An empty feeling inside: How hypnotherapy can aid weight loss
“I’m addicted to chocolate” my client told me, and described how she felt her enjoyment of this sweet treat had got out of control, causing her to gain weight. She asked me to help her break the habit, and we formulated a treatment plan using imagery and positive suggestions to help her change her behaviour.
After two weeks of treatment, I asked her how it was going. “It’s working brilliantly,” she replied, “I’ve stopped buying chocolate and I haven’t eaten any at all. But I’ve started to eat cake instead!”
As we explored this further, my client identified she had an “empty feeling” inside that she was trying to fill. Through our discussion, she was able to realise that what she was feeling was not hunger, but unresolved grief around the sudden death of her father several years previously.
As this example shows us, there are many different reasons why we eat too much, or choose unhealthy foods. Our drives and motivations are complex, made up from a mixture of our childhood experiences, messages from the people around us, advertising and social media. Some of us eat in response to stress, boredom or anxiety. We develop unconscious habits and coping strategies over time that become ingrained. And each one of us is different.
Lots of us (myself included!) have put on weight over lockdown. Not being able to go out or see friends; working from home; feeling anxious, stressed or bored - these are all factors which can prompt us to eat or drink more than usual; and these new eating styles can be really hard to change.
How can hypnotherapy help you lose weight? Many of us are able to diet for a short period of time, restricting the amount of food we eat, or even living on soup for a week. But willpower tends to be short-lived. We may feel the urge to ‘cheat’, or make excuses for eating snacks. And as soon as we return to our normal eating behaviours, we put the weight straight back on. Some people even find this pattern of yo-yo dieting causes overall weight gain.
Many of us eat, not because we are hungry, but to fulfil another need such as feeling lonely or sad. These habits and emotional cues are stored in our subconscious, driving our behaviour without us being aware of them. This is why making permanent changes to your eating and lifestyle habits can be so difficult.
A hypnotherapist will work with you holistically, which means they will take the time to help you understand what drives your eating behaviour. You will be asked questions about your eating habits, and how you have tried to lose weight in the past. They will help you identify what your particular emotional “food triggers” are - those feelings or situations that have you automatically reaching for the cookie jar.
Your hypnotherapist will also explore your attitude to exercise: what do you like to do and when does it fit best into your daily routine? What motivates you, or puts you off? For example, one of my clients found the word ‘exercise’ itself was a demotivator, as it sounded too much like hard work!
Using this information, your hypnotherapist will devise a plan tailored to address your specific needs and your lifestyle. This could include suggestions to eat only when you are hungry; to respond to your emotions in a different way; to choose healthier foods; or to include more physical activity in your daily routine. During the session, your therapist will gently guide you into a pleasant state of hypnotic relaxation. They will then give you positive suggestions that will make the desired changes within your subconscious.
Hypnotherapy is effective in helping you achieve these positive changes because it works with your subconscious mind. And because we are working with your subconscious, these changes are deep-rooted and long-lasting. You won’t feel the need to ‘cheat’ because your subconscious is aligned with your conscious desires. Previously entrenched habits and emotional cues will be altered, and new patterns of behaviour will take their place. Instead of being on a diet, you will naturally and easily enjoy a healthier lifestyle.
This article was first published in Hypnotherapy Directory