Appetite Retraining Course: A Kind & Sustainable Approach to Weight Loss

The course is focused on sharing techniques and tools from Clinical and Health Psychology to enable people to change how they eat, to support greater health and wellbeing. The course is available via this link This course is BSLM accredited for 12 hours of CPD

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Learning Objectives:

This course, presented by Dr Helen McCarthy aims to improve self-awareness and enhance skills used in being able to eat in tune with what your body needs, by changing those eating habits which prevent improvements in physical and mental health.

Session Overview:

Session 1 covers the behavioural science of habit change as it applies to eating habits. This understanding offers a compassionate way to understand why you eat as you do, and practical, achievable steps to sustainable weight loss (or greater happiness around eating). It will also reframe ‘willpower’ in line with what research shows us about what it is and is not, and that will lead to practical steps to enhance ‘willpower’. We’ll do an exercise from Functional Imagery training (FIT) to help strengthen your connection to your motivation to change.

Session 2 reminds people of some simple aspects of the human appetite & digestive system, and offers simple tools (including the Appetite Pendulum) to re-learn to tune in to their natural hunger and fullness signals. We’ll look at concrete steps to help stop eating when just full and to help with feeling anxious about letting yourself get mildly hungry.

Session 3 is specifically about how Kavanagh et al’s Elaborated Intrusion Theory of food cravings leads to specific, evidence-based techniques that help people overcome them without eating. I’ll demonstrate how using FIT can be used to manage cravings and will share other strategies which work by displacing thoughts and feelings about the craved food from Working Memory.

Session 4 is an introduction to reducing Emotional Eating. Understanding the evolutionary function of emotions and discriminating between different emotions, I’ll use simple and gentle techniques from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to show people new ways of responding to emotions as an alternative to reaching for food.

How will the participant be better informed on managing health issues and enabling self-care?

  • They will understand the importance and value of taking a stepwise approach to eating habit change in line with the Behaviour Change Wheel
  • They will understand some simple but important aspects of their appetite system, and how the biology and psychology of that system inter-relate
  • They will have tools to help to stop eating at the point of just full and to avoid eating when not hungry
  • They will understand the basic psychology of food craving and be able to use goal imagery and other techniques to shift their attention towards alternative actions (other than eating) in line with valued goals
  • They will have an understanding of what maintains emotional eating and will have strategies from ACT that offer a psychologically flexible alternative to eating, in response to uncomfortable emotions

About the Speaker

Dr Helen McCarthy is an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society who has worked as a Clinical Psychologist since 1989. She has a B.Sc. Honours degree in Experimental Psychology from the University of Durham and a Doctorate in Psychology from the University of Oxford. After leaving Oxford Helen trained as a Clinical Psychologist within the British National Health Service and worked as a Clinical Psychologist in the NHS for a number of years. She now has a private practice in Bristol and Cardiff.

Helen is a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Bristol, a Functional Imagery Training Advanced Practitioner and a Member of the Advisory Panel for UK Health Coaches Association. She was the Psychologist on the Faculty of the first RCGP Leadership in Obesity programme (GLOW).

Helen is the author of “How to Retrain Your Appetite: lose weight eating all your favourite foods” and was the consultant to the Channel 4 programme “Don’t Diet – Lose Wieght” and appeared on “Save Money Lose Weight” with Dr Ranj Singh


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