We are talking with our new Primal Cut Friend, author and registered clinical hypnotherapist Bridgette Hamilton about her new book “The Break the Crave System: 7 Steps to Effortless Lifelong Weight Loss” and her own personal journey back to good health and well-being. Bridgette is based in Nottingham at the Park Hypnotherapy Centre and is a Senior Associate Member of the Royal Society of Medicine.
Q. We met at Real Food Rocks 2019 in Ambleside last July, can you tell us what you thought about the event and in what capacity you were attending the event?
A. Real Food Rocks was a fantastic low carb/real food festival...really well organised, and very well attended! It just shows how popular this way of eating is becoming for so many people! I attended as a workshop facilitator - helping people break out of their own cravings cycles is my specialty, and both workshops were busy! I got some lovely feedback too.
Q. Can you tell us a little about your own food challenges and your personal journey back to health and well-being?
It's funny...as a nutritional therapist, people imagine that you have all the answers, but it's just not true. We were trained in the (very flawed) Eatwell Guide, 23 years ago, and I've had to learn my own lessons from that. I've also been a lifelong sugar addict. As a therapist I worked in drug and alcohol services a few years ago, which is where the penny really dropped for me. I began to recognise my own addictive patterns around sugar, as they were exactly the same as the service users experiencing their addictions to the really mean stuff! Once I realised I was a sugar addict, my approach to weight loss completely changed, I lost 4 stone nearly a decade ago, and today it's given me a deeper understanding of my clients and group members' challenges too.
Q. Your new book is full of expert practical guidance on tackling the CRAVE monster that sits in us all. I loved the book because it gave me a clear and simple understanding of why we CRAVE and more to the point, how to deal with it! Why did you write the book?
A. I really felt the need to write the book as I had been hearing a huge problem from people for over 10 years that they were eating 'healthy' but just couldn't seem to lose the weight. Our approach to weight loss is 180 degrees wrong, and it has been for a good few decades. There's this belief that if you can just get your act together and use some willpower, then you'll be able to lose weight. We don't approach any other out-of-control behaviours in the same way! The fact is, that the mainstream belief is that women (and some men too, of course) are emotional eaters, and if they can just sort out their emotional stuff, then they will eat the 'right' weight loss foods. This is putting the blame on people somehow not being able to do weight loss 'right'. It leads to an erosion of self-confidence and years of trying, on and off to lose weight, only to be defeated time and again. My clients and group members are capable, intelligent people who run their own lives very well. And yet they somehow 'fail' at weight loss! I wanted to shine a bright light on this obvious contradiction, so people could come to understand that there was nothing wrong with them. They were out of control BECAUSE of the food they were eating, or the diet they were on, and changing those foods, plus getting off the calorie-controlled diet, is the first step to getting out of their addictive patterns with food. It's the first and biggest step to sustainable weight loss.
Q. Why don’t slimming clubs work in the long term? What is different about your guidance? Is it really possible to empower ourselves enough to banish food cravings and break free from the diet trap, once and for all?
A. Slimming clubs don't work in the long term because it's not a good business model. It's plain and simple. I've heard first hand from a few clients who have worked in the industry, and they completely support this. The club's focus is on 'lapsed members' bringing them back into the groups' time and again. It's totally unfair- at least a heroin addict KNOWS they are addicted. But again, we come up against that same attitude in the clubs...just TRY harder, use more motivation and you'll succeed at weight loss!
The addictive cycle, which is like a 'holding pattern' of behaviour, is hiding in plain sight. It seems almost a bit sinister to me because nobody realises that's what's going on for them. If I know this about peoples' behaviours...you can be sure the Slimming Clubs do! They spend millions getting into peoples' psychology, yet we don't get a minute's training in defence of all of that! That light-bulb moment when clients discover just what that addictive impulse actually FEELS like, and then how to deal with it, is priceless.
And this is why everyone can break free from the diet trap...because each and every one of us has exactly the same control over that addictive CRAVE cycle given the right help and information. But we have to come to understand that we're not in control first of all...that's where the power to change lies, in recognising that we haven't 'got this' one bit! Once you understand how your own food and eating habits have created your CRAVE cycle, then weight loss becomes easy.
Actually, it becomes inevitable, because the change is a pleasant one, replacing the slog and stress of dieting. The last piece of the puzzle, then, is using little tricks for re-setting the Fight or Flight part of the nervous system back to 'quiet'. This is the part of our biological programming that gets tripped and creates our out-of-control behaviours around food in the first place. Hypnotherapy and other self-help techniques work directly on the physical sensation of CRAVE...literally!
In the case of a particular self-help technique, I've been teaching clients for 10 years-it can be learned in 5 minutes, and used anywhere, any time. I've used it myself many times when the little sugar monster has reared her head for whatever reason! Hypnotherapy is just golden for switching off sugar addiction too because it also lives in the Fight or Flight system (that part of the brain that triggers phobias and anxiety). We use a very quick little technique to create a sugar aversion, it takes about 40 minutes and happens whilst the recipient is in a relaxed state. It's so popular because it works amazingly well.
Back in January, I worked with a roomful of more than 50, and they all had a hypnotherapy session together at the same time and believe me, some of them were real sceptics! They have been in my online groups since then and tell me that they don't go near the sugar anymore!
Q. If you could go back ten years, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
A. Throw the bloody scales away! And actually, to just GO FOR IT! I designed this system 10 years ago, but it was so new, and so 'out there' that I didn't have to confidence to really take it out into the world. I would have been able to help so many more people if I'd believed in myself more at the time. At least it's never too late!
Q. Your book is full of great quotes and inspiration so who are you role models and what do you admire most about them?
A. My role models are generally people who have looked at things from a different perspective and have been brave enough to talk about them and get into the nitty-gritty of life. Brene Brown is a shame researcher who is helping so many people get more comfortable in their own skin. Bruce Lipton, William Bloom, and Candace Pert have all given me a deeper insight into the connection between mind and body, and how we are a complete fusion of the two...Candace Pert should definitely have won the Nobel prize, in my opinion.
I love hearing inspirational speakers like Marianne Williamson, and Dr. Wayne Dwyer, and hearing anything Maya Angelou has to say..what a beautiful soul! I could go on all day really! One of my biggest heroes right now is Tim Noakes for defending his discoveries on unhealthy nutrition advice. Oh, and that makes Dr. David Unwin too, as he's had to fight off criticism in order to practice his healthy eating advice freely. I'm sure I will gather more over time!
Q. What would be your #1 piece of advice to anyone sitting at home today despairing of ever being able to beat the CRAVE monster?
A. Look into the ketogenic diet it is the answer to your weight loss prayers and will be the biggest contributor to lifting yourself out the misery of the CRAVE cycle. Oh, and also get some Hypno, it's awesome for supporting that change!
Q. How can we find out more about you and the services you offer?
A. My website is www.breakthrough-weightloss.co.uk and I also host a Facebook page called My Diet-Less Life...it's comprised mainly of group members and those who are interested in weight loss therapy.
Here's the link to the book Break the Crave System on amazon, if you'd like to know more about that too?
So good to talk to you Bridgette - thank you for your time - we hope to see you again soon!