Cured of eating obsessions…by Lily Allen’s hypnotherapist
By CHARLOTTE EAGAR The Mail Online
UPDATED: 22:01, 12 March 2011
I’ve spent most of my life trying to be thin. I tried everything. In my teens and early 20s, I hopped between being bulimic and anorexic.
At one time I’d think: ‘If I starve myself for four days and then eat a whole sachertorte and then throw it up …’ while at other times it was: ‘If I eat absolutely nothing every day, except a large slice of chocolate cake, which is only 452 calories according to my filofax calorie counter …’
Trance: Charlotte Eager is soothed by Susan Hepburn’s voice. In her teens and early 20s, she hopped between being bulimic and anorexic
Obviously, I did lose weight. But as I got older, and wiser, and less anorexic, so I went up from a size eight, to a 12, 14, then 16. I went on crash diets, to health farms. I developed a ‘wheat allergy’, and replaced chocolate cake with dark chocolate and ice cream.
I did see a doctor in my early 20s. He said: ‘Considering what you’ve been doing to yourself, you’re not that thin.’
I was 9st and 5ft 8in. I told him never to say that to an anorexic again, and walked out.
But by my mid-20s I was no longer bulimic. I exercised, yet even two decades later in my 40s I still could not control what I ate and my weight went up and down. By the time I was engaged to my now husband, last April, I’d worked out that I over-ate when I was stressed and unhappy.
Engagements are stressful. Brides are supposed to lose weight, yet I put on 10lb in the first fortnight. Then I bumped into an old friend who had been incredibly fat. Not any more. She’d lost 4st in as many months after visiting a hypnotist who’d undone the link in her brain between eating and stress. I rang the hypnotist the same day.
Lily Allen, a former bulimic, has visited Susan
She was Susan Hepburn, based on London’s Harley Street. I have since heard that, among others, she has helped Lily Allen, who admitted to being bulimic last week.
Hypnotism, I hoped, would be a saner alternative to yo-yo weight for me, too.
Visiting Susan felt like seeing a psychotherapist – only more expensive.
At £275 a session you feel it had better work. She sat me down and let me rant for 20 minutes about all the things that were upsetting me.
Then she told me to close my eyes and take long deep breaths. She started to talk to me in a low, rhythmic voice that carried me away. It was like a meditation tape, only more specific.
Leslie Barker, of the British Association of Therapeutical Hypnotists, says: ‘In therapy, hypnosis involves the patient experiencing a sense of deep relaxation, with their attention focused on suggestions made by the therapist.
‘These are aimed at helping people make positive changes.’
Susan told me to imagine a triangular window in my forehead for my brain to peer out, or maybe the world to peer in. As she talked about how the things that stressed me would melt away, I began to believe her.
She asked me to think of the first time I had eaten for comfort and, suddenly, there we were in my mother’s kitchen. My mother, terminally ill from the cancer which would kill her when I was 12, was sitting in an armchair by the radiator teaching me how to cook. This was the reason I associated food with comfort.
Susan then said that I should visualise myself in a mirror as my ideal shape. And to be proud of my figure. And always eat smaller portions, choose the healthier things on menus automatically, and want to exercise.
Once awake she told me to keep a food diary, gave me a meditation CD and asked to see me twice again. I wrote down what I ate for a few days, then forgot. But I noticed that my behaviour patterns had changed. I no longer wanted to eat relentlessly. And when I did eat, I wanted fruitier puddings, or tiny squares of dark chocolate, instead of fatty chocolate puddings.
Our final sessions were more like an MOT. I was able to right myself. There are many therapists other than Susan out there, and hypnosis works for any kind of compulsive behaviour.
Despite the increasing wedding stress, I was free from eating disorders and a size 10 as I went up the aisle.
Hypnotherapy in Glasgow – contact Linda Alexander, 11 Attow Road, Mansewood, Glasgow G43 1BZ, Tel: 0141 632 1440, Mob. 07875 493 358