Is hypnotherapy for weight loss really a thing ?
Fad diets not doing what they should be? Unhealthy habits creeping up on you? Sounds familiar right?
Let me guess, you’ve been banging your head against a brick wall looking for a magic wand and now you’re thinking that hypnosis treatment might be the answer that you’ve been looking for.
Weight-loss hypnosis certainly is an intriguing concept and one that has perhaps been wrongly side lined due to the mystery surrounding it.
Check out one of our hypnosis blogs for a deep dive into the mythical beginnings of hypnotherapy.
Despite its detractors, many people swear by the help of hypnosis to help them achieve their weight loss goals.
We’re going to take a walk through what exactly is meant by hypnotherapy for weight loss.
Please bear in mind when reading that we’re talking about techniques delivered by a certified hypnotherapist and not the stage hypnosis gags that you see on cartoons!
What is weight loss hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy has become popular over the past 20 years as an alternative way to a healthier lifestyle. Many people have used hypnotherapy to combat chronic pain, quit smoking or help them on their weight loss journey.
Essentially a hypnotherapist will use hypnotic suggestions to promote healthy life choices whilst you are in a trance-like state.
This isn’t as weird and wonderful as mind control and doesn’t even require a stopwatch! Instead, with the help of a hypnotherapist your mind will become more receptive to the ideas being put forward on a subconscious level.
This means that in theory when you come out of the hypnotic trance you will be more likely to succeed with your weight loss efforts.
Evidence suggests that hypnotherapy combined with cognitive behavioral therapy can increase the likelihood of success.
How does weight-loss hypnosis work?
- In your hypnotherapy session, you will be made comfortable and the hypnotherapist will guide you into a relaxed state.
- Once your body and mind are fully relaxed, your hypnotherapist will be able to access your unconscious mind, at this point you are in a hypnotic state.
- Verbal repetition about mindful eating, having a positive relationship with food and healthy weight loss is then given by the hypnotherapist.
- Whilst you will be in a state of hypnosis at this point, you will still have an awareness of what’s going on.
- The therapist may choose to talk about specific aspects of your weight loss such as regular exercise, ditching junk food or how you view your body.
- Once the hypnosis work is complete, the therapist will awaken you slowly.
Top 5 benefits of weight loss hypnosis?
- Hypnosis for weight loss can help you develop a better view of your own body image
- Great way to focus your mind on your weight loss plan
- Can unlock a better understanding of negative eating habits
- Is a dedicated time when you can receive positive suggestions in a state of deep relaxation
- Focussing your mind will give you a stronger chance of achieving a better quality of life
Is hypnotherapy an effective weight loss strategy?
The effectiveness of hypnosis for weight loss is something that has been debated.
Whilst we are all aware that a healthy diet and good exercise habits are the major factors in sustainable weight loss. It is important not to underestimate psychological factors.
If your mind isn’t in a good place then you aren’t going to be able to achieve your targets.
That’s common sense, but let’s take a look at what the science says:
A 1998 control trial studied the use of hypnotherapy for weight loss in people with obstructive sleep apnea. The study looked at two specific forms of hypnotherapy versus simple diet advice.
The results were positive in favor of hypnosis as all 60 participants lost 2 to 3% of their body weight in 3 months.
At the 18-month follow-up, the hypnotherapy group was the only group to have continued to lose weight. Although wholly positive, the scientists concluded that further research was needed as to whether the use of hypnotherapy was an effective method of combating obesity.
A 2005 overview of complementary weight loss therapies that included hypnotherapy, backed up the early studies and showed that it resulted in a small reduction in body weight.
Unfortunately for pro-hypno groups there is very little else in the way of scientific evidence to back up claims. This is mainly because of a lack of studies conducted rather than poor results.
Will self-hypnosis sessions work for weight loss?
Self hypnosis via free hypnosis apps has become a great way for people to access the benefits of hypnotherapy without the price tag.
Hypnosis audio can be found on youtube (often combined with a weird swirly video) and may be the best way to access relaxation techniques from the comfort of your own home.
