Byline: MARION SAUVEBOIS
THREE years ago, Leigh Adams decided to give up chocolate.
The "Cadbury girl", as she called herself, did not want to eat less of it - she wanted to be rid of the irrepressible need to "stuff" herself.
Leigh never thought of hypnotherapy as a way out of this chocolate-binge cycle but, after a hypnotherapist friend suggested a session might relieve her, she gave it a try.
She has not had any chocolate since.
For a long time, eating Twirl after Twirl did not seem like such a bad thing.
"I did not see eating chocolate as a big problem. Everybody loves chocolate," the 50-year-old from North Shields, North Tyneside, explained.
"It is not great for you, but I thought that, after all, it was not like drinking or smoking."
But over the years, the occasional treats became an essential part of Leigh's daily routine, which she would crave all day.
She added: "It was like a ritual.
"I would have a piece of chocolate every day at lunchtime and another at around eight at night as a reward for a long day.
"When I went to the restaurant I would look straight at the dessert menu and chocolatey things.
"Even if I had eaten a big meal, I would always be able to eat chocolate. It was an urge but also a habit.
"I'd always make sure I had chocolate in the house. I used to go the newsagent and buy a whole box of Cadbury Twirls."
The delightful sugar rush soon left a bitter taste in her mouth.
"I used to feel guilty and disappointed after eating a chocolate bar. It doesn't even fill you," the mother-ofthree said.
Leigh would go to extremes for her "fix" and, on occasion, literally braved the elements to get her daily hit.
"If I wanted chocolate and there was none in the house, I would get my children dressed and make them walk in the snow to go and buy some," she said.
"I would use them as an excuse, saying that they were the ones who wanted chocolate."
The time came when enough was enough.
The detrimental health consequences of her addiction played a significant part in her decision to give up all forms of chocolate. But what convinced Leigh was the prospect of regaining control of her life and needs.
"I was a slave to chocolate. It was like a drug. I was a chocoholic," she said.
"It took over my life. It was fattening and bad for my teeth."
Not entirely sure of the benefits of hypnotherapy, she made an appointment with clinical and analytical hypnotherapist Ella Spencer. After one session, her need for chocolate disappeared altogether.
"Hypnotherapy only works if you really want it to," explained Leigh.
"You have to want to change for yourself. It worked straightaway for me. I am still surrounded by chocolate.
My children love it and I regularly buy it and cook it for them but I have no desire to put it in my mouth.
"A lot of people ask me, 'How do you not eat any chocolate?' I don't even think about it.
"I don't pick as much now and I've lost a fair bit of weight. It's not an obsession any more."
Regaining control of your life is key to hypnotherapy.
Ella Spencer has helped many individuals like Leigh to change unwanted behaviours and break destructive thought patterns.
"We are quite often our worst enemies," Ella explained.
"Hypnotherapy is about helping people overcome what may be holding them back from who they want to be.
"I show my clients how they can regain control of their thoughts. They understand their thought pattern and that the way they are thinking is not serving them right.
"When people are bogged down by negative thoughts, the body feels it and that's why many stressed people feel necks pains, headaches or have stomach problems.
"Hypnotherapy is a natural state of relaxation, a state of trance. …