says you can have anything you want, but half the plate has to hold vegetables and fruits. Okay, you want a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch? Sure, just make sure to fill half the plate with vegetables and fruit. You want breakfast cereal? Okay, but you’re going to eat the same volume of fruit along with it.

There are a number of payoffs in this new approach. As a family, we are definitely more consistently getting good amounts of protein, fruit, and veg. But the unexpected thing I’m finding is that I can let go of the feeling that I need to intervene in others’ food choices—nagging is not what I want to do. No one really needs a load of my disapproval or a guilt-trip over food choices. This way, instead of nagging people to eat the way I want them to, I’m just quietly supplementing the available choices, and that is so much less stressful for the whole family, especially me.

Dates for upcoming hypnosis workshops at Whatcom Community College

To register for any of the following workshops, contact Whatcom Community Education at 360-383-3200 or visit Feel free to contact me for more info.

Hypnosis for Weight Control II

Part II of a series (3 class sessions in Part I and three in Part II) this class  is designed to continue the transformation of your relationship with with food.  Part II focuses on strengthening motivation for maintaining the healthy changes you’ve made, and developing strategies for dealing with obstacles to your continued well-being and stress-free relationship with food.  Class content is based on research in habit change, willpower, and how our bodies process the foods we choose.   Sessions are Wednesdays from February 26 to March 12.

The Power of Self Hypnosis for Positive Change

This one-session introduction to self hypnosis is designed to prepare you to use self-hypnosis to meet your goals. You’ll practice several ways to go into a hypnotic state, and learn how to craft effective suggestions to support your efforts.  You’ll leave the class ready to use self-hypnosis, a powerful tool for making changes.  Class is at Whatcom Community College on April 29th from 6:30 to 8:30.

Hypnosis for Weight Control I & II

This two-part series of classes at WCC is designed to transform your experience with food and strengthen your relationship with your own body.  Part I focuses on reducing the stress of the battle to control weight, appreciating yourself–and your body–for who you are right now, and learning how to move beyond old patterns that keep you from enjoying a healthy body at a healthy weight.  Class content is based on research in habit change, willpower, and how our bodies process the foods we choose. Part I is on Tuesdays from May 6 to May 20.

Part II focuses on strengthening motivation for maintaining the healthy changes you’ve made, and developing strategies for dealing with obstacles to your continued well-being and stress-free relationship with food.  Class content is based on research in habit change, willpower, and how our bodies process the foods we choose. Part II is on Tuesdays from May 27 to  June 10.


About HFCS, rats, obesity, and living well . . .

A recent headline says, “High-fructose corn syrup is as addictive as cocaine.”

The headline is about a study of rats fed high fructose corn syrup. It suggests that, because rats responded to large amounts of high fructose corn syrup in the same way that cocaine addicts respond to the drug, foods with high fructose corn syrup could partly explain the global obesity epidemic.

Okay—rats eating high fructose corn syrup point the way to solving the crisis of obesity in humans all over the world.  Hooray for science!

But this isn’t how science works.  Science is a process.  For a good example of the process, see this article in the June 1 Science News. It mentions an article written in 2004, pointing out that use of high fructose corn syrup and obesity had been increasing at the same rate. (The SN article also says that, since 2004, the use of high fructose corn syrup has been decreasing, while obesity has continued to increase.)

I’m willing to believe that high fructose corn syrup is horrible stuff.  I read ingredients, and I avoid “food” that includes it—but then, I avoid most processed food anyway.

And I am fascinated by the way research is illuminating the complex affects of food on the brain.  But let’s not forget that nutrition is a young science.  It’s certainly not advanced enough to tell us how to live well.  Far better to rely on what we already know about living well: eating healthy food that tastes good, getting good exercise that feels good, spending time with people we care about, and doing things that really matter to us.  I’m not saying it’s easy to create that kind of lifestyle these days, but if we can do it, there’s no way an occasional encounter with high fructose corn syrup is going to turn us into addicts.

Talking about hypnosis and the brain

In getting ready for my next series of weight control classes at Whatcom Community College, which starts next Monday, April 9, I decided to revise the handout I use to introduce participants to hypnosis.  When we—meaning hypnotists and hypnotherapists—talk about hypnosis, we usually talk in terms of the conscious mind and the subconscious (or unconscious) mind, borrowing the language from the practice of psychotherapy that originated with Freud.

By the way, Freud learned hypnosis from Charcot, a French neurologist.  Early in his career, he used hypnosis (without the use of suggestion) to elicit information from his patients; apparently his success with this method was the basis for his pursuing the “talking cure,” what came to be known as psychoanalysis.

We use the language because it works well to describe what we experience in hypnosis: the conscious mind quiet, the body at rest—and remarkable insights that can emerge from that quiet state.  So we go on to talk about hypnosis this way:

Hypnosis allows us to work within our subconscious mind, to explore and release negative thought patterns, to overcome habits, behaviors, symptoms—the subconscious is in charge of these things.

Your conscious mind is your logical, reasoning mind—that’s its job: logic and reason. It’s not the logical mind that keeps us in old habits that we’d like to change. If it were, all we’d have to do to make significant changes is change our minds—and we all know that’s just not how our minds work.

I’ve mentioned before that I love the analogy of the rider and the elephant that Jonathan Haidt uses in his book The Happiness Hypothesis.  He says,

I was a rider on the back of an elephant. I’m holding the reins in my hands, and by pulling one way or the other I can tell the elephant to turn, to stop, or to go. I can direct things, but only when the elephant doesn’t have desires of his own. When the elephant really wants to do something, I’m no match for him.

I think we can all relate to that.  We’ve all had those experiences: reaching for the dessert we don’t really want, or failing to follow through on something we think—we know—we ought to do.

It seems clear that some of these problems are related to the way our brain has evolved, from the first basic hindbrain/midbrain/forebrain (brain stem and sensory organs), then the development of the limbic system, including the hypothalamus (basic drives and motivations), the hippocampus (memory), and the amygdala (emotional learning and responding). And finally, another newcomer, the neo-cortex, a layer over the limbic system.  The neo-cortex is all about mental processing—thinking, planning, decision-making.  So the evolutionary progress is from the “involuntary” processes to the realm of will.  (I put involuntary in quotes because in hypnosis we can influence those involuntary functions.)

I think it’s interesting to see that science is beginning to shed some light on how these regions of the brain communicate.  I recently heard an interview with Daniel Seigal, who is working on the premise that the communication between these areas of the brain is essential to healthy functioning of the individual, and ultimately between individuals.

He says,

For the brain, integration means that separated areas with their unique functions, in the skull and throughout the body, become linked to each other through synaptic connections. These integrated linkages enable more intricate functions to emerge—such as insight, empathy, intuition, and morality. A result of integration is kindness, resilience, and health. Terms for these three forms of integration are a coherent mind, empathic relationships, and an integrated brain.

He goes on to reflect on the new knowledge that “awareness can shape the connections in the brain toward integration,” and the ways that interpersonal relationships shape our brains throughout our lives.  He says, “we can actively ‘inspire each other to rewire’ our internal and interpersonal lives.”  And he does mean rewire—he’s talking about our ability to build new synaptic connections within the brain, reshaping our thinking, our awareness—our reality.

I’m inspired!  And I believe the new research is revealing some of the mechanisms that underlie the power of hypnosis to make connections between what we’ve called conscious and subconscious parts of our minds, and our selves.