Emotional Eating – 5 Effective Ways You Can Break The Emotional Eating Cycle

Young lady having a late night binge of cookies and milk.

Welcome to the last blog in my series on Emotional Eating.

Emotional eating is when you use food to satisfy an emotional need, rather than just using it as fuel for your body.

It could be eating the packet of chocolate biscuits because you’re stressed; taking second helpings because you’re lonely; or eating anything sugary because you’re exhausted.

Why we emotionally eat and identifying your specific triggers is something I covered in the last blog, which you can read over here. Or if you aren’t sure how to distinguish between emotional and physical hunger just yet, then start at the beginning of the series, with this first blog.

If you’ve been following along and have raised your awareness of your triggers, then this blog is going to help you start to break your emotional eating behaviour once and for all. Here are my top 5 ways to banish food cravings: Read more here

Emotional Eating: 5 Common Emotional Eating Triggers

Welcome to the second blog of my series on Emotional Eating.

Depression - outdoor portrait of young worried woman eating chocolate

Emotional eating is when you use food to satisfy an emotional need, rather than just using it as fuel for your body. In the first blog, I talked about how to distinguish between emotional hunger and physical hunger. (Head over here if you want to read that one first.)

In today’s blog, I’ll be sharing the most common triggers for emotional eating. Triggers are things that happen in our life that lead us to feel bad, or upset, disappointed, sad or even angry and reaching for food to make us feel better.

Learning to recognise your specific triggers is the second step in beating emotional eating.

Read more here:

Emotional Eating: 7 Ways To Distinguish Emotional Hunger From Physical Hunger

Do you find yourself eating even though you’re full or not hungry?

Do you eat food as a reward?

Do you eat when you are feeling sad or depressed?

Young hungry woman in front of refrigerator craving chocolate pastries.

If you answered yes to any of these questions then you have experienced emotional eating; using food to satisfy an emotional need rather than just nutritional fuel for your body.

The trouble is food only temporarily satisfies that emotional need, it doesn’t fix the emotional issues, and all too quickly leaves you with feelings of remorse and thoughts of “why did I do that….again?”

Which more often than not leaves you feeling guilty and bad about yourself. When that happens, how do you feel? Do you feel a failure and that you have let yourself down?

Maybe you feel helpless or worthless? Or do you beat yourself up and tell yourself off; sometimes it seems just like you have a parent in your head, waving their finger at you and telling you you’ve been a naughty child…yet again!

And so what do you do to cheer yourself up? You guessed it….you go and eat more and the cycle continues.

So how can you get yourself out of this emotional eating cycle?

In this series of 3 blogs I will be sharing my 3 steps to recognise and beat emotional eating.

In today’s post I will be covering the 7 Ways To Distinguish Emotional Hunger From Physical Hunger

Read more here:


Are You Over Eating? 3 Tips To Help You Get Back In Control

Fast Food

Have you lost count of the times you’ve told yourself today is going to be different and you are not going to over eat?

Is tomorrow going to be the day you finally get control of your eating?

After a stressful day at work it can be really tough to resist temptation and to avoid finding yourself adding your favourite ready meal to your shopping basket. And it can be really challenging not to add that dessert you love so much and that nice bottle of wine as well!

Then, once you’ve arrived home, how easy is it to tuck straight into your ready meal and crack open the wine. And when finished, you remember you’ve got that dessert in the fridge and one portion won’t hurt will it…or is it two?

All a little too easy to devour, especially when you’re sitting in front of the TV. And then all too quickly you’ve found you’ve eaten the lot, leaving you feeling bloated, guilty and wondering “why did I do that…AGAIN?

If this sounds familiar then here are 3 tips, which my clients have found very useful in these situations.

1. Become A Conscious Eater

Always sit down at a table when you eat your meal, don’t eat in front of the TV or your computer – in those situations you are eating unconsciously, you are in effect on autopilot, and will eat more than you probably intend.

Debbie tried this said she ate less and in addition found she got more pleasure out of her food. She really started to notice the taste and texture of her food, she was more focused on what she was eating and was able to savour it more.

Because she was now eating her evening meal at the table with her partner, rather than just having a TV dinner, she said they started to talk more and share things about their day.

