Snippet from The Food Junkies Podcast Interview
Clarissa Kennedy: Welcome to the food junkies podcast here we aim to provide you with the
experience strength and hope of professionals actively working on the front lines in the field of food addiction. The purpose of our show is to educate you, The Listener, and increase overall awareness about food addiction as a disease with abstinence as the solution. Here we talk about all things recovery- most importantly how to thrive rather than just survive. So stay positive. Make a change for yourself, tell others about your change and hopefully the message will spread.
Dr Vera Tarman: Welcome to the food junkies podcast my name is Dr Vera Tarman and I am your co-host today along with Clarissa Kennedy. Can you hypnotize yourself out of a sugar craving?Today we interviewed Viktoria Hamma, a hypnotherapist, personal trainer, addiction counsellor and chronic pain and weight loss coach. We at Food junkies podcasts are particularly interested in Vikka’s work on hypnotherapy for addiction and weight loss issues. Could this be a vehicle for the food addict to quit sugar or in maintaining their food addiction recovery.
Clarissa Kennedy: Well Vikka I know you very well but I would love our audience to get to know you a little bit more so we'd love if you would share your personal story of sugar or carbohydrate addiction with us what was your aha moment that food addiction might be an issue for you?
Viktoria Hamma: So I think on some level I always really knew because if anybody has struggled with any substance there's always that part of us that feels sometimes maybe different than others or feels disconnected from the way other people experience that substance or that habit. So I think for myself I always knew.
There was a little bit of that my story really goes back though to being a child because I was adopted and I was brought to Canada when I was two and a half and although I don't have very many memories of being that young my parents often do have memories of me hoarding food or you know needing to eat absolutely everything and eating really large volumes. Of course to them that's totally normal because they're bringing a child from a country where they may not have actually had enough food, they were a little bit malnourished so to come to a land and a country where food is so plentiful and so accessible. There was a period especially from a very young age where I felt that survival needed to consume everything so that's where it really began. That being said, as I started to grow up there was less and less of that overt, obvious behaviour so to my parents you know I wasn't.
I would still like my foods and I you know I know recognized now looking back I almost had a little bit of restless anxious feelings around needing to keep the food to myself. I struggled to share food. That was a big one for me as well, especially if I enjoy it it tastes good. I don't want to share it with anybody else I want to keep it to myself. When I got older, I recognized that piece at least myself, before recognizing the bigger piece of It's actually an addiction. Anytime I had the feeling in myself that I didn't want to share something I actually forced myself to share it I also felt that I had a sense of control if I said “hey would you like to try this”, versus somebody asking me “can I have some of that.”
In my mind that helped me to let go of some of those feelings if I was the first one to initiate that but it wasn't really until I met yourself, and I started doing a lot more self-growth work. I was working with a lot of other substance abuse addicts and not specifically food that I started to notice some recurring habits and themes in my life that I was seeing in other people. I decided to have a conversation about the bigger look of that I will be totally transparent and say that weight and health were a piece of my decision to address it further. That being said I was never a person to like weigh myself all the time that wasn't the biggest issue for me it was just something that I knew I also just was not healthy and I needed to address all of the reasons why I wasn't healthy. In the past I'd actively avoided food as one of those ways to get better. I'd focus on the fitness exercise all of that piece so I decided to after talking with you. It was funny I went home and I remember our conversation was “so can I um can we do like harm reduction instead of abstinence?” Because immediately my mind was like I don't want to do this like this is scary this is big like this is the first time in your life you're really taking that next step. And then I went home and I was thinking about it and we were trying to make a plan about what harm reduction would look like and I remember I just had this moment where I was like “what are you doing like what are you ever going to be ready? This is this is the kind of Catch-22, you're never going to be ready just try it worst case scenario it doesn't work right away and that's okay”
I remember messaging you and being like I'm just quitting this is it I'm doing it and it was the best thing I ever did. Obviously the first week or two was challenging, physically, mentally everything but after that I started to feel the effects of how my body my brain were so much happier making that big change. That was really what drove me to continue and then to actually help other people.
Dr Vera Tarman: Thanks so much Viktoria. Can you define what hypnosis is? A simple definition and then you know does it work?
Viktoria Hamma: It's tough to have a simple definition to be honest because it varies so much from everybody. It's really just an immersive non-judgmental experience so it's kind of a combination of a dissociation with immersion that creates almost like this trance state. this is the part that people get nervous about because they don't understand what that looks like. This hypnotic or trance state is something we actually put ourselves in day really all the time.So if you've ever been driving and you zone out is the word we like to use it's that that's really a state of hypnosis. It's a state of self-hypnosis we've given ourselves.
What it really is is that our conscious mind is busy doing other things so our subconscious mind takes over. We have these two parts of our brain because it's important that we don't have to do everything consciously; it would require way too much metabolic energy and way too much effort. I often relate it to a computer program in the sense of you have in order to listen to a podcast you have all of these things happening in the background of your computer to allow the podcast to play. you don't need to know what's happening you just need to know that it’s happening. if you had to consciously say yes and no and write the code every single time you wanted to listen to something you wouldn't be able to listen to it because you're doing all this other stuff.
Our subconscious mind really does all of that for us in hypnosis we kind of allow the conscious mind to settle down and be quiet and we really kind of have more of a conversation with the subconscious mind.
It's essentially this they've noticed that there's different brain waves that the brain has so there's Alpha, Beta, gamma, Delta etc. Delta is sleep Alpha is very awake alert beta is almost that anxious can be if it's high beta. And then Theta which is the one we use in hypnosis is essentially the state where you know, it's in meditation you'll feel it as well. It relates to the state between wakefulness and sleeping.
The other way I describe hypnosis is when you're falling asleep and you can hear everything happening around you but you're not really there. That's another way to describe that Hypnosis state.
They've actually done studies they've found that theta waves are the dominant frequency and healing, highly creative States, remembering emotional experience (good or bad), even memory
retrieval and encoding new memories into thoughts.
Dr Vera Tarman: Yeah thank you! That's a great definition the way that I often see it which I think is just going to uh belly up or piggyback, whatever the term is, on what you're saying is that that critical conscious mind is fed the story you're on a beach or you're you know on a beautiful landscape and while you're frolicking you know with the the beach and the waves and the whales, then there's that intentional voice that says you will enjoy being smoke-free or something like that. And you won't be able to fight it because you're too busy with the waves and the whales so that you then you the therapist can actually get right to the heart of the vulnerable person who will listen to you.
Want to learn more from the interview? Watch it here