How does hypnotherapy work with weight loss?
“It seems like no matter what I do, I just can’t seem to lose the weight.”
If you were to come up with a ‘top five’ of presenting issues that people approach hypnosis for assistance to change, weight loss would be up near the top.
For many people, hypnosis has proven to be really beneficial in their desire to manage their weight successfully with some saying that they found that they no longer felt the desire to eat the quantity that they had before or that their desire to eat the ‘problem foods’ simply seemed to disappear.
While the claims can be very appealing, it still doesn’t explain how it works and so I wanted to take a moment to talk about what your hypnotherapist would be looking for in meeting with you and what approaches they may decide to take.
Of course, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to using hypnosis for losing weight. Consider this; if there was one absolutely sure-fire, guaranteed way to lose weight quickly, easily and permanently, probably every other approach would simply disappear through redundancy. The fact that we are all different human beings who have come to this issue through different habits means that your hypnotherapist needs to take a unique approach that is tailored to you if you wish to have any form of real, significant success.
Where Hypnotherapy does work is that it works with the unconscious mind. Consciously, you may not be aware of what caused you to have this problem in the first place. You can put it down to just overeating or indulging too often in the wrong food and beverages however the reality is that it can sometimes be something more deep-rooted and often not what you might think. We learn so many of our beliefs and behaviours during our childhood development years of 0-10 years of age. Often the initial trigger that caused the problem to exist may long be stored away in your memory leaving the ‘program’ to be replayed over and over again as just simply part of your reality. Hypnotherapy is great for pulling out that memory, making sense of it and allowing you to use that insight to make changes in the here and now.
How bad is the problem?
In 2013, the Australian Bureau of Statistics wrote, “In 2011-12, 62.8% of Australians aged 18 years and over were overweight or obese, comprised of 35.3% overweight and 27.5% obese. A further 35.5% were of normal weight and 1.7% were underweight. The prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased in Australia over time, from 56.3% in 1995 and 61.2% in 2007–08.”
Clearly, this is a problem that is increasingly growing in Australia.
What got you here?
“I just don’t know how I got this way. I’ve just always been fat. No matter what I try to do, it always just seems to keep coming back to me.”
The first thing your hypnotherapist will want to do is ascertain how you believe you got to be the size that you did. They’ll want to know what eating habits you have, what kinds of food you eat, what kind of exercise that you do. They’ll want to know when you eat and how often, exploring if you know what ‘triggers’ the overeating.
This is because, initially, they’ll want to determine if you are simply overeating mindlessly or if you’re an emotional eater who is eating your emotions.
For example, you may have seen some hypnotherapists advertise a virtual gastric band. Now, if you’re not mindfully eating, a virtual gastric band may have fantastic results for you however if you’re eating habits come from a deeper rooted issue, then you’re only going to have limited success with a virtual gastric band approach.
Like any form of ‘addiction’, the excessive behaviour is simply because this is your current solution to dealing with whatever the real problem may be. With that, unless the real problem is addressed and resolved, then it is likely that your eating habits are going to continue or other unwanted habits may come forward to take their place.
Unless you identify the actual root cause and work with resolving that, any approach will simply be a ‘band-aid’ approach and you’re likely to revert back to old behaviours.
What techniques might be used?
Once the cause of your overeating has been identified, then a few approaches may be considered.
If it is mindless eating, then a mindfulness approach may help to make your meals more enjoyable, tastier and allow you to feel fuller on smaller portions. This will allow you to continue eating and enjoying the foods you like however you’ll find that you won’t need to eat as much before you feel full and the experience of eating becomes so much richer and the desire to try new, healthier foods with different taste and texture can often become a new habit. In fact, people who are overweight that come to see me will say that they ‘love’ food but how can you really ‘love food’ when you’re shoveling it down and not enjoying the beautiful taste, texture and subtle flavours each mouthful has to offer? If anything, that way of eating is completely disrespecting the food, so mindful eating is an excellent way to increase your appreciation of fine food, to really love it and to eat the right amount each time. For those who learned to overeat as a behaviour from their parents or who have created a lifestyle where eating is something you do alongside something else to save time in this fast-paced world, mindful eating can be a real insight and revolution for them.
If it is a deeper issue, such as an earlier event in your life that has caused the behaviour of over-eating to exist (protection, shame, comfort), then processes such as age regression or parts therapy may be used to help release that difficult emotion and allow a better way forward. In instances like that, we need to remember that over-eating isn’t the problem but it is the current solution to another problem; by resolving that initial event and working to create new behaviours, hypnotherapy can be very successful in assisting people to manage their weight better. Quite often, overeating may have been a source of comfort in a troubled childhood, or potentially from a source of shame, however until we go back and explore what caused the issue and allow that inner child to be heard and comforted, then it is likely that the issue is going to remain and return over time.