She has a full on job and not only did she find it helped reduce her stress levels when she talked about her day, she said it also improved their relationship. A fantastic positive knock on effect, all through just making one simple lifestyle change!

2. Be More Tortoise

Tortoise walking on the grassHow fast do you eat your mail meal? As a slow eater myself, I’m amazed at the number of people who have told me they eat their main meal in 4 minutes or less.

So, move into the slow lane at meal times and aim to take at least 20 minutes to eat your meal.

Eating slower allows the signals produced by the satiety hormones released by your stomach and gut that say you’ve eaten enough, time to reach your brain so you stop eating and feel satisfied sooner.

One lady told me that she couldn’t possibly take that long to eat her evening meal, she had always eaten fast. She was also worried that she would just forget. So to help herself she used the timer on her phone to keep track of how long she took to eat.

She gradually increased the time she took to eat her meal by 2 minutes each day until after a couple of weeks she was taking around 25 minutes.

She surprised herself about how easy she had been able to slow down her eating and reported that she now not only started to enjoy her food much more, but that she felt fuller sooner and didn’t go on to have that second portion that she used to.

3. Why Size Matters

It may sound simple but studies have shown people eat less if they use a smaller plate at meals times. One study showed that reducing plate size from 12 to 10 inches resulted in 22% less calories being consumed (Journal of Consumer Research 39: 215–228).

Connie* told me how she had gone out and bought a smaller plate as she only had large dinner plates at home.

She was concerned that she would then just have 2 or more of the smaller platefuls of food, but, in combination with eating slower and conscious eating, she found she felt full after just one plateful.

She reduced her portion size, felt satisfied sooner and so then didn’t have the urge to go and have a dessert or a large piece of cake afterwards.

So, how do you go about creating these new habits?

Well firstly I would say go easy on yourself, trying to do all of the above in one go may be too much, so just pick one and then stick to it.

At first, like learning any new skill, you will have to carry out these new behaviours consciously. So remind yourself to do them, e.g. leave Post-it notes on the cupboard to use a smaller plate or remind your self to use a timer at meals times.

Tell family and friends what you are doing so they can support and remind you.

Science has shown that it takes around 60 days of repetition for a new skill to become a habit; something that you do unconsciously without having to think about it.

So repeat, repeat, repeat and soon you will find yourself doing these new behaviours automatically, without so much as a second thought!

And rule one, if you have a wobble and divert from your new healthy eating plan, is to be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself; remember, tomorrow is another day.

I really love this saying and I tell it to everyone I work with. It is the realisation that “taking a step back after taking a step forward is not a disaster, it’s a Cha Cha Cha.”As a Latin American and ballroom dancer I can really relate to that!

And don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back every time you succeed, that is something we just don’t do often enough.

The good news is that my clients find themselves adopting these new habits more easily, and much quicker, than they might once of thought, which is really great because it shows that they can still surprise themselves in what they can achieve.

They really start to enjoy healthy eating, which means they lose weight, gain confidence and feel much better about themselves.

And remember: Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day-in and day-out. ~Robert Collier

Annette x

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Nuggets – The Process And Pain Of Addiction

A great animation that shows the process and pain of addiction. Thanks to Hugh Osborne for sharing this.

Why Smoking Is Not Your Fault

Yes you did read correctly, smoking is not your fault.  My clients that come to see me to quit smoking are often surprised when they first hear me tell them this. They think the reason why they haven’t been able to quit is because they are weak or they have no will power. Yes sure they had the choice once to start smoking when they were younger, but right from that very first cigarette, the nicotine started to trick their mind and latch on to the very brain mechanism that keeps us all alive.

Nicotine, in common with other addictive drugs, hijacks the brains natural motivation and reward mechanism. This is the part of your brain, called the mid brain, which motivates you to go out and seek food or shelter, in built needs that must be met in order for you to survive. The chemical that drives these processes is dopamine, the ‘I’ve got to have it now’ hormone.