According to the website Healthline.com these are the ways in which self-hypnosis can help with weight loss:
- Boosting self-control
In one 2018 study, participants in two groups received individualized meal and exercise plans. One of the groups also received training in how to use self-hypnosis techniques to boost their sense of self-control right before eating.
At the end of the trial, the self-hypnosis group had consumed fewer calories and lost more weight. They also said their quality of life was improved after the hypnosis intervention.
It’s important to recognize that the participants in this study worked with therapists to learn effective hypnotherapy techniques before practicing them on their own.
Guided hypnotherapy, conducted by trained and certified therapists, is a good place to learn techniques that work.
- Lower body mass
In a small 2020 study, researchers tracked the effects of hypnotherapy on 32 people in a clinically-supervised program.
In addition, levels of adiponectin, a hormone your body needs to protect you against obesity and type II diabetes, had increased.
- Combination therapy
Many health professionals think hypnotherapy is most effective when it’s combined with other effective weight loss measures.
In one 2009 review, researchers concluded that hypnotherapy was most effective for weight loss when it was combined with diet- and exercise-based approaches.
- It can help resolve subconscious emotional conflicts
Hypnotherapy, Barringer says, can target unresolved emotional issues that keep people from being able to lose weight.
“If I have all the information I need to be able to release weight, but I still eat for emotion rather than hunger, I need to look at the underlying emotions driving it,” she explains.
People who may have experienced trauma, abuse, or chaos in the past may be unaware that their personal histories are affecting their current attempts to maintain a healthy weight.
“Hypnotherapy can help heal the trauma so the person can go on and release the weight,” Barringer says.
- It can help correct thinking errors and detrimental beliefs
Hypnosis can also help correct cultural misconceptions and faulty beliefs that limit people’s ability to find a healthy weight. Barringer points to the thin body ideals embedded in American culture as a prime example.
“One of the ways hypnotherapy can help is by challenging people’s perceptions about how the human body should look,” she says. “We have this belief in our culture that the only healthy body is the thin body.”
Learning to appreciate changes in the body — say, after childbirth or as a result of aging — can help people let go of some of the stress and perfectionism around weight loss goals. “Our bodies carry us through life,” Barringer notes.
She says hypnosis, whether individual or in groups, can help people revise other unhelpful beliefs, such as associating food with self-reward.
Instead of using food as a way to treat yourself after a difficult day, for example, hypnosis can help you select a reward that doesn’t undermine your healthy eating plans.
“We can learn to eat from a place of deserving good health,” she says. “Treats should provide good health, which is actually what I deserve.”
- It may help you reduce cravings
You can use hypnotherapy to decrease your desire for unhealthy foods. In the Eating Well program, for example, therapists use guided imagery and shared hypnotherapy sessions to reduce dietary choices that could thwart your weight loss progress.
Studies have shown that guided imagery can be used to cut down on problematic food cravings. Experts say that once you’re trained, you can use guided imagery and hypnotherapy to help yourself when you need to.
What about long term weight loss?
The long term benefits of hypnotherapy for weight loss are really seen when you are committed to attending regular hypnotherapy sessions. It’ll help you shed the weight off and keep it off.
This is because over time the therapist will have a chance to identify the core reasons for why you are overweight. Leaving your first session hoping for a quick fix is unrealistic and bad habits will inevitably take over.
Applying yourself to weekly sessions will certainly increase your chances of sustainable weight loss if your mind is focussed on that goal.
According to the Mayo Clinic weight-loss hypnosis may help you shed an extra few pounds when it’s part of a holistic approach.
However, as we’ve said, more research is needed to say that conclusively.
Most studies that have been done have shown positive results both in the short and long term.
However, a recent study, which only showed modest weight loss results, did find that patients receiving hypnosis had lower rates of inflammation, better satiety and better quality of life. These might be mechanisms whereby hypnosis could influence weight.
In conclusion, weight loss is best achieved with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Getting your mind in the right place to be able to do this is essential and if you feel that hypnotherapy will help you to do this then you should definitely do it.
There are no negative side effects (aside from losing a few $$ if it doesn’t work) and potentially it could be a game changer.
If you want to read more about hypnosis then follow this link.