Weight Loss

Many people today struggle with managing their weight. And the first thing many people think of when they hear “hypnosis” is how hypnosis can be used to help lose weight.  Hypnosis can be used to help people lose weight and manage their eating and exercise habits. But it’s not a simple issue!



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 If you’ve ever been on a diet before, you know how difficult it can be to stick to a limited set of foods. There are many, many reasons for this:

-       The brain’s hard-wired love for fat, sugar, and salt

-       Simple genetic wiring for body build which makes it harder to shed pounds

-       The messages in our society that “more is better”

-       The over-the-top volume of food served by so many restaurants

-       The hidden fats, sugar, & salt in so many processed foods (including those served at restaurants)

-       Messages passed down in certain families (e.g. “clean your plate” )

-       Family habits

-       The cultural message that food should be used as a reward or a comfort

-       And last but certainly not least is emotional eating

 All of these reasons mean that hypnosis is not going to be a magic bullet for weight loss. The role of hypnosis in losing weight is that it will help you do what you already know you should do – basically, eat a healthy balance of minimally processed foods in moderate amounts and be physically active.

 Clients with 10 to 15 pounds to lose tend to do very well with hypnosis – they usually need just a little extra help via hypnosis to tighten up the eating habits so that they are doing the common sense things that will help them shed those extra pounds. People with more weight to lose are usually struggling with a variety of the factors listed above. Men or women with say, 30 or more pounds to lose usually have a variety of these factors, but emotional eating seems to be one of the biggest.

 Helping clients with emotional eating

Men and women who eat for comfort or simply when stressed are likely using food to distract themselves from the difficult emotions they  are experiencing. Sometimes, the “comfort response” is so automatic, that a person just senses they’re hungry, and proceeds to search the fridge or the cupboards for something to eat – even if they’re not truly, physically hungry. The trick is to stop and check – are you truly physically hungry? If you've eaten recently, probably not! People who eat for comfort or when stressed will benefit greatly from distinguishing true hunger from the kick-in-the gut feeling of difficult emotions or stress. These difficult feelings can be loneliness, frustration, anger, boredom, sadness, etc.

Learning to distinguish true hunger from the comfort response is part of the work I do when working with people on weight loss. It takes practice and awareness, and hypnosis is a very helpful tool for doing this. Some people may need to do deeper work on the source of painful or difficult emotions in order to interrupt the comfort response on a long-term basis. This may mean that the counseling & hypnosis work should take place over the course of many sessions together.

 The importance of an eating plan & exercise

I almost always insist that clients I work with on weight loss have some kind of formalized eating plan in place. An eating plan provides structure and clarity about eating choices. It doesn’t have to (and ideally isn’t!) a “diet” – a much better approach is to have a plan that represents how you want to eat for the rest of your life, not just over the next several weeks or months. This will lead to the desired eating habits and healthy weight loss that will last.

 Exercise is also very important! Some people have lots of resistance to getting out there and moving their bodies, but it’s critical for losing weight and just being healthier overall! I can make referrals to personal trainers/exercise programs or discuss other options with you for ensuring that body movement is part of your health program.

 The hard truth

Losing weight can be tough – it’s making changes in habits as well as struggling against other factors (e.g., genetics, brain wiring, societal messages). Hypnosis should be considered an addition to the other changes you are willing to make – it cannot in the long run be the main pillar upon which you shed those pounds and become healthier. If this way of thinking makes sense to you, you may be someone for whom hypnosis can be helpful in losing weight.


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