So how does this all work? Well when we need to eat (or have a craving for a cigarette), levels of dopamine start to rise. We can ignore that hungry feeling consciously for a while if we need to get that all important email sent, but the level of dopamine will keep on rising until whoosh, it get’s to a point where we go in search of food by opening the fridge or cupboard. The thing is with smoking is that it causes the levels of dopamine in the mid brain to rise much faster than normal and to a higher level, which translates into that real ‘I’ve got to have it now’ feeling and before you know it you have lit up.

Once you have opened the fridge door or lit up that next cigarette, more dopamine floods into your system as well as the chemical serotonin. Serotonin is the ‘all is well’ chemical that signals everything is OK and you have got what you need.  With high levels of dopamine and serotonin in the brain it’s a really nice place to be. But why is the carving for a cigarette so strong and why are the cravings worse at some times and in some places more than others?

As you read earlier, nicotine causes dopamine levels to rise much faster and higher than normal so the brain thinks, ‘Wow!! This must be really important to our survival, we must remember this.’ So it releases the ‘I must remember this’ chemical glutamate. When this chemical is released, it causes the brain to take a snap shot of everything that is going on around you when you lit up, the places, the people around you, times of the day, the drink you are holding in your hand and the emotions that are connected to this extra special reward.

This is why so many people who smoke, and who have decided they want to quit, find it so hard to refuse that cigarette when they are down the pub with their mates, having a cup of coffee or are chatting to someone on the phone.  These are all really strong external triggers, telling your unconscious brain that now is the time to have that all important cigarette, which, as far as the mid brain is concerned due to all that dopamine being present, is absolutely required for your survival.

Running alongside these external triggers, there will often also been internal triggers, emotions connected to memories long since consciously forgotten about how smoking made you feel part of the crowd, accepted by your peers or made you feel grown up. General stress and anxiety can reset our sensitivity to these triggers, which is why people often find that they can give up for a period of time, but find themselves drifting back into the habit when they suddenly hit a stressful time in their lives like starting a new job, moving house or getting divorced.

So why is this stuff important? Well firstly I hope that you now understand why smoking is not your fault, how nicotine has hijacked your brain’s natural motivation and reward system and, as far as it is concerned, smoking is really important for your survival. Once you understand this it makes it so much easier for you to stand back and see the smoking more objectively, you can stop beating yourself up about being weak and lacking willpower.  Secondly, it helps you realise that your triggers and the emotional reasons why you smoke are going to be different from everyone else, you are an individual and so you need an approach that is tailor made just for you.

I am a smoking cessation specialist trained in The Simmons Method: A Science Based Approach to smoking cessation, which offers just that, a flexible, smoking cessation programme that is designed just for you. Using this method I will help you to clear any emotional connection you have to smoking and teach you management techniques and coping strategies that you can use at home or work to keep you free of smoking for good.

To find out how this approach can help you quit smoking then please just contact me at annette@annetteself.co.uk

Would You Like To Be More Confident?

The most common thing that my clients say they would like more of is confidence.  They often talk about friends, family and work colleagues who they say exude confidence. ‘How do you know they are confident?’ I ask.  They reply with things like, ‘They just look confident,’ ‘They’re confident in the way they talk, the way they act.’ Then I ask, ‘Are they always confident?’ Which normally gets them thinking, because even confidence has differences. So it’s not unusual to find that that really confident person you work with may be lacking in confidence in their relationships or some other area of their life.  They may appear to be very confident in the outside world but inside they suffer from low self-esteem, they feel they are not good enough or not worthy enough.

Lack of self-esteem is an inward focus where people compare themselves to others whom they perceive to be better than them, more attractive than them, cleverer or more deserving than them.  A lack of self-confidence can often be traced back to childhood events, where something that has been said to them has been taken to heart.  The comments of a teacher or parent, often well meaning but in the eyes of a child lead then to believe that they are ‘useless’ or ‘not any good,’ that they can never do anything ‘right’, the taunting or teasing of the play ground bully, remarks made by teenage boyfriends or girlfriends.  These early events can leave us feeling insecure and vulnerable, feelings, which we carry into adult hood where they affect our relationships and jobs, leaving us feeling stuck or unable to progress.  Often they can affect our health as we turn to over eating, smoking or excessive drinking to help cope with the negative feelings we have about ourselves.

By dealing with the underlying emotional issues, Cognitive Hypnotherapy can help you deal with any aspects of low confidence and self-esteem, which are holding you back, allowing you to move towards the person you want to be; more in control of your confidence, recognising and strengthening your inner capabilities and resources, discovering new ones you didn’t know you had, so you can be more confident in all aspects of your life. So it might surprise you how soon you notice the small differences in your life creating big differences in the way you feel about yourself, the way you think and behave, opening up a future full of possibilities, allowing you to move on in life and become the person you want to be, confident, valuing the unique person you are. And the more you value yourself, the more others do too.  Just imagine having the belief in yourself that you can get that job you’ve always wanted, lose weight or give up smoking, feel healthier, improve your relationships with others.

So, how can you become more confident? Did you know that you can actually think yourself more confident? This is because your brain cannot tell the difference between a real event and an imagined one, (just think how you feel when you wake up from having a bad dream), which is why in my sessions with clients I get them to imagine being the confident person they would like to be.

If you would like to have a go at doing this, then just try the following exercise.

  • Think of a role model, someone who oozes the right type of confidence for you. It could be someone you know personally or someone famous who represents how you’d most like to be, it doesn’t matter which.
  • Write down all of their qualities that make them appear confident to you, what is it about them that you like? Think about their posture, how they speak, the tone of their voice.
  • Close your eyes and imagine them in front of you and observe those qualities, noticing everything that makes them so confident.
  • Now imagine you could super impose your head on their shoulders and see yourself taking on those qualities too, watching yourself do all the things they do, all the things you can see yourself do that make you feel more confident.
  • Then just step into this picture and be that person, doing what they are doing, imagining the thoughts that make it possible, what they believe and just notice how good it feels to be this way.
  • When you have done this, take a deep breath and bring all those positive qualities, images and feelings back into yourself allowing them to flow into every cell in your body and imagine how useful it would be to be able use these more and more each day to become the person you are already becoming.
  • Practice this every day to help focus your unconscious mind on how you would like to be, until it becomes just the way you are!


Happy New Year!

Yes I know it’s a bit late, but my family and I spent Christmas and New Year in India with no internet access for most of the trip and we only got back at the week end. My body is still adjusting to UK time hence I am writing this at 5am in the morning!

We travelled to Kerala in the south west of India and had a great trip. It’s the first time I have been out of the UK for Christmas and it felt pretty odd to be sitting on a beach in temperatures of around 34oC on Christmas day and having Keralan food for Christmas lunch instead of our normal Turkey. The food was great and none of us were ill, but it is nice to sit down to a non-spicy meal now we are back in the UK.

We travelled around a bit by train and taxi and seemed to have fitted a lot in. Before Christmas we spent two days at a homestay in a very large, beautiful old house on a banana, pineapple and spice farm followed by two days on a house boat exploring the backwaters of Kerala.


From there we travelled to the beach at Kovalem for Christmas and then on to Trivandrum, the capital of Kerala, were we met up with our friends who have a house there and who had arranged much of our trip for us. We had a lovely meal with them and their family on Boxing day at a very grand hotel up on a hill overlooking the beach with me all dressed up in my saree, I am now a dab hand at saree wrapping.

Another experience of our trip was a two-day stay at an Ayurveda hospital our friends had booked us in to for massage and treatments for our various aches and pains. I must emphasise that these were traditional Ayurvedic treatments, not the relaxing massage that the hotels offer to their guests at great cost.

I must say it is nothing like I have ever experienced, and I can’t say it was particularly relaxing having your whole body massaged in pretty hot oil by two massage therapists as you lie on a large wooden massage table au naturel (forget fluffy towels and pillows) followed by pummelling with what I can only describe as large bouquet garni, again dipped in very hot oil, (they had it heating in a small cauldron over a gas burner and you could hear the oil spitting and smell the smoke as they wacked you all over). This was followed by a steam bath in a brown wooden box, the like of which I remember seeing in a Carry On film as a kid, followed by being washed ALL OVER by a small, old Indian lady. I have not been washed like that since I was a kid. She was very thorough and used her nails to help get the oil off, a true exfoliation experience. Then it was off back to your room where you were given hot, sweet chai and ritz cracker biscuits and told to rest. I actually had three of these treatments, the next two also with treatments for my lower back, followed by the customary bouguet garni pummelling. After my treatments I certainly felt more flexible so I hope it has done me some good, the experience will certainly be fresh in my mind for a long time!

The final few days of our trip were spent up in the misty mountains, staying in a bungalow on a tea estate where we were waited on hand and foot by five, yes five, staff. They went out of their way to make our stay comfortable, but sometimes they were a little over the top in their attention, having two people standing two feet away from you watching as you eat does make you feel rather uncomfortable.

We had a tour of the tea and coffee plantations and a visit to a local tea processing plant, I have never seen so much tea in one place, as well as sightseeing trips to viewing points up in the mountains.


My daughter also celebrated her 18th birthday at the bungalow on the 31st of December where the staff went out of their way to decorate a table in her honour with natural materials from the estate, coffee beans, nutmeg, cardamom, pepper, flowers etc. plus a cake they had made for her. This was followed by fireworks Indian style, i.e. no health and safety, I never knew the best way to light a Catherine wheel is to light it on the ground and kick it with a sandalled foot if it stops going round!


The high light of our misty mountain trip was a trip to an elephant camp in Thekkady. Here we had an elephant ride, followed by elephant bathing and then an elephant shower, where you sit on a elephants neck and are showered with some force with cold water, a very refreshing experience.

From there we had a long taxi ride back to Kochi for our flight back to a cold and damp London. We finally had our Christmas meal yesterday and opened our presents. Today I will take the decorations down as I remember our happy experiences and warmth of the sunshine.

A Happy New Year to you all ☺



You have probably heard in the media that this October is Stoptober, a campaign supported by NHS Smokefree, which aims to get people to give up smoking for 28 days.  So if you are a smoker have you taken up the challenge?  Are you finding it difficult to stay motivated? Have you had the occasional lapse in times of stress?  Sometimes, even when you really want to stop smoking, willpower just doesn’t seem to be enough.  Maybe you’ve tried nicotine patches, chewing gum, cutting down, but have found that these methods are only temporarily effective.  So if you need that extra bit of help what can you do? Hypnotherapy may be the solution.

Hypnotherapy can be an extremely successful way of helping people to stop smoking for good. As a Cognitive Hypnotherapist I will try to find out the reasons why you smoke, resolve any issues that come up and then teach you management techniques and coping strategies that you can use at home or work.  In this way it’s possible that you can become a non-smoker in just a few sessions, whether you smoke 10 cigarettes a day or 60.  I treat each client individually, as everyone has their own reasons for smoking.  I also make sure that I know exactly what their motivations are for giving up, in order to further increase their chances of success.

Choosing to give up smoking can be a big decision, especially if it has been part of your life for a long time, but the good news is that once you’ve become a non-smoker, you could live up to 15% longer:

  • After 20 minutes your blood pressure and pulse both return to normal.
  • After 24 hours carbon monoxide leaves your body and the lungs start to clear.
  • After 3 months your circulation improves, so walking and exercise get much easier.
  • After 1 year your risk of heart attack falls to about half that of a smoker.
  • After 5 years your body will have repaired 95% of the effects of smoking.
  • After 10 years your risk of lung cancer falls to about half that of a smoker.
  • After 15 years your risk of heart attack falls to that of someone who has never smoked.

When people give up smoking they also often comment on how much better food and drink tastes and how their complexion has improved.  Plus, just think of the financial saving.  If you smoke 20 cigarettes a day at a cost of around £7 a packet, that’s a saving of £210 per month or £2520 a year, think what you could do with that extra cash!

So if you are still smoking, how about giving Stoptober a try? It’s not too late to start and with an extra bit of help you might be surprised how you can give up more quickly than you might imagine.

New Clapham Junction Hypnotherapy Clinic Now Booking Appointments

I’m really pleased to announce that I am now booking appointments for my new clinic in Lavender Hill.  Located in modern therapy rooms just a five minute walk from Clapham Junction main line station, it is ideally suited for clients commuting into The City and London. Early morning and late/afternoon appointments are available. The clinic has a comfortable waiting room with full time receptionist, Christina. I look forward to hearing from you 07952 569851 or email me here.